Craig Priest rounds up the lasts weeks’ activity from the One Call Stadium...
With no Stags games to look forward at the weekend for a while, it’s time to bring back an old feature which fell by the wayside when we introduced the popular match preview – ladies and gentleman I present to you, the Mansfield Matters Weekly.
Reviewing the recent events at MTFC, the MM-Weekly is the one place where every key bit of news is reviewed and discussed; don’t forget as ever you can join in on facebook and twitter
Let’s kick things off this week by having a look at the three signings made by Paul Cox ahead of next season, accumulating today in the return of much loved and highly rated defender Luke Jones on a free from Kidderminster Harriers.
Last Friday saw a double addition to the midfield with Chris Clements arriving for an undisclosed fee from pre-season opponents Hednesford Town, and Jamie Tolley making the switch from Wrexham on a free. The duo add real quality to a midfield which is bursting at the seams with talent already, both players offer so much in different ways and will undoubtedly be key to the flexible system a league champion needs.
Its former Hednesford man Clements that excites me, a good ball player with strong vision and an eye for a pass, Chris was the standout performer in last season’s pre-season meeting between Hednesford and ourselves, having a hand in both goals for the Pitmen. Not only does Chris offer the creative and defensive side of the midfield, he has the positional sense to pick up second balls on the edge of the box and have a go himself with a decent return. Starting his career as a youth teamer with Crewe Alexandra, Chris failed to get a real first team run and was loaned out, gaining experience in the non-league pyramid with Nantwich Town and Stafford Rangers. A 14 game loan spell to Icelandic outfit IBV in 2009 was followed by an initial loan spell with Hednesford before a permanent move in the summer of 2010 following the expiry of his Crewe contract. Clements became a firm fans favourite at Keys Park and finished the 11-12 campaign with 15 goals from 47 starts, his departure described by Pitmen boss Rob Smith as an “Irreplaceable” one with the Keys Park gaffer describing our new boy as “Inspirational”.
I look at Clements arrival as one similar to Anthony Howell last pre-season, he wasn’t expected to do well and was judged by his lower-league experience and by his very brief spell with us some years before, he defied all critics, myself included, to be one of the best players in our play-off campaign, keeping his head down working hard to be ready to produce when called upon. I’ve a feeling Clements will do the same and with the addition of the reserves for the coming season, will benefit more with regular competitive football on offer.
Jamie Tolley during his Wrexham days
Moving onto Jamie Tolley who arrived at the same time as Clements from Wrexham, turning the welsh clubs six month offer down to sign a year’s contract with us. Jamie is the coins flipside in terms of a comparison with Clements, the latter playing the majority of football in non-league circles whilst Ludlow born Tolley has only spent two seasons outside the football league having joined Wrexham following a trial spell in the summer of 2010. Playing in a Wrexham side which finished fourth and second respectively, Tolley knows what it takes to get into the play-offs and will bring that knowhow to the One Call stadium to help us go one step further. At 6 foot 1 inch tall Tolley brings some height into the midfield and will be a handful from set pieces, both on and off the ball as the former Wrexham man can hit a sweet dead ball. Starting his career at Shrewsbury in 1999, Jamie capped by Wales U21’s on 12 occasions, racked up just shy of 200 appearances for the shrews before joining the other MTFC in the summer of 2006. Playing over 60 games for the Silkmen, Tolley’s next stop was Hereford, departing for Wrexham after just 10 appearances during the 2009-10 season.
Luke Jones during his first spell in the Amber & Blue
Today saw Luke Jones return for a second spell in the amber and blue, joining on a free transfer from Kidderminster who we beat on the final day of last season. Luke first joined us in the summer of 2009 turning down an offer from Kidderminster to link up with David Holdsworth. Arguably the best player of a season of nothingness, Luke shone at the back and was probably as stunned as the rest of us when David Holdsworth released him after just the one season with Jones playing 27 games netting four goals. Moving onto Forest Green Rovers, Luke established himself quickly and donned the skipper’s armband, his Rovers debut against us on the opening day of the 2010-11 campaign. Despite scooping player of the season at the New Lawn Club, Luke moved back to Kidderminster captaining on and off in a season which Kidderminster lost out on the play-offs on the final day. Unlike the other two additions we know what ‘Jonah’ can offer and are delighted to see him back, as I mentioned, he should never have left. With John Thompson fighting fit and like a new signing next season, I somewhat drool over the prospect of seeing the two together, add to that a potential partnership with Martin Riley, Ritchie Sutton, John Dempster and Exodus Geohaghon you’ve got the foundations of an outstanding backline, if we can add a natural left footer who can defend and attack at ease then we’ll have a real conviction about our side – the added bonus in the addition of former Blackburn Rovers trainee Jones is that, like Thompson, he can also play at right back giving Paul Cox more room for manoeuvre – something about Jones and Cox’s personalities and styles tells me they will get on well.
Moving away from signings and looking at the social network, I see Anthony Howell and Alan Marriott have both been under the knife today, Howell posted on his Facebook earlier that his operation was a success whilst the result of Marriott’s knee operation is unknown at the time of writing, of course I on behalf of all at Mansfield Matters, wish them both all the best on the way back to fitness – Marriott’s probably too busy watching his saves of the season to tweet at the minute!
As the senior England team prepare for Euro 2012 under Roy Hodgson, let’s send our congratulations to our very own international star, Lindon Meikle completed 78 minutes for the England C side in Russia on Tuesday. After an excellent debut season for us and after penning a contract extension, Lindon donned the famous number seven shirt as the three lions crashed to a 4-0 defeat in the International Challenge Trophy.
Before I end this week and watch paint dry, literally as I’ve painted MM-HQ this week, as the clock to pre-season slowly ticks by, I’m glad to see that the season ticket pricing issue has been resolved, under 16’s can now pick up a season ticket for £80 following a rise in price to £186-£230. Hats off to those at the club that have made the decision, now the politics have gone let’s keep buying those tickets and sell as many seats as possible ahead of the 2012-13 campaign.
Thirty-Five days until our pre-season campaign kicks off with a trip to Leamington, be sure to check out our Stags 2012-13 page for a full list of fixtures, please note the away trip to Worksop Town has had a change of date, it will now take place on Friday 20th July, kicking off at 7.45pm meaning three friendly’s will now take place over four days... BRING IT ON!
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