COX, DEMPSTER, ALFRETON ASSISTANT REACTION
video interview with Paul Cox and John Dempster:
Stags manager Cox slams players for lack of mental strength after derby day defeat by Alfreton
PAUL Cox today warned he may bring in new players on 1st January if the current Stags squad show any more signs of mental weakness after they allowed neighbours Alfreton Town to come from behind to win 2-1 at the One Call Stadium in the rain today.
The Mansfield Town boss also warned he would not tolerate any players daydreaming about the FA Cup tie with Liverpool on 6th January with so many crucial league games to play before the big day.
“It was a local derby and we had not played for a couple of weeks, so I thought my players would have been more energetic than that,” said Cox
“We lacked that mental strength today. It was a big game for us and I expected more from us. We had the lion's share of the possession and the territorial advantage today. But they don't win you football matches. It's all about putting the ball in the net and keeping it out the other net.
“This is a very important time coming up.
“The window is opening and all the big clubs will try to strengthen. If we are going to compete at the top we need to get mentally stronger as a unit, either with this group of players, or I will have to bring in people that are mentally strong.
“We do have some very good players and a lot of young boys in there. But teams that win a championship would take the lead like we did today but then grind it out and keep a clean sheet.
“Between now and 1st January it is a very important time that will tell me if I need to strengthen.
“ If we are going to be there or thereabouts we need to be winning games like today and not talking about a bad day at the office.
“It is the first time we've lost in a lot of home games. But I can't find a nice slant on it. I am gutted.
“I hope people are not keeping an eye on 6th January as that will not be tolerated.
“We have a lot of big games coming up and I wanted the players to embrace the great run we'd been on and go on a bit of a run like last year.
“It has not happened today and we have now got to dust ourselves down as we have a massive game here on Saturday.”
Stags allowed Alfreton back into the game within two minutes of taking the lead before giant defender Exodus Geohaghon allowed himself to be out-muscled off the ball for the second half winner.
Cox said: “We switched off twice in the game. When you have scored, the most important time is that five minutes after. But we gave away a sloppy free kick and and were then punished for sloppy defending.
“Then, as a defender, you need to be stronger for the second goal.”
Mansfield Town: Paul Cox blasts sloppy players
PAUL Cox blasted his Mansfield Town side's sloppiness after the Stags boss watched his team return from a two-week break from action with a 2-1 home loss to local rivals Alfreton Town in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
His side took the lead through John Dempster only to concede from a free-kick two minutes later. And then centre-half Exodus Geohaghon was too easily knocked off the ball, leading to Alfreton's second-half winner.
This below-par display was the last thing Cox wanted, ahead of entertaining leaders Grimsby on Saturday and visiting Alfreton on January 1.
He said: "I thought the lads would be a little bit more energetic. But we were sloppy for both goals. We were sloppy trying to get the ball back and gave away a free-kick, then switched off on the set-piece and the second goal was just a comedy goal really.
"We were sloppy in the last third as well and at the end, we should have scored. I am just hoping that one or two have not got their eye on January 6 (against Liverpool, FA Cup).
"We lacked that mental strength. I expected more from us, I am bitterly disappointed."
Dempster insists Mansfield Town players won't lose their focus
JOHN Dempster insists the eagerly-anticipated FA Cup clash with Liverpool is not leading to the Mansfield Town players losing focus.
The third round clash at the One Call Stadium on Sunday January 6 has already sold out, with fans queuing around the stadium in the pouring rain to get a ticket.
But after an enforced two-week break from action following the second round replay win over Lincoln, the Stags were beaten 2-1 at home to neighbours Alfreton on Boxing Day.
Captain Dempster had put the Stags ahead before the Reds hit straight back and got the winner in the second-half.
It was a poor showing from Mansfield but Dempster insists the league is always the priority and he was desperate to try and put it right on Saturday when they were due to entertain Grimsby.
The defender said: "One eye wasn't on the Liverpool game. I don't think that. You have ups and downs in football and we have to try and be consistent throughout the season.
"But things like this defeat will happen. But when you are not at your best, the key is to try and take at least a point.
"The league is our bread and butter. The FA Cup is brilliant for the football club and players but our form had been generally good in the league, we will look to maintain that ."
Derby Telegraph, BY CHRIS WATSON
GOALKEEPER Phil Barnes could keep his place in the Alfreton Town side tomorrow after helping the Reds to a memorable victory over local rivals Mansfield Town.
Barnes made his first appearance since the end of August in the 2-1 Boxing Day success at the One Call Stadium, replacing the suspended Jon Stewart between the sticks.
Stewart is available again for the trip to Nuneaton Town but will return to parent club Burnley after the return fixture against Mansfield on New Year's Day when his loan spell ends.
As a result, Alfreton boss Nicky Law could look to give Barnes a run in the team.
"Phil did really well at Mansfield, considering he hadn't played for a while," said Law's assistant, Russ O'Neill.
"He's a very experienced keeper and was a calming influence on the team.
"We've got a decision to make but it wouldn't surprise me if Phil kept the shirt, with Jon's loan coming to an end.
"It's a chance for Phil to stake his claim now."
Midfielder Theo Streete is also back in contention after serving a one-match ban but Leigh Franks is suspended and Connor Franklin (ill) and Darran Kempson (hamstring) are both doubts after missing the Mansfield game.
Alfreton celebrated their first-ever win over the Stags and a first victory in six games, lifting them up to 15th in the Blue Square Bet Premier table.
The Reds fell behind to John Dempster's 35th-minute strike but Paul Clayton headed them level and Ben Tomlinson, back from a foot injury, hit the winner shortly before the hour mark.
"It was a great result and, overall, I think we deserved it," said O'Neill.
"We knew what to expect from Mansfield.
"They are a big, physical side and are good at what they do.
"So we had to stand up to them and we did that well.
"We had to be at our best.
"Last time, we played them at their place, we were 2-0 up but then had two men sent off and they came back and nicked a winner in injury time.
"So it was good to see this one out."
A bumper crowd of 4,186 included 350 travelling fans.
"It was a great day for the club," said O'Neill.
"We've had a lot of good results this season, beating the likes of Luton, Newport and Wrexham.
"But for the supporters, this was probably the best.
"We took 350 fans and they sounded like at least 700."
Mansfield could be forgiven for having one eye on their FA Cup third round clash with Premier League giants Liverpool – but Paul Cox's side must face Alfreton again before that match.
"Mansfield have done really well this season," said O'Neill.
"They are pushing for the play-offs and have earned themselves a really good tie against Liverpool.
"I suppose that makes this result even better."
Tomorrow's opponents, Nuneaton, are currently in the relegation places but beat Tamworth 2-1 on Boxing Day and won 3-0 at the Impact Arena in August.
"Nuneaton away is always a tough trip – we know that from our days in Conference North," said O'Neill.
"They had a good win against Tamworth on Boxing Day, so I'm sure they will make it difficult for us.
"We've tended to do well against the top sides this season but not so well against the teams around us and below us in the table.
"So we're looking to pick up some more points."
Alan Marriott @Mazza_78
We all was very poor today but only hard work on training ground and positive attitude is only way to change things! #rollonnextgame
Lindon Meikle @lindonmeikle
Wanna make personal fucking insults to me then bottle it when I put it to you face to face! Don't fucking bother in the 1st place ??
Oh and btw that game should of never been on #bogcity
Respect to those fans that get behind us no matter what #appreciated And respect to the fans that boo us! We kno it hurts when we lose!
Latest | December 2012