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Archived News from September 2016

COLLINS, HIGNETT & THOMAS PREVIEW HARTLEPOOL GAME
18th September 2016 10:38


Skipper flourishing in midfield role
mansfieldtown.net, 14th September 2016

Stags’ skipper Lee Collins says he's enjoying his football after being deployed in a central midfield role by manager Adam Murray this season.

Collins joined the club prior to the 2015/16 season from Northampton Town and quickly established himself as an important part of the Stags’ team and was given the captaincy following the departure of Nicky Hunt to Leyton Orient in January.

After spending much of last season as part of the back four, manager Adam Murray made no secret of his desire to move the skipper into midfield and the former Barnsley man has subsequently spent the majority of the current campaign in a defensive midfield position.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my career but I’ve never really had the chance to do it and I feel I’m doing well in there," Collins said.

Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/2016-17/skipper-flourishing-in-midfield-role-3307361.aspx#fthKldjXCFmFWXjZ.99

"I’m enjoying it, I’m getting more of the ball and you do actually enjoy your football a bit more in there because you’re more involved.

“You’re not constantly thinking ‘I’ve got to defend in a minute; I’m defending, I’m defending, I’m defending’, you’re involved in the attacking play a lot more.”

After picking up an impressive 11 points from their opening seven games, Collins says the Stags have had a ‘very good start’, but still believes there’s more to come from his team-mates, especially at One Call Stadium.

“It’s also been a bit frustrating because we could be right near the top at the moment with the games we’ve lost and the games we haven’t really capitalised on because no team’s really ‘beat us up’ as such.

“We’ve held our own really well and I think there’s more to come. I think we’re a very good footballing side and we just need to express it a little bit more.

“You should rely on your home performances quite a lot but we’ve got this strange habit of having an incredible away record and not so good home."

After seeing manager Adam Murray bring in 10 new players during the summer, the 27-year-old former Port Vale man says the additions have settled in quickly and comfortably.

“Without being disrespectful to anybody, because everyone was a good player last year, I just think we’ve improved the quality a bit.

"I think we’ve recruited well, the new lads have slotted in very quickly. It normally takes a few months for the new lads to settle in but straight away, from Brooksby (Stags’ pre-season training camp), they settled in really well and they’re all good characters.

“There’s a lot of senior pros here who the young lads bounce off, who they look [up] to. There’s a lot of guidance and there’s a lot of men; there’s a lot of men in our changing room which is refreshing because we will inevitably hit a rocky patch in the season and that’s when the men need to stand up and be counted and there’s a lot of men in this changing room to do it.”

Supporters can view Lee Collins’ midweek news conference on Stags PlayerHD.

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Stags skipper Collins relishing new midfield role
by JOHN LOMAS, cahd.co.uk, Wednesday 14 September 2016

Mansfield Town skipper Lee Collins said is relishing his new midfield role as he prepared to lead the injury-hit Stags out at Hartlepool United on Saturday.

Collins played most of last season at centre half or full back, but his conversion into a defensive midfielder has seen him enjoying his football more than ever.

“My preference is midfield at the moment,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my career but I’ve never really had the chance to do it.

“I feel I am doing well in there, I am enjoying it and I’m getting more of the ball.

“You do actually enjoy your football a bit more in there because you’re more involved.

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/stags-skipper-collins-relishing-new-midfield-role-1-8124909?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

“You’re not constantly thinking I’ve got to defend in a minute. You are involved in the attacking play a lot more.”

Stags are looking to bounce back this weekend from a 1-0 home defeat by Barnet, despite dominating the game, and Collins said:

“It’s a bit frustrating because we did play well.

“I know the result wasn’t good and doesn’t look good for the paying fans, but there was some good stuff, some really good patterns of play and we got into their final third a lot.

“We just need to be more clinical, finish off the chances we create, and keep the ball out of our own net - don’t get sucker-punched like we did.”

Defender George Taft limped off with a hamstring injury in the Barnet game to join the ever-growing procession of early season injuries.

“We have coped remarkably well (with the injuries),” said Collins. “It just shows the strength in depth we’ve got with the signings that we’ve made.

“We’ve picked up a lot, six or seven men down, and at the moment it looks like we’re going to be a couple more down for the weekend.

“So we have had to work on a new shape which we’ve done quite a lot of work on already this week as you need it cemented in for Saturday.

“It’s looking good. We have the personnel that can adapt to things like that so we are looking forward to it.”

Mansfield head to Hartlepool in 10th but missed out on the chance of going top over the last two home games.

“I’d say we’ve had a very good start,” he continued.

“It’s also been a bit frustrating as we could be right near the top at the moment with the games we’ve lost and the games we haven’t really capitalised on.

“No team has really beat us up as such yet. We’ve held our own really well and I think there is more to come. I think we are a very good footballing side and we just need to express it a little bit more.

“The spirit here is fantastic. There are a lot of senior pros here who the young lads bounce off and look to.

“There is a lot of guidance and there are a lot of ‘men’ in our changing room. That is refreshing because we will inevitably hit a rocky patch in the season.

“That’s when the men need to stand up and be counted and there are a lot of them in this changing room to do it.”

He added: “Without being disrespectful to anybody, as everyone was a good player here last season, I just think we’ve improved the quality a bit. We have recruited well.

“The new lads have slotted in very quickly. Normally it takes a few months but straight from Brooksby (college pre-season residential camp), they’ve settled in really well and they are all good characters.”

After a draw and a defeat at home, Stags now play three of their next four games away, but with wins at Newport and Leyton Orient already under their belts this season, will fear no one.

“Three out of four away should be a bad thing as you should rely on your home performances quite a lot,” said Collins.

“But we’ve got this strange habit of having an incredible away record and not so good at home.

“It’s an easy fix as long as we start pulling the right strings and show what we are about as I don’t think we’re quite expressing ourselves at home.

“We are getting there in small steps, but there’s more to come. “I know the fans are understandably frustrated with the results, but it will come.”

On Hartlepool, he added: “It will be another tough one.

“I know they are doing okay. They’ve obviously got our old mate Nathan (Thomas) doing well. But we’ll go up there, put in a good shift and won’t do anything silly.”

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Team News: Pools v Mansfield Town
Thu 15 Sep 2016, hartlepoolunited.co.uk

We take a look at the latest from both camps ahead of Saturday’s League Two game against Mansfield Town at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium (3pm kick-off).
Craig Hignett is hoping to welcome several players back in to contention in time for this weekend’s encounter against The Stags on home soil.

Jake Carroll (hamstring) and Michael Woods (calf) both missed the 2-1 win at Yeovil Town last Saturday, while Billy Paynter was named among the substitutes but was never likely to come on after his calf seized up on the morning of the game.

All three are back in training and hoping to fit in time to face Mansfield, as is Rob Jones who was forced off during half-time at Huish Park after taking a blow to the hip.

However, Saturday’s game looks like coming too soon for fellow defender Matthew Bates who is still recovering from bone bruising sustained in the second half of the game against Newport County.

Read more at http://www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk/news/article/2016-17/hartlepool-united-v-mansfield-town-team-news-3308655.aspx#hFhKUEbBUMTZFrG3.99

Mansfield boss Adam Murray is facing up to an injury crisis ahead of the weekend trip to the north-east, with some reports suggesting he is likely to have only 15 outfield players at his disposal.

Centre-back George Taft is the most recent Stags star to be struck down by injury and there are doubts he will be fit in time to face Pools after picking up a hamstring injury in the 1-0 home defeat to Barnet on Saturday.

Chris Clements and Jack Thomas have been joined by fellow midfielder Adam Chapman in the treatment room after he sustained a groin problem, while on-loan defender Kyle Howkins is sidelined with hamstring trouble.

Striker Danny Rose is once again likely to play in a protective mask on Saturday after he fractured an eye socket in Town’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Doncaster Rovers at the end of last month.

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Pools star Thomas looks to sink old Mansfield mates Nathan Thomas
by ROY KELLY, sunderlandecho.com, Thursday 15 September 2016

Nathan Thomas likes Mansfield Town and their boss, Adam Murrray. But the 21-year-old loves Hartlepool United.

Thomas will come up against former club Mansfield for the second time when the Stags come to the Northern Gas & Power Stadium this Saturday.

The ex-Sunderland, Plymouth and Motherwell winger was an inspired signing by then Pools boss, Ronnie Moore, in the early stages of the January transfer window.

Murray, reluctantly, let Thomas leave Field Mill with the player desperate to return to his native Teesside and the boss saying he was unsure as to his long-term future at the club.

Thomas is, of course, thriving at Pools, where he has been an automatic selection under Moore and Craig Hignett.

And Thomas has not got a bad word for Murray or Mansfield, but says the fact he’s playing every Saturday here is a world away from his time at the Stags where eight of his 17 appearances were from the bench.

“It was more like one week in six!” he joked. “Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time at Mansfield and I’m glad they signed me.

“Adam Murray was brilliant. He didn’t have a problem when I went in and asked if I could have a move home.

“He wanted what was best for me and I will forever be grateful to him.

Read more at: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/football/hartlepool-united/pools-star-thomas-looks-to-sink-old-mansfield-mates-1-8126405?

“He’s a brilliant coach, he’s like Higgy, he’s young and hungry and very good at what he does.

“But the end of the day I’m a Hartlepool United player now and everyone knows how I feel towards the club.

“Pools is from my neck of the woods and Hartlepool people are my sort of people.

“I want to perform as best I can for them and the club and see where that takes us.

“I love Hartlepool.”

Given his pedigree, skill, pace and age - and his form - Thomas looks destined to attract some serious interest in the next transfer window.

Hignett said on Monday that he expected bids for the team’s leading scorer. But for Thomas, he is relaxed about the situation and his only thoughts are for Pools.

“Obviously, if I move in the future comes then it comes,” he said.

“But for now my priority is Hartlepool United and trying to make us a better team than we were last season, hopefully finishing in a position that we feel we should do.”

Thomas says the esteem in which he is held by the Pools management and supporters makes him a better player.

“Massively,” he said. “For any attacking player, if you are loved by everyone it makes your job easier.

“I know how much faith the gaffer has in me and the fans too.

“I could have a bad game one week, of course I try not to, I know next week they will all be there in force again shouting my name and driving me past the full-back.

“When it’s like that, it’s the best feeling in football, you don’t want anything else.”

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Hartlepool Utd v Mansfield Town: Hignett wants show of class from on-song Nathan Thomas
by ROY KELLY, sunderlandecho.com, Friday 16 September 2016

Craig Hignett has demanded a show of class and not crass from Nathan Thomas.

The 21-year-old, the hero of last week’s win at Yeovil, tomorrow comes up against Mansfield Town, the club he left to join Hartlepool United in the first stages of the January transfer window.

Thomas has spoken in complimentary tones about the Stags yesterday, especially boss Adam Murray.

But when the clubs met back in April, the former Sunderland winger angered fans in the packed away end with an exuberant celebration at the Rink End after Billy Paynter had put Pools in front from the spot.

It sent some Stags supporters into a rage and prompted a member of the local constabulary to have a quiet word with Hignett at half-time to make sure there was no repeat.

“Nathan’s reaction (to Billy’s penalty) was a bit stupid, but maybe that’s out of the system now,” said Hignett.

“He’s got a career going well here, so that sort of thing he doesn’t need to do.

“I want him to be professional, do things properly - he’s not a pub player, he doesn’t have to react like that.

Read more at: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/football/hartlepool-united/hartlepool-utd-v-mansfield-town-hignett-wants-show-of-class-from-on-song-nathan-thomas-1-8129268?

“Show a little bit of class that will be the message we’ll be giving him.”

Thomas is the name on the lips of fans this week after his brilliance at Huish Park last Saturday, not once, but twice.

First he got on the end of a Trevor Carson punt to finish expertly to bring Pools level, but his winner, in the second minute of stoppage time, was something special.

And Hignett says it’s important the leading scorer follows that display up rather than think he’s cracked it.

“I hope he doesn’t believe the game is easy after what he did last week,” said the Pools boss.

“The minute he does that is when we get a bad performance from him.

“It’s a fine line between telling him how good he is and telling him ‘just because you did it last week doesn’t mean you will do it this week’.

“My message to Nathan will be ‘forget about last week now, it’s this Saturday that counts’.

“I want him to do well, I want him to push on, I want people talking about him.

“The better he does, the better it will be for the club.”

Hignett was in awe of the Thomas winner at Huish Park, his shot curling into the top corner of keeper Artur Krysiak’s net.

But the manager says he and assistant boss, Curtis Fleming, have been working on his contribution in the other half of the field.#

“He has that ability in his locker, where he can turn a game in five to 10 minutes,” said Hignett.

“At the same token he can lose a game if he switches off and doesn’t track his runners.

“He has an important job to do defensively and he knows that. “That’s something we have been drilling into him over the last couple of weeks.

“What he has going forward he’ll always have, the bits he needs to add are the defensive things.

“If he does that he can play Premier League, no doubt it.”

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Hartlepool Utd v Mansfield Town: Hignett determined to end wait for home success
by ROY KELLY, sunderlandecho.com, Friday 16 September 2016

Hartlepool United have done it away and now they hope to do it at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium - win.

Pools are one of five League Two clubs still to register a victory in front of their own fans.

A look at the away table makes pretty good reading - Pools lie second to Leyton Orient after picking up seven points from a possible 12.

But Craig Hignett says Pools are determined to break the spell tomorrow against Mansfield Town at the Vic (kick-off 3pm).

“If we are going to do anything this season we need to win at home,” said Hignett.

“We have to make sure our home form is spot on and we need to make this a tough place so teams don’t like coming here.

“You only do that by getting results.”

Read more at: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/football/hartlepool-united/hartlepool-utd-v-mansfield-town-hignett-determined-to-end-wait-for-home-success-1-8129267?

Pools have not won on home territory since they beat York City 2-1 in mid-April.

Hignett said no panic buttons are being pressed at the moment - only the 2-1 defeat to Notts County has been a disappointing display.

In the other two fixtures, against Colchester and Newport, Pools came from behind to claim a point.

“We’ve had a couple of games we should have won at home, which ended in draws and then that disappointing loss to Notts County,” said Hignett.

“We should have won last time out to Newport, which was two points thrown away. “But we are doing all right, we are not badly placed in the league.

“We are only a win off a play-off spot, that shows how tight the division is.”

It won’t be easy given the Stags, like Pools, look very handy on their travels and they too go all the way to the final whistle, having won very late at Orient and Newport.

“Mansfield are similar to us, with some good wins, Leyton Orient away being one, but some losses you wouldn’t expect.

“The league is tight, you can beat anyone on the day.”

Hignett faces a few tough selection decisions, again, ahead of tomorrow’s 14th v 10th battle.

Last week, he named Lewis Alessandra and Billy Paynter as subs, though Alessandra came on and impressed after Pools switched from a 3-5-2 system to a 4-3-3.

The summer signing from Rochdale therefore looks an almost certain starter tomorrow.

“Lewie made a big difference,” said Hignett. “He’s a clever footballer.

“It’s a problem that if I play with three at the back one of the strikers misses out.

“Last week it was a straight choice between Billy and Podge and a choice between Lewie and Nath.

“As it was, Billy’s been struggling a bit with his calf, that’s why he didn’t warm up, he just sat on the bench.

“On the morning he felt his calf stiffen up and I didn’t feel we should take a risk.

“With Nath and Lewie, Nath scored the week before and he’s a bit of a streak player.

“We put him in and it was the right decision.

“Lewie had played all the games, he even started the Checkatrade Trophy, so may be a rest did him good. It’s a tough league.”

Pools (probable): Carson; Magnay Nsiala, Harrison, Donnelly; Featherstone, Laurent, Hawkins; Alessandra, Amond, Thomas Subs (from): Bartlett, Richards, Jones, Carroll, Deverdics, Woods, Paynter, Heardman, Fewster

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Latest | September 2016