COX, FISHER AND PAUL LAMBERT REACTION
Cox reflects on Villa encounter
mansfieldtown.net, 17th July 2014
Boss happy with display against Premier League opponents.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/cox-reflects-on-villa-encounter-1766461.aspx#CMRAkpAvg5jWJDQx.99
Manager Paul Cox was pleased with our players’ performance in tonight’s entertaining pre-season friendly with Aston Villa at One Call Stadium.
Our team went ahead thanks to a close-range strike by Alex Fisher just before half-time, but Paul Lambert’s men fought back and won thanks to two goals by Darren Bent and Gary Gardner.
However, an entertaining match was soured by injuries to midfielder Fergus Bell and frontman Sam Clucas.
“For 60 minutes I was really happy with what we did tonight,” said our boss.
“A massive thank you [goes to] Paul [Lambert, Aston Villa manager] for bringing basically his full squad down [and playing] two strong teams against us.
“I thought in the first half we asked questions of them, caused them problems and looked like quite a strong, cohesive unit, but we lost Fergus Bell, Sam Clucas and we had to have a look at some of the trialists.
“I wanted to have a look at some of the babies and we finished the game with a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old in centre-midfield, both of whom came through the academy, so there are massive positives to be had.
“I know people will say ‘you’ve lost the game’, but I don’t get any points for winning a pre-season friendly and I wanted to find out about the kids because that’s what this club is going to be all about - bringing through the youth team.
“So there are massive positives tonight. I’m annoyed because we lost a football match, but I think that building into Saturday-Tuesday, we’re going to get (Adam) Murray, (Chris) Clements, (Lee) Beevers, (Ryan) Tafazolli, (Luke) Jones back.”
He added: “As long as we’re getting fitter, stronger and the boys are learning - that’s what I wanted today, where they’re put in stressful situations and under pressure and asked questions of - I’ll find something out about my players, which is a massive positive.”
On the injuries to Clucas and Bell, Cox continued: “He (Clucas) was limping along. Hopefully he’s not too bad and ‘Belly’ will be the same, but its early days yet. Both of them are very influential players for us and when we’ve got our structure and system we can cause problems for anyone.”
When asked if the duo could be okay to figure in Saturday’s match with Birmingham City, our boss said: “I’m hoping so, but if not, then we’re not going to take any chances.”
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says he learned plenty from Aston Villa defeat
chad.co.uk, by Stephen Thirkill
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox says he has learnt a lot about his players after tonight’s 3-1 friendly defeat against Aston Villa.
Two late goals from Gary Gardner and Darren Bent secured the win for the Premier League side in a result which was hard on battling Mansfield.
Stags had led at the break through Alex Fisher’s 41st minute header following an impressive high-tempo display which caused Villa problems.
Villa, who fielded a totally different side after the break, levelled through Darren Bent on 61 minutes before they took a firm grip on the game as their superior quality and fitness levels shone through at the death.
But Cox refused to be downbeat at the defeat, saying: “We wanted a competitive game and that is what we got, so thanks to Paul Lambert for fielding such a strong team.
“I wanted to see what my players are like when they are put under pressure and that is what happened today.
“I have learned a lot about my players and how they cope under pressure and this was an excellent workout.
“There are areas where we can improve upon when we are under pressure and that is what we will do, so far we are having a good pre-season.”
And Cox, who fielded seven trialists during the game including an unnamed goalkeeper, also believes there are many positives to be taken from the defeat.
“It is never nice to lose a game, but there were a lot of positives to take from the match,” he said. “I thought we looked strong in the first half and caused a good Villa side problems.
“We looked very good for 65 minutes and had a good shape. We also ended the game with a 17 year-old and an 18 year-old, which is great news and great experience for them.
“The younger players will have learned an awful lot from this match. We have plenty of players to come back and could have Murray, Clements, Hearn, Tafazolli and Jones all back for the Leeds game so things are looking positive right now.”
Mansfield may be without the influential Sam Clucas and Fergus Bell after both players were substituted after picking up knocks.
Added Cox: “We do not know the full extent of Clucas and Bell’s injuries, we will have to wait and see but hopefully it is not too bad.”
Mansfield face Birmingham City at One Call Stadium on Saturday before Leeds United come to town on Tuesday night.
Youth players the key to Mansfield Town’s success says boss Paul Cox
chad.co.uk, by Stephen Thirkill
Developing young players will form a key part of Mansfield Town’s season, believes boss Paul Cox.
Stags fielded youngsters Jack Marsden, youth teamer Chris Spencer and a couple of other youth players in the 3-1 friendly defeat against Aston Villa.
And with a smaller playing budget at his disposal this season, Cox knows there is even more pressure on the club to develop players from within.
Said Cox: “This club is all about developing the young players now and bringing them into the first team.
“Myself and my staff will be working very hard to bring the next generation through.
“I thought Marsden played very well tonight and it is really positive that we finished the game with a 17 year-old and an 18 year-old on the pitch.
“They will have gained valuable experience from playing against such a high-profile opposition which is great news.”
Despite the 3-1 defeat Cox believes it was a night full of positives and good individual displays, with the unnamed trialist goalkeeper especially catching his eye.
Added Cox: “He played well and made some decent saves. There were times he was put under pressure, but that is what I wanted to see.
“We have another Swiss goalkeeper that we want to take a look at and I am still in contact with Stuart Pearce over Dimitar Evtimov,
“This season we are having to look far and wide for our players and it is vital that we make the right decision.”
Cox also spoke of his delight at the progress of the club’s pre-season campaign.
“Things are going well so far,” he said. “The Villa game was an excellent competitive workout against a quality team.
“We were put under pressure and that is exactly what I wanted. You learn a lot about your players when they are under pressure and what we need to improve on when things are tough.
“We have got high quality opponents lined up and that is what we need. We have got some good players to come back for the Leeds game so I am happy with how things are looking right now.”
But the club have received blows with the news that tomorrow’s (Saturday) scheduled friendly with Birmingham City has been cancelled on police advise.
The club are also waiting to find out the extend of injuries to Sam Clucas and Fergus Bell, who received knocks against Aston Villa.
Stags are due to face Leeds United in their latest pre-season outing on Tuesday night.
Mansfield Town new boy Alex Fisher aims to develop strike partnership with Ollie Palmer
chad.co.uk, by Stephen Thirkill
New boy Alex Fisher believes his Mansfield Town career is starting to take off after bagging his second goal in as many games.
The former Monza striker headed Mansfield into a 1-0 half-time lead in last night’s defeat against Aston Villa to add to his effort against Notts County on Saturday.
And Fisher says he now hopes to get a solid pre-season under his belt and build on his partnership with Ollie Palmer.
“It is great being involved in the team, the players are a great set of lads who have been really welcoming,” he said.
“Pre-season is vital for me, if you don’t have a good pre-season in terms of fitness levels then you are playing catch-up throughout the season.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks, but it is all starting to come together now. The boss has his plan and it is like jigsaw pieces starting to come together.
“I am starting to form a nice partnership with Ollie Palmer. He is a really hardworking player who does the physical stuff well and allows me to express myself.
“Scoring goals really helps the confidence levels and I am delighted to have scored twice already, especially with one of those being against a Premier League side,” he said.
“The fans have been great to me and hopefully I can keep scoring goals for them.”
Mansfield face Birmingham City on Saturday and could be without talisman Sam Clucas, who was subbed against Villa after picking up a knock.
Midfielder Fergus Bell also picked up a knock and was substituted early in the first half.
Cox is likely to field another trialist goalkeeper, his third different shotstopper in three games, as he looks to find a permanent replacement for Alan Marriott.
Alex Fisher @AlexFisher37
Great effort and desire from @mansfieldtownfc tonight! Glad a couple injuries are not as bad as first feared. #Stags
Sam Clucas @samclucas
Good news from X-ray just need to see what MRI scan says tomorrow
Mansfield 1-3 Villa verdict: Lambert - Early signs encouraging
Paul Lambert on Stags win, 17th Jul 2014
Paul Lambert insists the early signs are encouraging after seeing his side come from behind to beat Mansfield 3-1 in their opening pre-season friendly.
Lambert was happy with the contribution of newboys like Joe Cole and Kieran Richardson - and returning stars like Alan Hutton, Darren Bent, Jores Okore, Chris Herd, Gary Gardner and Charles N'Zogbia.
Villa boss Lambert was satisfied with the display - and thrilled that everyone came through the match at the One Call Stadium unscathed.
He said: "It was a useful workout.
"It's our first game this season - two halves with different teams - and it was pleasing.
"What is more pleasing is that everyone has come through it unscathed.
"Jores hasn't played for a long time. Charles is the same. Chris and Gary have come back into it. Darren has returned from his loan spell at Fulham. Alan has come back and, I thought, was excellent.
"I was delighted with the whole group.
"We should have been one or two up in that first half. But the response after Mansfield scored was pleasing. The first half was really pleasing as well.
"I am delighted everyone has come through it."
Lambert was pleased to see Bent and Gardner on the scoresheet - and he was able also to speak of the acquisition of Richardson for the first time.
He added: "If there is one lad who deserves a break, it's Gary because of his injuries. He's a terrific lad. He will have to fight. But if he plays like that and does things like that, why not force his way in.
"Darren has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. To be fair to Darren, since he's come back for pre-season, he's knuckled down and gave it a right good go.
"We have Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak coming back shortly. Philippe Senderos will join up with us and Brad Guzan too while Ron Vlaar will have a couple of weeks more off.
"It was good to have Kieran out there. It was there for everyone to see what Kieran can bring.
"He hasn't been here long and probably doesn't know everybody. But he will be a major asset for us."
Paul Lambert: I have always known they were good players
Paul Lambert was delighted after seeing Villa’s Bomb Squad explode into life at Mansfield last night.
The manager was full of praise for his returning high-earners as they starred in a 3-1 win.
Darren Bent bagged a brace of goals while Gary Gardner added another as Villa comfortably saw off the Stags.
There were also notable performances from Alan Hutton and Charles N’Zogbia in the first pre-season friendly of the summer.
“I’ve always known they have been good players,” said Lambert.
“Everybody knows the situation that was going on with the football club.
“But these lads have been brilliant.
“Darren has worked ever so hard and Alan is the same.
“Charles has come back from a year out, too, so there are some major positives from the game.”
Villa found themselves 1-0 down at half-time but fought back after the break.
The introduction of Bent, Hutton and N’Zogbia at the interval was what sparked them into life.
Hutton was purposeful going forward and Bent was a threat throughout.
His two goals drew plenty of praise from the 1,000 travelling fans who made the trip and also his impressed boss.
Jores Okore got a 45-minute run-out in the first half as did Joe Cole.
Kieran Richardson was also lively after the break and Lambert believes there is more to come.
“The main thing with pre-season is that nobody gets injured or hurt and thankfully nobody did,” he added.
“There were a lot of positives out there with Okore coming back after eight months out and also Charles playing after a similar time away.
“There was also Gary Gardner and Chris Herd, so there were quite a few players who haven’t played for a long time.
“The fact that they’ve got through the game makes it really pleasing.
“As I’ve said, though, the No.1 priority is staying fit.
“It’s all very well getting a pat on the back for winning a friendly but if you don’t have half the team on the first day of the season there will be questions asked.
“We want to get through these six games and then go from there with everybody fit.
“We’ve still got big players to come back as well - Benteke, Kozak, Vlaar, Guzan and Senderos.
“You can see there were a lot of positives from that game.”
Villa will now turn their attentions to the trip to the United States tomorrow where last night’s star performers are expected to play a big part.
They have two friendlies during their week-long stay in Texas, against Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas, which will give the new arrivals more time to settle in.
Lambert added: “We’ll meet Guzan over there and Ron will meet us in a few weeks’ time. Philippe will go too. The only one I have given extra time is Ron for his efforts in the World Cup.”
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