Third time lucky for Curle?
STAGS boss Keith Curle was in buoyant mood after picking up his manager of the month gong this week but remains focussed as he aims to get one over his old enemy Tony Adams in the FA Cup on Friday.
Promotion to Division Two may be Curle's number one priority at the moment but the second round clash against struggling Wycombe Wanderers presents a massive opportunity for his impressive young chargers.
On the back of a brilliant victory over Northampton Town last weekend, the confident boss knows progression to the next stage of the historic competition could throw up a money-spinning tie against one of the Premiership big guns.
Wycombe, who are currently struggling at the bottom of Division Two, will be looking to put their poor league form behind them and hope to mirror their 4-1 thrashing of Swindon a few weeks ago in the previous round.
And with the Sky television cameras there, it should be a fantastic occasion for both the players and the fans.
Adams took charge at the Causeway Stadium last month under a cloud of publicity but hopefully for Stags the euphoria surrounding his appointment will have died down.
Andwith Wycombe at the bottom of Division Two and Mansfield flying high in Division Three, Curle will be fancying his chances.
Even a draw on Friday would make Stags hot favourites to go through if they brought Adams' men back to Field Mill for a replay.
"The important thing is that we get through to the next round of the FA Cup," said Curle.
"If we have to go there and match them toe to toe in a scrappy game, that is what we will do. This is a very important game because the FA Cup presents a great opportunity.
"You will always get matches like the one against Bishops Stortford but you never know where these kind of games can lead."
And Curle will be dying to get one over his former international colleague as he has already been on the losing side twice against him in the FA Cup, in both a semi and quarter final.
"I am looking to get one over on him," he added. "I actually sat next to him during a course on Wednesday but we never spoke about the game - he obviously isn't going to give anything away.
"The first thing we need to do is to make sure we stop them from playing so that it will hopefully allow us to play our own way."
Mansfield have been boosted by the news that full-back Tony Vaughan will not miss the game through a one-match suspension.
The former Forest man picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Huddersfield but due to the cup clash being re-scheduled, he will now miss the home clash with Lincoln on 13th December.
This week Curle became only the third Stags manager in 12 years to receive the manager of the month award, and he was quick to mark the achievement by praising his staff since he took charge of the club a year ago.
"It is not only for myself but for the staff and the football club as a whole," he said.
"It is testament to the work that goes on behind the scenes here and the club deserves its reward for that.
"I am not that shallow to think that the work has all been done by myself."
Curle saw his 'horses for courses' policy pay off once more as Stags won 3-0 at Northampton Town to keep up their promotion challenge.
Curle has shown he is not afraid to make tactical changes, no matter how players have performed the previous week.
On Saturday he brought back Craig Disley and Iyseden Christie into the side at the expense of Colin Larkin and Wayne Corden and both netted.
"I don't feel I have to justify any changes I make to the side as every decision I make is for the good of the team," said Curle.
"I knew Northampton wanted to keep things tight and narrow so I needed Craig Disley's energy and defensive qualities on the left to counter the threat of Josh Low.
"And I needed Iyseden's presence and goalscoring ability up front."
He added: "To say I am delighted with the result is an understatement. Defensively we were rock solid and we are growing in confidence week in, week out.
"To be successful you need belief and, collectively, we are gaining it.
"One thing we've got in this team is pace and our energy level was absolutely superb.
"Tom Curtis was supposed to be the holding midfield player but, every time I looked up, he was in the opposition box!
"We started well for the first 20-25 minutes. But the rest of the first half we were not doing things quickly enough and there wasn't enough movement off the ball which let Northampton back into it.
"I aired my views at half time and was more than delighted with the way we played in the second half."
Latest | December 2003