HALL, MURRAY, BURR REACTION
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Stags fury at referee after 2-1 defeat
chad.co.uk Saturday 26 March 2011
STAGS were furious with referee Steve Martin this afternoon as Stags crashed 2-1 to high-flying Kidderminster Harriers, reports John Lomas.
Teenage striker Niall O'Rafferty was left on the floor after being caught with a high boot at one end as play was allowed to go on and ex-Stags Keith Briggs lashed home Harriers' game-clinching second goal immediately at the other end.
O'Rafferty had to go to hospital after the game.
It was a game-defining passage of play though over 90 minutes Kidderminster were worthy winners by some way as Stags flopped horribly in a dire first half.
“Everyone on the pitch and in the stands could see it was a blatant foul on Niall,” said assistant boss Paul Hall.
“The lad has entered up with 'Enter the Dragon' marks down his ribs!
“But the referee said it was a trailing leg and they've gone straight down the other end and scored against the run of play at that time. We are down to a bare minimum of players right now and things like this don't help us. It's cost us the game.
“Even Tom Naylor, who is the calmest man in the stadium, was upset by it.”
However, he added: “The lads didn't turn up for the first half against a very good Kidderminster team.
“They passed it around and we didn't get to grips with it until the second half when it was probably too late.
“You can't keep coming back against every team in the league and you can't start the first half in second gear against a team like Kidderminster as they will make you pay.
“Maybe this is the kick up the backside we needed. The beauty of football is you can be right up there one minute on cloud nine and then come crashing back to earth so quickly.
“Show any complacency and football will punch you in the face. Hopefully Crawley may be a bit complacent about facing us on Tuesday and we can be that punch in the face for them.”
“I don't like to moan about officials but when you are dealing with a referee like that it makes it 100 times harder,” said skipper Adam Murray.
“We are expected to respect the referee, yet he was talking to you as if you were a four-year old.
“But we were not good enough and that's the bottom line. In the first half we were terrible. We picked up a bit after half-time but there are no excuses – we were crap.
“They are a good team and we should have set up to stop them playing instead of trying to play our own game. Sometimes you have to change things a bit.
“As players you have to be clever enough to deal with things on the pitch and respond to change things yourselves, but we didn't do that.
“We have some great players in our dressing room. There is no hiding that. But as an outfit and set-up they were better than us.
“I hold my hands up, that was probably my poorest game in a while. My goal meant nothing.
“We have to be professional out there and if we start like that at Crawley on Tuesday we will get turned over.
“We must stay positive and we won't throw the towel in though, being realistic, we would have to win almost every game now to stand a chance of the play-offs.
“We are down to the bare minimum today. Young Niall went in and did his best for us but he's only played twice in four months so it is hard for a young lad.
“There are lots of games left and it's going to be a graft. Our injuries are killing us at the moment – we have five players missing who would be starting.”
Defender Paul Stonehouse added: “We didn't get out of the blocks in the first half. And the decision that went against us in the first half didn't help. It was one of those days.
“The lad's ribs are in a mess which is the evidence that we deserved a free kick. Yet it led to a goal and we can feel hard done by.
“I don't blame Kidderminster for carrying on as when you are a player you are told to play on until the whistle blows.
“With so many games at the moment, maybe there was some fatigue. But there are no excuses. We have to start better than that. That is the aim for Tuesday.”
Striker Luke Medley is back from his loan spell on Monday and could go straight back into Mansfield's depleted squad for the Crawley trip the day after
Hall feels Stags got rough end of the stick from vital refereeing decision
Evening Post, 28 Mar 2011
PAUL Hall felt Mansfield Town were given the rough end of the stick with a vital refereeing decision which helped Kidderminster to a 2-1 victory at Field Mill yesterday.
The Stags trailed Harriers 1-0 midway through the second half when they felt Niall O'Rafferty was fouled.
The young striker stayed down and later showed the stud marks on his side, which he was due to have checked out at hospital.
But the man in the middle, Staffordshire's Steve Martin, chose to play on and Keith Briggs took advantage to score the match-winning goal.
"If you see a foul on the sidelines, you shout for it. Sometimes they are let go and that's fair enough, but this one the boy went down and it was a blatant foul," said assistant boss Hall.
"You want the referee to help look after players and the boy has scratch marks like something out of 'Enter the Dragon.'
"They have gone straight down and scored and I think that has cost us the game. All we ask is that if we can all see it from where we are stood, that it (the decision) is given.
"Even Tom Naylor reacted and he is normally the calmest man in the stadium.
"Losing that game is very disappointing because we wanted and expected to take three points, but that's the beauty of football.
"You can be right up there on cloud nine and the next minute you are crashing back down to earth."
Stags welcome back Medley to ease striking problems
Evening Post, 28 Mar 2011
MANSFIELD Town will bid to ease their striker crisis by welcoming Luke Medley back into the squad for tomorrow night's clash at league leaders Crawley.
Medley was sent out on loan to League Two Aldershot after being given a public dressing down by manager Duncan Russell for his 'unprofessional attitude'.
But Mansfield are in desperate need of more firepower after their 2-1 home defeat by Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.
With Stoke loanee Louis Moult (back) and Danny Mitchley (groin) missing, the Stags turned to youngster Niall O'Rafferty to partner Paul Connor in attack.
But he struggled to make an impact and the re-appearance of Medley – who has scored six times off the bench this season – will strengthen Russell's hand ahead of the trip to the Broadfield Stadium.
"It was disappointing that we couldn't bring anyone in (ahead of Friday's loan deadline) and in terms of the FA Trophy we couldn't have added anymore anyway," said assistant manager Paul Hall.
"But Luke Medley will be back with us from today and that will be a massive boost for the team.
"Luke has been away playing for a league team and he can only have learned good things from that.
"We couldn't really change it against Kidderminster too much once Danny Mitchley was out.
"But once we get Louis Moult back in and bring Conor (Higginson) back, then I think we will be happy again. That's why we have squad players."
Hall felt Mansfield had paid the price for starting slowly once too often against Kidderminster.
In recent times, the Stags have come back to claim positive results against Newport, Barrow and Histon after trailing 2-0, but they could not manage it for a fourth occasion.
He said: "The lads didn't really turn up in the first half.
"We didn't get to grips with it until the second half, which was probably too late.
"That is what happens when you don't start well against good teams – you are made to pay.
"They are up there fighting for the play-offs and they made us pay with the second goal because we didn't have enough time to come back.
"One thing you always know about this Mansfield team is that they have the ability to come back, but you can't do it every time and they have to learn that.
"Hopefully that game will be a kick up the backside for them, but it should have been one against Histon."
Mansfield skipper slams performance of his team
Evening Post, 28 Mar 2011
SKIPPER Adam Murray slammed Mansfield Town's poor performance against Kidderminster – and admitted their play-off hopes are over.
The central midfielder grabbed his fifth goal of the season since joining the Stags from Luton earlier in the campaign, initially on loan.
But that proved to be little more than a consolation as Mansfield were 2-0 down at the time and could not go on to find an equaliser.
Murray was left a frustrated figure after believing the Stags were finally finding some kind of consistency.
"The first half we were terrible and though in the second half we picked up a little bit, it was not good enough. It was rubbish," he said.
"Kidderminster are where they are for a reason and they are a good team, but we should have set out to stop them playing.
"We didn't do that. We tried to play our way and sometimes you have to change it a bit.
"I think you have to say that's it with the play-offs. We have to stay positive, but we are going to need a heck of a lot to go our way now.
"We have to be realistic and we are where we are in the table for a reason.
"Thinking about Wembley has gone now. We are professional and we have to perform in the league, Wembley or not.
"You look in the changing room and we have some good players, there's no hiding that, but as a unit Kidderminster were better than us. I think attitude and concentration come into it, but also the way we set up.
"If we go down to Crawley and play like that then we are going to get turned over. Our quality has to be better, but we are not going to throw the towel in."
Manager Duncan Russell was unhappy with the performance of Staffordshire referee Steve Martin, making his feelings clear at full-time.
The Stags were particularly aggrieved that there was no whistle for a foul on Niall O'Rafferty before Kidderminster swept upfield to go 2-0 up.
Murray said: "There are no excuses for the defeat, but when you are dealing with officials like that, it makes it 100 times harder.
"There are better people than me who have got into trouble for saying things, but he was talking to you like you were a four-year-old."
Murray admits that the amount of games in such a short space of time and a resulting injury pile-up is already starting to take its toll.
"Tired legs are going to have an effect. There are a lot of games left and we are down to the bare minimum," he said.
"The thing that is killing us is injuries. We have five players out and most of them would be looking to get into the starting XI."
Stonehouse targets improvement in home form from Mansfield
Evening Post, 28 Mar 2011
PAUL Stonehouse has targeted an improvement in Mansfield Town's home form in the run-in to the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
The Stags' outside hopes of a play-off berth were all but ended by a 2-1 setback at Field Mill against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.
It was the club's seventh league defeat in front of their home fans this season, despite a bright start to the campaign on home soil.
And with seven of their remaining 11 matches being contested in north Nottinghamshire, left-back Stonehouse wants to see that record turned around as the Stags prepare for May's FA Trophy final at Wembley and build for next season.
"The stat of losing more games at home than we have won is one I wasn't aware of, but it's obviously not good," he said. "You should be looking at your home form to be driving your challenge on, but that hasn't happened for us.
"It is something we need to address because that is one of the reasons why we are not up there and I'm not too sure why it is.
"But we have got lots of home games coming up and that is something we have to try to get right before the end of the season."
Stonehouse was at a loss to explain why Mansfield continue to come out on the wrong end of matches against the top clubs.
Mansfield have another tough assignment when they visit league leaders Crawley Town tomorrow night.
He said: "I think we have shown we can beat the top teams – we have done it in the past. The way we beat Luton over two legs shows that.
"I don't think it's anything to do with the strength of the players at the club, because we have a lot of talent.
"But it is disappointing to lose out against one of the top teams again and that is clearly something we have to work on."
Stonehouse felt Mansfield paid the price for starting so slowly as they could have trailed by more than just one goal by the break.
"I thought the first half killed us. If we start better then you never know what might happen," he said.
"We trained well all week after the Histon game and we all felt very positive about things going into the game. I think we prepared right.
"Yet we didn't come out of the blocks. In the second half we came back at them and had a go, but then the decision went against us for the second goal and that didn't help us."
BURR: Gaffer's Delight
harriers.co.uk, Sat 26 Mar 2011
Steve Burr was understandably a very happy man after watching his Harriers side secure another three crucial points at Mansfield Town on Saturday.
Harriers were more than dominant for large spells of the game and indeed could have been out of sight by the time Chris McPhee slotted them ahead after 15 minutes.
Keith Briggs netted his third of the season with a super goal in the second half to give his team a bit of breathing space before a late rally saw the Stags come back into it.
The reds saw out the win that was much more comfortable than the score line would suggest to further strengthen their position in the play-off places.
"Particularly our first half performance was excellent - how we were only 1-0 up at half-time was hard to take," said Burr after the game.
"We knew they'd come at us in the second half a little bit so it was nice to see Briggsy get that second one to give us that little bit of a cushion.
"Mansfield is a difficult place to come but I thought we were excellent today.
"Against a side that has a strong squad, we more than showed what we were about; I was delighted with how we played."
Harriers have a free seven days now before they are next in action - Luton Town coming to Aggborough for another key game.
Burr shrugged off the suggestion that his charges are feeling the pressure, adding: "We're not playing with any pressure - you could see that today.
"They went out there with the freedom to do what they want and we're delighted with how these lads are performing.
"We're looking forward to [Luton] - it's our most important game because it's our next one."
BLAIR: Good Start was Key
harriers.co.uk, Sat 26 Mar 2011
Winger Matty Blair admitted Harriers' fine start to the game at Mansfield on Saturday was key as the team played their way to a magnificent 2-1 victory to keep up their play-off charge.
Blair himself had a host of chances inside a first half-hour that saw the visitors play their hosts off the park; Stags' stopper David Grof pulling off some superb saves before finally being beaten by Chris McPhee's well-taken 16th of the season.
Speaking after the game, Matty revealed that the players and management had set their sights on such a blistering opening to prove to all there were very few cobwebs in need of clearing after the team's enforced two-week break from League action.
Harriers' first half lead should have been far higher than just the one, he feels, as he explained: "The gaffer said to us before the game that we would have to come out flying in the first half.
"Everyone knows we had two weeks off and that made the start here even more important because [having the break] could have gone either way.
"But we started really well. I had a couple of chances and I probably should have done a bit better with my header - Wrighty has had a couple of opportunities as well.
"We should have gone in at half-time two or three up and to be fair, their goalkeeper has made a couple of really good saves.
"Luckily Macca was able to get in and put his chance away well - I think he's done their defender a bit of a favour by staying on his feet, to be honest, but he poked it home under the 'keeper for us."
Burr - no pressure
MANAGER Steve Burr believes there's no pressure on his play-off chasing Harriers side after watching them beat Mansfield 2-1 at Field Mill.
Goals for Chris McPhee and Keith Briggs ensured the Aggborough outfit made it 12 Blue Square Bet Premier games unbeaten and tightened their grip on the final play-off spot.
Victory in this noon kick-off put the onus back on the sides still chasing a top five place and only two of the chasing pack, Fleetwood and York, managed to pick up all three points against Hayes and Yeading and Histon respectively.
Meanwhile, Grimsby were held by Tamworth, while Darlington suffered a surprise home loss to Altrincham.
Afterwards, Burr was relaxed about his side's mental health with seven games of the season left.
He said: "From our point of view there's no pressure whatsoever.
"You could see against Mansfield we went out there and played with the freedom to do what we wanted.
"We're just delighted with the way they're performing."
Harriers produced a slew of chances, particularly in a dominant first start and Matty Blair, Tom Shaw and Nick Wright were all thwarted by Mansfield keeper David Grof.
"I was particularly pleased with the first half, how we weren't more ahead than 1-0 at half-time I don't know," commented the manager.
"We knew they would come at us in the second half but if was nice to see Keith Briggs get the second one and gave us a bit of a cushion.
"We were a little bit disappointed we didn't go into half-time with a bigger lead but we'd take that win.
"With Mansfield looking forward to a trip to Wembley it is a difficult place to come but I thought we were excellent."
There one was moment of contention in the second half when Mark Albrighton caught Niall O'Rafferty right at the start of the move which lead to Briggs' goal. However, while the Stags man needed treatment, he did not sustain a head injury and the referee did not stop play.
Burr felt the home fans, who were incensed by the official's decision, had nothing to moan about.
He added: "I thought the build up to Keith Briggs' goal was tremendous.
"I think they were moaning that their lad got injured but saying that we broke away and virtually scored straight away, so we didn't see any problem with that at all. It wasn't a head injury, it wasn't as if the game had to be stopped. There was some flowing football and we managed to score."
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