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Archived News from November 2002

30th November 2002 21:05

by IAN WILKERSON, Evening Post, 30 November 2002

Mansfield Town manager Stuart Watkiss believes Neil MacKenzie is showing just the sort of commitment he wants to see from his players as the midfielder tries to battle his way back into the first team.

Mackenzie, who was captured on a free transfer from Blackpool over the summer, has found himself on the bench in recent weeks but Watkiss is pleased with the way he is going about getting his starting place back.

The manager, who added central defender Rhys Day to his squad on a month's loan this week from Manchester City, said: "I spoke to Macca last week and told him that he is an excellent ball player but he has got to tackle a lot more if he is going to become a permanent fixture in the team.

"I'm very pleased that he has tried to put this into practice.

"I don't mind players making mistakes when they are trying to do the right thing or attempting to do stuff that we have practiced in training.

"Everyone does it and, if the players were the finished article, they would not be playing for Mansfield Town.

"It just gets me frustrated when we don't do things that we have spoken about.

"I think we are really close to having a good team at this level but that is not going to happen if we keep conceding goals like we have.

"We have been very good in the other areas but we seem to be in trouble every time the ball goes into our area."

Meanwhile, teenage striker Chris Beardsley might force his way into the first-team squad in the next couple of weeks as Watkiss looks to provide cover for the suspended Neil Moore, Lee Williamson and Liam Lawrence, all of whom will miss the Fa Cup clash with Crewe next week.

Beardsley has scored 15 goals in his last 13 games at youth team and reserve team level and helped himself to a brace in the 6-3 second string win over Lincoln City on Wednesday.

Watkiss said "Chris scored a couple of goals in the reserves this week and looked very good.

"I would have liked to have kept him on but we needed to give Colin Larkin a run out.

"But the lad is doing really well because he missed a lot of last season when he had a stress fracture of his back and, as he is now a third-year scholar, you have to consider that he is really one year behind.

"But with the suspensions that are going to affect us in the next couple of weeks, I think he might find himself involved in the first-team picture. Having said that, Danny Bacon has also been a lot better."
BY IAN WILKERSON, Evening Post, 29 November 2002

Mansfield Town boss Stuart Watkiss has put his faith in Manchester City centre-half Rhys Day to plug the holes in the country's leakiest defence.

Day, who has played eight games for the Welsh Under-21 side and enjoyed a period in Division Two with Blackpool last season, will come to Field Mill on a month's loan, providing there are no problems with his medical.

He is likely to go straight into the team for tomorrow's trip to Port Vale, although Stags will have to wait to see if he can feature in the FA Cup clash at Crewe Alexandra next week.

Stags have conceded 49 goals in their 19 league games, although they are the joint-fourth-highest goalscorers in Division Two.

Watkiss said: "He is 6ft 2ins and a left-sided defender so he will give us a bit more of a natural balance.

"I'm delighted we have managed to get him."

Stags still sit at the bottom of Division Two but the Valiants have suffered an awful run of form recently, having won only once since they beat Notts County at the end of September.

Watkiss is convinced it is the ideal opportunity for the Stags to bounce back following their dramatic 5-4 defeat against Bristol City last week.

He said: "It is a big game for us but if we can play as well as we can, we can definitely go there and win.

"I am convinced that if we play like we have done in the last five or six matches then we can create chances and I am sure we will score goals.

"But it is going to be down to our defending because, if we can keep a clean sheet, I am sure we will get three points.

"We have to bounce back because it was ridiculous that we scored four goals against one of the best teams in the league and still lost."

Watkiss is left with a dilemma up front as to who should partner Iyseden Christie.

He has been in sparkling form, netting eight goals in the last four matches, and it will be between Colin Larkin and the fit-again Colin Little for the second striker's spot.

Bobby Hassell, who came through 70 minutes of Wednesday's 6-3 reserve win over Lincoln City, is also set to return to the squad after a lengthy lay-off.

He is expected to take his place on the bench.

MANSFIELD TOWN (probable): Pilkington, Gadsby, Lever, Day, Lawrence, Williamson, Disley, Clarke, Corden, Little,Christie. Subs: Larkin, White, Moore, MacKenzie, Bacon.


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