Greg Taylor writes...
All my life of supporting Mansfield Town, I have never seen the stags involved in a title race, I’ve seen us involved in the play offs but never the opportunity of becoming champions.
The start to this season wasn’t what we all wanted but since the two nil defeat to Kidderminster we’ve never looked back, apart from the 2-0 slip at Newport that is. What has been the cause of this amazing form? Our defence? Matt green? Change of tactics? For me all of those have been huge factors but one that stands out to me is Lee Stevenson, since the tricky attacking midfielder was introduced to into the starting eleven, the stag’s fortunes have changed, coincidence? I don’t think so.
After the home loss to Kidderminster our season didn’t look so good, there was no F.A cup run to smile about, and sitting in mid table and not much hope for the play offs. Stevenson then started away at Stockport and scored helping the stags to a 3-1 win, this was the start of the magnificent form we have seen in 2013.
With the introduction Stevo, this brought a new system and new tactics, we saw a different formation of 4-4-1-1 or you could look at as 4-2-3-1 with Stevenson playing behind the striker. Earlier this season I wrote a blog about how Stevenson would change the team and I was so pleased to see his inclusion in the starting eleven.
The stags had started play ‘football’, it looked a lot better. Also Exodus Geohaegan was side lined with injury and this saw a new defensive partnership of John Dempster and Luke Jones, this meant no more focusing on long throws and we started to play football. The new partnership has been another changing factor with both centre backs having a great understanding of each other.
Wins just began to come along, the fans all started to believe of the play offs, despite the loss against Newport, the team carried on winning afterwards with the free flowing passing game still intact. The attacking midfielder Stevenson acted almost acted as a second striker, with most teams concentrating on Matt Green, Stevenson was unmarked and began to net goals and proving to be crucial with assists.
Many teams have one or two players with that quality that wins you those tight games. Stevenson is one of Mansfield’s. As well as Stevo you can’t forget Matt Green, the striker has again been the talisman this season and rarely has a bad game.
Now I write this with my team on a record winning run of nine games and having the chance of becoming champions after been 11th in late 2012. The Mansfield fans deserve this more than many other fans. Paul Cox may have had his critics and I’ll admit I was one, but how can someone be a bad manager after leading a team to third one season and then into a title race the season after.
This last month is going to be a nervous one but the stags need the fans to be the 12th man even if the record run comes to an end. Even if the title doesn’t come to Mansfield the play offs will be here once again.
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Greg Taylor shares his views on the recent up turn in form
Unbeaten in the last six games, could this be the turning point of our season, I really hope so for the supporters.
A great win on Tuesday at Macclesfield and also a clean sheet and a match with Luton which we deserved to win has given me and many other fans some new found hope that our season could be turned round.
Many people forget the position we were in at Christmas last year and we managed to finish 3rd in the league, we’re 7th now and things are looking up with some pleasing performances from the Stags.
With the momentum Mansfield have got now, it is really unfortunate that we have to wait so long for our next league game. Let’s just hope this is a start of the run of form we need to get us back up at the top end of the table, I believe once we get into our stride and hit form like the 2nd half of last season we could beat anyone in the league.
But I’m not going to get carried away by saying ‘we’re going up’ and all that, because this is only the start. We have to build on this and carry it on, the only time you’ll hear me say we’re going up is if we are 5-0 up in the playoff final until then I’m not getting ahead of myself.
I’ll admit I did criticise Mr Cox but if you look back I always said I wouldn’t mind at all if he turned it around, was just saying it was going to be too late if something isn’t done quickly and hopefully this is the start of it all.
We have something to build on now, so it’s time to push on up to Christmas and be the form team going into 2013, we’ve got players to do it!
And I don’t need to say anything more about the fans, the best fans in the league, even the Luton commentators were shocked how loud we were they said on the radio that it sounded more like there was 12,000 in the one call, so that tells you a lot.
Get behind your team and let’s pull together because this could be the defining moment in our season. Come on you Stags!
The views expressed in this blog are those of the writer and not those of Mansfield Matters or its related organisations. To submit a blog of your own, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Stags Fan Greg Taylor shares his views from the terraces....
Saturday was just a huge sigh of relief for me and all stags fans, as we finally got our first win of the season, it wasn't a sparkling performance but was still three points. Before the game, when I was in the bar at Kidderminster, I checked the starting eleven and me and the others were just in shock.
I was in complete disbelief with the selection of midfield, after Paul Cox hyping up all the players he'd signed, alot of them being midfielders, and not one of them were in the team. In my opinion the midfield we started with on Saturday was worse than last season’s best midfield, this is nothing against Andy Todd, he’s a good experienced player, but I feel there is much more quality in the squad. A point I must raise is, where is Stevo? He had a great pre season and we would benefit a great deal with having a type of player that can play behind the striker or if not Stevo, why not Chris Clements.
The first half for me was very poor, I didn’t enjoy watching it at all, the midfield seemed weak and powerless and the defence, just looked very poor as they struggled with balls into the area and struggled with Marvin Johnson running at them down the wing. We were lucky to have scored and be level at the break. At the start of the second half, I didn’t see much difference in our players or our system and this showed as we conceded to go behind once more.
The one player that had caught my eye from the beginning of the match was Lindon Meikle as he had not put a foot wrong all game and neither had Matt Green as we are used to. Lindon and Matt carried on to show why they are so feared by other teams in this league and put their link up play to effect as Green set up Meikle with a fine pass, matched by a well taken goal. This goal seemed to have changed the game and Kidderminster were on the back foot, but then a strange move from Paul Cox to take Matt Green off for Nick Wright puzzled all Stags fans and they turned on manager.
The game was still ours to be won and we piled on the pressure, Nick Wright was doing a great job since he had come on, which showed up his strike partner Matt Rhead, as Wright was proving to us all that whatever Rhead could do, he could do better.
Eventually a darting run from Lindon Meikle saw us grab what proved the winner as he skipped through the defence and around the keeper to slot home, this was just what we needed to build some confidence and get us back to our old ways.
The referee ended the game and I was just glad it was over. The performance itself wasn’t great, but it was three points. A clean sheet in the next game is what we need, because the performance at the back against Kiddy still hasn’t given me full confidence in us defensively.
On the whole though it was a good win, now it’s time to look towards Hyde and a great opportunity to give our fans the belief back on home turf – Come on you stags!
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Stags fan Greg Taylor reflects on the opening two games of the 2012-13 season...
Well where do I start... Two games gone, no points and eight goals conceded – not the start to the season the fans expected, myself included! Before the season started the expectation of Paul Cox’s newly formed squad was very high and I can speak for almost every stags fan when I say I thought we were going to start off the season flying and put down our marker to the rest of the clubs in our league.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out our problem in these two games and that is bad defending! This came as a huge shock to me when I saw how we defended against Newport, most fans thought that our defence would be our strong point and it would almost hold our side together, but that isn’t the case at all, our defence is costing us. I keep saying to my dad and friends, we can't defend like we have in these two games and expect to finish mid table , never mind the promotion challenge we expect!
A problem that I noticed was the inability of our defence to win balls in the air, which caused huge problems at the back, we looked like we would struggle any time a ball was put into the box, which shouldn’t happen for any team, never mind a so called ' top five side'.
I'm not going to hide how I feel at this moment in time, I’m very frustrated and angry, which is the most reoccurring feeling I’ve had in the last 10 years of watching the stags. Things need to be sorted out quickly or it could be too late. We expect to finish in the top five at least, as supporters may know when you finish in the top five, you don’t lose many all season and we have lost two games already! If we lose again Saturday, due to a similar performance to the first two matches, I feel that Cox will start to lose the backing of most of the fans and rightly so, because this isn’t acceptable and things must pick up. These two losses have changed the whole mood of the supporters; we need to spring some results together to regain the belief of the fans because if this carries on, I’m afraid Paul Cox will be looking at an early exit.
I am loyal supporter and I will be making the trip to Kidderminster on Saturday, hoping and praying for a change. The club needs our support and we need to stick with them, because I do believe we will still be up there at the end of season.
Come on the stags! I still believe in you.
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Stags supporter Greg Taylor looks ahead to the season about to dawn...
'This is our year' as a supporter I say these four words at the start of every season and so do fellow fans, but when supporters have said it in the past , have they really believed it deep down? I don’t think so. But this year does seem different, for the first time since I started supporting Mansfield Town Football Club I actually feel confident that we could win the league or win the play offs. It feels very different coming up to this season, I expect us to finish in the play offs, which is all new as a Stags fan for me, in the past I’ve hoped and believed it, now I expect it.
For those that don’t know I was born in Barnsley and have always lived in Yorkshire and supported the Stags, so some success is a long time coming if you ask me, after putting up with Barnsley fans for years and years, it’s about time I have some success to cheer. Obviously it’s not just me that deserves some success, it’s all of the fans for supporting the club through thick and thin and I think this season is the biggest chance we've had in 10 years.
As it comes closer to the ' big kick off ' I am getting more and more nervous and excited, questions just keep flying around my head; what system will he play? Who is he going to play? What if we crack under pressure with all the expectation? As a Stags fan you get used to asking yourself these questions after many years of wrong systems, awful signings and games where we’ve bottled it!
The system and players we should play- after looking at Paul Cox’s signings, I’ve always been thinking who will play where and who will play more importantly so here is the team and system I would play.
For me it would be a formation of 4-2-3-1 with a back four of Beevers, Pilkington, Dempster and Owens, which then will have a midfield two of.... well with these two positions I feel it could be rotated between four players, Tolley, Hand, Howell and Roberts and try and find which partnership is the best.
Moving onto the attacking midfield three, which would include two wingers, Meikle and Speight with Clements or Stevenson playing the role behind the striker, now it’s almost obvious who will be upfront, the man ... Matt Green, I don’t really need to say much about this decision after the impression he made on the supporters last season.
With this formation I feel it plays to our strengths as it gives us stability at the back, as we can defend in numbers, by turning the formation almost into 4-5-1 when defending and it would be very easy to hit teams on the counter attack as we have four players acting as forward players. I’m not saying this must be the formation we play, I’m just saying I would like to see how it suits us , because on paper I believe this is perfect.
It’s almost time people, it’s almost time for the drama to unfold and for those 11 players to put us through more than we can take. We have the players this year, we have the quality, we have fans. This is where it all begins our Journey up the football league ladder.
This is our year and I believe it is. Mansfield Town for promotion, bet on it!