Craig Priest looks ahead to tomorrow’s pre-season trip to Leamington...
Ready? In Three...Two...One.... WOOOOOOO IT’S BACK! After an eternity of waiting, after endless weeks of watching paint dry and getting trolley rage around the supermarket, the holy savour returns – yes folks Football is back.
I think back to this time last year when I was preparing for the first pre-season match against Rainworth MW, the hurt and agony of our Wembley defeat had lingered all summer long I was itching to see the new Mansfield Town in action, wondering if they’d repair our broken hearts over the course of the season, it’s fair to say they did, and then some. The fact that exactly one year on from Wembley we we’re beaten in extra-time again doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, it hurt so much and yes I still picture myself under the desk in tears, but I’m taking inspiration from Paul Cox here and the approach he’s taken – accepting it happened, taking it with a pinch of salt and getting on with the job in hand, structuring Mansfield Town FC so they are not faced with the play-off lottery, but ready to take the title.
It’s true that you get nowhere in life by wallowing in self pity, it’s the same in football, you can only go onto better things by getting on with things, that’s what we’ve done – letting go of players that didn’t quite fit and brining in those that do. The fact every signing so far has been at a constant level of quality says a lot about the character we are forming, we are not building around the spine of an 11, we are building a gauntlet style battering ram – each player cable of doing damage – I’ve sat and pictured that evolving on the pitch, it’s a glorious image, tomorrow’s game at Leamington will see the first light brush of paint touch the canvas – good times.
The standard of opposition we’ll face throughout pre-season too excites me, not because it contains grounds and teams I’ve always wanted to visit and play, but because over the course of the next month we are going to see challenges we’re going to face throughout the season both physically and mentally. We are going to come up against strong opposition and will not have an easy ‘morale boosting’ test, we are going to have to work to get victory’s, work to gain momentum and work for the right to head into the season as a title contesting side – this pre-season football is not just our path, but our guide.
Kicking things off tomorrow is a very tough test against Evo-Stick Southern Premier League outfit Leamington. The New Windmill Ground based side enjoyed a great season last term, finishing just three points outside the play-offs and a chance at a second successive promotion. A tough side to break down, especially on home soil losing only two home games last term, and a dominant side on the attack – Paul Cox’s players will face a tough work out, regardless if they only get 45 minutes apiece.
Playing ‘two sides’ isn’t disrespectful to Leamington, who ran out 3-1 winners over Sutton Coldfield midweek in their first pre-season outing, it’s a fair way to test our players, you can pretty much pick two sides when you look at the break down of our players – I’m sure Paul Cox will not be taking it lightly either – the sides will be out there to win and earn a place, the hard work starts now.
When new faces arrive at the club you can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like to see them in the Amber & Blue, the name’s I’m looking forward to see most are George Pilkington, Chris Clements and Nick Wright, the latter two players who are youthful but have that flare and energy Paul Cox likes to exploit whilst Pilkington is an experienced head that will marshal our defence. I mentioned it in my Chad column this week, I think pre-season will be an interesting one for John Thompson considering the torrid time he endured last term he could well prove to be like another new signing. For the four youth team graduates tomorrow could be their first taste of senior football, I wish them well and look forward to seeing what than can offer too.
The clock is ticking and it’s nearly time to go, for those of you heading to Leamington that want to get something extra from Mansfield Matters, click here to download our travel guide ahead of the match.
For those of you that can’t get but want to catch the action, it’s time once more to tune your radio dials into 106.9FM or log onto our MM-LIVE page, myself and Wayne Briggs have build up followed by full match commentary from 2pm!
Please get in touch throughout by tweeting @mtfcmatters or texting 07982 865 624, text’s cost your normal standard network rate!
The journey, is about to begin again!
COME ON YOU STAGS
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