Craig Priest previews tomorrow’s FA Cup encounter with Slough Town....
Ah the FA Cup, a competition where dreams are there to be reached and where giants are there to be killed. Tomorrow, as we welcome the joint second lowest ranked team in the competition Slough Town to the One Call Stadium, we are the Giants in the situation and with all the ongoing negativity and animosity surrounding the club currently, my beloved Stags I issue you a warning and indeed a challenge: Kill or be killed.
My statement is not an arrogant one as I have the upmost respect for Slough and in turn praise their efforts and journey so far, my statement comes from the heart as I want to see that spark come back to light Mansfield’s bonfire and ignite there so far, faltering season. Every football supporter up and down the land wants there club to be a success, when things go well the players and management are heroes when things go badly they become villains – in our case the only crime is forgetting who we are.
We are a good football club capable of achieving the results and chasing down the home straight of success – we gain ground when we are together but trip up when we fall apart – look at last season, I’ve never really said this before but I believe that when we lost Matt Green for the second leg against York, we lost all belief we could win and I sensed that from the moment I stepped out of the car that day. We’ve not recovered from that yet and yes, as I mentioned in my Chad column this week, I believe we panicked and signed to many players – something I wish to ignore now as game day, followed closely by a truck load of banana skins approaches.
I appreciate that you pay your money and as such have the right to develop feelings towards our current plight and failings – the anger at not winning comes from wanting success and often the knee-jerk annoyance clouds that inner feeling and we get a siege/mob mentality – anyone that wants a prime example of this should watch Derren Brown the experiments: Game Show. Back to the football, I’m going to say something now which I sense will not go down well – please let the initial fury pass before reading again so you can see my message and my point.
Whether you want Paul Cox as manager of the football club or not should be forgotten tomorrow, the fact is he IS the manager. Shout ‘Cox out’ in your bathroom buy some toffee to chew on when you want to boo because tomorrow afternoon if just one bit of negativeness can be heard by the Slough Players we’ll lose the game. Slough have played six matches and have EARNED THE RIGHT to go TOE TO TOE with us on an EQUAL level tomorrow, if you think for a second they want their cup run to end then you must think Santa Clause delvers presents at Easter, they want to beat us and will not roll over and have their bellies tickled. They view us as a target to shoot down, our status counts for NOTHING – I refer to a statement I’ve made down the years, Under Estimation and over confidence will be our greatest downfall. The Rebels have a history of beating those higher; just ask Walsall who were beaten at this stage of the competition in 2004.
My point, if you haven’t figured it out already, is that we are our best and at our most ruthless when we stick together and are true to ourselves. We need to make our voices heard from the first whistle to the last in support for our club – that’s what Slough will do. Lindon Meikle was spot on when he spoke at the fans forum last night about love, for one game I beg of those doubters, those in the Cox Out club to drop it and be positive, in turn the players will not only get us into round two, but reignite our season.
A few of you may be fist shaking now at the screen at me ‘Who is he to tell me what to do’ – your right but I’ll tell you what’s in my heart – Mansfield Town Football Club and seeing them become a success. I was in town earlier and having a chat to someone, I said the same about showing support to someone who said something along the lines of, ‘You’re a supporter, you don’t pay for matches therefore your ******** opinions are worthless and unwelcomed’ – Fair play, I don’t pay out right, I give my money in other ways, however that’s irrelevant – I still love and support my club, I can’t help being different and optimistic, I just see a more broader picture.
The football has not been up to the standard we’ve come to expect nor has the away from been anything other than awful – what matters though is results, its they, not performance, which get you success.
LAST TIME WE MET/ ABOUT THE VISITORS
Tomorrow’s encounter with Slough, like last Friday’s trip to Dartford will be a first ever meeting. Slough, formed in 1893, have spent their entire life as a non-league side thus far avoiding any meeting with Stags.
Managed by former Everton youngster Steve Bateman since March 2009, the Evo-Stik Southern League Outfit are a club that may be small in stature but big in terms of ambition and dreams. They come into tomorrow’s game with a five game unbeaten run in the league and an eight game unbeaten run in all competitions throughout October as they search for promotion at the fourth time of asking under Bateman’s guidance, he himself a former Rebel having played 109 games netting six goals from 1994 to 1997.
The tough centre half arrived as mentioned at the back end of the 2008-09 season and rescued Slough from relegation, leading them to the play-offs the following season. A 5th placed finish saw Batemans men beat second placed Hitchin Town 2-1 to progress to the final and be in with a shout of a Blue Square South place, however Chesham United ended that dream with a resounding 4-0 win. Bateman never gave up on the dream and it was so nearly De-Ja-Vou the following season, again finishing in 5th the rebels met Hitchin in the semi-final, this time losing 4-1.
Last tem Bateman again as determined to find success, finishing second after only seven defeats all term the Rebels met Beaconsfield SYCOB in the semi-final but again slipped to defeat, a tight 2-1.
Electrician Danny Burnell will be the Rebels greatest threat having netted 12 goals so far this season, he’s been on target in the FA Cup too with goals against Margate, Eastbourne Town, Corinthian and that all important winner against Gosport. In total the front man has netted 64 goals in 107 appearances since joining from Wealdstone in September 2010.
REACHING ROUND ONE
Tomorrow will be Slough’s seventh game of the competition after entering at preliminary round stage; they will be looking for another scalp after beating Walsall in Round One in 2004.
The Rebels cup journey began in August as goals from Burnell and Nathan Bowden-Haase added to a brace from Sean Sonner to see of Corinthan 4-2 in the preliminary round. Next up was a home tie with Lingfield in the first qualifying round, defender Bowden-Haase was again on target along with Dominic Rhone and Edward Smith, the latter netting twice in a 4-1 win.
Goals from Adam Logie, Edward Smith and the deadly Burnell along with two late penalties from David Deeny helped smash Eastbourne Town 5-1 before Burnell hit the only goal in a 1-0 win away to Margate in the third qualifying round.
Gosport Borough provided the test in the fourth qualifier round, the Rebels grabbed revenge for Gosport’s FA Trophy success weeks earlier. Whilst Mansfield were beating Workington the Rebels and Gosport played out a goalless draw. The replay, with Mansfield watching closely, saw Gosport grab a half time 1-0 lead however second half goals from Rhone and Burnell sealed the tie and set up tomorrow’s trip to the One Call Stadium.
One thing I’ve not mentioned in this blog is the youth team situation as this week, Adam Murray and Richard Cooper took charge to replace Mark’s Hemingray and Lynk. The youth team are in action tomorrow at Grimsby in the Midlands Youth Cup and as such Murray could well be absent from first team duties – if he is involved in senior duties however he may face an injection to play.
Shane Redmond will get the nod in goal whilst John Thompson and Nick Wright could also get a game after both completing a successful 90 minutes for the reserves midweek. Ryan Tafazolli looks likely to miss out too with a hamstring problem whilst striker Jake Speight will serve a one match ban for picking up five yellow cards.
Ben Hutchinson could be the man to get the nod with a slightly added incentive, for every goal he scores both for the senior and reserve team in November I have pledged to donate £1 to his Movember efforts – he’ll be crowing a tash raising money for Men’s Health, donate here.
As per usual I’ll be at the match, join me for regular updates throughout the afternoon on 106.9FM and via our MM-LIVE Page – Build up starts at 2pm, should the game end level and a replay be needed, we’ll be there with full commentary.
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