HASSELL MAY HAVE NERVE PROBLEM WITH KNEE
Stags out of drop zone
Depleted Stags had double cause to celebrate on Saturday as they grabbed a last gasp winner at neighbours Chesterfield and finally clambered out of the relegation places.
And now, with Saturday's game with Brentford postponed due to the Londoners' FA Cup run, Mansfield have a blank weekend to prepare for Tuesday's mouthwatering visit of leaders Wigan Athletic (7.45pm).
Saturday was by far the most satisfying day of new boss Keith Curle's budding managerial career. But he did have to watch it from the sidlelines with a calf strain as he joined a lengthy list of injuries and suspensions that left Mansfield with one youth team player making a full debut and five others on the bench.
“It would be nice to say how it was only three points but I know how much that win meant to my players in the changing rooms and equally the supporters,” said Curle.
“Everyone showed 100 per cent effort and commitment for this football club and its supporters who are now starting to believe we can give everyone a game in this division.
“Yes, we had a bit of luck at Chesterfield. But I have said I believe the harder you work the luckier you get which is borne out by the effort of the team.
“A lot of times when this football club has gone a goal down, we would have gone on the back foot. But our tempo did not change when Chesterfield scored and we were still prepared to go toe to toe with them.”
He added: “It was hard to have to watch the game and not play, though I think I covered more miles up and won the stairs to the bench than if I'd been playing.”
Former Stags striker Shayne Bradley did his new employers no favours by coming on as substitute on 67 minutes and less than three minutes later being red-carded for spitting at Rhys Day.
“At the time I didn't see the incident and didn't know whay he had been sent off,” said Curle.
“The game had gone into a bit of a lull and needed a spark. Without being disrespectful, I didn't feel I had enough on my bench in an 18-year-old, three 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old to change the game dramatically.
“But the Bradley incident did provide the spark. What happened was not only unacceptable as a professional sportsman but also as a human being.
“It was a disgusting incident and I hope it will be dealt with by Chesterfield. I have every faith that Dave Rushbury feels exactly the same as me about it.
“I must also say I think Rhys Day showed admirable restraint and good discipline by not reacting to the incident.”
Bradley has subsequently apologised to the players, staff and supporters of Chesterfield for his actions and also sent a personal letter of apology to Rhys Day.
Spirites boss Dave Rushbury will also be taking internal action against the striker saying: “He will pay as it has cost this club.”
Rushbury's assistant Lee Richardson added: “Shayne was provoked to the extreme but he reacted in the worst possible way.
“We have no regrets in putting Shayne onto the pitch but we do regret what then happened. The best possible way to react to provocation is to put the ball in the net and he needs to learn from this incident.”
As well as teenager Chris Beardsley making an energetic full debut up front, Stags also had a debutant at left back in Sheffield United's on loan Ben Doane.~}
“I was very pleased with Ben,” said Curle.
“It was a difficult situation to come into straight into a local derby with an 11am kick-off, having only me the players two days before.
“But he looked assured against a potentially tricky player in Chris Brandon and made him pretty ineffectual.”
However, despite Doane's arrival, Curle added the door was still not closed on hopes of getting Preston defender Ben Eaton back at the club after his loan recall.
Eaton played the last couple of minutes for Preston as a substitute last weekend but their suspension problems are now over.
“I see a lot of desire and hunger in both Adam and Ben to do well and further their careers which is just what I want to see,” he added.
Curle expects to be fit to face Wigan next week, although his calf is still sore, and Iyseden Christie and Lee Williamson are back from one-game bans.
But midfielder Neil MacKenzie (knee) and striker Colin Larkin (hamstring) are to see specialists while defender Bobby Hassell is also unlikely to be involved as a new diagnosis suggests he may have a nerve problem in his knee.
Allen Tankard and Scott Sellars are also making slow progress back towards Curle's depleted squad but the manager added: “I am not putting pressure on anyone to get back.
“I trust them all enough to know that they will make themselves available at the first opportunity.”
Curle is now setting his sights on multi-milionaire leaders Wigan.
Stags gave them a fright at the JJB Stadium back in August before losing 3-2 and Curle said: “These are exciting times and I know a good crowd will turn out with the belief they won't come here and roll us over.
“A lot of people would have this down as an away win on their coupon, but maybe that's changed after the Chesterfield result.
“We have had Wigan watched twice and I am going to see them on Saturday. They are organised and direct but there is enough there for us to have a go at.
“We will give them the respect they deserve for being top, as we do with all the teams above us, but nothing more.”
Latest | January 2003