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Archived News from January 2003

28th January 2003 13:04

BY IAN WILKERSON, Evening Post, 28 January 2003

Stags boss Keith Curle has sent a rallying call to his troops ahead of tonight's game against Wigan, declaring: "They are not unbeatable."

Mansfield will be looking to drag themselves out of the relegation places again by beating the table-topping Latics.

Their visitors' 11-match winning run was ended by a 2-1 defeat at Swindon on Saturday.

Curle, who is unlikely to play because of a continuing calf problem, was at the County Ground to see Andy King's side defeat the runaway Division Two leaders.

And he believes his side are more than capable of beating Paul Jewell's outfit, who will be looking to go 12 points clear.

He said: "They are a good side and have got players who can suit the system they play but I definitely think we can cause them problems.

"There were certainly things for us to concentrate on.

"It doesn't matter what league you play in, every team goes through a bit of a blip during a season when they lose two or three matches on the bounce.

"Wigan lost at Swindon on Saturday and we have an opportunity to extend that."

But Stags face the daunting task of shackling Nathan Ellington, who has scored 17 goals in all competitions in this, his first full season since signing for £1.2million from Bristol Rovers on transfer deadline day last March.

However, with ten league goals, his total is four less than Iyseden Christie, who is likely to return to the first team after missing last week's 2-1 win over Chesterfield through suspension.

Lee Williamson will also be available after missing the same game but he is likely to find a place on the bench.

Curle said he wanted to see the same commitment the players had shown during his time in charge at Field Mill and is confident the players will respond.

"They have done well in all the games we have played, not just the match against Chesterfield," he added.

"They have played the game at the right tempo and shown a great attitude and qualities that have been there for all the supporters to see.

"There is no way that anyone can be accused of not showing desire.

"People may have come unstuck on occasions by making the wrong decisions but they are being made in the right manner."

Curle said his team were eagerly waiting to test themselves against the division's top side, after a weekend without a game.

He said: "There has been a great atmosphere around the place since the Chesterfield win.

"The players were given Monday, Wednesday and Thursday off just to get the win out of their system and they have worked hard both Friday and Saturday.

"They have come back focus on the game and the response has been very good.

"The preparation is exactly the same as any other game.

"The players know they have got nothing to fear and we have to turn that into a positive."

He said that he was unconcerned about slipping back into the relegation zone and is only worried about where the Stags will be after they play their final game of the season against Northampton.

He said: "I'll only worry about that at the end of the season.

We have still got 19 games to play and we have got to get ourselves out of it."

There appears to be good news on the injury front as Bobby Hassell and Allen Tankard are both expected to play in the reserves against Scunthorpe tomorrow at Field Mill (kick-off, 2pm).

Neil MacKenzie has had a cartilage operation and has begun his rehabilitation programme and Colin Larkin has been to see a specialist in Manchester to figure out the extent of his hamstring problem.

The Stags home clash against Brentford, which was postponed on Saturday due to the Bees involvement in the FA Cup, will now be played next Tuesday.

MANSFIELD (from): Pilking ton, Clarke, Day, Gadsby, Doane, Lawrence, Disley, Curtis, Corden, Christie, A White. Subs: J White, Bacon, Baptiste, Williamson, Beardsley.
Stags pose Latics threat
Wigan Athletic midfielder Lee McCulloch has warned of the threat that Mansfield Town will pose when the two sides meet at Field Mill.

The Latics surrendered a 21-game unbeaten league run at Swindon Town at the weekend and McCulloch is aware that the Nationwide Division Two leaders need to avoid a second successive setback.

He told the club's official website: "It's a massive, massive game for us especially coming off the back of a defeat on Saturday.

"They're improving and I'm sure they will be really fired up for the game so we'll have to be on our toes especially early on in the match.

"We must try to start another run to consolidate our position at the top of the table."


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