Stags ready for Brewers battle
chad.co.uk, 31 December 2013
Boosted by ending their winless league streak at 13 games with Sunday’s fine 2-1 win at Cheltenham Town, Mansfield Town face another stern test today when they welcome high-flying Burton Albion to One Call Stadium (3pm).
And manager Paul Cox is hoping Sunday’s hard-earned victory has got his players over a mental barrier that had seen them throw so many points away late in recent games.
Cox was delighted to see the miserable run finally end and said: “It has been fine lines in a number of those games.
“But at Cheltenham I thought we were back to doing what we are good at against a very good side, who are one of the form teams in the division.
“It was nerve-racking at the end. But that was always going to happen. Cheltenham threw the kitchen sink at us hoping we would cave in at the end like we have done in recent games.
“There was a bit of anxiety, which was only to be expected after our recent run. But we we held on and I am hoping that was a big, psychological barrier we have got over, winning the game, despite being under heavy pressure.
“After Rochdale I had a look at myself and the players had a look at themselves and we had some honest conversations between us. I think a culmination of a few things has hopefully got us back on track and winning football matches.”
However, Cox knows his side face a huge task today to try to prevent Burton completing a double over the Stags. The Brewers, who are joint top on points but third on goal difference, have not lost in nine games, though goals are at premium with Burton winning six of them 1-0 and drawing the other three 1-1.
“Burton are where they are because they are a good side and they will be a good test for us,” said Cox.
“But it doesn’t matter who we play right now, I just want us to start showing some consistency. The players need to continue with the mindset they showed at Cheltenham and hopefully we can get another result.”
A busy week for Stags ends with a trip down to the West Country on Friday to prepare for Saturday’s game at Exeter City (3pm).
Today also sees the opening of the January transfer window with Cox saying: “We are working hard and we have plenty of irons in the fire.
“I have spoken to a lot of players, agents and clubs recently, but I am not sure how much business we will be able to do yet.
“Obviously we want to improve the squad, but I also know we are a bit top heavy now. So to be able to generate the money we would need to bring players in, we would have to see players moving on, too. We have got to be patient.”
Matt Rhead should be fit for the Burton visit after hurting an ankle on Sunday. But Jamie McGuire, who pulled a groin muscle, is awaiting the results of a scan and unlikely to figure in either game.
Mansfield must build on big victory, says Murray
Nottingham Post by Matt Halfpenny
THERE'S nothing like a victory to put smiles back on faces, and after Sunday's victory for Mansfield Town at Cheltenham, no one was beaming more than Adam Murray.
Read more: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Mansfield-build-big-victory-says-Murray/story-20386187-detail/story.html#ixzz2p8jiQ5k3
While not involved as a player at the Abbey Stadium, rested amid a schedule of three games in seven days over Christmas, in his capacity as assistant manager, he was delighted the team managed to put their recent troubles behind them.
Had the match brought a draw or another defeat, the current side would have equalled an unwanted record of 14 games without a league win.
As it was, a hard-earned 2-1 win thanks to strikes from Anthony Howell and Matt Rhead ensured the Stags ended 2013 on a positive note.
But while Murray enjoyed tucking into his post-game pizza on the bus home for the first time in weeks, the focus quickly switched to helping boss Paul Cox plot the downfall of Burton.
The former Oxford man has been around long enough to realise one game doesn't make a season and that the win in Gloucestershire has to be the point where Mansfield begin to rebuild their season, rather than being a one-off.
"It's only one win in a long run and if we don't back that up it means nothing," said Murray.
"It was great for half an hour, but then we've quickly had to concentrate on the next game because it's come around very quickly.
"To get that result and lift the pressure off the team and the gaffer, even if it is only for two or three days, was a big thing.
"We're all wise enough to know we could come down to earth with a bump in the next game, but that win at Cheltenham has to be a platform for us to build on.
"If that performance didn't show that the lads are still firmly behind the gaffer, then I don't think anything will.
"The last ten or 15 minutes you had got people putting their bodies on the line and then if you looked in the dugout you have got people who are kicking every ball with the players. That should answer any questions that any people may have had.
"That against Cheltenham was what we are all about, that was us. Don't get me wrong, we need to be a lot better with our football, but it was a start."
With the January transfer window set to open, Mansfield will be looking to strengthen their ranks.
But Murray is promising there will be a shake-up at the One Call Stadium with a number of players coming and going. And top of the list of the shopping list is a striker, particularly as top scorer Sam Clucas is out for the foreseeable future.
Murray said: "There will be a fair bit of movement because the boys who we have got need a bit of help.
"We need to see an impact. It's going to depend on finances and there is going to have to be a little bit of wheeling and dealing to get players out so we can bring others in.
"But the group need to see someone now who is going to walk in and make then think "Wow, he's a good player". Hopefully something is going to be done fairly soon.
"We have to be looking at someone who has done it at this level and has that bit of nous.
"We've been on a great roller-coaster over the last two years but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say it's the end of the journey for some and we have to look at others to take us to that next level.
"Getting a striker in is obviously a priority because we don't score enough goals. But it's not only scoring goals. The way we play we need someone who can hold it up, run in behind and has a good all-round game."
Mansfield utilised a 3-5-2 formation at Cheltenham and looked a great deal more comfortable than in recent weeks.
And while Jamie McGuire (groin) is a doubt after coming off at half-time, it is likely the Stags will send out a similar team against the Brewers.
"The two lads up top at Cheltenham (Matt Rhead and Ollie Palmer) switched on to ensure the full-backs did not get out and they were awesome for us," said Murray. "We have all sat down in the week and said that we need consistency, which comes from team selection and in terms of formation.
"The 3-5-2 formation gives you that little bit of security when you are under the cosh a little bit and it closes a lot of space up."
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