AFC WIMBLEDON PREVIEWS
Cox targets back-to-back wins
mansfieldtown.net, 27th March 2014
Manager Paul Cox is aiming for back-to-back victories for the first time since September.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/cox-targets-back-to-back-wins-1449043.aspx#K1Gwy4w13yV7lfrH.99
Our first team last recorded two successive victories when beating Northampton Town 3-0 and then Chesterfield, famously, 1-0 at the Proact Stadium - a record Cox wants to end this weekend as he targets three points against AFC Wimbledon.
Speaking at this morning's press meeting ahead of Saturday's encounter at home to The Dons, the 42-year-old praised his players' performance on Tuesday night in the 4-2 win away at Hartlepool United, but issued a stark warning against complacency ahead of this weekend's match.
"I feel at the minute that we win one, sit there and admire it. I don't want us to admire one result," said Cox.
"We've had two and a half years of excellence at this club where we've been used to winning consistently - that's dropped this season.
"It's been a learning curve for the club, myself and the players, but that now has to stop. We have to start winning consistently again and put ourselves in a position where we are competing near the top end of the table.
"No one is singing from the rooftops [following the mid-week win at Hartlepool]. What I want to see is two back to back wins now and see that we've come somewhere."
The manager said that he may have to work on the players' psychology heading into Saturday's contest.
"Our biggest battle is ourselves. We can put in the kind of performances against Chesterfield home and away, and against Hartlepool, but what we need is consistency.
"There is something wrong with us mentally if we can't put back to back wins together. That's a problem for me, one I have to solve. Do you give the the players the time span to learn and develop that consistency or in the summer, do you look for something else? Everyone knows I am loyal. I have been loyal to this club and to my players but we have to look at the bigger picture now. I don't want us to stand still. I don't want the club to stand still or the players to stand still. We won a very important game on Tuesday. Psychologically, it was massive for the players' minds but I want more now and it's up to me to drag that little bit more out of them."
In team news, defender Ryan Tafazolli, who missed Tuesday night's win due to a foot injury, is expected to be fit for Saturday's match whilst James Jennings is suspended for two matches after collecting ten yellow cards.
Cox demands back-to-back Stags wins
chad.co.uk, 27 March 2014
Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox has challenged his side to achieve back-to-back wins for the first time since September when AFC Wimbledon hit town on Saturday.
He has also told centre half Ryan Tafazolli to ignore his sore foot and get back into the side after missing the midweek 4-2 win at Hartlepool United.
Stags last won more than one game in a row back in September when they put together a hat-trick of victories on the bounce against York, Northampton and Chesterfield, and victory over the Dons will also edge the Stags to the 50-point mark, which may be enough to all but see off the threat of relegation.
“What I want to see now is back-to-back wins for the first time since September,” said Cox.
“The bottom clubs have still all go to play each other so it will be a crazy end to the season.
“It is a massive game for us, not because of who we are playing. Too often we win a game then sit and admire it and I am not into that.
“We lack consistency. That’s not just the players, I include myself in that as well as I am always very self-critical.”
A late goal saw the Dons pull off a 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Northampton Town on Tuesday.
They have only lost one in the last seven outings and will be full of confidence.
“It was an excellent point for AFC on Tuesday,” said Cox. “They showed down there that they are hard to break down and have good players through the side which seems to be the make up of this league, it is so tight.
“We can get to 50 points on Saturday, but we may need more to be safe.
“Colin Cooper said after Tuesday’s game that he felt they had still got a chance of the play-offs and we are only two points behind them!
“There are no easy games in this division and you have to respect every manager and set of players you come up against.
“Being analytical of our season, during that bad spell between October and mid-December, if we had even picked up seven to nine points we would be sat in a play-off place at the minute.
“The boys have been on an incredible learning curve this season which bodes well for the future.”
Cox said it was still sometimes hard to believe how far Mansfield Town had come in a short space of time.
“Sometimes you have to pinch yourself,” he said. “It’s been a rollercoaster since I have been here. Who would have thought that in two years we would be here in League football.
“It is all about having belief and confidence, and they come from consistency. That’s what I now want to see from my players.
“We are near the top of the clean sheets league yet we have conceded 52 goals.
“Another thing is putting the ball in the back of the net. We have had numerous chances to kill teams off and been punished for not doing that. It’s fine margins. If we can tidy up those things we will improve, but we have to walk before we can run.”
Central defender Tafazolli is getting some tough love from his former centre half manager.
After missing the Hartlepool clash with a sore foot, Cox expects him to play on Saturday come what may.
“I expect him to be fit. He needs to go back in there,” said Cox.
“He is a big lad and it’s his first full season. It is a time he doesn’t want to be missing games and I am going to be a bit hard on him.
“Sometimes you just need to forget about bumps and bruises and play.”
Stags bank on ‘uncouth’ front pair to destroy Dons
Paul Cox is hoping his ‘uncouth’ front pairing of Matt Rhead and Ollie Palmer can go from strength to strength.
The pair, who will hope to terrorise AFC Wimbledon at One Call Stadium tomorrow, are very raw at this level and attracted plenty of criticism from home fans at Hartlepool on Tuesday, particularly for man-mountain Rhead.
But Cox admitted he is pleased he will never have to try to face them on the field.
“The BBC reporter said to me afterwards that he thought our front two were a bit uncouth,” said Cox.
“But they are looking a force for anyone to cope with in this league now.
“I was a centre half and I wouldn’t want to be marking them and few defenders in this league will be looking forward to playing against them.
“They have power and pace and are starting to understand each other really well.
“Matt Rhead has really bedded himself into the first team and I am over the moon for him. Ollie is getting better every game and just needs a goal right now.
“The lads certainly put in a shift on Tuesday. We did get a bit of luck at the right time but I am a big believer that you make your own luck.”
Cox was delighted with his side’s showing in the 4-2 win on Tuesday and added: “Alan Marriott’s penalty save was the turning point and I thought we thoroughly deserved it. It was one way traffic after we tweaked things in the second half.”
“Every time I see the penalty decision on the DVD I think Ritchie Sutton got the ball. But I have got to keep my mouth shut in terms of referees. If you are not 100 per cent certain, as has happened against us on a number of occasions this season, you don’t give it. But they do have a tough job.”
Rhead was happy to be called ‘uncouth’ and even happier to celebrate his goal in front of the baying Hartlepol hoards who had barracked him during the game.
“That’s a positive and I take it as a compliment,” he smiled. “It’s one of those things. I was getting a bit of stick so when I scored my goal I let them know how happy I was about that. You just take it on the chin.”
Hartlepool players were furious Rhead’s goal was allowed to stand as they felt Palmer was offside.
“They might have had a case to be fair,” said Rhead. “ I headed the ball into the corner but, although Ollie didn’t touch it, he did put their keeper off. We showed great character in that second half.”
Rhead is finally on a run of starts for the Stags and said: “I always try to do my best for the team and I think I am settling into the side and the Football League at the minute which I hope will continue.
“I think we need to get past 52-54 points to be safe. But then we still need to push on. We don’t want to get to 54 points and have a holiday. We want to finish as high as possible.
“I think this is a very good league, it is so competitive. Every game is against a tough team willing to fight for every point.
“There is quality in every team and, make a slight mistake, and you get punished. That’s happened to us quite a few times this season, but we are learning.”
He added: “That was a great result on Tuesday so I hope we can now push on and get a good result tomorrow.
“The most important thing is that we impose ourselves on the game and we will hopefully then get a result.”
He also said the fans could make a huge difference tomorrow and that the players needed their backing even more than in last weekend’s 0-0 derby draw with Chesterfield.
He said: “We need them even more so than the derby game, we need them to get behind us which helps us on the pitch. They travelling fans got behind us on Tuesday and we gave them the result they deserved.”
Cox planning to blood youngsters once Stags are safe
Michael Cain will not be returning on loan from Leicester City as, once the club is safe from relegation, Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox says he will put his trust in his own youngsters and blood some of them.
Foxes youngster Cain has gone back after a month on loan, but he was outshone by Stags’ own youngster Jack Thomas in a reserve game last week and Cox said: “Jack played against their midfield, which included Cain, and I though he was the better player.
“Jack will be an excellent player for this club and sometimes you have to chuck some of your own young kids in rather than someone else’s kids.
“Our first goal is to maintain our status. Once we are safe then I will give the kids a chance. They are coming on in leaps and bounds and the future of the club is looking healthy.”
The emergency loans deadline for the season passes tonight and Cox said it was unlikely he would add to his squad, particularly with striker Jake Speight now back in contention.
“I can’t see anyone else coming in now unless it’s one for cover,” he said.
“The squad is bouyed at the minute and they have a spring in their step, so to bring someone else in now might be the wrong thing to do.”
Rhead ready for Dons test
mansfieldtown.net, 27th March 2014
Forward Matt Rhead believes our magnificent comeback victory over Hartlepool United in midweek could give us the belief to ‘push on’ ahead of Saturday’s match with AFC Wimbledon.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/rhead-ready-for-dons-test-1450443.aspx#eqi3R3eYdPgJkIB7.99
Our team will be determined to achieve their first ever win against the Dons, which would also give us back-to-back victories for the first time since September.
Three points this weekend would also mean that we reach 50 points with six matches left to play, and could also result in us climbing into the top half of the Sky Bet League Two table.
“We got a great result on Tuesday which will hopefully push us on to get a good result on Saturday, but we’ve got to take into consideration that AFC Wimbledon are a good team,” said Rhead.
“Everyone in this league is competitive, so it’s going to be a tough game. Everyone is fighting for points and it’s important that we go out and give it our best shot. If we do that, I think we can get a good result.”
Rhead played a key role in our victory at Hartlepool on Tuesday, as he caused the Pools defence numerous problems with his physical presence and unorthodox technique.
The burly frontman deservedly scored his fifth goal of the season with a well-placed header in the closing stages, before Jamie McGuire’s injury-time strike sealed maximum points.
The 29-year-old admits there may have been a hint of offside about his goal. He added: “I think [Hartlepool] might have had a case [for a player being offside].
“I’ve headed it into the corner and Ollie (Palmer) hasn’t touched it, but he’s done enough to put the ‘keeper off a bit, and the ball went into the net and I scored.”
Rhead continued: “The free-kick that J.J. (James Jennings) scored turned things a little bit, because after he scored that goal we were on top.
“‘Beevs’ (Lee Beevers) put a great ball in and we managed to get a third and I think we looked comfortable after that. (Marlon) Harewood going off was a boost for us, because he did well.”
On his goal celebration, the frontman added: “I was getting a bit of stick [off the home fans], so when I scored my goal I was happy and I wanted to let them know. It’s one of those things and you’ve just got to take it on the chin really.”
Mistaken identity as Jennings misses Dons visit?
chad.co.uk, 27 March 2014
An alleged case of mistaken identity from referee Gary Sutton will see Mansfield Town’s midweek two-goal hero James Jennings suspended for two games, starting with Saturday’s visit of AFC Wimbledon.
Jennings was shown a yellow card in the superb 4-2 win at Hartlepool United on Tuesday, but he is adamant the dissent for which he was punished came from the mouth of Jamie McGuire, whose Scouse accent Jennings feels the referee should have been able to identify.
“It was very frustrating,” said Jennings. “I was aware I was on nine yellows and trying to be careful until the second Sunday in April when they get wiped.
“I ran over to take the free kick and Jamie gave the referee a real earful. Even though our accents are nothing like each other, he gave me the yellow card which was quite annoying.
“It is going to be frustrating. It happened when I got injured last season. I am always nervous when I am watching from the stands. I am a bad watcher.”
Left wing back Jennings put Stags ahead in the first half, turning home a Lee Beevers cross, but then slipped while taking a free kick to the far post, which helped to lift the ball higher than planned and under the far angle for a fortunate second goal.
“It was one of those where, from that position, we are always taught to aim to the far post and, if no one gets on the end of it, it still put the keeper under a bit of pressure,” he said.
“But I slipped as I took it and it ended up going a bit too high and thankfully it ended up going in the top bin.
“I had really hurt my ankle so I didn’t see where it ended up, then I had all the players jumping on me.
“They started trying to help me with my ankle as they thought I’d got cramp which I hadn’t.”
“The most important thing was we’d got the win.
He added: “It was nice to get on the scoresheet. Lee Beevers put in a great cross for the first goal.
“It was quite gutting that they quickly got back into the game. But we didn’t give up and we fought back.
“When we got back into the changing room and saw the other results had gone our way, it was a pretty nice feeling on the bus on the way home.
“Anything can happen until we are mathematically safe. We want to try to stay unbeaten now until the end of the season and get as many points on the boards we can.
“AFC Wimbledon got a great result on Tuesday and will be feeling confident, but not as confident as we are feeling.”
Manager Paul Cox said: “There was a bit of controversy about the booking. He went to pick up the ball, as it was our free kick at the time, and he wanted to get on with the game.
“He will be a big loss as he was playing well and he has scored us a few goals of late.
“JJ has come on leaps and bounds. Now it’s up to whoever comes in to cement their place.
“Junior Daniel is one option I have or I could tweak the system. We will see how everyone’s legs are and look at bumps and cuts from the other night.”
Mixed injury news for Dons ahead of Mansfield clash
Mar 28, 2014, By Jacob Murtagh
AFC Wimbledon should be boosted by the return of defender Darren Jones for tomorrow's trip to Mansfield.
The centre-back missed the midweek draw at Northampton due to an elbow problem, but is expected to be passed fit for the Field Mill clash.
Jones could replace Andy Frampton in the heart of the defence after the former Gillingham man picked up a knock at Sixfields and is a doubt to face the Stags.
Jack Midson is suspended, while fellow frontman Danny Hylton could also miss out as he battles to overcome a bug that has kept him out of training over the past couple of days.
That could mean a debut for new signing Kwesi Appiah, who joined on loan from Crystal Palace on Thursday, with Kevin Sainte-Luce also likely to feature after a hamstring injury.
Team news for Mansfield
Fri 28 Mar 2014, Author: Chris Slavin
Read more at http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/news/article/neal-update-pre-mansfield-1451634.aspx?#kW096PWysViq6yIb.99
Neal Ardley said that he expects Darren Jones to be back in contention for AFC Wimbledon’s first visit to Mansfield Town since October, 2010.
Jones (pictured above) missed the midweek draw at Northampton Town due to an injured elbow, but he should be back in the squad and Kevin Sainte-Luce could also make the frame after being out with a hamstring injury.
New loan signing Kwesi Appiah is likely to go straight into the squad for the trip to the One Call Stadium.
However, Andy Frampton picked up a knock in the match at Sixfields Stadium and he is a doubt, along with Danny Hylton, who has been struck down by illness, and Jack Midson is suspended.
During an interview for Dons Player, Neal Ardley spoke about a different preparation for Mansfield, a match that will conclude a gruelling fixture list during March. Instead of staging a light recovery session at the training ground yesterday, the squad were taken to Champneys Health Spa in Forest Mere.
It was a method of preparation that Neal believes paid dividends last season during the club’s epic relegation battle as the Dons won their subsequent match at Aldershot Town.
“We planned this a while back,” said Neal. “We did it last season before we played Aldershot during a spell of seven games in March. This month there’s also been seven matches and it’s been another busy spell. We decided that instead of a recovery day we would give them a change of scenery. We got the squad together and they had some good food and did a bit of gym work and swimming.
“Hopefully, they will turn up after a long journey to Mansfield and feel better for it and be raring to go like they were for Aldershot last season. It’s about fresh bodies at this stage of the season and we will try to ensure that we put out a fit, strong team that’s ready to do itself justice.”
In a similar fashion to the Dons, Mansfield have eased the threat of relegation by putting together an unbeaten run, culminating in Tuesday’s excellent 4-2 win at Hartlepool United. And with Paul Cox’s side having offered such stern opposition in the 0-0 draw at the Cherry Red Records Stadium, Neal Ardley knows his side will need to stand up and be counted.
“The reports that we got back from Tuesday were that they were physically too strong for Hartlepool,” added Neal. “We’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve got a decision to make about whether or not we set-up to match that. Or we could try to deal with that and concentrate on what we are good at.”
The Dons won their last visit to Mansfield in style with a 5-2 win. Sammy Moore memorably struck the opener after just 11 seconds and he was one of thee current Dons players that featured with Luke Moore and Seb Brown also in the squad on 5 October, 2010. Click on Mansfield revisited to read a match report from that day.
Dons Player subscribers can watch Neal’s full interview on our premium site and the thoughts of new loan signing Kwesi Appiah will appear shortly.
Latest | March 2014