Craig Priest reviews the last weeks news from the One Call Stadium...
The countdown clock is ticking, this time next week it will be astalevesta wrapping up the news and hello match preview as pre-season kicks off with a trip to Leamington FC. Earlier today we announced our coverage for pre-season and this week at the One Call Stadium it’s been all about fixtures and fittings, as the fixture list was revealed and we welcomed yet another face to the squad and the lads back to pre-season training.
Kicking things off on the players final day of rest, Monday, was the news our class of 2012-13 would be starting the season with a home match against FA Trophy runners up Newport County before ending the season on home soil with a match against promotion rivals Wrexham.
Personally I think the fixture list has been very kind to us this time around, with only six midweek away games scheduled and only three of them long distance, spread out over the course of the season which doesn’t make things that bad in truth. I won’t go into the whole ‘one paper it’s an easy month’ thing, anything can happen in football and I just we get off to a good start and convert those early season draws from last term into wins – let’s go and take the title!
As the boys returned for pre-season training on Tuesday they we’re handed a change in the pre-season schedule as Keith Curle’s Notts County cancelled their friendly match with us. A commentary challenge was then thrown into the mix for us as Paul Cox revealed he is to send a side to Stourbridge on the same night we travel to Eastwood. Losing the Notts County game is a blow in a sense as it’d have been good to test ourselves against a solid league one side, plus enjoy a little of that friendly rivalry we’ve been missing! However not wanting to take the foot off the gas, a replacement friendly has been added for the date left vacant by Notts County as we travel to Hucknall Town.
On Wednesday I was tasked with upload a photo gallery from the previous days training session, It certainly looks like the new group was full of banter and that the hard work had started early, bring on the Leamington match is all I say!
We’ve been linked with Jake Speight for a while and on Wednesday it was confirmed that Jake had re-signed for us from rivals Wrexham after two seasons away – It’s fair to say Jake arrives with somewhat of a cloud over his head, not only in the way he departed for Bradford City but with alleged off field issues, I hope that we can all leave this as yesterday’s news and let the football do the talking as once again we have another quality player – I drool to think of our forward line next season! In terms of the off pitch stuff, I think Paul Cox is the right man to ensure the football shines for Jake, look at the transformation of Gary Roberts, arriving with alleged Gambling and drinking problems, Matt Green, pushed from pillar to post at Oxford – just to name a few! Football, the beautiful game, heals all.
That’s pretty much it from this week in all honesty, fixtures and fittings can be a very small thing, I know there were many trialists at training this week but I don’t know their names, maybe we’ll find out next week, after all – footballs back! Woooooooooooooooo.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit a piece for publication email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest shares his views on this week’s news from the One Call Stadium...
Another week draws to an end however I’m actually glad to see this back of this one as pre-season is creeping ever closer, in fact as I write at 2.15pm the exact count to kick off at Leamington is 15 days and 45 minutes!
The count to pre-season has become more and more on my mind this week as not only have I been in endless meetings and had several email exchanges to sort out coverage, news from the One Call Stadium has been pretty rare! Whilst I’m on the subject of coverage it’s only fair to update you – an official announcement on the coverage from us (Mansfield Matters / Takeover) will be made next Friday.
Onto the news from the One Call Stadium this week then, other than the usual plugs to sell the excellent range of sponsorship packages and the month by month reflection of last season, there has only been three more additions to the class of 2012-13, as Paul Cox welcomed defensive duo Lee Beevers and Andy Owens to the club on Tuesday, also adding former Eastwood assistant Richard Cooper to his backroom team as first team coach.
First and foremost I must stand and applaud Paul Cox, not only has he pulled off a magnificent coo for the club and filled the gap left by the departed Luke O’Neill, he’s given us Journalists some potential ‘close to the wire’ headlines and phrases – ‘Cox’ & ‘Beevers’ .... I’ll let you draw your own conclusion on that one!
No joking aside, this is after all a family show! This is a fantastic capture and again credit to Paul Cox, selling a season in the conference over a season in league one on better wages must have been tough, however the 28 year old right back opted for the One Call Stadium despite the offer of a contract renewal from Walsall, with whom he played over 40 games last season in the same side as former Stags keeper and hero, David Grof – maybe he put in a good word?!
Lee is probably best known for his time at Lincoln City, having been at Sincil Bank for five years during which time he collected numerous club awards and became one of, if not the best, right back in the lower leagues. Lee’s other clubs include Colchester United and Boston United the latter the first club he became settled at and still remains a fans favourite despite his final appearance for the Pilgrims being in 2005. The prospect of seeing Lee in the amber and blue is an exciting one, I said this last week talking about George Pilkington – our defence is going to be so strong, so immense and so difficult to break down. Our defence now consists of Ritchie Sutton, John Thompson, Luke Jones, George Pilkington, Jobe Shaw (Youth team graduate) Lee Beevers and the other new boy Andy Owens – One more defender that can cover all positions in the way similar to Ritchie Sutton and our back line is complete.
Andy Ownes arrives from Southport much to the displeasure of Southport boss Liam Wastson who has been highly critical of both Andy and the move he’s taken stating it’s one that will not progress his career. I can understand Watson’s frustration as Owens, along with Simon Grand along Godfrey Poku (who we’ve also nicked!) was pretty much key to Southports impressive 7th placed finish, however being critical of him and throwing the toys out of the pram is pointless, get on with it – get out there and sign someone else, we did! 22 year old Andy is a product of the youth system and comes into the “cursed” slot – left back! He’s a very quick, attack minded full back with a relatively long throw, we’re not talking Geohaghon style but it’ll still cause damage if we need it too. Unlike Lee Beevers, Andy arrives with only one full season under his belt, last terms 39 appearances in the Yellow of Southport having not settled at Stoke City, Leek Town, Stafford Rangers, Altrincham, Rhyl or Accrington Stanley – however we all know what Paul Cox is capable of in terms of giving players opportunity, love and most importantly, games! I look forward to watching him develop and prove Liam Watson wrong!
The final addition this week as I mentioned was too the back room team, Paul’s former assistant Richard Cooper quits Coronation Park to join us as first team coach, the post of assistant of course already taken by Adam Murray. The 32 year old was initially favourite to take the assistants job last summer when Paul Cox departed Eastwood for Stags, however secure in his other job he opted to stay there rather than make the move with Paul which led to Micky Moore taking the post. With Micky now back in his old job along with a part time job as number two at Newly promoted Nuneaton, Cooper completes the new look backroom staff as first team coach. I think this is the first time Stags have ever had a proper back room coaching structure, it’s never usually more than manager and assistant, so to have manager, assistant, first team coach and general coach is refreshing and in turn, hopefully make us a more structure, disciplined side as we aim to move forward.
Well that’s it this week, fairly quite – I doubt next week will be though as I’m told the lads report back for pre-season training, the hard work begins at last... it won’t be long to the football starts either – yippee!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations – to submit a piece for publication, email email@example.com
Craig Priest reviews this week’s news from the One Call Stadium
Another week passes slowly by as pre-season draws agonisingly closer, and as with every week this close-season so far, it’s been one which hasn’t been short of news and talking points.
After a weekend of sending well wishing messages to the no departed Luke O’Neill, news of a replacement on Monday failed to come and the only thing to reflect on at Monday tea time was the fact that our pre-season schedule altered as our proposed trip to Worksop Town was cancelled no big loss really and as we’ll come to later on, the gap has been filled.
A day of no transfer activity on Monday was passed with a little giggle as it was revealed that the Stags players would be swapping the shin pads to cricket pads, taking on Mansfield & Pleasley CC in a 25 Over match on Sunday 8th July. When I was younger, before I found a love for all things football, my summers where spent with my dad playing and watching cricket. I was the scorer for a few teams in a bid to improve my awful maths skills, for some reason I stopped liking cricket and actually now pretty much detest it, however for one day only I might have to head down and watch the game, maybe do some broadcasting on it, I’ve always wondered if my football commentary skills could transfer to another sport. Of course it’s not unusual for football clubs to take on cricket clubs for open days etc, I remember back in the summer of 2008 when our then relegated players took to the cricket pitch, Stevie Dawson’s bowling is something nobody watching that day will never forget, the less said about Jason White’s fielding the better though!
Moving swiftly on, the rumour mill has been spinning the words ‘Marquee Signing’ over the past few weeks, the double swoop of Luton pair George Pilkington and Godfrey Poku on Tuesday saw that rumour become fact. 30 year old centre back George has been keeping Luton together for the past few seasons, skippering the side for the past two seasons, it’s the capture of him which is this summer’s ‘Marquee Signing’ so far, in my opinion George is one of the best defenders in the league and could easily be playing league football, getting his signature is a massive piece of business for the club and sends a clear message to the club that we mean business. When you look at the defence we have now, the sheer presence and experience will worry opposition, we will be very hard to break down next season. The defence is of course yet to be complete with the definite need for a left back and maybe another utility player as cover. Personally I’ve spoken to a few people about our defence and one name that doesn’t get mentioned is John Thompson, I think next season will be a massive one for him after the awful ride he went on last term. He will look at it as a new lease of life and approach it as if he’s just signed, working hard to get into the side and keep his place – I’ve a feeling he will come in and revert to the role he played as title winning skipper of Notts County at right back, with Luke Jones and new boy Pilkington providing the strength in the middle and a new, left footed quality left back completing the back four – what a defence that would be! When you take into consideration Ritchie Sutton and possibly Martin Riley in the mix as well, we are stronger than we have been at the back for a very long time.
The second player to join alongside Pilkington is Godfrey Poku, because he signed with Pilkington he’s kind of snuck under the radar and little as been said about him. The 21 year old began life in non-league football with St Albans City in 2009 before joining Luton in 2010, agreeing to join the hatters despite interest from football league clubs after trials with Reading, Leyton Orient and Southend United. Despite the move to Luton Godfrey found himself back out on loan, a month with the club he joined from, before a run in the Luton side and then last season, a very successful loan with Southport, who he helped to finish in 7th place, a season after their reprieve from relegation. Godfrey, who can be found on twitter for those interested, is a very good player who will be very similar to Anthony Howells style of play – this can only be described as a good thing right?
Strengthening the first team with experienced players is all well and good, however Paul Cox is also keen on the progression of home grown players, handing four youth teamers professional deals on Wednesday. Hit man Adam Somes, winger Joel Holland, defender Jobe Shaw and familiar face Scott Rogers were the ones to sign deals, having watched them over the past season in my role as youth team correspondent for the club I can say that all four deserve deals and have the ability to develop further into good players. Everyone knows what Adam Somes can do, he the one scoring for fun in the youth league last season, finishing with some 24 in all competitions, a feat which didn’t go unrecognised, making a first team appearance in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Fleetwood. Joel Holland is the one to have a hand in most of Adam’s goals, a quick left footed player who can beat players and get a cross into the dangerous areas. Jobe, who was skipper of the youth team last season, is a natural leader and reads the game very well for a young player, a very able player in the air and playing on the deck. As for Scott? Well I guess with all those Mansfield tattoos the gaffer had to sign him really! A great lad whose been a joy to work with, on the pitch for those who’ve not seen him, he’s a tough tackling no nonsense player whose range of passing is excellent – playing mainly as a defensive midfielder he does get forward now and then. I’m delighted not only for Scott knowing how much a deal means to him, but for all the lads who had an excellent season last term and deserve the opportunity to go out and develop further.
Along with the four young guns putting pen to paper, it was revealed today that goalkeeper Shane Redmond has agreed terms for another season, last season wasn’t the best for him with just one first team appearance at Kidderminster, however with the reserve team now ready to go, Shane will keep fit and undoubtedly be pushing for a first team slot.
The big news this week was that assistant manager Micky Moore has decided to move on, taking up his previous job as a college tutor along with a coaching role in part time football, with a young family on the way I can fully understand his reasons for moving on and providing security for his family. I’ve been privileged t speak to Micky on many occasion and watch him work on the training ground, his departure is a massive loss and I genuinely wish him all the best for the future. Stepping into his shoes is the perfect candidate, someone who loves the club, who loves football and whose passion and desire for success shines through into everything he does, step forward Adam Murray – agreeing to take on a player-assistant role. Again I’ve spent time with ‘Muz’ and I’ve full confidence that he will form an even stronger bond with Paul and as ever, strive to make our beloved club a successes. He may lack in managerial experience but I couldn’t care less, it doesn’t worry me – Adam’s character and philosophy is the perfect fit, I genuinely can’t think of a better person to take on the role of assistant manager. Paul Cox mentioned in his interview today that Muz was going to join the coaching step anyway, that opens the door for a new captain – my money would be on John Thompson or George Pilkington, however I daren’t rule out Adam not playing as much, he will fight for his place and, like Andy Todd, provide excellence when he does make the starting eleven.
One man I mentioned there was Andy Todd, this week he has also agreed to stay on in his role as player-coach, another fantastic piece of news.
Rounding things off this week I eluded to filling the gap in pre-season early on, it was announced earlier today that we will take on Blue Square North side Gainsborough Trinity on July 20th, 7.45pm kick off at the Northolme ground. Last season Trinity lost in the play-off final to Nuneaton and will provide a very stern test for us just a day after a trip to Shepshed Dynamo. The match will also see a few familiar faces up against their former club, Paul Connor, Ryan Williams, Jason White and Jon D’Layrea to name a few. I’m hoping to have news about coverage in the next week or so as I appreciate pre-season is just around the corner, to view the pre-season schedule and the latest squad list for the 2012-13 season, click here.
Well that’s it for this week, thanks for reading and as ever keep interacting on facebook and twitter.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related companies – to submit a piece for publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig Priest rounds up the latest news from the past week at the One Call Stadium...
Well it’s been a relatively quiet week at the One Call Stadium this week which I guess is what you’d expect from time to time during close season. With one player coming in and just one going out as we expected for a while, this week has been more about ‘what if’ and rumours.
Kicking the week off was another signing, Paul Cox added Kidderminster striker Nick Wright to his squad on Monday afternoon. As with all the signings so far, Chris Clements, Jamie Tolley and Luke Jones to recap, the gaffer has brought in some real quality, adding to an area that in truth, we we’re a bit short on without Matt Green – something which painfully shone in the play-off second leg with York City. Ross Dyer is without doubt an excellent player in the squad and I’m a big admirer of his, the work rate he puts in often goes without the credit due, he can play as a target man and he can play with the ball to feet and in fairness, can score some quality goals. However if I were to answer how you’d get the best out of Ross, it’d have to be as a target man and as an advanced playmaker so to speak. I’ve been editing the goals of the season video for the website this week with the help of Martin Shaw, the amount of goals Ross creates with his play is 75-80% of Matt Green’s final tally. The addition of 24 year old Wright is a perfect one in terms of how we play, he gets into key areas, puts himself about and is a natural born goal scorer, if him and Green can hit it off we could get at least 50 goals between them – add to that the goal input from Dyer, Rhead, Hutchinson and other areas of the pitch, going forward we will be a difficult side to face.
One man’s name I mention there seems to split a few opinions, Ben Hutchinson in my opinion can prove quality and deliver the goods in the same way Matt Green has. I first watched Ben play in a mid-season friendly with Eastwood where he scored two absolute belters – it wasn’t this that impressed me if I’m being honest, it was his all round play, his movement in and around the box, his control, his vision and unselfishness and his work ethic. Put the lad on a football pitch, give him regular games and keep his confidence and demeanour in a controlled state and you’ve got an excellent player, the reserve team will be key to revitalising Hutchinson in the same way Paul Cox rebuilt Green into the machine we now see.
Speaking of the Reserve set up and the influence that could have, Paul Cox mentioned earlier in the week that four Youth Teamers would be offered senior contracts; whilst they are yet to be signed I would imagine this to be done by the next time I post a weekly update. The four young guns were all key to the pursuit of the youth league title last season will presumably go into the aforementioned reserve set up and continue their development. As youth team correspondent for the club I’ve watched these boys play and can say that we are taking on four talented players with the potential to play at a good standard – I look forward to seeing the names confirmed and will obviously write more about them in due course – as with everything this week really, it’s news but it’s not news!
Along with the young quartet being offered deals, Cox mentioned in an interview that assistant Micky Moore and player-coach Andy Todd have been or are in discussions regarding a new contract, a subject I covered in my chad article this week both in print and online.
The Stags boss eluded to a packed pre-season campaign potentially having two games in one day, sending a reserve side somewhere. I think the reserves will see a lot of competitive football next season and won’t just be used in the reserve league, I think they’ll be given a shot at a cup run with the FA Trophy changing it’s schedule this week. The final will take place earlier than usual, with the two teams lucky enough to grace Wembley fighting it out for glory on Sunday 24th March. Whilst the FA have brought the first round forward to 24th November the tournaments format has not changed which means the possibilities of replays and subsequent rearranged games having to be fitted in at a crunch part of the season. It will be no problem for us with our evident big squad size and reserve set up, however for other teams who have lower budgets and a small squad, football will come thick and fast and potentially have a dampening effect on all. If the tournament was to change and follow in the structure of the Johnston’s Paint Trophy and scrap replays with matches drawn after 90minutes going straight to penalties, the change in dates wouldn’t be a problem. Because of the potential clogging of fixtures I think our ‘Reserves’ could well be the team to try and better our Trophy run of 2010-11 – maybe more on that another time.
Also this week I see Paul Cox has backed the proposal for a ‘three up, three down’ system in between the conference and the football league. Recently discussed at the conference AGM I know the conference chairman is keen to actually make this happen which is good news, not only does it make League Two more of a fight for the struggling clubs in the final month or so, it gives hope to clubs in the conference which is the hardest league to get out of. You look at last season as a prime example, Fleetwood were class and deservedly sealed the title which in turn made other sides work harder but because of the limited promotion space neither Wrexham or ourselves had a shot of automatic and ultimately both lost out in the play-off semi finals. Will Wrexham have enough to give it another go and reach that high points total, who knows.
Finally the week ended with the news we’d been expecting for sometime as today, Luke O’Neill completed his move to championship outfit Burnley for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to be around £200K.
Luke, who won your votes by a mile for ‘Mansfield Matters player of the season’, was always destined to play at a higher level and would probably have moved on even had we won the play-offs and been a League side next season. Always putting a shift in with an attacking and defensive quality in equal measure, it’s no doubt he’ll be a huge loss and Paul Cox will be very lucky if he adds a player of the same calibre, that said I’ve every faith he can and we already have plenty of options in there at right back with Ritchie Sutton, Luke Jones and John Thompson all able to play there, the latter a league two winning captain with Notts County playing 80% of the season at right back.
Before I sign off this week, let me just point you in the direction of a post I posted midweek, an excellent range of Stags programmes are on offer by a fan, with the collection ranging from the 50’s to the present day, click here for more details.
That’s it for this week, I’m off to watch the England game now! Have a great weekend everyone and remember that Mansfield Matters is on Facebook and Twitter throughout the week, the conversation need never end.
The views expressed in the publication are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations. To submit your own work, email email@example.com
Craig Priest rounds up the lasts weeks’ activity from the One Call Stadium...
With no Stags games to look forward at the weekend for a while, it’s time to bring back an old feature which fell by the wayside when we introduced the popular match preview – ladies and gentleman I present to you, the Mansfield Matters Weekly.
Reviewing the recent events at MTFC, the MM-Weekly is the one place where every key bit of news is reviewed and discussed; don’t forget as ever you can join in on facebook and twitter
Let’s kick things off this week by having a look at the three signings made by Paul Cox ahead of next season, accumulating today in the return of much loved and highly rated defender Luke Jones on a free from Kidderminster Harriers.
Last Friday saw a double addition to the midfield with Chris Clements arriving for an undisclosed fee from pre-season opponents Hednesford Town, and Jamie Tolley making the switch from Wrexham on a free. The duo add real quality to a midfield which is bursting at the seams with talent already, both players offer so much in different ways and will undoubtedly be key to the flexible system a league champion needs.
Its former Hednesford man Clements that excites me, a good ball player with strong vision and an eye for a pass, Chris was the standout performer in last season’s pre-season meeting between Hednesford and ourselves, having a hand in both goals for the Pitmen. Not only does Chris offer the creative and defensive side of the midfield, he has the positional sense to pick up second balls on the edge of the box and have a go himself with a decent return. Starting his career as a youth teamer with Crewe Alexandra, Chris failed to get a real first team run and was loaned out, gaining experience in the non-league pyramid with Nantwich Town and Stafford Rangers. A 14 game loan spell to Icelandic outfit IBV in 2009 was followed by an initial loan spell with Hednesford before a permanent move in the summer of 2010 following the expiry of his Crewe contract. Clements became a firm fans favourite at Keys Park and finished the 11-12 campaign with 15 goals from 47 starts, his departure described by Pitmen boss Rob Smith as an “Irreplaceable” one with the Keys Park gaffer describing our new boy as “Inspirational”.
I look at Clements arrival as one similar to Anthony Howell last pre-season, he wasn’t expected to do well and was judged by his lower-league experience and by his very brief spell with us some years before, he defied all critics, myself included, to be one of the best players in our play-off campaign, keeping his head down working hard to be ready to produce when called upon. I’ve a feeling Clements will do the same and with the addition of the reserves for the coming season, will benefit more with regular competitive football on offer.
Jamie Tolley during his Wrexham days
Moving onto Jamie Tolley who arrived at the same time as Clements from Wrexham, turning the welsh clubs six month offer down to sign a year’s contract with us. Jamie is the coins flipside in terms of a comparison with Clements, the latter playing the majority of football in non-league circles whilst Ludlow born Tolley has only spent two seasons outside the football league having joined Wrexham following a trial spell in the summer of 2010. Playing in a Wrexham side which finished fourth and second respectively, Tolley knows what it takes to get into the play-offs and will bring that knowhow to the One Call stadium to help us go one step further. At 6 foot 1 inch tall Tolley brings some height into the midfield and will be a handful from set pieces, both on and off the ball as the former Wrexham man can hit a sweet dead ball. Starting his career at Shrewsbury in 1999, Jamie capped by Wales U21’s on 12 occasions, racked up just shy of 200 appearances for the shrews before joining the other MTFC in the summer of 2006. Playing over 60 games for the Silkmen, Tolley’s next stop was Hereford, departing for Wrexham after just 10 appearances during the 2009-10 season.
Luke Jones during his first spell in the Amber & Blue
Today saw Luke Jones return for a second spell in the amber and blue, joining on a free transfer from Kidderminster who we beat on the final day of last season. Luke first joined us in the summer of 2009 turning down an offer from Kidderminster to link up with David Holdsworth. Arguably the best player of a season of nothingness, Luke shone at the back and was probably as stunned as the rest of us when David Holdsworth released him after just the one season with Jones playing 27 games netting four goals. Moving onto Forest Green Rovers, Luke established himself quickly and donned the skipper’s armband, his Rovers debut against us on the opening day of the 2010-11 campaign. Despite scooping player of the season at the New Lawn Club, Luke moved back to Kidderminster captaining on and off in a season which Kidderminster lost out on the play-offs on the final day. Unlike the other two additions we know what ‘Jonah’ can offer and are delighted to see him back, as I mentioned, he should never have left. With John Thompson fighting fit and like a new signing next season, I somewhat drool over the prospect of seeing the two together, add to that a potential partnership with Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster and Exodus Geohaghon you’ve got the foundations of an outstanding backline, if we can add a natural left footer who can defend and attack at ease then we’ll have a real conviction about our side – the added bonus in the addition of former Blackburn Rovers trainee Jones is that, like Thompson, he can also play at right back giving Paul Cox more room for manoeuvre – something about Jones and Cox’s personalities and styles tells me they will get on well.
Moving away from signings and looking at the social network, I see Anthony Howell and Alan Marriott have both been under the knife today, Howell posted on his Facebook earlier that his operation was a success whilst the result of Marriott’s knee operation is unknown at the time of writing, of course I on behalf of all at Mansfield Matters, wish them both all the best on the way back to fitness – Marriott’s probably too busy watching his saves of the season to tweet at the minute!
As the senior England team prepare for Euro 2012 under Roy Hodgson, let’s send our congratulations to our very own international star, Lindon Meikle completed 78 minutes for the England C side in Russia on Tuesday. After an excellent debut season for us and after penning a contract extension, Lindon donned the famous number seven shirt as the three lions crashed to a 4-0 defeat in the International Challenge Trophy.
Before I end this week and watch paint dry, literally as I’ve painted MM-HQ this week, as the clock to pre-season slowly ticks by, I’m glad to see that the season ticket pricing issue has been resolved, under 16’s can now pick up a season ticket for £80 following a rise in price to £186-£230. Hats off to those at the club that have made the decision, now the politics have gone let’s keep buying those tickets and sell as many seats as possible ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.
Thirty-Five days until our pre-season campaign kicks off with a trip to Leamington, be sure to check out our Stags 2012-13 page for a full list of fixtures, please note the away trip to Worksop Town has had a change of date, it will now take place on Friday 20th July, kicking off at 7.45pm meaning three friendly’s will now take place over four days... BRING IT ON!
Thanks for reading this week’s edition of the Mansfield Matters Weekly, be sure to pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Chad for my latest column and keep your eyes posted on this website for more content from the Mansfield Matters team.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not of Mansfield Matters or it’s related organisations. To submit your own work, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Another week at Field Mill and well, what a busy one it’s been! Reflecting on Saturday’s goalless draw with AFC Telford United, Paul Cox spoke to me with honesty on Monday morning saying his side must get back to basics ahead of this weekend’s trip to Bath City.
As we head into the Christmas Period (the coca-cola adverts on TV so it’s officially Christmas!) the Stags boss has been keen to add to his squad, on Tuesday he did so adding experienced defender John Dempster to the ranks on loan from Crawley. The 28 year old former Kettering captain joins on loan for three months and comes as a massive boost following the departure of Tom Naylor and Ben Futcher. Whilst some will wonder where the arrival of Dempster will leave Rhys Day, you can’t fault the capture of another dominant centre half who has achieved success with three of his former clubs, Rushden & Diamonds, Kettering Town and Crawley.
Away from first team affairs briefly as we enter Wednesday, our youth team continued their unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw at Boston United, Blake Vincent’s goal levelled the game in the second half after the young guns had fallen behind early on in the first half. The Stags point saw them stay top, however following a fixture today (Friday) involving second placed Ilkeston, the Stags young guns have been knocked off top spot and will fight to return there on Wednesday afternoon as they take on Fleetwood at Field Mill.
The Stags boss promised more signings following Dumpster’s arrival however with fans constantly pressing refresh on the official website, the next news to be revealed was Adam Smith’s departure on Wednesday. The 26 year old winger has again linked up with Aldershot on loan until January – in all honesty I don’t think he’ll be returning to Field Mill, I expect the move to become permanent. Adam’s a quality player on his day but sometimes ability and mindset are different things, would I like to see Adam in our side week in week out? Yes, but if moving him on free’s up money to bring in fresh talent with equal, if not better, ability – then I’m all for that. It’s not secret Adam was one of the highest earners at the club, one phrase will sum up the whole situation, it’s the one from Hot Fuzz – This move is “for the greater good” All the best Adam.
Smith’s departure until January of course frees up money, Paul Cox moved swiftly on ‘loan deadline day’ too bolster the squad with three signings. First Cox moved swiftly to add former Nottingham Forest youth teamer Nialle Rodney to the side, signing on a month’s loan from Bradford City. The 20 year old will add power and pace upfront and relieve the pressure on Matt Green’s shoulders, we need to play with flare and freedom up there, and personally I think that’s been missing. Questions will be raised towards the point of Louis Moults loan deal, perhaps he’s not done enough in training, perhaps he’s carrying a knock – we just don’t know. Louis a great talent, I thank him for his efforts and wish him well back at Stoke.
Thursday was a mental day as Rodney’s loan deal was signed sealed and delivered, Paul Cox and Micky Moore then worked wonders to bring a further two signings to the club, feeding on Kettering’s financial misery by bringing in poppies duo Aman Verma and Marcus Kelly. Both have joined initially on loan and will make the move permanent in January, penning 18 month deals. 24 year old Verma was of course part of Darlington’s FA Trophy winning side in May, the central midfielder could be thrown straight in as skipper Adam Murray is suspended for Saturday’s game. The addition of 25 year old Kelly is another positive move by Paul Cox, Kelly offers options at left back, left midfield and in the centre of the park, he comes highly recommended too having picked up Kettering’s player of the season award last season.
So four signings by Paul Cox takes our loan count up to seven, however BSBP rulings state you can only place five within your match day squad – so now the question remains, which loan players will miss out? My money would be on Louis Moult and John Dempster; I don’t see why Paul Cox would change a back four which managed to keep the Stags’ first clean sheet in 12 games last Saturday.
Louis Briscoe and Martin Riley both returned to training on Thursday, I see neither being involved on Saturday though, however I do see changes – expect Verma, Kelly and Rodney to debut. With skipper Murray suspended, we’re left wondering who will skipper the side, I’m sure John Thompson will be handed the armband to no complaints from players or supporters.
So that’s pretty much it for this week, be sure to join myself and Scott from 2PM tomorrow for our last broadcast on Takeover Radio, as the Stags head to rock bottom Bath City.
With no game to reflect on Monday morning, you could imagine how I was scratching my head wondering what to ask Paul Cox at the weekly press meeting. However after last week’s late addition of an open to the public friendly against Eastwood, I thought I’d see what chance John Thompson had of playing and possible grabbing his first start on Saturday at AFC Telford. The Stags boss confirmed to my trail of thought and revealed John Thompson would hopefully be playing against Eastwood – later that evening, Paul again confirmed John would play as I scribbled down the evening’s team news.
The Stags ran out 2-1 winners after turning the game on its head in the second half, Anthony Howell and former Badgers midfielder Lee Stevenson bagged goals for the stags after they’d conceded from a sloppy corner in the 14th minute. Thank you for listening to our special broadcast, I’m glad that the powers that be allowed us to broadcast as we try and cover every game possible.
It was also revealed on Monday that work had begun on ‘Plan B’ – improving facilities at Rainworth MW’s Kirklington Road ground, A lot had been thrown about regarding the political side of things, I’m not a politics man myself so will edge away from it, what I will say is – I’m happy things are starting to take place, if it allows us to get promise land of the football league, then for me, it’s a welcome move.
Back to the footballing side of things and on Tuesday it was confirmed that Tom Naylor’s deal to Derby County had finally been done, with the 20 year old joining the Rams on a 6 week loan with the option of a permanent move in the January window. Tom is the one remaining survivor from our previous academy and made his Mansfield debut at the end of our first season in the BSBP appearing alongside Scott Garner at Field Mill against Altrincham. Over three seasons Tom has made just over 20 appearances for us becoming more of a settled regular under Duncan Russell towards the tail end of last season, always playing with his heart on his sleeve – something which was proved in the away leg of our FA Trophy semi-final with Luton. Tom ran his socks off, covering every blade of grass and was the rock that helped drive us to Wembley stadium, the delight and pride he showed in his final celebration sprinting towards the Stags faithful was a joy to watch. On the big Wembley stags Tom again did us proud playing alongside veteran defender Steve Foster – it’s clear Tom was devastated at defeat as I’ve touched upon many times, including my review of the clubs great DVD ‘A406: The Road To Wembley’ I once interviewed Tom following the Luton away leg, he is a genuine lad who loves the club through and through, I personally wish him all the best – knowing full well that whatever shirt he’s wearing on match day, he’ll do Mansfield proud.
From one young gun to a full set now as we move onto Wednesday, our new look youth team smashed Newcastle Town 7-0 under the Field Mill lights to go top of the table. 14 minutes in Adam Somes bundled home from close range after Liam Marsden had put our very own Scott Rogers’ corner back into the box. Somes then headed down a long ball to set up Clayton Brown on the edge of the box, he smashed home the Stags second of the game two minutes after the first. After the half hour mark had passed, the young Stags soon added a third. Jack Hawkins weaved his way into the box and showed great persistence to feed Adam Somes, who delightfully turned and placed the ball into the top corner, Somes then completed his hat trick, firing home from the edge of the box following another Scott Rogers corner. Three wasn’t enough for Somes however, he grabbed a fourth lobbing the keeper following a Clayton Brown through ball with five minutes to go before the break. The young guns extended their lead to 6-0 two minutes before the half time whistle, Blake Vincent’s left sided cross fell kindly for Clayton Brown following poor defending, Brown smashed home for his second of the night. As I’m sure you’ll hear throughout tomorrow’s show – our Scott Rogers wrapped up the win two minutes from full time, firing home inside the box as the Stags pilled on the pressure.
Thursday’s press meeting saw a confident Rhys Day insist he was ready for his first start of the season, claiming the stags boss ‘Doesn’t need to sign anyone’ ahead of Saturday’s game, saying that he can fill the gap left by Ben Futcher, possibly alongside John Thompson with who he’s formed a strong partnership over the past few weeks.
No signings have arrived today (Friday) so maybe Rhys’ confidence has inspired the Stags boss to hand the welsh centre half a start. With Martin Riley ruled out, the only fit centre half that has featured this season is Ritchie Sutton, question is do you pair him with Day or Thompson and hope they gel? The other option is throw both Day & Thompson in together and either move Sutton to right back with O’Neill at left back and back from international duty loanee Freeman dropped or drop Sutton, keeping O’Neill at right back with Freeman at left back.
Paul Cox has hinted at playing Lindon Meikle upfront after an impressive performance against Nottingham Forest a few weeks ago, following Anthony Howells goal on Monday he too could be a contender for a place in the former place – Add to that Lee Stevenson’s impressive show, Paul Cox will have a selection headache on his hands. Find out tomorrow what he goes with, as myself and Scott Rogers will be LIVE from AFC Telford with full match commentary from 2PM. Listen on 106.9FM and on our MM-Live page!
Will three points and a clean sheet wrap up, another week following the Stags?
Another week reflecting on life at field mill and yet again it started on a negative, this time a 2-1 defeat at home to Cambridge United – report and podcast here. Whilst the performance was much improved from the showing away at Fleetwood and the home fixtures against Alfreton and Southport, it still wasn’t enough to send us home happy, in fact after the game things got heated as a tiny section of the crowd called for Paul Cox’s sacking, whilst another small party launched a personal attack at Ross Dyer and family in the club car park.
I’m not for a second here to write about that news in depth, nor do I agree with the views expressed or the actions taken, my point is that the cracks we’re beginning to show and that our beloved club was once again on the rocky road. During my interview with Paul Cox on Monday, he expressed views that the two week break would rejuvenate the squad and help us prepare for the next part of the season, whilst I fully agree that sometimes you need a break to be ready to start again, I’m actually drawn to something Adam Murray said at the fans forum later that night.
Comments were flying around the room about how frustrating it is to be playing Alfreton in a league fixture and that it’s simply too hard to accept – I fully agree that it is a bitter pill to swallow, however it’s the comments from our skipper in response to this; that put a lump in my throat.
“There has to be a sense of realism, at the minute we are where we, we’re in that situation and if we want to get out of it, it’s hard but we’ve got to forget the past. We have to say ‘We are Mansfield Town in the conference, let’s stick together and get out of it’ not ‘Well five years ago we was here and I wish we was back there because we had Liam Lawrence etc’ We haven’t got that now, we are here and we have to deal with this time and now otherwise it’s going to go on and on – that can’t happen (If we want to be a success).”
As captain and a player whose in his third spell at the club, Murray is a well respected figure who has the best interests of the club within his heart, sometimes you need these figures to put the truth on the line for the greater good, because people then realise he’s right and the domino effect begins, we understand our frustrating past and turn it into positive support – which is exactly what the boys need to go on a progress our club to the next level. I mentioned it on Stags Talk this week when I was invited on as a guest panellist; we have to use this break as a period to review our past, scribble down feelings on paper and then, in time for Saturday, burn the notes and clean the Stags soul of the dark cloud that looms above. There is no room for cracks appearing in our armoury because in this horrible league, other teams will use those cracks to break us even more – the tighter we are as a until, the further we will climb – fact.
Moving on from the fans forum, highlights of which are on the clubs official website, Paul Cox arranged a few behind closed doors friendly’s for the boys and a few trial players. On Tuesday we we’re beaten 3-0 by a very strong Northampton side, Rhys Day aided is road to full fitness with another 70 minutes, Adam Smith & Lee Stevenson also featured as the duo returned from their respective loans.
On Wednesday it was evening action for the Youth team, their fantastic form continued as they saw off Stalybridge Celtic by 5 goals to 1, climbing to second in the league standings and stretching there unbeaten start to six games. Striker Joe Flint opened the scoring two minutes in, heading home from a Scott Rogers corner, Flint put the stags back ahead with 21 minutes gone this time heading home a Marsden cross after the visitors had levelled the game from the spot on 13 minutes. The youngsters added a third thanks to Clayton Brown five minutes later, Brown headed home from Marsden’s deep free kick. Two more goals followed after the break, Likely scorer Adam Somes headed in his 11th of the season on 73 minutes after excellent work from Jack Hawkins. It was Hawkins that completed the scoring with eight minutes to go, arriving at the right time to tap home a pass from substitute Lewis Chambers.
Thursday saw the news again hit the lead lines that Tom Naylor looks set to be signing for Derby County in January, it appears papers are waiting to be signed however Paul Cox made it clear that until January arrives, Tom is very much a Mansfield Town player which was proved later in the day as he played 45 minutes in another behind closed doors friendly with Nottingham Forest. Former Reds defender Karlton Watson played on trial for Stags in the first half before being replaced by Ritchie Sutton at the break, Ross Dyer and Rhys Day were both on target for Mansfield however it wasn’t enough as the stags conceded three at the other end narrowly losing the game. Starting line up: Shane Redmond, Karlton Watson, Rhys Day, Tom Naylor, Luke O’Neill, Ross Dyer, Adam Murray, Paul Bolland, Lee Stevenson, Nick Hegarty, Matt Green. Used Subs: Ritchie Sutton, Andy Todd, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle and Louis Moult.
A fairly quiet Friday for a change has only been interrupted by the news a Stags 11 are to travel to Paul Cox’s former employers Eastwood Town on Monday night for an open to the public friendly. With the game open for public viewing, Takeover Radio 106.9FM will have full match commentary from 7.30PM with Craig & Scott.
A blank Saturday tomorrow before another week at the mill, stay tuned to find out what happens – Thank you for reading, have a good weekend, see you on Monday with LIVE commentary on Stags’ friendly with Eastwood Town.
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