WREXHAM PREVIEWS + MURRAY BLOG
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VIDEO: Last 44 games count for nothing - Cox
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 19 Apr 2012
Manager Paul Cox has warned his side against complacency heading into the final two league games ahead of a play-off scrap for promotion to the Football League.
We currently reside in third place heading into our final home league fixture against Wrexham and Cox insists the hard work is yet to be done.
Speaking at this morning's press meeting: "What we have done in the last 44 game counts for nothing after the 46 games have finished, we will be judged on two games and then ultimately on one final if we are lucky enough to get there.
"We have had a great 44 games, I am still hoping that we have a possible five game to play, there is a lot to play for."
Ahead of a crucial period for the club, Cox will not allow his team to rest on their laurels heading into the remaining two games and he believes that his squad still have to face their toughest challenge.
He stated: "The pressure that is on my shoulders is still there, all the scenarios are still there, I am not wanting to now just put my feet up for the summer.
"As far as I am concerned, the work actually starts here and we have got to get that through to the players."
Meanwhile, Lindon Meikle has spoken of his disappointment of being unable to compete in last season's play-offs with Eastwood Town and is keen to make amends this time around.
He said: "Obviously it was a big disappointment last year, we got to the place where we wanted to be in the play-offs, unfortunately we could not take part and then this season now is my second chance.
"It is an even better target to be at and a better prize to get into the Football League, which is a lifelong ambition of mine, so hopefully things will fall into place and it will happen this time.
"Every game I play for Mansfield is nervous for me because it is a big step for me and the chance to play in the Football League just baffles me from where I was this time last season."
Skipper Adam Murray, who has been troubled throughout the season with an ankle problem, has insisted that the rest will do him good, but admits his ankle is still causing him pain and discomfort.
He said: "The toughest part of it is training because you have not got that adrenaline rush of going out there and playing a game. I think that plays a big part and to some degree masks some of the pain.
"It is about the bigger picture and we are lucky that we have got a squad that can all do a job."
Wrexham are likely to be boosted by the recovery of Jay Harris, who returned to training this week, while defender Mark Creighton is uncertain of a starting place after failing to finish the match in Wrexham's 2-2 draw at home to Grimsby Town.
Dave Rhodes (Mansfield 103.2), Stevie Roden (Nottingham Post) and John Lomas (Chad) are asking the questions.
Hawley training with Mansfield
chad.co.uk, Thursday 19 April 2012
NOTTS County striker Karl Hawley is training with the Stags.
But boss Paul Cox said it was purely as a favour to skipper Adam Murray, who is good friends with Hawley, and fans should not read anything into it.
“Muzzer asked me for a favour and I was happy to let Karl come down and keep his fitness ticking as long as everyone knew about it and we were not treading on any toes,” said Cox.
“Nothing has been said about next season. Karl is a very good player with a good background – but all I am concentrating on is Friday night.”
Notts County striker training with Mansfield Town
Friday, April 20, 2012, PostSport
NOTTS County's Karl Hawley is training with Mansfield Town.
But Stags boss Paul Cox insists it is purely a favour to Hawley, to help him stay fit between now and the end of the season.
Cox was asked by Mansfield captain Adam Murray, who played with him at Carlisle, if Hawley could train with them at the John Fretwell Centre.
Hawley is out of favour at Meadow Lane and his contract expires in the summer.
As for a switch to the Stags for next season, Cox says it is something he has not even considered, as the striker is purely in north Nottinghamshire as a favour, nothing more.
Will Stags boss Cox rest big guns for Wrexham TV clash?
chad.co.uk, Thursday 19 April 2012
PAUL Cox has some massive decisions to make ahead of tomorrow night's live televised home clash with Mansfield Town's potential Wembley play-off final opponents Wrexham (7.30pm).
With two league games left before the play-off semi-finals begin, the Stags boss must decide on whether or not to risk using his key players.
And both clubs will be worrying about the current non-stop rain with few options of when the game could be played this week if the pitch ends up waterlogged.
“I will play the strongest side I feel can win both games with an eye on the two most important games of our season – the play-off semis.
“We need to keep everyone fully match-fit and sharp so anyone who is fit will play. But I may have to be very shrewd in what 16 I choose to win two football matches.”
Cox warned: “What we've done for the last 44 games now counts for nothing. We will be judged on the two semi-final games and the final if we get there.
“Some people may think we've had a great season. Well I am hoping we still have five games left and there is still a lot to play for.
“The hard work actually starts now and I have got to get that across to the players.
“We have two league games left and if someone is not up for the fight and giving me that extra yard in those then they won't play – it's as simple as that.
“Anyone thinking we have achieved anything won't be at this club next season.
“If we go into the play-offs with that sort of mentality we will be rolled over.
On their tough opposition, he added: “Wrexham are a fabulous side and their manager has done an excellent job.
“They are unlucky not to get automatic promotion. We will give them, like every other side we've played this season, the respect they deserve but will try to impose ourselves on them.”
Dream end to dream season for Stags winger Meikle?
chad.co.uk, Thursday 19 April 2012
GETTING to Wembley with the possibility of becoming a Football League player is an amazing possibility to end to a real 'Roy of the Rovers' season for Mansfield Town's Lindon Meikle.
Although he impressed at Eastwood Town, winger Meikle was still in a full-time job and fitting in his football where he could.
And, having achieved last season's Blue Square North play-offs, Eastwood were denied the chance to compete over their ground standard.
Now he is in his first full-time season, has played for England C team and can hardly contain himself at the mouthwatering prospect of what may lie ahead over the next month.
“It just baffles me to be fair, to say where I was last year,” he said.
“Obviously I was disappointed about the play-offs last year. But this year is my second chance with an even better prize of the Football League which has been a lifelong ambition of mine. I hope things fall into place and it will happen this time.
“It does excite me playing regularly, though I am always nervous as it's been a big step for me.
“I have enjoyed competing with Adam Smith on the left. He is a good friend of mine and gives me good competition.
“I sometimes feel sorry for him when he does well and is then put on the bench. But I want to be playing as well.”
Stags manager Paul Cox happy to stay out of the limelight
Friday, April 20, 2012, Nottingham Post
FOR Paul Cox, it is always about the football. He loves it, his passion for the game so evident as soon as he begins to talk about the sport.
Nobody can doubt his work ethic or enthusiasm when it comes to making Mansfield Town a success and with the jigsaw coming together, he is deservedly getting the pats on the back.
Yet, the mere mention of the Premier Sports cameras showing the Stags game against Wrexham live tonight makes him feel a little uncomfortable.
"I am not bothered about the razzmatazz and the cameras and all that," he said. "It is a football match against a very good side and one that we could meet in the play-offs.
"I am hoping the players are focused on one thing, and one thing alone and that is trying to get a good result against a very good side.
"I can guarantee one or two will have a trim before it but hopefully the level of performance will outstrip any hair-dos."
It is not about the limelight for Cox, it is simply about winning but with that comes the spotlight and it is going to be difficult for the Stags boss or his players to get out of it in the coming weeks.
After a run of ten wins and a draw from their last 12 games, Mansfield have secured a play-off berth and need only one point to make certain of third place.
The cameras will not only be on them tonight, but even more attention will be thrown at them in a two-legged play-off semi-final.
And should they reach Wembley, the spotlight will intensify beyond all control if the Stags get to within 90 minutes of a return to the Football League, four years after slipping out.
Tonight they take on second-placed Wrexham at home before ending the season at another potential play-off rival, Kidderminster, a week tomorrow.
While Cox is looking to give the likes of out-of-favour Lee Stevenson, who he brought with him from Eastwood last summer, a chance and also injury-hit John Thompson a go, he does not want to change it too much.
Rest will be given to some players, to keep them sharp but Cox insists it is still all to play for when it comes to his players putting themselves firmly in his play-off thoughts.
"Mathematically we need a point to finish in third but more than that, we need to keep standards high," said Cox. "We have two games before the play-offs and a lot can happen.
"People can push themselves into contention and you see at this stage of the season that performances can drop so everything is still to play for.
"We need to improve from what we did on Saturday because I thought we were a little bit lacklustre (in the 3-1 win at Hayes and Yeading). But the lads have been brilliant this season and we need to finish strongly and then we will look at the play-offs.
"We need to concentrate on Wrexham and whatever side is put out, everyone is going to force the issue. If you are in there, it is about keeping your place and being in for when the play-offs start.
"After the Kidderminster game, we go into the play-offs early the next week so we will think about things, we will look at our state of play but knowing the boys as I do, they will want to play in both games.
"It might be about looking at performances in training and then deciding whether to give one or two of them a breather, even if they do not like it."
Cox says Stevenson, a key figure during his Eastwood tenure, has been unlucky to only play five games this season but said it has been difficult to change a winning formula.
And with a fully fit squad to choose from – captain Adam Murray is back from an ankle injury – his life is not about to get any easier.
"I know what Lee can do and it is hard," said Cox. "When we are on the run that we are, it is very hard to change the formula. It is not a nice job to tell somebody they are not involved.
"Also, I think Muzza should be available. Whether we play him or not against Wrexham, I do not know because we don't want him to break down.
"The squad will come into play and we have two games now where we have to be mindful of the play-offs.
"We have to be realistic and we want to be going into the play-offs with strong minds and strong legs. Whatever side I put out will be very strong. We have to finish the season properly, but also go into the first play-off game, no matter who it is against, physically and mentally right."
Should Mansfield finish third or fourth, they will play their play-off semi-final first leg on Wednesday May 2, 7.30pm with the second leg on Monday May 7, 2pm. If they finish fifth, the first leg will be on Thursday May 3, 7.30pm with the second leg on the Bank Holiday Monday, but at the later time of 4.30pm
Adam Murray says there is no time for Mansfield Town to take it easy
Friday, April 20, 2012, Nottingham Post
CAPTAIN Adam Murray has told his Mansfield Town team-mates there is no time to take it easy.
The Stags are guaranteed a play-off place in the Blue Square Bet Premier with two games to go and require only one point to make certain of third spot.
They host second-placed Wrexham tonight (7.30pm) before travelling to Kidderminster eight days later to complete their regular season.
But the play-off semi-final will see them play two legs inside six days and Murray insists the Stags must stay physically and mentally switched on.
Manager Paul Cox could make changes to his side tonight but Murray says there can be no let-up from anybody just because a top-five place is already booked.
He said: "This is the toughest time for us now. It is easy to take your foot off the gas and say you're in the play-offs.
"But you cannot afford to do that. You cannot relax and expect to pick it back up again.
"You have to keep everybody on top of their game, that is the key.
"You want to win these two games and go into the play-offs with confidence.
"The play-offs will come around quickly and it is a case of staying on a constant level where we do not ease off but do not get too excited because it burns energy, especially mental energy.
"We are in there on merit, we are a strong side and if we play to our strengths, I don't think there is anyone better at it.
"It will be a tough schedule but it will be good fun."
Wrexham FC in a phoney war ahead of play-offs
by Mark Currie, Daily Post Wales, Apr 20 2012
THE countdown to the play-offs begins tonight for Wrexham, who could be forgiven for engaging in a phoney war at Field Mill against Mansfield Town – potential opponents at Wembley in just over a month's time.
The Stags need only a point to cement a third-place finish and, providing both they and Wrexham negotiate the play-off semi-finals, the two sides will battle it out on May 20 for the coveted prize of a return to the Football League.
Going into tonight's clash it is the home team that have form and momentum on their side, a record of 12 wins and two draws in their last 14 outings hugely more impressive than that of the Dragons, who have taken only six points from the last 18 available.
Acknowledging the need to build confidence without revealing too much to opposite number Paul Cox, Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell said: “Do we go with our best team and try and win the game or do we take the view that a few people might need a rest so that they are fully ready for the play-offs?
“Some have had enforced rests and need games and others don't so we have to try and get the balance right between wanting to win, putting in a good performance and having everyone fresh for the play-offs.
“We've obviously got Newport next week as well to think about and we haven't won in the last four games so we need to rectify that and give ourselves a lift.
“If we do rest people there's a chance for others to come in to show what they can do because there is still time to claim a shirt.
“We are in the play-offs and there's an opportunity for one or two to step up and make themselves a hero.”
Morrell has a healthy respect for Mansfield – 3-1 winners at the Racecourse last September – and suspects counterpart Cox's selection this evening could also be swayed by what lies ahead next month.
“He's in the same quandary I suppose and it is a fine balance,” added the Racecourse boss.
“Mansfield are going very well and they have had a fine season. They have beaten us once this season and you know my thoughts on that. I don't like teams doing the double over us but it's going to be tough because they have a really good home record.
“We'll try and approach it in the right way, make sure we are prepared and if that's the case we'll give them a good game.
“Hopefully we will get the right result and the right performance to take into the last two games.”
Admitting he would rather be going into the play-offs this weekend, Morrell said: “It's a bit weird because you just want to get on with it, but there's nothing we can do about it so we have to use these (remaining) three games to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the play-offs.
“That could be through winning the games, getting the right level of performance and fitness, resting the right players, avoiding injuries or a combination of them all so it's a very fine balance that we have to try and achieve.
“We had a few injuries this time last season which was frustrating so there is no point in risking anyone now. I want to be choosing from a fully-fit squad because you then have people wanting to play and prove a point.
“When you have that (competition) I believe you get better performances. If we have everyone fit and raring to go that is a massive bonus for us.
“We've probably got two players for each position which means healthy competition and players driving each other on.
“So we are in a better position than we were 12 months ago and we just need that win and some momentum to kick-start us in terms of a bit of confidence.”
Looking to round off the regular campaign with back-to-back wins, Field Mill boss Cox said: “I will play the strongest side I feel can win both games with an eye on the two most important games of our season – the play-off semis.
“We need to keep everyone fully match-fit and sharp so anyone who is fit will play. But I may have to be very shrewd in what 16 I choose to win two football matches.
“What we've done for the last 44 games now counts for nothing. We will be judged on the two semi-final games and the final if we get there.
“The hard work actually starts now and I have got to get that across to the players.”
ADAM MURRAY BLOG: Raise the bar
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 19 Apr 2012
It's been a couple of weeks since I last spoke to you.Firstly I would like to thank you all for your support over the last few weeks especially the bank holiday weekend.
Two games in three days is very hard on the pocket and a massive credit to you guys for pulling us over them two hurdles. We have picked up the points needed to get us into the play-offs which obviously is a big well done to everyone involved but that's it and nothing more. We haven't won anything and the real work started on Monday.
Now is the time to really nail down and focus on what is a massive time in this club's recent history as well as individuals' playing careers.
Standards and targets have to be increased again and the bar must rise. If you slip in to a comfort zone in this game you lose and before you know it nine whole months of hard work has been thrown away: blood, sweat and injections down the drain.
As players, this is the time when it matters now mentally more than physically. The chance of a promotion is hanging right there! Real winners step forward in the next four weeks and grab it with both hands. Comfort zones are a no no !!
Before we even enter the play-offs we have two big games and third place to fight for against two of the teams we may possibly face again in the coming weeks. I am sure there will be lots of mind games and situations played out over the next few weeks and as I stated earlier people's mental state is going to play a massive part in the final running.
As I am writing this I'm having a great debate with a few people in the office. I'll throw it to you guys. What is a winner? There are so many different opinions and thoughts on this it's great. For me and obviously this is only my opinion, but winning is being number 1 and everything else is losing - it's that simple. Now I can hear people saying, 'So this season, have we lost?' Yes, again in my opinion we have not finished number 1, so we have. We have had a good season with us having a totally new squad and regime and haven't spent big money on players but we haven't finished in top spot.
Now we go into another battle (play-offs) where we can achieve number 1 status - then we will be classed as winners in my eyes. This is not me being negative but more realistic/positive and raising the bar. This has to be where we aim for - "You cannot rest unless you set goals that make you stretch"!!
For me personally, I have been able to rest the ankle for the last couple of weeks which has been good for me. I don't think I have had a season where I've taken so many bangs. I must give big credit to Ian, the physio, and to the club doctor for getting me through the games and patching me up after. They're actually working minor miracles. I am enjoying the battles though and it is all about winning the war.
We have now lost three teams from the league who have been relegated - a horrible time for clubs all over the country but unfortunately this is the game we are in. On the plus side, there are loads of battles going on all over the place for the chance of progression and success. This part of the season is great for football people with emotions flying everywhere and so much at stake .
On a totally different subject I have just looked out the window and chicken has bought a new coat.
Just to finish off guys I would ask you all to commit to Rhys Day's testimonial match next month.
He has put heart and soul into this place and has been a great player over the years. Mansfield Town really means something to Rhys and it would be amazing to give him a real good send off - it will be an emotional night for the big dragon and the more people to give him a cuddle the better. It is on the 12th of May at 3pm - so be there.
It's the last home league game tomorrow so let's bring the roof down. I want to hear loads of noise… let's hear the drums, guitars, pianos, what ever you have. Like I said we are raising the bar in every department and I would ask you all to take note of the recent advice and not get yourselves into any trouble tomorrow by entering the pitch - as it could be to the disadvantage of both you and the club.
Thank you guys, see you all tomorrow!!! COME ON YOU STAGS !!!!
Fans warned not to invade pitch tomorrow
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 19 Apr 2012
Stags fans are being advised not to run on to the One Call Stadium pitch on Friday night - or they could miss out on a potential Wembley date for their team.
A statement released by Nottinghamshire Police today read: 'Mansfield host Wrexham in their final home match of the 2011-12 Conference Premier season on Friday evening (7.30pm), knowing a draw will be enough to seal third place.
'Police are warning that anyone who ventures on to the pitch after the game may find themselves subject to a banning order which will prevent them from attending the play-off semi-finals next month and, should the Stags make it through to the final, the division's showpiece event at Wembley on Sunday 20 May.
'Match commander Chief Inspector Paul Winter wants fans to understand that an incursion on to the pitch is a criminal offence under the Football Spectators Act 1989 and the Football (Disorder) Act 2000.
'Chief Inspector Winter said: "Mansfield have had a great season and we know how much it would mean to the fans to have a chance of getting back into the Football League.
"A third-place finish means the second and deciding leg of the tie will be at the One Call Stadium. That will be when emotions could run highest, so this message applies to that game too, should it happen.
"It would be a shame for any fan to miss out just because they let their emotions get the better of them on Friday, run on to the pitch and are served with a banning order which would prevent them from attending the most important games the Stags will have played all season.
"It may seem that running on to the pitch is a harmless way of expressing delight, but it is actually against the law. It also creates a significant safety issue, particularly for those more vulnerable supporters such as the disabled, children and the elderly, and could result in someone getting injured.
"Mansfield fans also need to be aware that we will be filming what happens on Friday, so even someone who runs on to the pitch and is not arrested there and then may find themselves prosecuted subsequently.
"Our message is enjoy the night, cheer on the Stags and make sure both the club and all its fans are safely on their way to the play-offs by the time the full time whistle is blown."
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