Cox may have to rotate side
mansfieldtown.net, 21st February 2013
Manager Paul Cox has hinted that he could rotate his side ahead of Saturday's trip to Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Luton Town.
Our first team, who have fielded the same starting line-up for the last four games in succession, go into the clash at Kenilworth Road on the back of a midweek victory over Hyde.
Louis Briscoe's strike less than 15 seconds after the re-start earned us all three points from what was a largely scrappy affair, and Cox has admitted to tiredness amongst his players.
He said: “There were some tired players on Tuesday night. Before the game, I asked all the players who played last Saturday, if their legs felt ok.
“They all told me they were fine. Since the squad has been trimmed down, I've got to know the players a little bit more intimately and I trust them to be honest with me.
“A special mention has to go to the supporters, who gave us some fabulous vocal support and helped to pull us through towards the end of the game.”
He added: “We've got a group of footballers who all want to play. There are some hungry players on the bench and even in the stands at the minute, so it's a really positive scenario.”
Cox also believes our team must be prepared for a hostile environment during Saturday's clash with the managerless Hatters, who haven't won a game since their FA Cup Fourth Round victory at Carrow Road last month.
Our first team have won four of their last five away fixtures, but are expecting a hostile atmosphere as they face a Luton side currently 11 points adrift of the play-off zone.
Thumped by Millwall in the FA Cup Fifth Round last weekend, the Hatters also parted company with boss Paul Buckle earlier this week after less than a year at the helm.
Cox continued: “It's got all the makings of being a very good game as both teams have aspirations of breaking into the play-off places.
“We've got to embrace the atmosphere and not get side-tracked by what has been going on there of late, and focus on achieving a positive result.
“What we want to do is keep ourselves grounded. It's an exciting period for the football club and we have got some juicy fixtures ahead of us. It's a big week coming up.”
Meanwhile, defender Ryan Tafazolli completed a full 90 minutes for the first time in over five months, during a friendly encounter away at Shepshed Dynamo last night.
The game finished in a 3-3 draw with Jake Green, Joe Flint and Ross Lamb on the scoresheet for us
VIEW FROM THE TRAINING GROUND
Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"My glass is always half full. To win the league title we have to win a lot of games but we are capable of it.
"We are in a rich vein of form at the minute. There are 16 games to go and anything can happen. As long as the boys are showing the commitment and desire they showed against Hyde I will be happy with that.
"Losing a manager can galvanise a team or it can split the camp. Luton are a big club and there are a lot of clubs who think they shouldn't be in this league, but everyone is in it for a reason. You have to earn the right to get out of this league.
"We struggled to manage a few expectations earlier this season so I know what it is like. But you have to get your head down and be positive."
Stags on a mission to kill off play-off hopes of rivals Luton Town
chad.co.uk Thursday 21 February 2013
MANSFIELD Town head for managerless Luton Town on Saturday (3pm), hoping to pull off the result that would almost certainly end their rivals' hopes of making the play-offs.
The Hatters have had a month from hell so far with three defeats and two draws in February seeing them plummet to 11 points short of the fifth and final play-off place and then seeing manager Paul Buckle this week walk away for 'personal reasons'.
Nevertheless, Stags v Luton games in recent seasons have seen the clubs build up a rich and bitter rivalry and Mansfield manager Paul Cox said: “This has all the makings of a very good game.
“Both teams have aspirations of breaking into the play-off places and it looks like a really tasty fixture.
“It will be a hostile atmosphere down there which is part and parcel of the fixture. I embrace this kind of atmosphere. You want to play in front of big crowds every week and there is nothing to fear.
“Luton losing Paul Buckle came as a surprise to us all at this level. We have got to thoroughly professional and not get sidetracked by what is going on down there. We must focus only on getting a good result.
“Luton have a fabulous squad all the way through and we know it will be a tough game. We must make sure our players are grounded and level going into the game, having recovered right and prepared right.”
The Luton trip is the third of three successive away games in eight days with a mouthwatering trip to local rivals Lincoln City, also now managerless, looming on Tuesday.
“This is a big week. But we have lots of big weeks coming up between now and the end of the season and we are really looking forward to it,” said Cox.
“This is an exciting time for the club and we have some juicy fixtures.”
Mansfield's 1-0 win at Hyde on Tuesday was their fifth win in six games with a largely settled side, but Cox is concerned that any players feeling the pace must come forward and ask for a rest.
He said: “We had a few tired bodies out there on Tuesday, especially late on. But it's good to know we have lads who will run through a brick wall for this club.
“I must make a special mention of our supporters, who made up nearly half the crowd, for their vocal support at Hyde. It was really appreciated by everyone at the club and helped pull the lads through at the end.
“I now need the lads to be honest with me about their fitness. No one wants to step out and lose their place. But I need them to put their hands up for the sake of the side. Even during the 90 minutes I need them to raise a hand and say I am finished.”
Mansfield Town relishing hostile environment at Luton
MANSFIELD Town boss Paul Cox says the club will embrace the hostile atmosphere when they head to Kenilworth Road to face Luton today.
The two are both battling for promotion, with the Stags sixth, just three points off third spot and knowing victory could take them into the play-off places today.
The Hatters are eight points behind Mansfield in eighth but with a game in hand on Paul Cox's men and even more on other promotion rivals.
With a big crowd expected in Luton, it should make for a tasty occasion with the Stags in solid form, having won six of their last seven games.
And Cox said: "It has all the makings of being a very good game because both teams have aspirations of breaking into those play-off places and it is looking like a tasty fixture.
"It is always hostile and that is what you expect down there, with a big crowd. But those are the kind of games, the kind of atmospheres you want to play in.
"As a manager, I relish those and then we have Lincoln on Tuesday, which will be a big crowd again so it is a big week. But, we have quite a lot of big weeks coming up."
Luton manager Paul Buckle stepped down in the week, citing personal reasons for his departure from the club.
Their form has also slipped but Cox is under no illusions of the task ahead.
"Paul Buckle going has come as a surprise," admitted the Stags boss. "But it does not matter to us. We have to be thoroughly professional and go down there and do a job.
"We are not being sidetracked with what's happening there. We just have to focus on getting a positive result."
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Jones: Luton instability may help us
mansfieldtown.net, 21st February 2013
Defender Luke Jones believes Luton Town's current managerial instability could favour our side when we make the trip to Kenilworth Road this weekend.
The Hatters parted company with Paul Buckle by mutual consent earlier this week, and are currently 11 points adrift of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off zone.
Jones said: “[In that situation] the players are sort of going out each time to impress whoever is in charge, but it can also have an adverse effected and lead to uncertainty in the club.
“It can also lead to players worrying about things that they shouldn't be worrying about, but we know it'll be a tough game down there in a hostile environment.”
The 25-year-old proved his worth to us with a magnificent performance in our midweek victory at Hyde, which included a superb goal-line clearance in the closing stages.
It caps a roller-coaster season for Jones, who, after starting the campaign as a regular in our first team, spent a long spell out of the side midway through the season.
“It was a frustrating period for me when I was out of the side and I had to keep my head down, but I'm glad to be back in the squad now,” continued Jones.
“At Hyde, it was a difficult game and we didn't really play our best football, but in the end it was a professional performance and we're glad with the three points.”
He added: “With two more away games coming up, it was important we got off to a good start, but we don't want to get too carried away because the table can change quite quickly.”
Jones has netted five goals in his 16 league appearances so far this term
Defender Luke Jones enjoying his run in a settled Mansfield Town side
CHAD.co.uk Friday 22 February 2013
CENTRAL defender Luke Jones is enjoying his current run in the Mansfield Town first team and feels having a settled back four for the first time all season is paying dividends in the current run of five wins in six games.
Ahead of tomorrow's tough trip to Luton Town, Jones said: “It is good to have a settled back four. Defenders like to have a run of games together so they can get to know each other. It gives you a more solid base at the back and you can build on that.
“I had a frustrating period this season about halfway through when I wasn't playing for whatever reason. But I kept my head down and looked for the next opportunity that came along.
“We have a lot of good players here. I got my opportunity and have tried to grasp it with both hands. I have enjoyed my recent run of games and settled into the team.
“You have go to be right when you are out of the side as you never know when your opportunity might come.”
Stags began a spell of three away games on the trot in eight days with a 1-0 win at Hyde and Tuesday and Jones added: “It was a difficult game and we didn't play our best football. These are the games you have got to just push over the line and it was still three points.
“It wasn't pretty and was a bit hairy near the end, hanging onto a lead. But it was a professional performance.”
Mansfield now face tough trips to managerless clubs Luton Town (tomorrow) and neighbours Lincoln City on Tuesday.
Jones said: “They are both difficult games this week. With three away games in row, it was important we got off to a good start at Hyde and got some points on the board.
“We can't think about the Lincoln game until we have got Luton out of the way.
“Luton having no manager can go either way. Sometimes players will go out wanting to impress whoever is coming in to make sure they are in his plans, but it can also cause uncertainty. Players can worry about who is coming in next and worry about things they shouldn't be worrying about on the pitch.”
Milestone week for Stags keeper Alan Marriott as he returns to old clubs Luton and Lincoln
CHAD.co.uk Saturday 23 February 2013 08:00
STAGS keeper Alan Marriott is enjoying a milestone week with his 150th appearance in a Mansfield Town shirt last weekend about to be followed by trips to two of his previous clubs, Luton Town (today, 3pm) and Lincoln City (Tuesday, 7.45pm) in the next two games.
“I didn't realise I had reached 150 appearances until I was told the other day,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed my time here, though I have had a few ups and downs which you get wherever you go in football.
“When I left Lincoln I didn't want to go far as I didn't want to relocate my family.
“I went to Rushden where I had a few injuries. Then Curtis Woodhouse came here to play for David Holdsworth and I found out they wanted a goalkeeper so they brought me here.”
He added: “The game I have most enjoyed was the Liverpool match as there was no pressure on you and a worldwide audience was watching what you could do.
“It is one of the highlights of my career. It was great to play in a Wembley final, but losing there took the shine off playing at a fantastic venue.”
Marriott's contact at the One Call Stadium expires at the end of the season and he said: “We have all got families and bills to pay.
“It's a hard world up there. You never know what's round the corner. All you can do is keep plugging away, do your best, and hope a new contract is your reward at the end of it.”
Tomorrow, Marriott returns to a club he turned out for as a schoolboy.
“Ever since the FA Trophy semi-finals, Luton have been seen as a rival and I am sure it will be fun and games,” he said.
“It can be quite hostile at times. Luton is local to where I am from and at 15 I was a schooboy there, so I have a lot of friends who support the team.
“Then we go to Lincoln, where I spent so long and I have friends and family who support them and I still talk to people who work there. I always wondered what reaction I would get when we played them, but I've played against them twice now so that's been put to bed.
“If we score against them I don't celebrate as a mark of respect to the people there who have supported you throughout your career.”
Football: 'Luton Town could still win the league'
Written by TOM SHARP
Alan Neilson, Stuart and Carl Emberson will be in charge against Mansfield on Saturday. Picture: Gareth Owen Alan Neilson, Stuart and Carl Emberson will be in charge against Mansfield on Saturday. Picture: Gareth Owen
Luton Town interim boss Alan Neilson believes whoever takes the reins at Kenilworth Road will still have a great chance of guiding the Hatters to promotion but joked he is “too busy at present” to think about throwing his hat into the ring.
Town were rocked by Tuesday's announcement of Paul Buckle's departure and Neilson, Stuart Cash and Carl Emberson were placed in temporary charge for the 1-1 draw at Macclesfield just a few hours later.
Ahead of the first of 17 season-defining games, against Mansfield, on Saturday, Neilson feels Luton can still catch pacesetters Wrexham who are 16 points clear of the Hatters.
“You might think I am mad but if we go on a great run like Kidderminster in recent weeks, we could still win the league,” said Neilson. “It really is that tight. Teams will be playing each other so until it's mathematically unachievable we will try and win each game.”
The draw against a Macclesfield side who played most of the match with ten men represented two points dropped and placed extra importance on the game with Mansfield on Saturday.
“I would not like to say it is must-win but it is a game we should definitely look to get the three points from,” said Neilson. “It is a three points that would make it closer and with Mansfield having played a game more still, for us we need to close the gap on them.”
Gary Sweet, the manager director, invited Neilson to apply for the job but he is unlikely to be a serious candidate.
“I am too busy to think about staking a claim for this job," the former Hatter said. "I have spoken to Gary Sweet and as with previous spells in charge I know what to expect so I am just focussing on that.
“It's busy times at the moment but my only priority is to get the three points on Saturday and see what happens next week.
“My full concentration is on the team. The whole team need to just get on with their jobs and be professional,” said Neilson.
“It is going to be tricky and the first thing we have to think about is Mansfield and how they are going to play on Saturday.”
Neilson, who last took sole charge of the club just under a year ago following the sacking of Gary Brabin, is used to minding the shop. He said the team were back at their Ely Way training ground on Wednesday for a “cool-down” and a practice match after the previous night's trip to Macclesfield. Buckle also popped in to say his farewells.
“Paul spoke to the players, and said his goodbyes,” said Neilson. “In regards to what happened between Paul and the club, I am in no position to say anything on that. I want to just do my best for this football club while I am entrusted with the job.”
Blame game ends as Neilson looks to relieve the pressure at Luton Town
Friday 22 February 2013
Temporary boss Alan Neilson refused to label Saturday's visit of play-off rivals Mansfield Town as a 'must-win' game as he looks to keep the pressure off of his shell-shocked players, writes Mark Wood.
Having surrendered a one-goals lead in Tuesday night's 1-1 draw against 10-man Macclesfield, and with Town still reeling from the departure of boss Paul Buckle the same day, Neilson was doing his best to stay level-headed at yesterday's press conference.
And he is keen to instil some new-found confidence in his charges as Town looked to put a run together, while the search for a new manager goes on.
Neilson said: “I wouldn't like to say it's a must-win because it then puts more pressure on them. But it's a game we definitely have to look to get the three points. We know that we can't lose the game and three points would make it closer. Mansfield have played the same amount of games as us so we have to close the gap on them.
“Mansfield are going to be tough, they're always tough. We saw down there earlier this season, we were winning 2-1 and they brought the big lad on up front and we drew 2-2. Away from home a point's not the end of the world, but when you are winning 2-1 with five minutes to go you expect to win the game.
“We know they're going to be big, strong, physical. We have to be mentally strong enough to hold up and win the physical battle against them and also go and play our football.
“The focus of myself and the staff is to concentrate on the game, concentrate on Mansfield, how they'll play, how we'll counteract it and how we'll hopefully go and get the three points.”
And Neilson believes instilling new confidence in the players and not focusing on their mistakes could be the way to take the pressure off as they look to go on a run to get them back in the play-off frame.
He said: “We're trying to get confidence into them. We saw on Tuesday night, the second half there wasn't a lot of confidence in the play. We didn't pass the ball well enough and they looked like they were bigger, better and stronger than us. Obviously that comes with winning games, winning football matches.
“After the game against Millwall last Saturday it was a big disappointment because we let ourselves down against Millwall. Me personally, second half as well I thought we let ourselves down against 10 men and let them back into the game. Our focus now is just to let the players relax, be comfortable. We know they are good players we just need to give them the confidence to go and show the fans how good they are.
“I think if you look at the cup games there's been no pressure. There's no pressure on them because Wolves are in the Championship, Norwich are in the Premiership and also Millwall are in the Championship and it looks like we're underdogs.
“Nearly all of the games we play in the league we're nearly always favourites and that takes a lot of pressure off and they go out and express themselves.
“Yes, Millwall, we conceded some sloppy goals and made some individual mistakes but that happens.
“I said don't worry if you make a mistake. Just forget about it and make sure the next time you get on the ball make sure you do a good pass, good shot, or good clearance or header, or great save from (Mark) Tyler, whatever it may be, just go out and relax, no pressure and enjoy it.”
But he admitted that being so far adrift of both the automatic promotion places and the play-off spots brings its own demands.
“I think the situation we are in now, you look at the table,” Neilson said. “We're not going to kid ourselves, we're points behind and got games in hand and I think that adds a little bit of pressure.
“Our home form's been good. We've lost three at home all season against lower sides and we've lost seven away games which hasn't been good enough.
“It's going to be difficult, but there's still 17 games to go. I've looked at the average number of points to get into the play-offs and it's round about 80. We need to go on a run.
“Kidderminster at the start of the season they lost the first five games and look where they are now. They're absolutely flying, on a great run. We know we've got the players to go on a great run and it's got to start Saturday.
“We know we've got good players here, we just need to give them the confidence and give them the mentality to go out and express themselves. I said before, don't worry if you make a mistake. If you make a mistake forget about it and try and do it better next time.
“We've tried to make it as nice and relaxed as we can. We've done a lot of technical stuff today and tactical stuff on the team shape and just tried to have a nice little fun day so that they're relaxed so that when they go on the pitch on Saturday they're at it, but relaxed at the same time.”
However, Neilson knows there is plenty to work on after Town's terrible second half showing at Macclesfield on Tuesday night.
He said: “From Tuesday I think it was the first half. We've gone through the DVD and watched it. First half, Andre Gray's chance is a great chance. The ball's thrown out from Mark Tyler it went to Andre Gray, he played two-touch and played it Jonathan Smith. Jonathan Smith has played it to Alex Lawless it went to (Jake) Howells, went to Greg Taylor, Andre made the run and hit the post and Jon (Shaw) had the chance.
“We created chances, Andre Gray knows himself he had three good chances, he's scored one, hit the post. If you look at it we did create things. The most disappointing thing second half is we didn't pass the ball well enough.
“We tried to sit back and defend the lead, it didn't work. Once they equalised it looked like we had more belief to go forward again. We changed gear. It's just having the belief in the players that we can go out and pass the ball for 90 minutes. We know we will be under pressure for some parts of the game, but need to have the belief and be relaxed enough to pass the ball.
“We had a look at the DVD after training yesterday, the second half wasn't good enough. And we went through the reasons why. Today we've gone on the tactical stuff going forward and tomorrow we will work on the defensive stuff.”
The Hatters will now be looking for their most experienced players to lead from the front, with the likes of captain Ronnie Henry, Steve McNulty and Wayne Thomas the most likely candidates.
Neilson continued: “I think now if you look at the experienced players, the captain Ronnie Henry, you've got the new lads. Steve McNulty is experienced and Wayne Thomas has come in now that he can play games.”
Henry had laid into his Hatters team-mates after Tuesday night's draw and, while respecting his skipper's opinions, Neilson believes there is more than one way to skin a cat for Town to get success.
He added: “I think Ronnie's been at Stevenage. He's won things at Stevenage, two promotions, they won the FA Trophy. Ronnie's been with a team that's been really strong and physical and at Luton Town we probably play in a slightly different way.
“Of course you need strong players, but we try to pass the ball and move it about. Ronnie's teams have been big physical players, which you need a mixture to get out of this league.
“At the minute, Ronnie might be right when he says we haven't got big units that are all six foot, but we've got players that try and play. You have to do a nice balance, when to play football and when not to play football and when to go big and strong against some of the teams that will try to play the ball more direct.
“I think it's a mix. Ronnie's the captain and he's got his opinion. You do need big players, but you need players who are going to be strong on the ball. It's not just about having players that are going to be big and strong and kick people. You need big, strong players and mentally strong enough to get hold of the ball and want the ball when we are not under pressure. But at the minute we are under pressure.”
Latest | February 2013