CURLE REFUSES TO CURSE BAD LUCK
CURLE REFUSES TO CURSE BAD LUCK
Evening Post, 11 April 2003
Keith Curle refuses to be downcast about his chances of keeping Mansfield Town in the Second Division, although he admits his side could do with a bit of luck.
Yesterday, every serving of that commodity fitted into the bad bracket. Craig Disley had to be carried off the training pitch after suffering an injury to his knee ligaments and Rhys Day has been struggling with a similar problem.
Day was expected to be training this morning but with Ben Doane having returned to Sheffield United, Lee Williamson struggling with a bruised foot and Adam Eaton out of training with a hernia problem, Curle has a few selection headaches to get through before tomorrow's trip to high-flying Bristol City.
But, typically, he sees the situation as an opportunity and the lack of numbers has given him the chance to work on other things.
"We haven't been able to have a full-sized practice game so we have been able to work on players individually," he said.
"We can look at what their role is the team and work on their strengths and weaknesses, so in that respect it has not been too bad.
"We will have to see how Craig is but it started swelling before he left the pitch so only time will tell.
"We could just do with a bit of good luck at the moment."
Curle has already set a target of ten points from his side's remaining five games to enable Stags to maintain their Division Two status.
But he is well aware that they have wasted two excellent opportunities in the last fortnight with defeats against Peterborough and Port Vale, games many fans thought would be home bankers.
The manager, who played 121 games for the Ashton Gate club between 1983 and 1987, believes the pressure is on their opponents.
Curle said: "Everyone in Mansfield expected us to turn up and take three points from Peterborough and Port Vale and, if we had done, we would now be looking at needing one win and a draw to be safe.
"After those matches, both managers came up to me and said how much more comfortable their side was when they were away.
"They didn't have the pressure on them. They were able to sit back and take stock of what was going on and that helped them.
"Hopefully, the same will happen for us against City."
Danny Wilson's side are just as keen to take the points to give themselves a chance of gaining promotion.
Tickets are at half-price in an attempt to attract some of the 40,000 Robins fans who made the trip to Cardiff on Sunday to see their team lift the LDV Vans Trophy with a 2-0 win over Carlisle.
The club has said there will be no silverware parade before tomorrow's match but Curle is determined to spoil the party anyway.
He said: "If there is a party going on, we are the ones who want to turn up in fancy dress, go in and take three points.
"They are going to be buoyant after last week and there will be a lot of positive feelings around but we have to make sure we go and spoil the party."
Stags have been unable to gain an away win since the 2-1 victory over Chesterfield in January and Curle believes it is time for a change of fortune.
He said; "We have had Keith Welch's mistake at Huddersfield giving them a point, we had Ben Doane at Colchester and a combination of a few of them giving QPR a point as well.
"But I am a big believer in the adage that the harder you work, the luckier you become.
"It would be nice sitting in the middle of the table.
"I suppose it is all part of a learning curve for all of us but we are determined to get the job done."
Liam Lawrence will be serving the second game of a two-match suspension.
MANSFIELD (from): Pilkington, Hassell, Day, Curle, Eaton, Williamson, MacKenzie, Curtis, Corden, Mendes, Christie, White, Welch, Gadsby, Clarke, Mitchell.
NINE MAD MINUTES SUM UP SEASON
Evening Post, 11 April 2003
If ever there was a game that summed up Mansfield Town's season, it came at Field Mill, on Saturday, November 23, against promotion-challengers Bristol City.
It was only a week after Stags had conceded two goals in the later stages of an FA Cup game against students Team Bath, but no-one could have expected them to get nothing from a game they led 4-2 with three minutes left. Although injury-time went on for six minutes, the defeat effectively called time on Stuart Watkiss's period at the helm.
He was sacked the following week and was left to look back on one of the most amazing afternoons Mansfield Town Football Club has ever been involved in.
Here are the key moments from an amazing match...
38 MINS: A neat ball from Disley releases Corden who rounds Phillips and fires into the corner for the opening goal.
39 MINS: Pilkington is unable to hold on to Roberts' shot and Murray nets the equaliser from close range.
50 MINS: Beadle flicks on for Roberts to go through on goal and he chips the ball over Pilkington to give Bristol City the lead.
62 MINS: Lawrence hits a corner to the far post, Lever heads it back across goal and Christie nods it home.
63 MINS: Lawrence is brought down by Coles for a penalty and, after a melee, Williamson receives his second booking. Corden's shot is saved by Phillips, but he manages to scramble the rebound home.
76 MINS: Christie cuts in from the right and fires into the corner from the edge of the box to give Stags a two-goal cushion at 4-2.
87 MINS: Lita outpaces Jervis and is brought down. Tinnion fires home the penalty to make it 4-3.
90 MINS: Lita turns the ball in from a Murray cross from the right for 4-4.
90 MINS: Roberts picks the ball up and fires into the top corner from 25 yards for the killer goal.
CURLE EYES NEW SURVIVAL TARGET
BY CHRIS WATERS, Evening Post, 10 April 2003
Keith Curle today set Mansfield Town a target of TEN points from their last FIVE games to avoid relegation.
Curle believes Mansfield need three wins and a draw to preserve their Division Two status. And the Stags boss admitted: "To stay up now, we'll have to do it the hard way.
"But we've got the quality to stay up and we will stay up."
Mansfield travel to Bristol City on Saturday, then face games against Barnsley (home), Blackpool (away), Tranmere (away) and Northampton (home).
All three away matches are against sides in the division's top-ten - and Stags have only won three away league games all season.
But they did put a total of 14 goals past Bristol City (5-4), Blackpool (4-0) and Tranmere (6-1) at Field Mill earlier in the season.
And Curle insists confidence is high going into the crucial run-in - despite the fact Stags have lost their last three matches.
Curle told the Evening Post: "The boys are bubbling and no one at Mansfield Town is talking about relegation.
"Yes, we're going to need three wins and a draw to stay up, but that target is very, very achievable.
"First and foremost, I'm a winner - always have been, always will be.
"I'm not thinking about relegation and I'm not going to let anyone else here think about relegation."
Curle insists Mansfield's first-half performance during Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Port Vale proves they have the character to stay up.
He says it was the perfect response to the humiliating 5-1 defeat against Peterborough at Field Mill the previous week.
"We had character and desire in abundance on Saturday. The only thing we didn't have was a goal," Curle said.
"Our first-half performance was excellent, but we didn't have any luck.
"But our efforts proved that no one here is throwing in the towel.
"No one said staying in this division was going to be easy, but there's no chance of us shirking the battle.
"There was no fear in our game on Saturday and there'll be no fear from here on in."
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