PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET
Evening Post, 28 November 2006
Peter Shirtliff has challenged his Mansfield squad to show their true colours at Darlington tonight after Saturday's "embarrassing" performance at Rochdale.
The Stags boss admitted the 2-0 defeat at Spotland was one of the few occasions he lost his cool with his players.
Now he is looking for them to put things right in the Johnstone's Paints northern section quarter-final tie, which will be played to a finish.
"The players are absolutely aware how I feel about Saturday and I am sure they are disappointed themselves with their performances," he said.
"It's how we react that counts. Hopefully, we will bounce back and show some spirit.
"I think my reaction after the game shook them, but what I said needed to be said.
"I can accept defeat if there is 100% effort and commitment, but I can't accept what went on in certain circumstances on Saturday."
Mansfield must field six of the 11 players who have played most games this season to avoid a Football League fine.
Shirtliff said: "There will be a chance for some of the fringe players, but obviously I have to work within the confines of the rules."
Tough test as Stags bid to bounce back
Manager Peter Shirtliff has challenged his Mansfield Town players to bounce straight back in tomorrow night's tough Johnstone Paints Trophy Northern quarter-final at in-form Darlington tomorrow night (7.45).
The players felt the full wrath of their boss for the first time this season on Saturday after a dire display at Rochdale resulted in a third successive League defeat.
Shirtliff said: "I think I shocked them a bit, but what was said needed to be said.
"As a manager you can take a defeat if your players have competed, had a go, and shown 100 per cent commitment. But I can't accept what I saw on Saturday.
"Now I need to see a reaction tomorrow and on Saturday against Doncaster and the players are very aware of that. I have told them in no uncertain terms.
"I am sure they were as disappointed with their own performances.
"When I was a player I know it really helped me to have another game so soon after playing badly so you could go out there and put things right. I hope they share that view.
"I have gone through a few things with them today and they have trained well and certainly look as if they want to put it behind them. The acid test will come tomorrow night."
Mansfield have only won once away from home all season and have failed to score in six of their last away matches.
Ominously, in stark contrast, Darlington have won five on the trot under new boss Dave Penny and are eight unbeaten and flying.
They will, however, be without skipper Clarke Keltie after his red card on Saturday.
Stags have worries over Richie Barker (groin), John Mullins (ribs) and Jonathan D'Laryea (ankle) but welcome back Asa Charlton from injury.
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