WATKISS SETS TARGET OF WINS FOR SEASON
Evening Post, 01 November 2002
Mansfield Town manager Stuart Watkiss has set a target of 12 wins from his side's remaining 30 games to ensure Division Two safety, starting with tonight's home clash with fellow slow-starters Colchester United.
Stags currently sit bottom of the table, having collected 11 points from their opening 16 games in the Second Division but could make up some groun d with a win over Steve Whitton's outfit.
Watkiss is expecting a performance on the same level as the one which saw the Stags run leaders Cardiff close in their 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night.
The Stags line-up is likely to remain unchanged as a result of the encouraging display.
Watkiss said: "Colchester are a well-organised team with limited resources compared to some of the teams at this level and we have to make sure we are able to impose our style of play on them.
"It's all very well for the players to get pumped up for a big game against Cardiff but we have got to put in that level of performance on a regular basis.
"Games against teams like Colchester, Swindon, Cheltenham and Northampton are all ones that are bigger than those against teams at the top of the league.
"We have got 30 games left and I think we have to win 12 of them to stay up."
Watkiss revealed his tactics against Cardiff received a seal of approval from Bluebirds boss Lennie Lawrence after the game, which was settled by Peter Thorne's 70th-minute header.
Watkiss said: "Lennie was very complementary and said that we will have to stick to our footballing principles to get out of trouble.
"He believes if we can do that, we will win a fair proportion of our remaining matches."
Meanwhile, reserve goalkeeper Michael Bingham has had his contract paid up to enable Watkiss to bring flesh blood into the squad.
Bingham came on as a substitute when Kevin Pilkington was sent off at Swansea last season and played one other league game, the 4-1 defeat against Rushden and Diamonds.
The Stags' injury situation continues to improve with both Colin Larkin (hamstring) and Allen Tankard (knee) expected to start full training on Wednesday.
Dion Scott, signed on a free transfer from Walsall, is also involved in non-contact work after his shoulder operation and should be looking for an outing in the reserves shortly.
Colchester are likely to select from the same squad that held Barnsley to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday, although former Notts defender Mark Warren, is expected to return to the starting line-up after a groin strain.
MANSFIELD TOWN (probable): Pilkington, Moore, Lever, Vaughan, Lawrence, Disley, Williamson, Corden, Sellars, Christie, Little. Subs: Clarke, White, Bacon, MacKenzie, Holyoak.
COLCHESTER UNITED (probable): Brown, Stockwell, Keith, White, Warren, Stockley, Bowry, Pinault, Izzet, Rapley, McGleish. Subs: McKinney, Morgan, Steele, Odunsi, Baldwin.
Stags boss demands more of the same
STAGS boss Stuart Watkiss is calling on his players to provide a repeat performance against Colchester United on Friday (7.45pm) after their stirring display in Tuesday's 1-0 defeat by leaders Cardiff.
Beating fellow strugglers Colchester is of paramount importance to bottom club Mansfield and Watkiss said: "I want the same performance and the same commitment and work-rate as I got from them on Tuesday.
"It's all very well getting hyped-up and pumping yourself up for games against the so-called 'big teams,' but it is the games against the sides at the other end of the table that are really the bigger games for us.
"We have 30 games left and we need 12 wins - it's as simple as that.
"Colchester are a well organised team and will give us a hard game. Like us they are run on limited resources and it is up to us to impose our style of play on the game."
Watkiss is likely to stick with the same starting XI and attacking 3-4-3 formation.
Colin Larkin, Allen Tankard and Dion Scott are all due to return to training after injury next week. But with Shayne Bradley and Michael Bingham having left the club after their contracts were paid up, Watkiss is desperate to add two or three new faces with a striker the main priority.
Stags will learn later today when and where their FA Cup first round tie at University side Team Bath will be.
The students want to play at home with temporary stands around their pitch and police are meeting with the club and safety officials today to look at the feasibility.
Bath City's Twerton Park has now emerged as the favourite to stage the game if it has to be moved with Bath City likely to move their home fixture to the Sunday to allow a possible noon kick-off for Sky TV on Saturday, 16th November.
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