As we move into November, another of our statistical poor months, Paul Cox’s men hope to stop the slump after a poor October which accumulated in late defeat against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.
A point would have left fans frustrated having played so well in the opening 25 minutes or so, the manner of the loss left a bitter taste for sure but what has been the most disappointing factor is most definitely the lack of goals.
The Stags are 338 minutes of football, excluding time added on, without a goal – this is the longest goal drought under the guise of Paul Cox. Naturally there are a lot of calls for a return of Matt Green, it was always going to be difficult to replace someone of his talent, however its highly unlikely the goal machine will return and so the constant and ever growing conversations of “Matt Green would of scored that” are verging on annoying.
Paul Cox has to accept we need a new striker and should have done more in the close season to bring one in, he knew Green would be going and struggled to plug that gap. Calvin Andrew excited in pre-season but hasn’t delivered what was expected, is that due to him playing out of position or against a higher standard of opposition? Ollie Palmer is another excellent prospect with the sort of goal scoring record Green departed with having scored 37 in 67 games with Havent & Waterlooville, but were we all expecting too much from a young player whose never played full time football league football before, and on the flip side, how is he ever going to prove his presence if he’s not getting a look in.
Jake Speight, Ross Dyer and Louis Briscoe are all players that can put the ball in the back of the net yet are out elsewhere. Fair enough Louis Briscoe’s injured at the minute after taking a knock on his Nuneaton debut, Ross Dyer’s also on the road to recovery and, like Palmer to balance my argument, hasn’t played league football – however he’s getting a run at Hereford at the minute and has been on the score sheet. Speight is in the similar mould to Green and in the past I’ve criticised him for being a greedy player, yet despite his greed he gets goals and out on loan at Alfreton at the minute he’s already grabbed a handful of goals playing regular football for Nicky Law’s men – there are naturally going to be arguments against all three but it seems strange that whilst we’re struggling for goals and slipping down the table as a result, we have players elsewhere delivering the goods for other clubs. It’s like royal mail loaning out a postman to parcel force – I don’t get it.
Cox has admitted he’s going into the loan market, with Stoke City’s James Alabi set to arrive on loan as I type – another youngster with little experience but a good reputation. Will it solve any problems, we’ll wait and see. I genuinely think Hutchinson can get us goals, maybe pairing him with Palmer and not Rhead would ignite the spark – if we play football on the floor, the penny will drop it’s just that, as we proved on Saturday, we’re too impatient and are far too quick to resort to a direct game.
Tomorrow night against Southend will be another tough test, a mid-table clash against a side used to the evening conditions at Roots Hall. Fingers crossed, Friday night can be our night to stop the slump.
LAST TIME WE MET
Mansfield and Southend haven’t locked horns since the 2004-05 campaign where the Stags took four points from the six on offer. The sides last met at Field Mill where Adam Murray put the Stags ahead on 52 minutes, firing home Ritchie Barkers knock down following Alex Baptise’s deep free kick. The visitors pulled level controversially five minutes later as Murray was unfairly penalized for a late challenge, the resulting free kick was taken quickly and the Stags switched off allowing Gower to blast home.
The reverse fixture saw Stags take all the points at Roots Hall in late December. Loanee striker Paul Warne drilled the Stags ahead midway through the second half, Mansfield rode a late storm to take all the points.
In total, the sides have met 49 times (one cup meeting) with the Stags grabbing 20 wins to Southend’s 16 however on Southend turf, the Stags only have seven wins loosing twelve and drawing the other five.
Captain John Dempster serves the second of a three game ban whilst fellow defender Martin Riley remains side lined with injury. Left back James Jennings is back from suspension after serving a one match ban for five yellow cards, he could go back into the line-up to give us a natural left back however George Pilkington did an excellent job in deputising in what his first appearance in a Stags shirt for over a year.
Ryan Tafazolli may be ok for the bench but a lack of minutes could rule that one out, the same goes for Chris Clements whose still on the road to recovery. As of yet there’s also no news on keeper Alan Marriott who failed a late fitness test last weekend with a back spasm.
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