Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…. But not in early December on a Wednesday night! But that’s the magic of the Checkatrade Trophy for you – a competition fancied by few, but one in which I [like a parrot] keep saying we’re good enough to win.
Tomorrow night’s trip to Blackpool (7pm) see’s the Stags face League One opposition who are in a poor run of form with one win in their last seven and despite wholesale changes from Evans, Mansfield as a squad are in rich form – meaning those who come in will play like it’s an FA Cup final to stake a claim for a start at Crawley on Saturday.
If you look at the players likely to play too, your Mirfins, your Angols, your Butchers and Potters – a lot of them have league one experience and above so the divisional gap, will count for very little and make for a very competitive game indeed.
Blackpool are a vulnerable side at the back and if we play like we did on Saturday, quickly from back to front, then we’ll cause some damage.
Aside from the players making a claim for a starting place in the bread and butter of league two, financially progression is worth it too as I’ve said before, the competition may be heavily overlooked, but as a cash booster – well I’m sure John & Carolyn wouldn’t complain as there’s another £20K up for grabs for the winner tomorrow night – which would add to the £40K already earned (£20K for participating and £10K per victory in the group stages).
That money could be pivotal not just in January but over the course of the next season or two as we continue to develop things off the pitch – success costs investment and like every football fan up and down the land – I want to see my club be successful and win trophies, I’m not going to turn my nose up at it just because it’s the checkatrade trophy.
We’ve a big squad, some competitive competition only bodes well to keep everyone hungry and driving us on - and if all else fails, it’s a trip to blackpool and if we’re lucky, we might get to see the illuminations!
It’s not uncommon for people to sit and remise about bygone days. Watching old videos, listening to Audio, reading articles, looking at photos – or whatever, memories last a lifetime and tomorrow as the football cycle ploughs on – two old faces return in a showdown that will be bittersweet.
Paul Cox and Adam Murray are two icons in my opinion, what you have there is two names, two men, two heroes – who we have to thank wholeheartedly for getting us to where we are now.
I’ll say this now, and will argue to death over it – anyone who boo’s either Cox or Murray tomorrow is NOT a true supporter.
You see the problem with football is, it’s fickle – people remember the negatives and nit-pick, it’s almost like they’re immune to the positives. When both Cox and Murray left the club, it was after a particularly hard and frustrating and tense spell – but it was so sudden, there was never a chance to say goodbye and more importantly ‘thank-you’ either it was just ‘the end’.
Now call me over passionate or whatever but when you achieve what Cox and Murray achieved, both deserved the respect of us saying thank-you. The arguments I know will be more about Murray and that he achieved nothing by way of trophies or success as a manager – sadly I saw little of Murray’s final few months in charge, but his job as a manager and achievement too in fairness, was stabilisation.
Murray, or to give him his proper title, Mr Mansfield Town took a brave step into management with a club tattooed on his heart – and like so many club legends before him at clubs across the land, risked losing the on pitch respect he gained by stepping into the dugout. We must not forget what he did for us as a player, as a captain – and that my friends, is keep a promise and deliver.
Week upon week, Murray would run through reinforced concrete walls for MTFC, often having been injected prior to kick-off. His passion would lead us, would motivate us and carry us through in times of need. Those tears post York on the pitch we’re real tears of pain, the promise he made me afterwards of promotion the following season – was not words to console a broken Craig, they were words of hope from a broken man, fed up of feeling pain.
Those tears he cried when lifting the conference trophy above his head were real tears of pride and jubilation, it was never about silverware or chasing success for Adam Murray – it was so much more.
He put that into his managerial career and you could always see how much it hurt not being able to influence a game on the pitch itself, I swear down he’d two foot a fourth official to get on the pitch!
There was the ‘falling out’ with Cox, but we all have tiffs and disagreements – there pairing worked and I’m so glad for Muz now that he’s linked up with Paul once again after a spell at Boston as manager which, I’m sure he’ll admit, was a learning curve.
Every captain needs a good manager, that man was Paul Cox who said the first time I met him “success is built on strong foundations”. Having arrived from Eastwood after many successful years, it was still a shock appointment which many questions – but arguably to date, the best appointment made by the Radford’s – and yes, I include Steve Evans in that.
Cox took a broken Mansfield Town and re-built it, picking it’s supporters up from the floor after a turbulent couple of seasons and after three seasons of us all wondering if we were destined for the conference, delivered the most emotional and thrilling seasons I’ve witnessed as Stags fan.
People complained about the football and in the early months, questioned the appointment – but the fact is, we showed patience and in the end IT BLOODY WORKED! We weren’t ready for the Football League in 2011-12 and as I’ve said before, the heartbreak of the play-offs made us stronger and more determined for the following season. Yes, we got lucky in a way, yes we dragged ourselves across the line – but we did, and because of that are in a much better shape now.
Cox was asked in a recent interview if he made a mistake in leaving, I always think he did – but sometimes, you need to let go.
We are ready to take the next step which Steve Evans is at the helm to do, and naturally I want to see us progress tomorrow in the FA Cup against the non-league side, but don’t for a second write them-off, and don’t for a second think it’ll be an easy ride.
Cox and Murray in the game will no doubt frustrate supporters, it’s the games passion of course but just remember this - Paul Cox delivered promotion, FA Cup joy, Football League status and Football League stabilisation, as did Adam Murray.
We would not be where we are today and have this huge opportunity to develop in the future had it not been for Cox and Murray, so please – be upstanding and applaud, no matter the result, no matter the game really – be upstanding and applaud two heroes, two icons, two legends and two men who refused to let Mansfield Town Football Club die.
It’s the first fixture every single Mansfield Town fan looked for when the fixtures were released, and now after months of waiting – the big day has arrived, our rivals Chesterfield come to town.
For years the team who play in the shadow of the crooked spire have escaped the drop from league one by the skin of their teeth, denying us the opportunity for a showdown – but Agents Wilson and Caldwell finally delivered last season, as the enemy finished bottom of League One and fell through the drop.
This season agent Caldwell was discovered and sacked, but was doing such a wonderful job in guiding Chesterfield towards the likes of Braintree and Sutton in the divisions below! Since, one of their own Jack Lester has been poached from Forest’s youth set-up to, to be fair, spark a revival.
Lester knows the importance of a local derby, he will drill that 10000000000000% into his players, telling them that if they lose – their season will be over and they’ll lose the backing of the fans, who for a long while now have been getting frustrated as Chesterfield fall from grace.
Steve Evans and Paul Raynor have managed derby games, but non as fiery as Mansfield V Chesterfield – they have to be on it and understand the passion, the history, the hatred – this isn’t two bickering neighbours over a borrowed and not returned lawn mower this goes back decades, they need to understand that.
With extra fans packed into the One Call Stadium the atmosphere will be electric and tense – Mansfield must NOT start on the pitch how they have in recent games, because if they do and concede, the atmosphere will turn sour and the minority of blue dribbled across the North Stand will sense a third successive victory.
This is a match between two in form teams, the enemy are unbeaten in four, a run which includes three wins and one defeat in six – whilst the Stags are watertight, three consecutive clean sheets coupled with a four goal haul in midweek at Port Vale to boost the confidence.
We all have our reasons as to why tomorrow’s game and getting the bragging rights means so much, so much more than three points, so much more than another digit in the win column – but please, let’s let the battle unfold on the pitch, not off it.
There will be the odd few who have no intention whatsoever in watching football nor particularly care about the result – but the majority are there for a game of football, let’s be loud and passionate, but in the right way.
Calvin Andrew was the last hero for the Stags, writing his name into folk law – who will step up tomorrow, all we ask is 10000000000% commitment, basically a team of Jamie McGuire’s how we’d love him in that side tomorrow!
I want to see a team who throw themselves at everything, I want the Mansfield Town who are watertight, and please Hayden White, don’t go into silly challenge mode! I want a Mansfield Town who take no prisoners and who are clinical.
This time around it’s the Stags who are there to be shot at, the Stags who are there to be killed and taken down a peg or two – let’s not let that happen, remembering that there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance, and that the latter, coupled with under estimation, will forever be our downfall.
Away from matters on the pitch on rivalry, in the 12th minute – no matter your alliance, applaud together in memory of a little girl who was taken too soon, and before the match, support us in putting one foot in front of the other – for a charity who support people who dream of being able to see the Derby Matches, but can’t because there life is in darkness, and also for a charity which supports people who have fading memory of them – donate here https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/MTFCWalkers
Match day is creeping ever closer… Get out there, run your hearts out, bleed amber and blue, get three points and arise sir…. Insert name here.
Mansfield Town are in good form – it could be better had we turned draws into wins, but with two league wins and two clean sheets on the spin in our last two matches, there’s no room for rest as we head for Port Vale tomorrow.
The Stags have games coming thick and fast, a fiery show down with Chesterfield and then a welcome return for two club icons in the cup, to name but two – Steve Evans men have a real chance to progress but have to remain focussed.
Port Vale on paper should be an easy game, after being relegated last season, they’ve hardly set league two alight – but since the appointment of Neil Aspin a month or so ago, they are starting to turn a corner.
Tom Pope is firing again and Vale are putting together some momentum of their own, so it will be a far harder game than many anticipate – the Port Vale legend Aspin and former FC Halifax boss has the club at heart and I think that goes a long way in getting a club out of murky water.
With the games coming quickly, it’s key to rotate legs – Danny Rose has served his suspension so will surely be back in, however following good performances from Hemmings and Spencer, Rose may have to settle for a place on the bench.
A big thing may be the difference in atmosphere, the last two matches in particular we’ve had a very vocal following but on a Tuesday night away from home, the numbers may be less – however it’s not like a trip to Barnet so as away games go, a vocal support may be on the cards after all.
On the pitch, let’s pick up where we left off and continue with the same control and determination we had on Saturday and we’ll be just fine – small steps, one game by one, and three points by three points – the rest, is just a bonus!
After such a well-earned victory at Coventry last weekend, the Stags return home to the One Call Stadium to face Stevenage tomorrow – in a game for my money, they must show the same endeavour and determination in.
Looking through our results thus far it’s fair to say Steve Evans’ side have been guilty of turning up for the bigger more appealing matches, your Lincolns, Luton’s, Coventry’s and Notts County’s – but have failed to have the same appetite against your Cheltenham’s, Barnet’s and Colchester’s.
After one year in charge Evans has overhauled the squad and made a lot of changes to life behind the scenes, now is the time to show the desire to take the club to another level on the pitch – and the way to do that is by keeping our focus against a side who are bobbing along quietly in mid-table in Stevenage.
It’s a good time to show too that we are not a one man team – we we’re guilty of that when Matt Green was the leading front man, and in my opinion clung onto that for far too many seasons – we need to avoid that with Danny Rose, as much of a talent he is, we do not need to be putting that weight on his shoulders.
With Lee Angol not quite fit, the only choices really are Sterling-James and Spencer, the latter has got goals in his game and can be a key player for us, whilst the former came to us with a good goal scoring record – but has yet to show it, or have the chance too – perhaps tomorrow could be that opportunity he’s been waiting for.
Krystian Pearce and Jacob Mellis are back from suspension and could come straight back into the fold, both having played 90 minutes in the reserves 2-0 win over Notts County in midweek, if I were Evans I would be tempted to play MacDonald further forward and accommodate Mellis in the middle – even though Bennett is a tremendous centre back, Pearce you’d think would get straight back into the side alongside skipper Diamond.
Stevenage shouldn’t be under estimated – they’re a side who like to get balls into the box and are often first to feed on the scraps, they were very unfortunate to not beat Notts County recently, and when they find their stride, can really punish you with creative players such as Ben Kennedy in the side.
Mansfield did the hard work at Coventry – they now have to come out and match that once more and build some real momentum ahead of a tough few weeks – Port Vale isn’t an easy place to go on Tuesday, then you’ve the big one next weekend following by a cup double. Games and points availability are coming thick and fast, we’ve the squad to manage that, collecting as many points as possible – let’s get out there and do it!
Up and down the country, with Christmas just around the corner, there are many people rehearsing for this year’s Panto, hoping to give everybody a dam good laugh. Tomorrow, in front of the watching nation – the Stags have a part to play, but it will be attitude which defines the part.
Within our squad we have plenty of players who have played at high levels, at clubs with nice, tidy facilities where things are generally done for them – they are used to a certain level of comfort and certain standards – tomorrow that will change as the magic of the FA Cup puts Mansfield on a tightrope – battling with non-league Shaw Lane.
Shaw Lane are no easy opponent, within their ranks they have players who have played much higher and will want to continue their own dreams. They have the advantage too with the match being at their home, a pitch they are used to playing on and with the greatest will in the world meant here – one many of the Stags players will not be used too.
Adrenaline will take over for Shaw Lane’s players and my concern is that we won’t be able to match that spirit and fight – unless leaders can emerge and step up to the challenge.
Tomorrow we need to be firm at the back and tight as a unit, they’ll be physical and direct and if we for a second under estimate them or the challenge, our role in this particular production, will be of the laughing stock the ‘Giant’ who gets killed.
The Ducks have a rich and recent history, they’ve worked hard to get where they are and are a community hungry for success – where as we are a team who, let’s be fair here, are not performing to their full potential nor ability. It’s a script writers dream really – your classic David beats goliath.
Steve Evans has been in the position of the Shaw Lane management, I’m sure no Crawley fan will ever forget their FA Cup Run which accumulated in a 5th round trip to Old Trafford. We too as supporters have had plenty of cup dreams; the most recent of course sparked our most successful run in the last decade when we welcomed Liverpool in the third round back in 2013.
I remember the buzz around the town and club – it was wonderful to soak in. I was fortunate enough to commentate on that game and as such was there before the crowds came in, I’d never really felt noise like that before kick-off as the teams walked out – I couldn’t hear myself! It really gave a taste of being successful and even though it ended with THAT handball, it sparked a wave for the remainder of the season.
Newcastle away in 2006 when Alan Shearer equalled the record was another cup memory I’ll forever cherish, and like me – you’ll have your own. Shaw Lane will be thinking of those possibilities and that in itself will motivate the players – it’s all about chasing the dream.
I would love for more cup memories to be created, but with everything in football and in life – achievements are made sweet and rewarding by digging your heels in and doing the ugly work first, that’s exactly what we have to do tomorrow.
Remember when Luton came to the One Call Stadium for the FA Trophy Semi-Final back in 2011? There arrogance stunk and we took the wind from their sales with the right attitude and application from start to finish. The boot will be on the other foot tomorrow if we travel thinking the game is already won – if we want to create memories, then there is no place for that mentality.
Over confidence and under estimation will be out greatest downfall.
The final group game of this season’s checkatrade trophy campaign is upon us already – and having beaten Notts County with an excellent dosplay last Tuesday, the ball is now back in our court in terms of qualification as we welcome Everton Under 23s to the One Call Stadium tomorrow night.
It’s a game that will again feel like a reserve team fixture with Evans promising once more to make ‘wholesale changes’ – but as with a week ago, I hope those who come in step up and give the scot, who celebrates his birthday today, a selection headache ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Shaw Lane.
Above all else, tomorrow I want to see a clean sheet and Mansfield, continuing to play the fluid football that they have done in recent games, holding out from start to finish against a young, but pacey and physical side who are going strong in the Premier League Two Division One, sitting second in the table.
Under the caretaker stewardship of Francis Jeffers whilst usual youth boss David Unsworth flirts with become a premier league manager, the youngsters will be hungry and eager to show any potential eyes in the stand what they are made of – and after two defeats in the competition, will want to do put a win on the board – qualification for the Toffee’s youngsters still faintly possible, should they beat us and Lincoln beat Notts County.
This would put Lincoln on nine points and then all three clubs (us, Notts and Everton) on three points meaning second placed qualification would be down to goal difference.
Anyway, Martin Shaw has done all the working out on Stagsnet – click here to see the full permutations, but the upshot is, if Stags win by three clear goals – they are through regardless of the Lincoln V Notts County result (played next Tuesday at Sincil Bank). Anything less than a win by three clear goals, and it’ll be in the hands of County.
As I’ve said in various articles, the Stags are vastly improving and in truth have been since Barnet away – it’s only the niggling conceding of goals late in games that’s killing us really, but if Stags – regardless of the team they put out – can produce the same style of quick, fluid, hungry football – a win will not be a problem.
Evans constantly plays the competitions importance down and of course he is right to do so, however I think in January to boost our league ambitions, we have to make two big, if not three big, signings to fuel to fire, and whilst John Radford I’ve no doubt would back that with his own funds, we are already running the risk of over spending which could kill us two or three years down the line – so why not use a competition such as the checkatrade, as an extra earner?
The prize pot has been increased this year and without kicking a ball clubs get £20,000 and then per group stage win it’s £10,000 – so already the Stags have netted £30,000, which would become £40,000 if they see off Everton’s youngsters.
£40,000 isn’t a bad amount to chuck into the transfer pot really and could make a difference, and with another £20,000 up for grabs for winning at round two – well, it wouldn’t hurt would it. We’ve a big enough squad to achieve that end goal afterall.
With skipper Zander Diamond back in the fold tomorrow, I predict a full 11 changes – which of course is well within the rules as the names Evans is likely to name, will be “first team players” – I predict it’ll be Oljenik, White, Digby, Diamond, Hunt, Sterling-James, Butcher, Thomas/Potter, Atkinson, Spencer and Angol.
This is a big week for Mansfield Town, we are trying to find our way again and we really need to cut out this late goals thing. This is a big week for characters to show they want to be a Mansfield Town player – who wants to turn up in front of a sparse crowd on a cold October night to play Everton’s kids? Who wants to go to a non-league ground and ensure what will be very different facilities to what they’re used to? Who wants to be a winner?
I said it before Notts County and I’ll say it again – Football is a game, regardless of the competition, that is there to be won. Winning breads confidence and confidence breads success. Let’s stand up, be counted, be winners and above all else – be the Mansfield Town we know we can be.
With famous fans such Coldplay front-man Chris Martin, Comic Adrian Edmondson and allegedly Michael Jackson – there are a whole host of bottom young-ones, fixing you, smooth criminal puns I could make – but it’s another famous fan who takes the inspiration for tonight’s blog – step forward Mr Blobby himself, Noel Edmonds.
Tomorrow, Mansfield Town, how about this offer from the banker – A win, three points which kick start our season? Deal, or no deal?
Over the last week or so the Stags have awoken slowly from their nightmare slump and in their last three games have taken points from Barnet and Newport, and have also reminded Notts County who the better Nottinghamshire side are, albeit it the Checkatrade Trophy with ten changes.
A win is a win.
My point is, Exeter are a side who are always up there and always compete – but like us a few weeks ago, have started to slip – so tomorrow will be very keen to claw their form back against a side who, let’s be realistic here, also need to win to send a message to the rest of league two.
I’m a big fan of Exeter’s stability; they’ve done with Paul Tisdale what we kind of did with Paul Cox and given him time to mould a side and let him have the freedom to carry the club forward. He’s delivered too, back to back promotions shot the club into League One and despite relegation back into League Two a few seasons ago, he’s still at the helm – no doubt itching to return to league one after losing in last season’s play-off final.
The patience and stability is phenomenal at Exeter, they know their limits and use those weaknesses as strengths – selling key players at the right time but replacing them without blowing all the money in a ‘like for like’ deal.
I see that for Mansfield Town in the future, although I don’t see Steve Evans being manager for ten years – but I do foresee us as a club who are always tough to break down and will always be involved with a battle.
Tisdale is an excellent manager who cut his teeth way before Exeter with Team Bath, Tisdale masterminded their FA Cup run in 2002-03, which the Stags ended live on Sky, although in typical Stags style it wasn’t an easy ride!
The Stags have to be very careful over what changes they make tomorrow, would I go back to the side that took on Newport? Probably not actually – I think Evans will go for a 4-4-2 again although, having watched Exeter, we could risk a 3-4-1-2 again at home – but let’s go with the former for now.
The same back four as Newport bar Hayden White at right back – I’d go for Paul Anderson who was terrific at Notts County. Midfield is the issue, it’s clear that the pairing of Atkinson and Butcher doesn’t work as it lacks creativity, Mellis and Byrom looked fairly solid Tuesday although Byrom won’t be and shouldn’t be risked tomorrow – he needs 75 minutes Tuesday and then go from there.
Therefore I’d maybe move Potter central alongside Mellis, with MacDonald on the right and then CJ Hamilton, who put in an outstanding display midweek, out on the left with Angol, partnering Rose up front.
The main thing that needs to remain, is the flare and hunger – if we show flare and style – we’ll do what Luton did to Exeter and really open them up, we have the quality to do it – it’s time we proved it on the pitch.
Failure to do so, then in the return fixture – the players should be made to stay at Guest House Paradiso, listen to ‘fix you’ on a loop and talk to each other in the language of MR Blobby. Enough Exeter famous fans related gags? I know, they’re just bad…
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‘Neque deditionem’ is latin for ‘No Surrender’ however I can’t help but feel that even before kick-off, Steve Evans has thrown in the towel and his team talk will be geared more towards getting fitness up than actually going out to win the game. But hey, what do you expect when the match is in a competition which very few actually care about.
Evans is open with his opinion on the Checkatrade Trophy, he doesn’t care about it and insists the league takes priority.
Whilst of course he is right, it’s disheartening to think that tomorrow night the Mansfield Town management will be putting out a team not in the mind-set to win a game against a fierce local rival – a win which after a slight up turn in form, would have possibly helped to reignite our fire.
‘Significant Changes’ will be made by Evans as he rests legs for Saturday, fair enough – however I was hoping for a more impassioned Steve Evans whose body language screamed that he wanted anything other than this game – in fact he might as well have said “I’m leaving Paul Raynor in charge tomorrow, I’m washing my hair whilst watching repeats of The Bill” – yes be open in the fact you’re making changes, but at least play the media a little by urging the fringe players to come in, get a win and steak a claim for three points.
There are three things that worry me about this situation, the first is what message to his body language send to the players – surely they’ll be like ‘well if the gaffer doesn’t care why should we?’ That’s not an attitude I would want, it certainly wouldn’t motivate me to go out and steak a claim for a shirt on Saturday.
The second is, if the game we’re a dead rubber I’d be 100% behind resting as many legs as possible – but it’s not, not only is it a local derby, but we also have a chance of qualification and the opportunity to bank some extra money by getting through which could buy us a striker in January and impact us in our bid for promotion. Given the depth we have, that shouldn’t be an issue and I’m sure that John Radford would welcome an extra source of income having paid out what he has thus far, for little return!
People have criticised the Trophy and the continued low turnouts don’t help, but financially the prize money for a club of our stature can’t be ignored, looked at what winning the competition did for Coventry last season, the money they earned has been invested and the rewards are bound to come.
That leads me nicely onto my third worry – if we lose tomorrow we are pretty much out, as will Everton U23s should they lose to Lincoln tomorrow – meaning our game next Tuesday at the One Call is dead and our lowest ever attendance may be recorded – no footballer wants to play in somewhere soulless and play a game that means nothing.
Regardless of the competitions stature or reputation, I look at tomorrow like this – it’s a competitive match against our local rivals who will want to get one over on us following our recent league game. It is an opportunity for players to get out there and claim a shirt and for the entirety of the group, it’s a chance to get a few goals and a win – bringing some more confidence back into the dressing room.
Not for a second am I saying going and play the strongest side available, I’m saying at least give it a go and start sending the right messages out to supporters and to our competitors – a game of football is a game of football, and victory is victory.
‘Per Angusta Ad Augusta’ means ‘through trial to triumph’ – a football season is just that a trial, a test of ability, desire and courage – triumph is the end goal we all seek, so why not go away, game by game and find some?
If I were to don my best accent and say ‘gobaith a gogoniant’ would you know what I was saying? ‘gobaith a gogoniant’ is Welsh for ‘hope and glory’ and that is exactly what the Stags need tomorrow, hope of seeing a game through to the very last whistle, and glory in the form of three points.
The south-wales outfit have been the shining example of how to turn yourself around, many predicted Newport to crash back into the conference towards the back end of last season as they went through managers like a pot of Pringles (once you pop, you just can’t stop).
However when they appointed First Team Coach Micky Flynn as caretaker boss, he masterminded the ‘Great Escape’ taking the club from being 11 points adrift at the bottom of the table, to safety by two points, with a dramatic 2-1 win over Notts County thanks to a 89th minute winner.
Newport, with Flynn as permanent manager, are now continuing to fly having recruited well with the likes of Pádraig Amond and Frank Nouble – they’ve win seven of their fourteen games thus far to climb to sixth in the table.
Their treat comes in the air, they like to get the ball wide and ping crosses into the danger area – should Steve Evans stick with three at the back tomorrow (which I believe he should, more on that in a moment), Hayden White and Mal Benning must not stray too far forward, they must stop the crosses and the team as a whole, must focus from set-plays and watch the long throw which they love to utilise time and time again.
The Stags made progress with three at the back on Tuesday evening and if Evans can get the team selection right tomorrow, I’d stick with it and build on it. I’d go with the same back three, you will really see Paul Digby start to shine in that back three, although if Mirfin is unable to recover from his back spasm, I’d have no problem with Rhys Bennett in there, he’s a terrific central defender as he proved last season.
I’d be tempted to swap out Hayden White for Alfie Potter, moving MacDonald from that central attacking role to a wing back role, he’s a battler who does not stop running, he is a very good defensive player with attacking flair – I think MacDonald in the right wing back slot would shore us up against Newport’s deep crossing game as Hayden White often goes for a wonder around the park and gets lost in the trees.
Including Potter would really add fire to our counter attacking game getting box to box, something we’ve been missing – I’d also be tempted by Jimmy Spencer to come in and be the hold up man, backing into the Newport defence and bringing the likes of Potter, Atkinson and Butcher into play and opening up the gaps.
One factor which will play a huge part, and could even see the game not go ahead at all, is storm Brian. The high and strong winds will not favour Newport’s deep direct game, but in the same respect, could also put us under pressure if we’re playing into the wind.
It’s a big game for a number of reasons, non-more so than Mansfield Town thus far have been playing half asleep, they’ve been nowhere near the standard they can be and we’ve frankly been a huge let down. On Tuesday I felt we did enough to win and looked brighter in the new system, had Evans brought on fresh legs earlier we might have brought home maximum points.
If we play that way on the counter again but stay focussed and dominant at the back AND stay switched on for the full match, we’ll go toe to toe with Newport and give them perhaps their toughest test of the season. We just have to go out and work hard, soak up the pressure and take our chances when they come, this can be the turning point.
Fail to do so coupled with a defeat to Notts County on Tuesday and we may be in a little too deep to swim to where we want to be. But, let’s be positive here – it is in our hands… ‘tri phwynt’… that’s three points in English! COME ON BOYS
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