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COLCHESTER PREVIEWS AND EVANS ON GILLS
10th October 2017 11:15


U's clash has gaffer's entire focus
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 05 October 2017

Stags' boss Steve Evans says he has a 'tremendous affinity' with the people of Mansfield and is fully focussed on Saturday's Sky Bet League Two clash with Colchester United.

League One side Gillingham approached chairman John Radford earlier this week to ask for permission to speak to the gaffer regarding the vacant manager's post at the Priestfield Stadium, but the request was swiftly denied by the Stags' owner.

And speaking to the local media this morning, the Stags' gaffer said that he is 'happy and content' both in his private life and as manager at One Call Stadium.

"My full focus has been on Mansfield Town. My full focus has been on the couple of games we played in mid-week and then obviously we've got Colchester," the Stags' chief said.

"I'm very focussed on the job here. I've got a tremendous affinity with the people and the town. I think they've seen that with the number of little projects I'm involved in; the charity side of it as well. I'm very happy and content; both in my private life and in my business life.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2017/october/us-clash-has-gaffers-entire-focus/

"You can never stop football clubs wanting to approach you, whatever the level. It's part and parcel of the business we're in. What I would say is we've got a big game on Saturday, that's the only focus."

A mixture of first team and under 21s players defeated Rainworth Miners' Welfare 2-0 on Tuesday evening whilst the gaffer also oversaw a behind-closed-doors game against Sheffield Wednesday earlier that day.

And the boss was pleased with the outcome of the two friendlies, the latter of which gave him the opportunity to experiment with different formations and systems.

"They're (Rainworth) full of good people - the chairman came up and had a chat with me the other night - and we wanted to send players that would be recognised as first team players.

"Some of them played 45 [minutes], some of them played 60 or 75 and one or two played all the way through and then we got some youngsters on the pitch.

"It was a good exercise, we intend to be back in the summer of next year, but we'll see where that goes.

"We also had a game up at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, and a number of players were involved in that in a behind-closed-doors game at Hillsborough. We got the option to look at one or two things in terms of patterns of play, shape of play and a little change in formation.

"Everyone's come through unscathed, that's the first thing. There's people fighting for places and we'll have a look at them today and tomorrow and then we'll pick a team for Saturday."

The former Leeds United manager hopes to have right-back Hayden White available for Saturday's contest at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, but defender Zander Diamond, midfielder Joel Byrom and winger Alfie Potter will all miss the clash with the U's.

"[Hayden White's] been out yesterday and he's got through that session. We'll make a judgement when we see him on Thursday and Friday. If he's fit and available to be in the squad, he's a big asset to us. If he's not, then we'll give him another week.

"[It will be] too early for all of them [against Colchester]. There's a real chance for the following week; I would say especially Zander and Alfie. Joel would probably be 50/50 at this stage; he probably needs another seven days.

"The medical department are working so hard - Dan [Kett] and Lizzie [Read] are often the unsung heroes and they get no credit publically but to Dan Kett and Lizzie Read - thank you. They're working around the clock and the players are responding. We've got a real dedicated team here."

Supporters will be able to login to iFollow Stags to view the manager's full news conference later today.

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Stags boss speaks about Gillingham approach for first time
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 05 October 2017

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans today spoke for the first time about the approach for his services from League One Gillingham on Tuesday.

Stags chairman John Radford refused the Gills permission to speak to Evans, though there are reports they will be making a second approach.

Evans said he knew nothing of that and said: “All I know is the chairman told me I had an approach from Paul Scally to speak to me and the chairman told me had refused that permission.

“John Radford has had that four or five times since I came to the club, and I’ve only been here nine months or so.

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/stags-boss-speaks-about-gillingham-approach-for-first-time-1-8789824

“It’s always flattering but it’s not just about me, it’s about the players - their performances get you and your staff noticed. It’s recognition for all of us.

“You can never stop clubs wanting to approach you, whatever the level. It’s part and parcel of the business we’re in.”

He added: “What do I know of Gillingham? They are in the league above and a good club with a good chairman.

“I was in talks once with Gillingham at a previous stage of my career to go and join them, but it never happened.

“But my full focus is on Mansfield Town. John Radford told me to keep my focus on Colchester and he’d deal with the off-the-pitch stuff which we respect.

“I’ve not spoken to him since - I know he is not around for a day or so with business. But one thing I know working with him is that he keeps you fully in the picture - as does the chief executive.”

So would Evans consider working for Gillingham? “If I was getting the job at Celtic I’d be in the car,” he smiled. “You can never say never, but at this minute in time my only focus is Mansfield Town. “People might say I’ve left it open but I haven’t. John Radford has made it very clear he wants me to carry on the work we’re doing here - and we’ve only just started this work. “Obviously if John Radford had said he was happy for me to go and speak to whoever then you’d go and have a chat, as anyone would. “If you are a plumber and you work for Jones’ Plumbers and Smith’s Plumbers want to talk to you, normally you’d go and have a chat. “It doesn’t mean you want to talk - it’s just the way it is. “I am very focused on the job here. I have a tremendous affinity with the people in the town. I am very happy and content both in my private life and my business life.”

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Midweek friendlies have players fighting for places - Evans
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS

Steve Evans said several players had pushed their claims for a starting place at Colchester in two specially-arranged friendly games on Tuesday. He also said he was likely to make changes, despite the superb 3-1 home derby win over Notts County last weekend. The Mansfield Town manager sent half his squad to non-League neighbours Rainworth MW on Tuesday, fulfilling a summer promise, and the rest for a behind-closed-doors game at Sheffield Wednesday. Rainworth were disappointed when a pre-season friendly against a full Stags side turned into U21 opposition, but Evans promised he would send a full squad up as soon as possible. “We were disappointed we couldn’t do it back in the summer. We couldn’t put the type of team up that I thought would do them justice,” said Evans. “They are good people up there and we wanted to send players up there that would be recognised as first team players. “It was a good exercise and we intend to be back in the summer of next year.” He added: “We also had a behind-closed-doors game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Tuesday and a number were involved in that. “It gave us the chance to have a look at one or two things - patterns of play, shapes of play, changes of formation etc. “We told the boys after Saturday that the plan was to split the group over Tuesday. Everyone has come through unscathed, which is the first thing. “We have people fighting for places and we’re going to have a look at it tomorrow and pick a team for Saturday. “It doesn’t mean for one second that because we beat Notts County that’s going to be the XI that starts against Colchester. It’s a totally different game at a different venue and it’s a different formation and system of play we’re playing against.”

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/midweek-friendlies-have-players-fighting-for-places-evans-1-8791246

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Steve Evans confident Mansfield Town can convert chances at Colchester United this season
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS

Steve Evans believes his side will win at Colchester United on Saturday if they can create the number of chances there that they did last year.

Stags lost the game 2-0 last season but wasted a host of openings as they suffered a fifth straight defeat down there.

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/steve-evans-confident-mansfield-town-can-convert-chances-at-colchester-united-this-season-1-8791946

Better equipped
“I remember last year we lost the game but we had enough chances to probably win six games. I will settle for making the same amount of chances,” said Evans.
“I don’t think we have a striker that could possibly miss that amount of chances this Saturday. We go there in good shape and we’ll probably freshen up the team a little bit.”
Setting the benchmark
Stags saw off Notts 3-1 last weekend and Evans said they would now have to hit those heights again to come away with anything from an improving United.
“The benchmark was Saturday because it was Notts County and they were the league leaders,” he said.
“Now the benchmark is Colchester. They are on a good run of form."
Mutual respect
“They lost a late goal to give them a draw with Grimsby. It was no mean feat as they were two up and cruising.
“Then they went down to Yeovil and won.
“John McGreal has done a terrific job. I know the chairman Robbie Cowling and he is a good guy.
“It’s another good football club with good players and we respect the opposition on Saturday.
“But we need to go there and add to our points tally and for one point or three we need to play at the top of our game.”

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Evans intends to challenge FA charge
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 05 October 2017

Mansfield Town manager Steve Evans intends to challenge his FA charge after his latest brush with officialdom.

Evans was sent to the stands for his arguments with the fourth official at Cheltenham and has finally received his FA letter.

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/evans-intends-to-challenge-fa-charge-1-8791202

Difference of opinion
He said: “I have had the letter and I don’t agree with the contents.
“I will go down there in the coming weeks or months - the FA tend to be quite busy with these sort of things.
“It is as minor as it can be, but if you don’t agree with it, it’s what you say.
'Full and fair hearing'
“The one thing I expect at the FA is that I will get a full and fair hearing on the day whether it’s in three weeks time or six weeks time.
“The League Managers’ Association, who will represent me, will get the chance to make that case for me," added Evans.

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Hunt determined to repay gaffer's faith
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 05 October 2017

After plying his trade in the National League for the last three years, left-back Johnny Hunt wants to repay the faith shown in him by Stags' boss Steve Evans for giving him a chance to play in Sky Bet League Two.

The former Wrexham man joined the Stags in the summer from National League side Chester and the full-back has subsequently made seven appearances for the club.

Hunt has been an ever-present since breaking into the side for the 4-1 victory over Grimsby Town and the 27-year-old wants to continue working hard to show the gaffer why he was right to believe in him.

"I've just got to take this chance now, grab it with both hands and not look back," Hunt said.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2017/october/hunt-05-oct/

"As soon as I heard they (the Stags) were interested, I wanted it to happen straight away and as soon as I spoke to the gaffer I was like: 'when can I sign and where?'.

"I came up and got it done and I want to prove [myself] and repay the gaffer and the people here for believing in me and actually giving me a chance.

"Stepping up from last year, I want to prove that I can play at this standard and especially in a team that's challenging."

The former Cambridge United left-back is vying with Mal Benning for the left-back berth in the Stags' side and Hunt knows that his performances must remain at a high standard to stay ahead of Benning in the pecking order.

"I always knew it was going to be hard to break into the team, Mal's a very good player and he keeps me on my toes every single day.

"It's the same all over the team, everyone's got a position to fight for and if you're not at your best in training every day, then you're not in the team on Saturday. You've got to perform in training and in the games.

"Obviously I want to play - every player wants to play - but I had to wait for my chance and I've had my chance but now I've got to stay in the team.

"I've got to keep training well and performing well because I know it's 'one slip' and the gaffer can change his mind again and I'll be waiting again because Mal's a very good player."

The Liverpool-born defender has previously been part of 'good squads' at former clubs, namely Welsh side Wrexham, but Hunt is in no doubt that the current Stags' squad is the best he's been involved in.

"I've been in good squads, challenging in the Conference. At Wrexham we had some very good players there and it was good and I learned a lot from them but this has stepped up a level. I say it every day to my friends and my family, the quality in the squad is unbelievable.

"I think we've got a team and a squad that's challenging for promotion and I'm happy to be a part of that. I want to keep playing games and play as many games as possible."

Supporters will be able to view Johnny Hunt's news conference on iFollow Stags later today.

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Left back looks forward - meet new Stags star Johnny Hunt
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Thursday 05 October 2017

Johnny Hunt has finally prised Mal Benning from his established left back position in the Mansfield Town side. We spoke to Hunt for the first time ahead of Saturday’s trip to Colchester United

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/left-back-looks-forward-meet-new-stags-star-johnny-hunt-1-8790391

MEET JOHNNY HUNT
Mansfield Town's current left back had his work cut out when he moved to the One Call Stadium from Chester with Mal Benning cemented into that position.

But the 27-year-old Scouser has done well since breaking in six matches back.

With so many players joining Mansfield from higher levels, the Hunt signing was not as high profile.

But he does come with a wealth of experience at Conference level with over 100 games at Wrexham, where he scored the decisive Wembley penalty to win the FA Trophy, as well as over 80 games at Chester plus a brief first spell in the Football League at Cambridge United.

Here are his thoughts on his career and his time with the Stags so far . . .

ON MANSFIELD TOWN COMING IN FOR HIM
“In football you hear rumours all the time about 'these are interested' or 'they are interested' and you never know until it actually happens. Luckily I got it done here and I'm just looking forward now.

“It kind of came out of the blue. As soon as I knew they were interested I wanted it to happen straight away.

“As soon as I spoke to the gaffer I was, like, when can I sign and where? I came up and got it done as it was a chance for me to prove myself and I want to repay the gaffer and people here for believing in me and actually giving me a chance.

“When a club like Mansfield in the League come knocking, there's not many Conference players who would knock them back to be honest. It's a big club, especially with where it wants to go, and it's something I wanted to be a part of."

ON TAKING OVER FROM MAL BENNING
“I always knew it was going to be hard to break into the team - Mal is a very good player and he keeps me on my toes every day.

“It's the same all over the team. Everyone has got a position to fight for and if you're not at your best every day, you don't play on the Saturday. You've got to perform in training and in the games.

“I want the team to do well. If I am in the team I want to us to win and if I'm not I still want us to win, I am part of a squad.

“Obviously I want to play - every player wants to play.

“I had to wait for the chance. I've had my chance, now I've got to stay in the team. I know one slip and the gaffer can change his mind again."

ON HIS SECOND CHANCE AT LEAGUE FOOTBALL
“I said last year, stepping up to this level, I wanted to prove I could play at this standard, especially in a team that was challenging.

“I think we have a team and a squad here that can challenge for promotion and I am happy to be part of it. I want to play as many games as I can.

“I learned a lot from my time at Cambridge and it's made me focus even more on the task ahead for me and my future, to prove I can play in the League and stay in the team."

ON DROPPING BACK DOWN FROM CAMBRIDGE
“At the time I had to drop back down. I couldn't stay in the League as it didn't work out for me.

“So I took a step back, got my head down, worked hard, always thinking I would get another chance.

“Luckily enough I have got another chance now - it's for me to take it."

ON HIS SITUATION AT CHESTER
“I was offered a contract there at one stage in January - I had a good season last year. But certain things happened and it never really worked out like that.

“But I am always looking to improve myself. I was always looking for a chance to get in the Football League if a club came up.

"I don't think anyone could stand in my way as that's what everyone wants to do - play as high as they can.

“It never worked out at Chester, but to be honest that's the best thing that's happened to me up to now.

"I have just got to take this chance now, grab it with both hands and not look back."

ON THE STRENGTH OF MANSFIELD'S SQUAD
“I have been in good squads challenging in the Conference. At Wrexham we had some very good, experienced players and I learned a lot off them.

“But this has stepped up a level in quality - I say it every day when I speak to my friends and family.

“The quality we have in this squad is unbelievable, we have two players in every position and we could field two teams and both be very strong. It keeps me on my game every day.

You have to be at it every day not to fall behind which makes you a better player. I am loving it.

I am enjoying every day. I look forward to every day and each game as they come."

ON TAKING PENALTIES
“I don't mind taking penalties. It takes bottle to step up and take a penalty and everyone misses them.

“After Wembley I missed one a week later which sums them up.

But I'd never shirk away from taking one.

I think there's a lot more players in front of me that would want to take them anyway, but I would put my hand up.

ON BEATING NOTTS COUNTY LAST WEEK
“Either way, whether it was a derby or not, it was going to be a big game for us as they were top of the league and coming here in real form. We had to be on our game - and we were.

“We were up for the fight and the battle and our quality came through.

“The fans were great. They have been brilliant since I've come here. They have really surprised me, to be honest, with their support home and away."

ON COLCHESTER AWAY ON SATURDAY
“We are six points off the top now - we always look forward and up the league. But we just focus on the next game.

“Anywhere away from home in this league is tough. We are going to have to earn the right to win it as you do in every game.

“If we can stay solid and stay in the game and our forward players can create the chances with the quality we know we've got then we can go there and pick three points up on Saturday."

MANAGER STEVE EVANS ON JOHNNY HUNT
“He has done well - he is probably in front of Mal by a nose. It's really close.

“You have to look at the performances. Mal had not really been back to the levels of form he displayed last season.

“When we first came in he was one of the first names on the sheet. You'd just automatically think Benning plays.

“But we watched Johnny two or three times in non-League and I thought he was an exceptional talent.

“In the early part of this season he wasn't even travelling with the squad. I had to tell him to keep coming in and keep producing the performances in the reserves and on the training ground which he did.

“Once we decided we need to freshen things up in that department he got in and he's never looked back to be fair.

"He has been outstanding and it seems the more games he plays, the kid gets better.”

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Mansfield Town boss Steve Evans offered opposing number at Colchester ‘words of wisdom’
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS

Rookie Colchester manager John McGreal said experienced opposition boss Steve Evans had helped him hugely with some words of wisdom last season. Ahead of their showdown on Saturday, McGreal said: “I’ve come up against Steve twice and he’s brilliant to me. “He’s given me little words of wisdom. “I don’t know him well but when you’ve got so many promotions under your belt, you come with a reputation and I think Mansfield are showing that and putting one or two wins together. “But we are too and have had two good away performances with two good results and we’re at home again, so we’re looking forward to it.” McGreal continued: “It’s going to be a tough game for us. “Steve Evans is renowned for getting teams out of divisions - he’s got quite a few promotions under his belt and he’s highly experienced. “He’s got them playing - we played them twice last year and it was tough and he has a new team this year which he just seems to be getting going again. “We’ll know on Saturday come 5pm where we’re at. “We think we’re a good team but when you’re up against a highly experienced team and management, it’ll give us a further indication of where we are. “It will be two teams that complement the way we both play - it’s a coming together and one that we’re really looking forward to, because you want to test yourself against one of the best teams in the division.”

Read more at: http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-boss-steve-evans-offered-opposing-number-at-colchester-words-of-wisdom-1-8791686

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