Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow night’s trip to Gateshead...
I must admit to a degree of difficulty in writing this article this afternoon ahead of tomorrow night’s trip to Gateshead as I’m left with a multitude of different thoughts and feelings from Saturday’s 4-3 home defeat to Newport County.
The thing about the season’s opening show is that very few think about losing the game, as the season goes on you can see how things form and annoyingly become expectant on the results but on opening day things are equal to all, well until that whistle goes at least! People say ‘Start as you mean to go on’ but it very rarely happens it football, I think that’s what I’m feeling at the minute – in football, so long as the maths say yes, your destiny is your own. Hands up, who at Christmas last season would have predicted a 3rd placed comfortable finish? – The point still stands that you can finish where you want to finish despite set backs or bad results!
I appear to be painting a dark picture that it’s all over, I don’t know why or if it’s the vibe I’ve felt since the full time whistle Saturday as it was only game one! I wonder if it’s because we felt like we we’re carrying on the flame and baton from last season rather than start a fresh, if that is the case then we need to draw the line now and go back to the start line before we stumble over our own expectations – what’s done is done and what lies ahead is what we create.
Questions have been asked over the selection and the amount of game time our back four actually had together prior to the game, my records show no more than 60 minutes against Derby County – Should Paul Cox have made that gamble? For me personally I’m not that fussed, I trust Cox’s judgement and believe he knows his squad better than anyone – I have every faith things will be put right sooner rather than later and that winning feeling will arrive. I think that’s probably the most frustrating thing to be honest, not being able to get a winning start and inject that early confidence – I also think that when you look at everything on a whole we’ve learned a lesson which will stand us in good stead for the seasons path: never expect, always work earn and appreciate.
Moving onto tomorrow night’s lengthy trip to Gateshead and after defeat I know that it can be a fairly uninspiring one to look ahead too! Many miles watching flashing white lines zoom by, rain, cold and defeat spring to mind when thinking about the trip to face the Heed Army; however I’m sure we all hope that this year’s trip will not end in the same way as last terms, exactly a year ago!
This time around we face a slightly weaker Gateshead side as Ian Bogie’s men lost several key faces during the close season, full backs Eddie Odhiambo, Sam Rents and Chris Carruthers moved on along with goal keepers Paul Farman and Tim Deasy to leave what was a stable defence stretched. It was departures at the back which most dented the Heed though as there attack, the 8th best in the division last term, lost one of its key faces as Jon Shaw departed for Luton. Shaw bagged 35 goals for the Heed last term to become one of the hottest properties in non-league, he got off to a flyer for his new employers Luton on Saturday coming from the bench at the break to bag a goal and help bring the game back to 2-2.
Ian Bogie brought in James Brown from Hartlepool to try and fill the boots of Shaw, adding the hit man to a strike force which also includes ex Darlington man Liam Hatch and former Oxford man Yemi Odubade. The squad, completed with a few ex Darlington youngsters, still has quality but perhaps not as much experience and strength in depth to try and better last season’s 8th place finish, that said Cox’s side will still face a tough challenge against the Heed and will have to be switched on from the start to avoid another game like Saturday’s opener.
Last Time We Met:
Yet again the Stags head for Gateshead in game number two as they did last term, as mentioned above Paul Cox will be hoping for a much better result as the Stags crashed to a 3-0 defeat on their last visit to the Gateshead international stadium, ending the game with ten men after Tom Naylor’s dismissal. The reverse fixture at Field Mill as was saw the Stags attempt to get back on a good run of form; Ross Dyer’s goal wasn’t enough for the Stags as the game ended 1-1.
Tomorrow’s game will be the 20th meeting of the two sides away from Field Mill, a footballing relationship that first began in 1932 with a 2-1 win for Gateshead. Gateshead have enjoyed far better success against Stags on home soil racking up 9 wins to our 5 over the years, the Stags’ last victory at the International stadium coming in 2009.
In total Gateshead have recorded 15 wins against us with us managing 13 victories and collecting 10 draws, should we manage to net tomorrow night it will be the Stags 60th goal in all competitions against the Heed down the years, the hosts tomorrow have netted 66 in the games against us.
If you’re not heading for the Gateshead International Stadium then be sure to tune into 106.9FM or log onto our MM-LIVE Page from 7pm for full match commentary. I’m delighted to say that Scott Rogers will be back alongside me for the match for the first time on Mansfield Matters since the play-off semi-final first leg.
Build up as mentioned starts at 7pm and you can get involved by texting 07982 865 724 or tweeting @mtfcmatters throughout the night.
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