RUSSELL, MARRIOTT, MURRAY, MARK COOPER REACTION
Wembley post match reaction
Manager Duncan Russell, skipper Adam Murray and goalkeeper Alan Marriott all spoke to the press in the aftermath of our last minute FA Trophy Final defeat to Darlington.
With the prospect of penalties looming, Chris Senior's 120th minute goal was the only thing that seperated the sides - a cruel way to lose in the opinion of all three.
Said Russell: "I'm obviously completely gutted. I felt the referee could've been a bit stronger on a couple of decisions today.
"Some of the players were crying in the dressing room. That's how much it means to them. They gave 110 per cent, gave everything and I feel for them.
"I feel for our fans. 15,000 travelled down, fantastic support, and they haven't had a day like this in a long time. I do hope they still have something to remember the day about. It's been a long time since they've been here, and I hope it's not too long before they're back again.
"I think we missed out on two penalties. Both my players said they were bowled over. When you're at Wembley on a day like this you need to be brave, and I don't think he (referee Stuart Attwell) showed that today. And with the throw in that led to the goal, my full back was having his shirt tugged. But it's a cruel game and you have to learn through loss as well as victory. They'll remember this day for a long time, whether it's for good or for bad. Someone's got to be the bridesmaid and today it was us.
"It was very warm out there, the lads have lost a lot of weight. I felt we tried to play the 4-4-2 and keep trying to push on which I think worked quite well.
"Adam Smith had a good game today. The means to the end didn't quite work. I thought Ashley Cain was going to nick the game and I think he was unlucky with not being given the penalty. And Paul Connor was unlucky at the end.
"They (Darlington) had lots of chances too. You have to regroup and take account of what's happened today. Set pieces have been the bane of our season. The players gave everything they could give and I think it should've gone to a penalty shoot out.
"I've got Paul Connor needing injections in his calf. If he starts on the bench and another gets injured, then it's a bad managerial decision so I had to start with Paul. I'd have been snookered, so I had to play it that way.
"Buying players for next season is something we need to do. I've got some lined up, if I'm here next season. There was no one out there that I wanted to bring in earlier in the season.
"You have to play through the competition. That's why I think the Luke Medley rule had no sense at all. Playing on the competition, then going out on loan and then unable to play again.
"I'll find out about my contract on Monday. I hope I get another year, I have a lot to offer the football club and I'm looking at new players. I don't think the players underperformed at all, they played their socks off and gave their all."
Adam Murray, who was substituted towards the end of extra time following an energetic performance, added: "They've all clearly played their socks off. Set pieces have let us down again.
"I've never ever cramped up before, not sure if it was the whole occasion but yes it was a grind. In any situation you have to play to the circumstances.
"For this club to get to Wembley this season is a minor miracle. For everything we've gone through this season - we didn't train on grass for six weeks (in December and January), we've gone to places with two players on the bench, and today with only four people on the bench. For us not to be fighting relegation, finish mid-table and make a Wembley final we should be proud of our selves.
"Duncan Russell gelled the group together because it was an absolute shambles with lots of cliques when he first arrived. And now he's brought everyone together. If you walk into the dressing room now you've got one of the hardest blokes I've ever met crying in a bath. That just shows what it means to the team!
"The goal sums our season up, but to lose in a final just makes it even worse. But again it's one of those goals that have been one of our weaknesses all season.
"We have to build for next season. If we start crying about it no one's going to move in any direction. You have to look at the occasion - the game today and you have to make this a regular thing. Play-Offs and cup finals are what we want.
"The fans were obviously behind us completely and we couldn't ask much more of them. Let's hope this becomes a regular thing and we give them something more to cheer about."
Alan Marriott, who was only minutes away from facing a penalty shoot-out and keeping a clean sheet, said: "I thought it'd be third time lucky for me this time (after twice losing in Play-Off Finals with Lincoln). It's soul destroying. I was hoping for the penalty shoot-out and then we could've had a 50-50 chance but we didn't make it.
"On the balance of play they've had some good chances that they should've done better with, and we also created some opportunities. It's a bit like a funeral parlour in there. We'll need to work on our set pieces next year.
"If you go out there and see the other team lift trophies it makes you stronger as a person and more determined. When you go away for the summer it inspires you and makes you want to come back stronger.
"I went for the ball and hit Steve foster, which put us both out, it hit the cross bar and couldn't have fallen more kindly to the striker. But that's football- it's more downs than ups and I'm getting a bit sick of it now, getting to the final and not crossing the finish line."
Stags boss calls for the FA to re-draft cup 'ineligibility' laws
MANSFIELD Town boss Duncan Russell believes the FA should re-draft the rule that saw Luke Medley and Mark Preece ineligible for the 1-0 FA Trophy final defeat to Darlington at Wembley.
The Stags were beaten in added time at the end of extra time – just seconds from a penalty shoot-out – when Chris Senior headed home.
Mansfield were hindered by the fact they only had four substitutes and two out-and-out strikers due to the duo's absence.
They were ruled out because they had not been with the club during the semi-final win over Luton.
Medley's case was particularly frustrating for Russell, given he played and scored against Worksop in the first round of the competition.
"Luke has played before, he goes out on loan and then he can't play in the final. Where's the sense in that?" said Russell.
"It's disappointing you can't field your strongest side and it's the same with Preecey.
"Why do the FA have this rule? I can't understand it."
Russell was also unhappy with the decisions made by referee Stuart Attwell.
He said: "It's not sour grapes. I wish Mark Cooper and his team all the best but I think we should have had two penalties.
"And the throw that led to the goal, my full-back was having his shirt tugged."
Stags boss gutted for fans after last gasp Trophy final defeat
STAGS boss Duncan Russell wants to get his future sorted out quickly after Saturday's FA Trophy final defeat at Wembley.
Stags were beaten by a last gasp extra-time goal by Darlington, but Russell, whose contract is now over, is hoping he will be given a new deal.
He said: “I will probably find out on Monday though I will have a chat with the chairman tonight.
“I believe he has gone on record as saying they will give me another year and I hope he does as I think I have a lot to offer the football club.
“I have players lined-up I want to bring in of a very good calibre so we can make a true challenge to get this club into Division Two.”
On the defeat, he said: “I am absolutely gutted for my players and for the supporters of Mansfield Town.
“I feel for them. It's been a long time since they were here and I hope in their loss they have still had something to remember the day by. I hope they had a great day out at our national stadium and it won't be too long before they come back.
“I thought we certainly deserved something out of the game and that was a penalty shoot-out.
“The way we went about the game I thought they deserved that 50-50 chance of winning the Trophy.
“I have to be careful what I say but I think the referee should have given us a couple of penalties. I saw them again on the screen and they looked like penalties and both players said they were bowled over.
“Sometimes at places like Wembley referees have to be brave and have courage. I don't the referee showed that in those two incidents.
“It is not sour grapes as I wish 'Coops' (Darlington boss Mark Cooper) all the best. But before they got the throw-in from which the goal came, my full back was having his shirt tugged. I was screaming at the officials.
“Football is a cruel game and you have to learn through loss as well as victory. My lads will remember this day for a long time though I don't know how fondly.
“Someone has to be the bridesmaid on the day and today that is us.
“There were a lot of nerves and it was very warm out there. I think the lads lost a lot of weight.
“Near the end it was to and fro and who would be the one to open up the other team. We just tried to keep our shape.”
He added: “I sent Ashley Cain on and I really thought he was going to nick the winner with his pace. He should have had a penalty.
“And if Paul Connor had been half a foot nearer the ball at the far post from Ashley's cross I feel he would have put the ball in the net.
“Set pieces have been the bane of our season and we now have to regroup and learn from it.”
With so many players unavailable, Paul Connor was forced to play, despite a calf strain that needed three injections to get him through.
“I had to play Paul Connor from the start as if I had started Danny Mitchley and he had gone off injured, I might have sent Paul on and he could have broken down inside five minutes and it been bad management,” said Russell.
“We could have ended up with 10 men. I had to do the best I could with the resources we had.”
Luke Medley and Mark Preece had to sit it out under FA rules as they were out on loan when the semi-finals were played and Russell said: “Why do the FA have these silly rules? I can't understand it.
“Luke Medley had played in the cup before, went out on loan and then came back but can't play so I don't know where the sense is in that.”
Captain salutes 'awesome Stags fans' after Wembley heartbreak
STAGS skipper Adam Murray went through the pain barrier until his body simply gave up on him in Saturday's 1-0 FA Trophy final defeat.
Murray soldiered on with a bad back but his groin finally went on him as he tried to cover every blade of grass for the cause.
“I have never, ever cramped up before but after 60 minutes I had cramp,” he said after Darlington snatched a heartbreaking winner in injury time of extra.
“I don't know if it was the occasion or the fact I hadn't trained for a week but it was a grind.
“I was up there playing with Paul Connor who wasn't 100 per cent fit either. The two of us tried to help each other out as much as we could.”
He added: “I said to the lads in the dressing room that for this club and this team to get to Wembley this season is a minor miracle with what has been thrown at us.
“We couldn't even train on grass for six weeks.
“For us not to be fighting relegation and finishing mid-table and getting to a major final, the lads have got to be proud of themselves
“With the situation the club was in it didn't matter who was in charge, it would have been a grind.
“But hats off to the gaffer, he came in and brought the group together. I said before that it was an absolute shambles at the time - there were so many cliques in there and it was one of the worst dressing rooms I have ever come into.
“He brought everyone together to the point where one of the hardest blokes I know is sat in there crying in the bath. That is what this means to this team.
“To lose a final in that manner is even worse. But set pieces have been our weakness. We have to learn from this game and move forwards.
“Next season hopefully we will bring in better quality players and this venue and this occasion will become a more regular thing.
“Our fans were awesome today. They got behind us, gave us everything. They did all we could ask of them and I want to thank them for that.”
Russell already planning for the future at Stags
DUNCAN Russell is already lining up players to put Mansfield Town in the promotion frame next season – even though his future has yet to be settled.
The Stags manager's contract ran out following Saturday's 1-0 FA Trophy final extra-time defeat to Darlington at Wembley.
Russell has already held talks with chairman John Radford about the possibility of staying on for 2011-12.
Whether he stays should be confirmed before the end of the week, with the club keen to get on with making plans for the summer.
But Russell is already one step ahead in a bid to strengthen a squad that finished a disappointing 13th in the Blue Square Bet Premier, should he be given chance.
"The chairman has gone on record as saying he is looking to offer me another year.
"I hope I get the year because I feel I still have got a lot to offer the club, certainly with the players I want to bring in," he said.
"I want to put a true challenge in to get this club back to where it should be, and that is in League Two.
"I have not wanted to waste money on players before who are no better than the ones we have here, but I do want to improve us for next season and that's something I will look to do if I procure the job.
"I have already got players of good calibre lined up to come in.
"Other teams will be after them as well but one of them is no problem at all. I will have him in if I am here.
"He's quality and got a good pedigree and there's a few more like that."
Skipper Murray believes Stags punched above their weight to get to Wembley
ADAM Murray believes Mansfield Town punched above their weight to get to a Wembley final.
The Stags were devastated to lose 1-0 in the FA Trophy final to Blue Square Bet Premier rivals Darlington on Saturday.
But skipper Murray feels with all the off-the-field problems that it was a massive achievement even to finish as runners-up.
"I said to the lads in the dressing room afterwards that for this club to get to Wembley this season is a minor miracle," he said.
"Everything that has been thrown at us, we have coped with. We didn't play on grass for six weeks, we had two subs at Crawley and we found out days before the final we would only have four subs.
"For us not to be fighting relegation and to end up in mid-table and come to a major final I think the lads have got to be proud of themselves."
Murray has backed Duncan Russell as the right man to lead Mansfield forward, with the current boss' future set to be resolved today.
He said: "I think Russ should definitely get the job full-time. As I've said before, the situation the whole club has been in I think whoever had come in would have found it an absolute grind.
"The first thing he did, and all the lads took their hat off to him for it, was that he brought the lads together. When I first came it was an absolute shambles, there were that many cliques and groups in the changing room it was one of the worst dressing rooms I have come across.
"But now, everyone is together. One of the hardest blokes I have ever come across was crying in the bath after the game, which shows how close we are."
Murray felt the way Mansfield conceded Chris Senior's winner, from a long throw, was typical of their set piece problems.
He said: "It just summed our season up. To lose a final like that makes it even worse.
"I think we have to look on this as a positive experience and take it into next season.
"If we all go away from here and start crying about it, then we aren't going to move forward.
"We have to learn from it, maybe get in a bit more quality and try to make this type of occasion a regular thing."
Third Wembley defeat agony for Stags keeper
IT wasn't to be third time lucky today for Stags keeper Alan Marriott as he suffered a third successive Wembley final defeat.
Marriott, who has only just returned from a broken finger in a nightmare season of injury, lost twice in play-off finals with Lincoln before today's 1-0 FA Trophy final defeat by Darlington and said: “I really thought it would be third time lucky for myself today.
“It is like a funeral parlour in the dressing room. Everyone is out on their feet.
“You always get more downs than ups as a footballer but it is so upsetting to get to a final and not be able to get over the finishing line.
“I made sure I watched Darlington get the cup. It would be easy to go and hide but it makes you more determined as a person and should inspire you and push you harder.”
Marriot left his line on 121 minutes but was beaten to the ball by Tommy Wright which led to Chris Senior's winner and the keeper said: I came for the ball but, unfortunately, I have hit Steve Foster which put both of us out of the game.
“The ball came back off the crossbar and I don't think it could have fallen any more kindly for the lad who put it in.”
thenorthernecho.co.uk, By Craig Stoddart, Deputy Sports Editor
Cooper received a huge ovation from Quakers' supporters when he lifted the Trophy in the Royal Box, and he said: “I'm really pleased for the fans because they have stuck with us through thick and thin.
“They've had some tough times and that result today will be very sweet.
“I thought we shaded it and thought we had the better chances, but the longer it goes on the more you start to think that you aren't going to get a goal.
“We hit the woodwork a couple of times and I don't think our keeper had loads to do.
“I thought, when Tommy Wright missed a chance right at the end of normal time, it wasn't going to be our day, but we kept going and I thought we deserved to win.”
Injuries and player ineligibility affected Mansfield's team selection and they could name only four substitutes, while key players, Paul Connor and Adam Murray started despite being less than fully fit.
“We were always aware of how many games Mansfield had played and how many injuries they had, so I thought the longer the game was played the stronger we would be, which I thought was evident,” said Cooper.
Stags boss Duncan Russell said: “They looked like penalties to me and both my players said they were bowled over.
“I said to the referee that sometimes you have to be brave.”
But Cooper said: “I thought the referee did well. He's from a good level and he had a good game, he let some things go and allowed the game to flow.”
In the second period of extra-time Darlington hit the wood work for a second time, with Wright becoming more effective and coming so close to scoring.
After a Brown corner, Wright's header hit the base of post and the loose ball fell to Miller, but Marriott was again equal to the effort. That incident came in almost the 120th minute and it appeared penalties would be necessary.
With Darlington not holding a great spot-kick record, few would have been confident.
Cooper admitted: “I wasn't confident about going to penalties, not after seeing them practice in training on Friday. All the players took one each and I think we scored once.”
Cooper need not have worried because up popped Senior, all 5ft 4in of him, to head home from a yard out.
Cue Darlington celebrations.
Cooper added: “I was dreading penalties, which is why we gambled a bit at the end to try to nick one.
“I think Aman wanted to try to take the throw quickly, but we made him wait and got Browny on it. We sent everybody forward, Browny slung it in and we managed to get a break.”
Darlington boss believes Mansfield could emulate champions Crawley – with investment
DARLINGTON boss Mark Cooper believes Mansfield Town could emulate Crawley next season by sweeping to the Blue Square Premier title – if John Radford invests heavily.
The Stags chairman believes it will take £2 million to get the club back into the Football League.
But he says he will only pledge that finance once Mansfield own their own ground.
Radford is currently pursuing a court case against landlord Keith Haslam, claiming he acquired Field Mill illegally.
Like everyone else, FA Trophy winner Cooper is waiting to see the outcome – and what spending power Mansfield will have.
"If you believe what you hear about what the Mansfield chairman is going to do and how much money he is going to spend then they are going to be right up there," said Cooper.
"If the rumours are true about the money then they could do another Crawley."
Cooper admitted he felt a degree of sympathy for beaten finalists Mansfield, given the deciding goal came so late.
He said: "Mansfield fought very, very hard against us and they are always a threat with people like Adam Murray and Paul Connor in their team and the wingers.
"They always have a threat going forward and for us to keep a clean sheet took some doing.
"We saw how many games they had played and how many players they had out and thought that the longer it went, we would be stronger, which was evident.
"It's not a nice way to lose so late and I feel sorry for Duncan (Russell) and Paul Hall because they are good guys, but I am sure they will come back stronger for that."
Cooper agreed with Jamie Chandler's award of man of the match for the man marking job he did on Murray.
"We gave him the specific job of trying to stop Adam Murray playing, to get in and around him and he did really well," said Cooper.
"Anything good that was going to come from Mansfield was going to go through him (Murray) and Jamie managed to nullify that threat."
Match-winner Chris Senior insisted he's happy for people to label him a super-sub after enjoying the biggest moment of his career.
The striker has scored frequently off the bench for the Quakers, Altrincham, Halifax and Scarborough.
He said: "I don't care what people say, I've scored at Wembley and it's what dreams are made of.
"It's the first goal I have scored in about six months because I have had a terrible season injury-wise, probably the worst of my career. But you keep plugging away and I have got my reward.
"You want to play at Wembley for England or in the FA Cup final, but when that doesn't materialise to come and score the winner in the last 20 seconds, you can't really describe it how that feels."
Darlington manager Mark Cooper told BBC Tees:
"I am so proud, what a way to finish. To win it in the last minute, what a way to do it.
"We didn't think it was going to come but the one thing about them (Darlington) is they are fit, they are organised and they keep going.
"What a way to win it, that will go down in folklore."
Mansfield Town manager Duncan Russell told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"I am devastated and I feel gutted for the players and the supporters. My players played their hearts out.
"We have done really well and had a few good chances to go in front early on.
"It's cruel fate. It should have gone to a penalty shootout if the truth be know. We have to draw strength from what happened today.
"I do believe we did enough to warrant a penalty shootout, I thought we played the best football."
Adam Murray, Mon May 09, Stagsnet messageboard
Hi guys it's muzza I just want to say a massive thanks to you all for your support not just for Saturday but all season.I no it's been hard at times but you have stuck by us ,it was a honour to lead the team out in front of you guys. Let's all stick together and go an get promoted now. Again on behalf of my self an the lads thank you.
Latest | May 2011