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Archived News from May 2011

9th May 2011 16:37

Istead ruled out for Wembley
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 05 May 2011

Steven Istead has been ruled out of this weekend's FA Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium after our appeal against his sending off at Bath City last Saturday has been turned down, the Football Association have confirmed.


The FA disciplinary committee have imposed a four match ban to the midfielder.

A bitterly disappointed Duncan Russell told mansfieldtown.net: "I am so disappointed for Stevie. He is a great lad and to see his boyhood dream to play at Wembley dashed by a very controversial red card is gutting."


Istead ban upheld for Stags' Wembley final
Evening Post, Thu 05 May 2011

MANSFIELD Town will go into Saturday's FA Trophy final at Wembley with a maximum of 15 players after Steven Istead has lost his appeal against his sending off at Bath City.


The central midfielder was shown a 15th minute red card in the 2-0 defeat at Bath City last weekend.

Mansfield had hoped to get that decision rescinded, feeling the punishment was harsh. But the decision of Middlesex referee Marvin Thompson has been upheld, meaning Istead will not be involved against Darlington.

“I just can't believe it. I think things need to be looked at and re-addressed within the laws of the game,” said manager Duncan Russell


Istead red card stays as Stags head for Wembley with 15 men
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 5 May 2011

STAGS head to Wembley with a 15-man squad after the FA refused to rescind Steven Istead's red card appeal.


The tigerish midfielder was shown an instant red for a foul after only 15 minutes at Bath City last weekend and today Stags were told their appeal had failed and Istead will now be banned for four matches, one added for a failed appeal.

“I have to be careful what I say about referees or I will be in trouble again but I don't think Saturday's referee understood and I don't know if he had ever played football himself,” said boss Duncan Russell.

“It was the softest red card I have ever seen in football. I have never see anything like it. It was a tap.”

After his dismissal, Stags lost 2-0 in a poor display and Russell added: “Before the sending-off we were in charge and I thought we were going to win it quite easily.

“But I think the sending-off worried the rest of the players as Stevie Istead was dismissed for such a weak challenge and they were worried about missing Wembley too. I am sure that's what happened.”


Dole or new deal, Stags boss Russell concentrating on Wembley
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 5 May 2011

ALTHOUGH chairman John Radford has hinted Duncan Russell may stay on as Mansfield Town manager next season, Russell knows that, win or lose at Wembley, he could be on the dole on Monday.


Radford claimed he and the board had voted about offering Russell a new deal, a claim then denied by director Steve Hymas on the internet.

However, Russell has more important things on his mind today.

“I believe the chairman has said something on the radio but I haven't heard it and it is not my priority right now,” he said

“If I go in on Monday and I have got a job then great, if not then I will go and sign on.

“The fans have a right go at me sometimes but this town loves its football club, they live and breath it, and I would love to bring the trophy back for them.

“They have had nothing to cheer for so long.”

“Darlington manager Mark Cooper has said he feels they are underdogs as both times we played them he thinks we should have won. Fair play to 'Coops' for his honesty. But this is a one-off.

“The whole season has been one of adversity from being locked out of the ground to going to JJB to buy footballs and bibs. So I can only take my hat off to the players for fighting on to get us to Wembley.

“We are going to have to roll our sleeves up out there. It is a massive game and a chance to make history here.”

While not 100 per cent fit, Tom Naylor, Dan Mitchley, Paul Connor and Adam Murray will travel as part of the 15-man squad and play through the pain barrier if necessary


Dave Rhodes
4 May 2011, 8.30am
Mansfield Town Chairman John Radford tell us Duncan Russell to be offered a new contract after the #FA Trophy Final at #Wembley


Stag Boss Could Be Given New Deal
mansfield103.co.uk, Wednesday 4th May, 2011

Mansfield Town Manager Duncan Russell could be in line for a new contract after the FA Trophy Final.


Mansfield Town Football Club are considering giving Manager Duncan Russell a new contract for next season.

In an exclusive interview with Mansfield 103.2's Tony Delahunty, Mr Radford revealed that after the Wembley final this weekend, the club may be sitting down with the current boss to discuss a new deal.

Mr Radford told us "Myself along with the other directors have discussed the manager. It was voted that we should look at doing a contract with him next season, but me and Duncan need to sit down and talk about that."

To hear the interview in full with Mr Radford, Mansfield 103.2 will have a sport on Friday Wembley special starting at 6pm with Jason Harrison.


Can 'worst team in Stags' history' make Marriott a Wembley winner at last?
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 5 May 2011

ALAN Marriott is determined to finally win a major final and see 'the worst team in Mansfield's history' become heroes.


After a season of injury, the Stags stopper starred in the defeat at Bath City last weekend to all but cement his place in Saturday's FA Trophy starting line-up at Wembley and said: “We have seen the posters saying 'be part of history' and we know if we win we can go down in folklore here.

“I know some people have said we are one of the worst Mansfield Town teams ever this year, and our finish in the league reflects that.

“To hear that does hurt, but people pay good money and are entitled to their opinion. It would be a boring game if everyone was in agreement and sometimes it spurs you on.

“Players react differently. Some need an arm round their shoulder and others need a kick up the backside. But you have to take the rough with the smooth as a professional - and it's mostly the rough!

“I know at Wembley the fans will be 110 per cent behind us.”

He added: “I have lost in three play-off semi-finals and two play-off finals with Lincoln so I have never won in a major final yet.

“I still get the mick taken out of me for crying after them. So it would mean a lot to win at Wembley, particularly as I will have family there to watch me.

“I was delighted with my performance at Bath though I would have preferred to have won the game.

“It is good to bounce back after a bad game with those two goals I conceded against Gateshead. As a keeper, if you make a mistake then nine times out of 10 it's a goal.

“If I am selected on Saturday I would feel sorry for Neil Collett as he played in the early rounds, as did David Grof, and it would be soul-destroying for him.”

STAGS head to Wembley with a 15-man squad after the FA refused to rescind Steven Istead's red card appeal.

The tigerish midfielder was shown an instant red for a foul after only 15 minutes at Bath City last weekend and today Stags were told their appeal had failed and Istead will now be banned for four matches, one added for a failed appeal.

“I have to be careful what I say about referees or I will be in trouble again but I don't think Saturday's referee understood and I don't know if he had ever played football himself,” said boss Duncan Russell.

“It was the softest red card I have ever seen in football. I have never see anything like it. It was a tap.”

After his dismissal, Stags lost 2-0 in a poor display and Russell added: “Before the sending-off we were in charge and I thought we were going to win it quite easily.

“But I think the sending-off worried the rest of the players as Stevie Istead was dismissed for such a weak challenge and they were worried about missing Wembley too. I am sure that's what happened.”


Could Wembley be end of Stags star Foster's career?
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 5 May 2011

STEVE Foster knows his career could end on Saturday with a Wembley win for his home town team.


The 38-year-old is out of contract after the game and, while hoping to stay on, admitted: “If this is going to be my last game then it is a great way to go out.

“It would be an emotional day come the end of the game.

“I am out of contract here and nothing has been mentioned yet though you hope you will still be here. If not then what a great way to finish.

“I have said all along I feel I still have enough in the tank to carry on but you never know if offers will be there. You have to look realistically.

“Obviously I am disappointed for Kevin Sandwith as he is a good friend and team mate.

“I am disappointed for Mark Preece too though he has not really been involved. It is the Luke Medley one that is really out of order as he played and scored against Worksop and helped us get there.

“It would be the best moment of my career to win it with Mansfield. I have had some great times with promotions and won the Trophy with Woking. But to win it with Mansfield would be brilliant for myself.”

He added: “Darlington have finished above us and finished the season off well so they will be going in as favourites.

“But we have been the better side both times we played them in the league.

“In the first game at home I don't think they touched the ball in the first half. We out-passed them and we should have been out of sight.

“Then we went up there and were disappointed to come come away with a 0-0. So we know we have nothing to fear.

“Maybe we don't have that momentum. But if you can't get yourself up for a game at Wembley in a final then there is something wrong.

Despite four players carrying injuries, Foster believes that, with only 15 available players, all four will patch themselves up with strapping and pain-killing injections and play.

He said: “We had enough for two teams at training once this season with a few more watching from the sidelines! Now we are at Wembley we may not even have 16.

“Our options are limited for subs like they were at Crawley, but you deal with it and whoever goes out there is more than capable of beating Darlington.”

And to the fans, he said: “Get behind us and enjoy the day.

“The volume of noise from 15,000 fans will be important to us. We will outnumber Darlington so let's out-sing them turn it into a great day.”


Darlington v Stags match panel
Evening Post, 06 May 2011

Mansfield (from): Marriott, Collett, Silk, Foster, Naylor, Spence, Stonehouse, Cain, Briscoe, Murray, Thompson, Nix, Smith, Connor, Mitchley.


Darlington (from): Russell, St Louis-Hamilton, Arnison, Miller, Hatch, Brown, Chandler, Smith, Terry, Verma, Bridge-Wilkinson, Wright, Campbell, Gray, Modest, McReady.

Team news: With the club losing their appeal against Steven Istead's sending off in their final league game at Bath City last Saturday, the Stags will only have 15 players in their squad for the big day.

David Grof, Mark Preece, Luke Medley, Conor Higginson, Keigan Parker, Niall O'Rafferty and Paul Hall are all ineligible.

Kevin Sandwith and Rhys Day (knee) are both definitely out injured.

But the Stags expect to welcome back skipper Adam Murray (knee), Paul Connor (calf), Tom Naylor (hamstring) and Danny Mitchley (ankle), none of whom played at Twerton Park last weekend.

For Darlington, Kevin Austin, Adam Quinn and Greg Taylor are all unavailable, while Michael Brough and Gareth Waite are both ruled out with knee problems.

Fulham-bound defender Dan Burn is expected to miss out as he is set to have a knee operation. The fee for the teenager is thought to be in the region of £325,000.

One to watch: Marc Bridge-Wilkinson. The central midfielder plays at the head of a diamond and is the creative spark for the Quakers. Has scored nine goals since joining the club in October from Carlisle, initially on loan, where he experienced Football League Trophy heartache at Wembley last season.

Manager. Mark Cooper. The former Kettering boss is very experienced at this level and has led Darlington to a seventh place finish in the Blue Square Bet Premier


Connor to play through pain in dream Wembley final
CHAD.co.uk, Friday 6 May 2011

TAKING to the field for a showpiece Wembley final is a day Stags striker Paul Connor thought would never arrive.


Journeyman Connor, who has enjoyed an excellent season in front of goal with 16 goals to his name, began his career way back in 1996 with Middlesborough but has never graced the famous Wembley turf.

But on Saturday Connor, despite a recent calf strain, will patch himself up and fulfil his long-awaited ambition in what he hopes will be a famous day for Mansfield Town against Darlington.

Said Connor, who joined Stags from Lincoln City in 2010: “It is the first time I have been here in my career and I thought time was running out for me. It could be my last chance to play at Wembley and it is one I am really looking forward to.

“I have been here at the old stadium, but it does not compare to what we have now. It is a fantastic stadium which has a real aura about the place.

“I've thought about scoring the winner in my mind a lot and going to collect the trophy. It is a really exciting thought.”

But the veteran striker, who has made 381 starts during his career, knows the Trophy final will be all about keeping nerves under check.

“It is all about who performs on the day and we have to got to just enjoy the day” he said. “I am experienced and hopefully I can pass that on to anyone who needs it. Really we just have to try and treat this like any other match and relax.

“We cannot burn ourselves out in the first 20 minutes or do anything silly and have a man sent off. We have got to relax and play our game.”

It looked like curtains for Connor when he limped out of the Good Friday defeat at AFC Wimbledon.

But, thankfully, it proved to be a strain and not a tear in his calf muscle which, even though not fully fit, should enable him to fulfil his Wembley dream in Stags' patched-up squad of 15


Marriott desperate to clinch place in Stags history at Wembley
Evening Post, 06 May 2011

GOALKEEPER Alan Marriott insists Mansfield Town are desperate to clinch their place in history at Wembley tomorrow after being labelled the club's worst side ever.


The Stags have finished this season in their lowest league placing since they were first elected to the Football League in 1931-32 – 13th in the Blue Square Bet Premier, although they will move up a place once Rushden have been deducted an expected five points.

That has led to the unwanted tag from some supporters, but Marriott knows beating Darlington in the FA Trophy final would make up for the disappointment that a play-off challenge has not materialised.

"I am aware that a lot of people are saying this is probably the worst Mansfield Town team they have seen and the league finish reflects that," said Marriott.

"That does hurt, but fans are entitled to their opinion and you have to take the rough with the smooth and I'm sure they will be right behind us tomorrow.

"Sometimes it spurs you on. It makes me more determined to go out and win this final.

"You see the posters going around saying be part of history and the manager has been telling us we can write our name in folklore.

"I'm sure if the lads go out and come back with a winners medal and a trophy out of it, then we will go into next season very positively."

Having twice been a losing finalist at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium with Lincoln City, Marriott is keen to make it third time lucky.

He said: "To go out and play in these occasions is fantastic, but if you don't win, it's a horrible place to be."


Briscoe looks to put the icing on the cake
Evening Post, 06 May 2011

IT'S been quite a season for Louis Briscoe; a year where productivity has finally matched his promise.


Only Gary Silk has been on the Mansfield books longer, the winger having first signed for the Stags when he followed David Holdsworth from Ilkeston in January 2009 to put pen to paper at the same time as Alan Marriott.

Yet it is only this season that the 23-year-old has found a consistent level of performance, rather than flashes of brilliance interspersed with frustrating wastefulness.

The most obvious manifestation of that has been in terms of Briscoe's goals return.

After bagging only a handful of goals in his two previous campaigns at Field Mill, the former Port Vale man has hit the goals trail with a vengeance in 2010-11 and heads the charts with 19 to his name.

All but four of those strikes have come since the New Year in a prolific second half of the campaign that has seen Briscoe sweep the board in the club's player of the year awards. Five of his goals have come in Mansfield's march on Wembley.

Already signed up for next season, there is just one thing left on Briscoe's mind – and it is not hard to predict.

Winning the FA Trophy final under the arch and netting on the famous turf are his two remaining goals. Both together would be the perfect culmination to a breakthrough last few months that have seen many onlookers predict a bright future at Football League level.

"Scoring at Wembley and winning the trophy would be the icing on the cake for me this season," said Briscoe.

"Sometimes dreams don't go exactly as you plan, so I'm trying not to think about that too much even though it's easy to.

"Certain players will think it's a big stage and there will be people watching.

"For me personally I want to win a trophy for Mansfield Town and whatever goes with it, goes with it.

"Even if you don't end up having a good game but win it, you would take that. It's about the team, fans and club.

"I have never won anything in my senior career. I think as an under-12 I finished as top goalscorer!

"This is the first time I have got to a final so I want to grab the opportunity with both hands."

It's amazing to think that a player of Briscoe's calibre had never even been to Wembley – old or new – until just over two weeks ago.

That changed when he attended a press day along with team-mates Adam Murray and Paul Connor, as well as manager Duncan Russell and chairman John Radford.

Briscoe said: "It would have been nice to go to the old one just to experience it, but I can't really complain too much as I'm coming to the new one and should be playing here.

"When I got out of the car and I saw it for the first time, I was just looking at the stadium in awe. It's fantastic and I can't really put it into words.

"Hopefully I have got that out of my system now though and when the game comes I will have my head on right for it.

"I think it will help all the lads that we come to have a look around first, then we just have to try to switch off from what is going on around us and treat it as just another game of football.

"It's 11 v 11. It's two even teams, having drawn both league games over 90 minutes.

"I have heard all the tales about Wembley 87 and we don't want that. I know what it was like going to extra-time in the semi-final against Luton, so to go to penalties – I don't think I could handle that."

Briscoe has enjoyed every minute of Mansfield's run through to face Mark Cooper's Darlington

"I think I have scored in every round apart from the Alfreton one, so it's been a good run for me," he said.

"We have gone from playing in minus 10 to minus 15 degrees at Ilkeston in the freezing cold when we won 5-0 against Worksop, which could have been a banana skin.

"We have just cracked on from there. We have played Newport, who are a good team in our division, then Alfreton over two games where no-one really fancied us, especially away – and when we have gone down to ten men in the first tie.

"Then we had Chasetown who are a notoriously good cup side who took us to a replay. No-one fancied us there because they had beaten Grimsby and Kettering.

"And then, of course, we had Luton in the semis and I don't think anyone expected us to win that one.

"But we have defied the odds pretty much all the way through to set this match up."

Briscoe, who has played on the left and right flanks as well as up front this season, is respectful of Darlington, who earned their place at Wembley with a two-legged victory over north-east rivals Gateshead.

But he believes Mansfield, with the help of a full week's preparation, can prevail, despite finding out this week that FA rules means both Luke Medley and Mark Preece are unavailable.

Briscoe said: "Darlington have got a good manager behind them who knows what he is doing and knows this division well.

"They will play however they want to play and whatever has gone on there off the field they have always maintained steady progress in the league.

"To say we are either very good or very bad nails it on the head really. We blow very hot and cold but I think it is a very evenly matched game and should be a good one to the neutral."


Stags squad aim to win FA Trophy for the fans
CHAD.co.uk, Friday 6 May 2011

'THIS one is for you' - that is the message from the Stags squad to the club's loyal supporters ahead of Saturday's FA Trophy final clash with Darlington.


Mansfield Town head to the national stadium knowing they will have more fans than their opposition as they attempt to write their name into club folklore by bringing the cup back north.

Stags, who last went to Wembley in 1987 when they won the Freight Rover Trophy, have sold more than 14,000 tickets for their date with destiny on Saturday as they look to end a disappointing season with some cup cheer.

It is an excellent show of support from the long-suffering Field Mill faithful, who have deserted matches in great numbers in recent seasons following the club's ongoing off-field turmoil and below-par results.

And winger Louis Briscoe is all too aware of the importance of rewarding the loyal fans who have so often been let down by Mansfield Town.

Said Briscoe: “This day is for the fans, they have had a tough season like we have all had and it is fantastic that we can give them something back like this.

“They will be here in big numbers to give us wonderful support and we want to send them home happy by lifting the cup.”

Experienced striker Paul Connor, like many fans, will also be making his first journey to the world famous North London stadium and is all too aware that Wembley is a place for winners.

“This is for the supporters who have stuck by us,” he said.

“They have not had much to cheer about and this will give them some excitement. We will relax and enjoy our day and give it our very best to win the FA Trophy for the fans.”

Both league games between the sides ended in draws, with Darlington grabbing a 97th minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw at Field Mill back in October.

For any fans who have left it too late to buy a ticket from Field Mill, Wembley have confirmed 1,500 tickets for Stags fans will now be made available on the day , available to buy from the West ticket office of the national stadium and sold on a first-come-first served basis


Murray: Town is crying out for success
Evening Post, 06 May 2011

MANSFIELD Town skipper Adam Murray believes victory in tomorrow's FA Trophy final at Wembley would rank higher than the promotion he achieved with the club in 2001-02


Murray is in his third spell at Field Mill, having previously played before under Stuart Watkiss and Keith Curle.

But he believes nothing could top a win at Wembley.

Murray said: "I have seen success here before and when you do get a little bit of success everyone in the town comes together. That is what they are crying out for.

"It would be better to win at Wembley than the promotion for me personally, not just because I am captain, but because of the years of difficulty that the club has had. I think it would be the kick-start to better times.

"The lads feel the fans' frustration at where we are in the league and where the club has been for the last two years. As players, we are not numb to it.

"If the lads don't know how important it is to the fans and the club, then they shouldn't really be here. Knowing the lads as I do, they won't be one person not giving there all.

"We have been a very up and down side but on our day we know we can beat anyone and we have to make sure it is our day.

"If everyone is one their game then we should be walking up the steps as winners."

For Murray, the feeling that would generate would be the greatest of his career


Adam Murray ready to lift FA Trophy
CHAD.co.uk, Friday 6 May 2011

NEARLY one year ago to the day, Stags captain Adam Murray climbed the famous Wembley steps to lift the Blue Square Premier play-off winners trophy in a rather unhappy fashion.


Murray, then the club captain of Oxford United, had heart-breakingly been forced to sit out the U's 3-1 promotion victory over York City after a back operation caused him to miss the second half of the season.

Now the influential midfielder, who is in his third spell at Field Mill, has another chance to lift a Wembley trophy for the club so dear to his heart, though that back injury has again returned to plague him over the past week.

“This is going to be an amazing experience for us and, from a personal point of view, it will be a very proud moment,” said Murray, “Lifting the FA Trophy would be an amazing experience and a moment you never forget.

“I lifted the trophy for getting promoted from the Blue Square Premier last season, but it was a hollow feeling because I was injured and didn't take part in the game.

“Getting my hands on the trophy really didn't feel as it should do. This year lifting the trophy would be a totally different feeling.”

Murray, who began his career at Derby County before moving on to Kidderminster, is also urging the loyal Stags fan to roar their side on to a famous victory.

“We will have lots of fans in the ground cheering us on and making a big noise which is going to give us a massive lift,”he said.

“I am pleased for the fans because they really deserve this day for staying with us through thick and thin and we hope we can make it a day to remember for them.”

And with the big game getting ever nearer determined Murray has already turned his thoughts to an historic day of glory for Stags.

Said Murray: “We have to play with drive, passion and to play our game. We want to be going up those steps as winners.

“We are here to win and it is hard not to think about winning the cup when I close my eyes or have a moments thought. It would be a tremendous day for everyone connected with Mansfield Town football club.”

After scoring twice and setting up the winner in an inspirational display against Gateshead, Murray missed the defeat Bath last weekend to get treatment on his back and returned to on Thursday


darlington-fc.net, Thu 05 May 2011, By Martin Walker

Mark Cooper reckons he knows "nine or 10" of his starting eleven for Saturday's FA Trophy Final.


And one key position that does look certain is Liam Hatch's in the centre of defence.

Cooper has been unable to overturn a silly FA rule which prevents Kevin Austin from featuring at Wembley on Saturday because of his loan to Boston - even though Austin was involved in the squad which beat Tamworth at home in the first round of the competition.

And with Dan Burn injured, the Darlington manager has had to revert to using Hatch as a make-shift centre-back.

"That's likely now," said Cooper. "Because it's the only option we've got, who can play there comfortably.

"Mansfield have got problems, we've got problems. It's never easy, and you're never going to go to Wembley with everybody fit, and everyone firing. There are always problems to deal with.

"We'll pick the team that we think is best suited to win the game.

"We're down to 16 or 17 players who are available now. It's just a case of selecting the starting 11.

"Nine or 10 of them are more or less set in my mind, it's just the other one.

"Ian Miller will be the captain, but looking at the trophy I'm not sure he'll be able to lift it!

"But he has done really well as captain this year. It will be nice for him to lift it, if we're lucky enough to win."


No clues for Cooper's Wembley Trophy final XI
thenorthernecho.co.uk, Tuesday 3rd May 2011, By Craig Stoddart, Deputy Sports Editor


Darlington boss Mark Cooper is keeping his FA Trophy final team selection under wraps, but he expects his players to be able to guess Saturday's starting XI.

The manager says he has already selected nine or ten of his line-up for the match with Mansfield Town at Wembley, and that the formation he chooses to play will dictate the last remaining places.

The team trained at The Northern Echo Arena yesterday and will do so one more time tomorrow before travelling on Friday morning, by which stage Cooper expects his preferred XI to become apparent.

He said: "They'll know themselves what the team is, they'll work it out.

"When we work on team shape in training they'll know then. We've done it on Monday and today and one or two probably know already what the team is going to be.

"I've got nine or ten in my mind who are going to play, but it depends on what formation we are going to play.

"It won't be nice telling people they are not playing, but if they aren't starting they'll be on the bench and that means they might have to come on and score the winner or get an important block in to win the Trophy.

"It's very rare that you finish a game at Wembley with the same team that started."

Whereas Cooper is close to finalising his side, Mansfield's options suffered a blow yesterday when two of their players were ruled out.

In a repeat of the circumstances that kept Kevin Austin out of the Darlington reckoning, the Stags' Luke Medley and Mark Preece were deemed ineligible.

Austin cannot play for Quakers as he was on loan at Boston during the semi-final stage of the Trophy, and the same rules have sidelined Medley and Preece.

After returning to Field Mill for the final month of the campaign, both featured regularly with Medley appearing in seven of the last nine games and Preece playing in five matches.

Stags are hoping to win an appeal lodged against the dismissal of Steven Istead. The former Hartlepool midfielder was sent off for serious foul play against Bath City at the weekend.

No matter what side Mansfield boss Duncan Russell selects, he is expecting a direct approach from Darlington.

Speaking last week, he said: "Mark Cooper's side are normally big and strong and they are going to say ‘hello, they are dodgy on set pieces. Run them down the sides, get corners, get free kicks and we've got a chance of beating them'."

His comments have not gone unnoticed at The Northern Echo Arena. Cooper, with no small amount of sarcasm, responded last night, saying: "We are, apparently, renowned as a big, strong, direct side that will play for set-pieces and long throws, even though we haven't got a long throw in the side.

"That's what I read, that Mark Cooper's teams are always big, strong and direct. If that's what it takes to win, then that's what we'll do."

While Darlington are preparing for the FA Trophy final, the club's youth team this evening play in a final of their own


The FA Carlsberg Trophy: Cooper wary of Mansfield threat
thefa.com, By Wally Downes ,Thursday, 05 May, 2011

Darlington boss says his team are raring to go ahead of Wembley Final.

Tickets for The Final will be available to purchase at the Wembley Stadium Ticket Offices from 12noon on Saturday

Darlington manager Mark Cooper is either a master of reverse psychology or living in genuine fear of the Mansfield Town side his team meet in The FA Carlsberg Trophy Final on Saturday.

The Conference Premier rivals have faced each other twice in the League this season with honours even in both matches, but the results to do not tell the full story of Mansfield's dominance and Cooper believes his side were lucky to come away with anything in either meeting.

Cooper admitted: "We should have lost both games. At Mansfield's ground we got a last minute equaliser and in the home game they totally outplayed. We had to resort to playing long, aimless balls straight down the middle for their goalkeeper, and we were lucky to get a nil-nil draw."

In The Trophy Semi-Final Darlington overcame local rivals Gateshead in a hard fought 3-2 aggregate win. Two first leg goals from top-scorer Liam Hatch and a strike from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson proved enough to carry them through before a goalless second leg, setting up a meeting with the Stags at Wembley Stadium.

Despite salvaging points from the games against Mansfield, Cooper thinks his side can still get a result on Saturday. Darlington finished seventh in the Conference Premier - six places above Mansfield - and narrowly missed out on a play-off spot.

"We've had a decent season, we've finished seventh and we've got to Wembley, so we are really pleased with that," Cooper said. "We're looking forward to the final and finishing the season with potentially winning a trophy, I'm sure plenty of teams would want to swap places with us."

Cooper did express concern for the higher level of support Mansfield are likely to bring, as they have now sold over 13,000 tickets for The Final. "Mansfield are two hours closer to London than us and they are probably a bigger club in terms of support," Cooper said.

However the Darlington boss is adamant his side are ready for the tie, "The players are obviously looking forward to it, I think they are raring to go.

"We wish the game was tomorrow - the week is dragging on, and we wish it was time to play now."



Latest | May 2011