Cold is a problem but Town don't fear heat
blackpoolgazette.co.uk, Friday 10 February 2012
FLEETWOOD Town were on weather watch ahead of tomorrow's scheduled trip to Mansfield Town.
Micky Mellon's Blue Square Bet Premier table-toppers expect to hear later today whether the game could go ahead.
The Field Mill pitch has been hard and frozen in recent days and the weather forecast was not optimistic.
However, manager Mellon was planning as though the match would go ahead – as leaders Fleetwood take on Mansfield, their closest title rivals Wrexham are away at Darlington.
The ultimate prize of elevation to the Football League awaits the title winners and the pressure of the challenge certainly doesn't faze Mellon.
The Town manager said: “We are loving it. I want to be involved in big games like this every week, rather than chugging along in mid-table with nothing at stake.
“The players feel the same – that's why they were persuaded to come to Fleetwood in the first place.
“This is the toughest and most challenging time of the season, with 15 matches still to go.
“At this stage of the season every team in the league knows what they are fighting for and has something to play for. It is the toughest part of the season ... and the most exciting.”
It will be the third time the sides have met this season but the first in the league.
They clashed in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup in October and November.
The first meeting at Mansfield ended in a 1-1 draw, but Fleetwood made it through to the first-round proper with a 5-0 replay win and went on to claim the League One scalps of Wycombe and Yeovil before succumbing to a vibrant Blackpool.
Mellon is underplaying the relevance of that emphatic scoreline ahead of tomorrow's rematch.
The Fleetwood boss insists: “That will make it even more tough. Mansfield will be stinging after that and they will want to put that right.”
Mansfield go into the match in ninth place, still harbouring hopes of the play-offs.
Mellon said: “Mansfield are a big club and a former Football League club, and I am sure at the start of the season their manager was told that getting into the play-offs should be the target.
“They are a big, physical side and we will have to cope with that. They have only lost five matches in the league all season.”
One absentee from the Mansfield line-up will be Paul Edwards, who joined the Stags on loan from Fleetwood – he is ruled out of playing against his parent club.
While doubts surround tomorrow's match, Mellon is convinced Fleetwood will have a significant advantage in the run-in to the end of the season because of their frost covers.
They did the trick last weekend, when Fleetwood's 2-2 draw with Tamworth was the sole Conference fixture to survive the elements.
Mellon said: “The chairman went on record as saying the frost covers were the best investment the club had made and you have to agree with that.”
Spotlight on Mansfield Town v Fleetwood
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 10, 2012
Mansfield (from): Marriott, Redmond, Sutton, Riley, Dempster, O'Neill, Edwards, Craven, Murray, Roberts, Hutchinson, Howell, Worthington, Stevenson, Dyer, Briscoe, Green, Rhead, Smith, Meikle.
Fleetwood (from): Davies, Beesley, McNulty, Goodall, Cavanagh, Pond, Fowler, Rose, Brodie, Vieira, Mangan, Vardy, Stephenson, Atkinson, McGuire, Seddon.
Team news: Should the game go ahead, Mansfield would be without John Thompson, who is still recovering from a neck/shoulder injury.
Rhys Day (knee) is out for the season but Matt Green (shin) has been given the all-clear to resume training after a scan.
Paul Linwood and Anthony Barry (knee) are both injury victims for Fleetwood.
One to watch: Jamie Vardy. Rated by many as the best player in non-league football, the former Sheffield Park Steels forward has scored 22 goals to attract reported bids of £1million from Leicester and Southampton that have been swiftly rebuffed.
Manager: Micky Mellon. The former Blackpool player has been in charge at Fleetwood since 2008 and put a squad together that has lost only three times in the league this season to top the Blue Square Bet Premier
Stags skipper Murray prepared to play deeper role
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 10, 2012
ADAM Murray is happy to relinquish his role as Mansfield Town's chief play-maker, if it means helping the club earn promotion.
The Stags are hoping to mount a bid for a play-off place in the final third of the season on the back of a six-game unbeaten run.
Their upturn in form has coincided with the arrival of Gary Roberts from Port Vale, who has been an impressive figure alongside skipper Murray.
With their partnership now beginning to take shape, the former Oxford man has quickly become an admirer of his colleague's creative talents and ability to score goals – highlighted by his double in the 3-0 win at Ebbsfleet last time out.
And Murray says he is prepared to sacrifice his own attacking instincts, if it means bringing Roberts' flair to the fore.
"Robbo has been a breath of fresh air. He's a lively character on and off the pitch. He's definitely added something and he is passionate about his football," said Murray. "He wants to be on the ball all the time – it's almost like he is in the playground at school!
"Now we have got to know each other's games it seems like I am going to have to take more of a sitting role. I'm learning to balance with him.
"But if we are winning games, as we have been doing, then I'm happy to do that. The team comes first.
"I have played that role more and more over the past three years, just in front of the back four, and I know how to go about it. That's particularly going to be the case if we play a midfield three.
"It's about how to best fit players into the team and get them playing at their best."
Mansfield's recent good form contrasts to their form in January of previous campaigns in the Blue Square Bet Premier, when the trend has been to drop off.
It gives Murray a firm belief that the team could emulate his former Oxford team-mates and win a place back in the Football League.
He said: "If you look at the start of the season we started off really well, were scoring goals and then it petered out.
"We had a spell when both our results and performances were average, but we have come out after Christmas and started to pick both up. We have wanted to come out for the second half of the season raring to go.
"Last year we had Wembley to go for but apart from that we probably lost focus.
"This year, though, we have our targets, everything is to play for.
"We have only lost five league games all season and that is the mark of a good side."
One of Mansfield's biggest problems has been too many drawn games when they have been in winning positions.
On no less than eight of their 13 stalemates, they have gone in front only to be pegged back.
Murray hopes that the way the Stags coped with second half pressure at Ebbsfleet shows they are finally learning how to close out matches.
Ideally, Mansfield would like to test themselves against league leaders Fleetwood tomorrow to see if they can build on their unbeaten January.
But with more bad weather anticipated last night, the match could be called off as early as today.
"I think we have learned a bit now with the amount of times we have dropped points when we should have won," said Murray. "We had to sit down and ask what was going wrong and when you analyse it, it was a lack of concentration and individual mistakes.
"We are aware now that when we go ahead in games that we have to be wary in the next 15 minutes."
Popular defender Rhys Day suffered a devastating rupture of his patella tendon in a friendly against Rainworth almost two weeks ago.
The former Manchester City trainee underwent an operation in a bid to repair the damage at King's Mill Hospital at the end of last week.
That surgery was deemed a success but the hard work will now start for Day as he starts his rehabilitation.
Murray said: "I'm gutted for Rhys. He had worked really hard to get through his previous injury, so to pick up something like that which just happens in a moment is hard to take. He is going to have to sit down and think about where he goes next."
Green's faith in Matt finish
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 10, 2012
MATT Green believes new striker and namesake Matt Rhead can boost his own, healthy goal tally at Mansfield.
The former Oxford United man already tops the scoring charts for the Stags with 18 goals to his credit.
But he believes the arrival of the 6ft 4ins Rhead from Corby can take the weight off his shoulders and make things that bit easier.
"Matt's a big lad and a defender's worst nightmare from what I have heard and seen of him," said Green.
"He can 'beat up' defenders a little bit and in this league you sometimes need that. He can bully a few and ask questions of them, which we haven't had before.
"I can be in and around that, a ghost, who can nip in and get a couple of goals from it. Hopefully Matt can get a couple of goals too."
Green believes Mansfield could catch unawares other teams who had been contesting the play-off places for some time.
He said: "I think where we are can sometimes be the perfect position to be in.
"If you look at recent times in this league there is normally a team that makes a late surge – hopefully that can be us."
No grounds for concern, says Mansfield Town winger Adam Smith
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 10, 2012
ADAM Smith insists Mansfield Town's players are so focused on earning promotion they are not worrying about potential issues over their ground.
The Stags are going well on the pitch, having put together an excellent six-game unbeaten run to start 2012.
That form has sparked renewed talk of the club making the end-of-season play-offs, where they could then vie for a place back in the Football League.
But concern is mounting among fans that the club has yet to fulfil the conditions required to compete in that four-way shoot-out.
To be eligible, all clubs must either own their ground or be in possession of a ten-year lease on a Football League standard stadium by March 1.
As of yet, the Stags have neither, although chairman John Radford and ground owner Keith Haslam are reported to have opened fresh negotiations.
Winger Smith admits he does not know too much about the situation and says the best thing for the Mansfield squad is to keep it that way.
"All we can do is concentrate only on getting three points in every match we play – we can't affect the other side of things," said Smith.
"We can't afford to worry about off-the-field stuff because we have vital games coming up. I don't think the lads are, there is a very strong focus about what we have to do as a team.
"Hopefully, if we do our jobs then the ground issue will get sorted out and we can go for promotion.
"I have got confidence in the chairman and the board that they will sort it out for us, so we have to keep our fingers crossed."
Winter weather threatens Fleetwood's visit to Field Mill
chad.co.uk, Thursday 9 February 2012
MANSFIELD Town's big home clash with title hopefuls Fleetwood Town on Saturday remains in the balance as the area continues to shiver in sub-zero temperatures.
Stags have already lost two scheduled games this week and many of the varied weekend weather forecasts do not suggest the Field Mill pitch will enjoy much of a thaw in time.
Manager Paul Cox said: “Nothing much has changed this week apart from it's got a bit cooler and there's probably a bit more ice on the pitch!”
“But the lads have still worked hard the last couple of days and are probably feeling it. So we will take our foot off the pedal now in case the game is on this Saturday as we don't want to go into it with tired legs.
“We have done as much as we can do in this weather. We need to keep fitness levels up so we hit the ground running once the weather warms up.
“If the match is off we have pencilled in a behind-closed-doors game on a 3G/4G surface, but even that might be off if we get the snow that's predicted.
“There's no point in feeling sorry for ourselves as it's the same for everyone.
“If we end up playing Saturday/Tuesday to the end of the season you have to get on with it. “Sometimes the lads would prefer that to training to be honest. Especially with all the running they have had to do this week!”
Big freeze sees Dempster loan spell at Stags fizzling out
chad.co.uk, Thursday 9 February 2012
DEFENDER John Dempster is seeing his impressive loan spell with Mansfield Town fizzle out frustratingly as the weather prevents a ball being kicked.
Stags were unable to tie up a deal for the experienced Crawley man in the January transfer window and know they will lose his services on 22nd February.
However, manager Paul Cox has intimated he would still like to go back in for Dempster when his Crawley contract expires in the summer – and the player admits he would be delighted if that happens.
“I left it up to the two clubs to come to an agreement,” he said. “I think Mansfield wanted to extend my loan, but Crawley said no and that was the end of it.
“I have enjoyed my time here and hope I get to play a few more games before I go back.
“I have sat down briefly with the gaffer and he made it clear he would be interested in signing me next season.
“This is the place I want to play next season, but I know that is pie in the sky at the moment as there are a lot of games to be played between now and the end of the season. I will just continue to do my best and see what happens.”
He added: “I have experienced this before and it's all part of the game. All you can do is carry on enjoying yourself and see where it takes you.
“In my short time here I can see Mansfield are building a decent squad and it would be good to be part of that.
“I appreciate the support from the fans, I have enjoyed the games I have played in and I wish them well.
“It is frustrating and it will be even more frustrating if the lads get to Wembley. But this is the situation I've found myself in.
“I will go back to Crawley to join another fantastic group of lads and hope I can help them towards their goal of the play-offs or automatic promotion.”
John Dempster open minded on future at Mansfield Town
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 11, 2012
JOHN Dempster would love to return to Mansfield Town next season - but admits to an uncertain future.
The Stags could not agree a deal with parent club Crawley to sign the central defender permanently during the transfer window.
It means the loanee will return to Sussex on February 22 - to the disappointment of those at Field Mill.
Dempster is out of contract in the summer and already boss Paul Cox has suggested he would be keen to move for the former Rushden man.
The player himself is interested but knows it depends on what happens between now and May - at both Mansfield and Crawley.
"What happened in the transfer window was out of my control. Mansfield wanted to extend things and Crawley said 'no'," said Dempster.
"In terms of next season it's a place I would like to be, but there are still a lot of games between now and then.
"At the start of the season I was in the side at Crawley, only to lose out through injuries and suspensions.
"I feel I could still play at that level, there is no doubt in my mind.
"The gaffer has made it clear he would be interested for next season, but I have to respect my parent club and sort things out in the summer."
Dempster will be keeping an eye on Mansfield's progress in the last third of the campaign.
He said: "It is frustrating to have to go back, especially if the lads get to Wembley (in the play-off final). They are a fantastic group of players and hopefully I have helped them out."
Stags winger Smith ready to turn up heat after cold snap
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 11, 2012
FIRST frozen out and now frozen off, Adam Smith is certainly feeling the chill at Mansfield Town this season.
After an indifferent pre-season, the speedy winger swiftly lost his place to Lindon Meikle on the left flank in the early part of 2011-12.
With no reserve team to push his claims for a recall, Smith instead spent a spell on loan at League Two Aldershot - from October through to the end of
2011 - that brought a welcome run of games.
Many thought that might be the last of Smith body-swerves and step-overs in a Mansfield Town shirt, even when he returned to the club early in the new year after his stint with the Hampshire club expired.
Yet within a matter of days, manager Paul Cox had recalled a match-fit Smith to the Stags' starting line-up, meaning he figured in victories over Hayes and Yeading and Ebbsfleet, sandwiching a 0-0 draw at high-flying Luton.
No sooner has the Huddersfield-born player's Field Mill season got up and running, though, it has suddenly ground to a halt.
After sweeping through, November, December and January without any postponements, Mansfield have now had consecutive Saturday home fixtures in February wiped out by wintry weather, the latest today's scheduled clash with league leaders Fleetwood.
It could not have come at a worse time for the former York flier, and typical of how things have not gone his way in the current campaign.
But he is not allowed to let it worry him and said: "As professionals we have to eat right, rehydrate and do things as if all the games are going to be on.
"It is frustrating, but you can't do a lot about this kind of weather. It is the same for all.
"We have done a bleep test this week and a lot of running - we are keeping the fitness up.
"We need to stay match sharp so when the cold weather does come to an end we can hit the ground running again.
"We know it's a big few games coming up and we have to be ready to go."
Smith has been delighted with how things have gone since returning to north Notts from the Shots.
He is hopeful he can produce the form to persuade manager Cox to persist with him next season and beyond - even if that is the furthest thing from his mind right now.
The 26-year-old said: "It's been good getting a run. I'm someone who's always hungry to be playing rather than be on the sidelines.
"I love the club here, but I had to go out and get games. Now I'm enjoying being back.
"My personal aim is to get the club into the top five. That's the focus and then we can see where we go after that.
"You win contracts and things like that with good performances out on the field, nothing else.
"As a squad I think we have to put contracts on the hold for the time being.
For now, putting points on the board is more important.
"I do like playing for Mansfield and I would like to continue here beyond this season. But I'm putting my future to one side at the moment."
Smith has noticed a different mood in the Mansfield camp since being back - a change for the better.
"I have come back and the lads are full of confidence. It was a bit low before," he said.
"We knew we were under-achieving with the quality of player we have.
"But we have brought in some good players to freshen the squad too. I think people are peaking at the right time.
"Lindon Meikle and Louis Briscoe are keeping me on my toes and there is depth right through the squad.
Smith is convinced Mansfield are better placed to push for a play-off place this season - providing the club can sort out their ground issues.
Smith said: "Injuries do have an effect, as we saw last season. At times we couldn't field a full bench, like at Crawley.
"I think we have a bigger and stronger squad now, so hopefully we won't run into those kind of problems."
Stags striker Green boosted by enforced break
Nottingham Post, Thursday, February 09, 2012
MATT Green could be the biggest beneficiary of Mansfield Town's enforced weather break.
The Stags' home game against Darlington last weekend was postponed by heavy frost – and Saturday's clash with league leaders Fleetwood is already in doubt.
Green has been given the all-clear following a scan after worries he may have sustained a hairline fracture of his shin.
But manager Paul Cox is still pleased the absence of competitive action has given the 18-goal top scorer a welcome breather.
The 25-year-old striker has started every league game this season, only missing the 5-0 FA Cup replay defeat at Fleetwood through illness.
"There are two ways of looking at this period. On the one hand you could say it's stopped our momentum in the middle of a good unbeaten run," said manager Paul Cox.
"But the other is that in a hectic season, it has allowed one or two players time to rest up and recover from knocks.
"I gave Matt the weekend off. Sometimes a rest can be as good as a training session – it's a balancing act. It can revitalise you and hopefully that will happen with Greeny."
Defender John Thompson has returned to Lilleshall for a second week of rehabilitation as he continues his recovery from a problem in his shoulder and neck
Cox keen to extend O'Neill's stay with Stags
Nottingham Post, Tuesday, February 07, 2012
PAUL Cox today assured Mansfield Town fans he will do all in his power to keep Luke O'Neill at Field Mill next season.
The talented right-back has impressed for the Stags following his summer move from Leicester City.
That has reportedly led to the scouts of one or two other bigger clubs casting their eye over the 20-year-old.
As a result, there have been calls from Mansfield fans for the former Kettering loanee to be tied down to a longer deal.
O'Neill has scored three times in 27 Blue Square Bet Premier appearances - with a handful of those out of position at left-back - since joining Stags.
But manager Cox says matters are in hand and believes supporters' concern likely stems from them not being aware of the exact terms of his current contract.
"Luke signed a one-year deal, but the main thing is we have got him on a second year's option," said Cox. "All we have to do is send him a letter at the correct time offering him the same terms or better.
"Effectively it is a two-year deal, but if we can negotiate a longer-term contract that would be beneficial to both parties, then even better.
"Luke is someone who has done really well and who we want here for next season."
Stags defender Rhys Day has undergone successful surgery to repair his damaged patella tendon.
The central defender sustained the knee injury in a friendly game with Rainworth a week-and-a-half ago.
Mansfield's home game with Darlington, postponed on Saturday, is now on February 21
Latest | February 2012