CUP DRAW: WATKISS - STAGS `HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE`
MANSFIELD 'HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE'
Evening Post, 18 November 2002
Mansfield Town manager Stuart Watkiss said today his side have nothing to lose after being handed a trip to Crewe Alexandra in the second round of the FA Cup.
Stags saw off students Team Bath 4-2 on Saturday but have now been given a much tougher task if they are going to enter the third round with the Premiership big boys.
The Stags were last out of the hat in the draw, conducted by Alan Ball and former Forest keeper Dave Beasant.
Dario Gradi's side have already won 5-0 at Field Mill in the league and have beaten Stags 4-0 in the LDV Vans Trophy and Watkiss admitted that, after being firm favourites to win on Saturday, the boot is firmly on the other foot.
"I said all along that I would rather be travelling to Team Bath than going to Crewe or Cardiff and now we have gone to the other extreme," said Watkiss.
"They have played us and beaten us twice and it will be very tough, but we have got to go into it with optimism and I still say that, if we play to our potential, we can go there and get something."
Stags put in by far their worst performance of the season when the Railwaymen beat them in the league and they were forced to field three teenagers in defence for the LDV game because of a succession of injuries.
The two sides are due to meet at Gresty Road for the return league fixture on New Year's Day.
Watkiss said: "The 5-0 defeat was a real trouncing and, in the 4-0 loss, we played a weakened team, so we should be in a position to do much better.
"I always think that if you draw someone from your own division in the cup it is a bit of a disappointment.
"But we know plenty about them and, even after a few minutes following the draw, I had an idea of what formation I want to play against them.
"We will have them watched again to brush up on a few things but we know it is going to be a big challenge.
"It is a complete reversal of what we experienced on Saturday.
"Everyone will look at the results and see we have lost to them twice and expect the same to happen again. They will see we are at the bottom of the league and they are around the top and draw their own conclusions, so we really won't have anything to lose."
He said it was unlikely that on-loan Andy White would be allowed to play for Crewe and Colin Little would play for Stags, although Watkiss is keen to keep the striker, who missed Saturday's victory through injury, at Field Mill for at least another month.
Watkiss said: "I doubt very much whether the two players will play while on loan but I am definitely interested in extending Colin's stay here and I will be speaking to Dario Gradi this week."
STAGS' MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
Evening Post, 18 November 2002
Team Bath 2 v 4 mansfield Town
Right, let"s get all the FA Cup sentimentality out of the way.
Team Bath did very well to get a couple of late goals and will always be remembered for being the first university team since your great-grandad was a nipper to play in the proper stages of this competition.
But this match was more than just a tale of a giant waiting to be killed and, while national radio stations were so disappointed the students were three goals down at half-time they decided not to broadcast the second half, such a scenario would have delighted followers of Stuart Watkiss's side.
The party was suitably pooped and, although there were a couple of late scares that for many would have taken the gloss off the afternoon, the objective was still achieved.
If you are going to concede a couple of goals, I say do it when you are 4-0 up.
Deep down, everyone would have settled for a 2-0 win at the start of the game and that effectively was achieved.
It certainly wasn't a day to concentrate on slip-ups that would have been punished by a team like Bristol City. We'll all worry about that next week.
This game has been hanging over Stags for a while and many might have felt that - having picked up in the league without being able to scrape themselves off the bottom of the table - defeat against a bunch of HND scholars would have been a result that would have tipped a few over the edge and all hell could have broken loose.
But, what they did was live up to their job descriptions. They were professional and they got the job done.
Neil Richardson hit the nail on the head when he said that, although Stags aren't going to win the FA Cup, a decent run - which would probably be winning their next match and booking a game against someone from the Premiership - can only increase confidence in the camp.
The more confident you are, the more points you are going to pick up and, as a result, the competition cannot be treated as an annoying distraction.
After all, it's the best cup competition in the world.
One thing is certain. They will not play in an atmosphere like they did on Saturday, which, at times, equated to the screaming you usually associate with a schoolboy international as the Bath supporters, on the whole, just came for the ride and only made themselves heard when they grabbed the late goals.
By then, they had been shut up by some of the best football Stags have put together all season.
Some might query the standard of the opposition. But Watkiss's side demonstrated they can play penetrative, fast football and, as their manager wanted them to show, they were better than a team at the bottom of Division Two - it was mission accomplished.
The win can only increase their confidence and that of the people who turn up to watch them.
While some will point out the students had the chances at the end to take them to a replay, it is necessary sometimes not to get romantic and look at the plain facts.
Two wins and a draw from their last three matches.
Things are looking up.
Latest | November 2002