Paul Cox previews Morecambe game
We must keep working hard - Cox
mansfieldtown.net, 3rd April 2014
Boss Paul Cox has reiterated his call for our players to keep working hard and achieve mathematical safety in Sky Bet League Two, ahead of this weekend’s match away at Morecambe.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/we-must-keep-working-hard-cox-1464846.aspx#RusbXuyAdb3M2C1k.99
Our team will make the long trip to the North-West tomorrow, staying overnight, with confidence having beaten AFC Wimbledon in their last outing, which secured our first back-to-back wins this year.
The victory over the Dons also propelled us onto 50 points and capped off a great month for us, during which we accumulated 12 points from just seven league matches.
With safety not yet mathematically assured, however, our manager wants everyone to remain fully focussed on the last six matches of the campaign, starting with Saturday’s match at the Globe Arena.
“We got some good results and put some decent results on the board [in March], but the job isn’t done yet,” said Cox.
“Mathematically, there is still a chance of us getting dragged back into [a relegation battle] and I’ve said previously that we’ve got to make sure we’re mentally strong now and finish the job off.
“All the boys are looking at is winning the next game that’s in front of us. That’s Morecambe on Saturday. If we do win, we’ll re-assess and see where we are and then plan accordingly.
“But we don’t want to get too above ourselves. We just want to go into this game really level. We’ve had a couple of decent results, but we want to carry it on until the end of the season.”
He continued: “Everyone is looking for results now to either get themselves into a promotion place or to avoid the dreaded drop.
“It’s going to happen at this stage of the season and points are all that really matter, so I don’t mind a scrappy win on Saturday, if it means we pick up another three points.”
Meanwhile, our boss also updated us on the progress of forward Ross Dyer and youngster Jack Thomas, both of whom suffered knocks in our reserve team match at Rotherham United on Monday.
“Ross has been at home for the last couple of days waiting for the swelling to go down,” said Cox. “It looks like quite a bad one, but [Jack Thomas] will be back in training today.
“With the two suspensions and ‘Hutch’ [Ben Hutchinson] and ‘Blacky’ [Paul Black] injured the squad is a bit threadbare at the minute, but that’s not complaining. The boys are working hard and we’ll go up to Morecambe with a new, fresh impetus.”
A full interview with Paul Cox will be available on Stags Player shortly. To subscribe, click here.
Stags stuck in the middle of glory and disaster
chad.co.uk, 03 April 2014
Mansfield Town head to Morecambe on Saturday (3pm) in the strange position of still trying to avoid relegation while ignoring new speculation that they could still make the League Two play-offs.
Paul Cox’s revitalised side only lost one of their seven games in March to push themselves up to 13th and, with six games to go, now sit nine points off the play-offs and 10 points clear of the drop zone.
A mid-table finish is most realistic and Stags have just reached that magic 50-point mark which is enough for sides to stay up with most years. They know opponents Morecambe can move past it onto 51 points with a win over Stags on Saturday.
Cox said: “We know we can still finish in the play-offs and we can still get relegated.
“My main aim is to keep this club in the League. In our first season that would be a great achievement. Let’s count the games down and see where we are.
“I know what I am like - I will chase something if I am given something to chase. You never know. But I just want to finish in the top half.
“Morecambe are looking to get to that 50-point mark and I can see it being a right battle and a scrap.
“It is very easy to get above your station in this game.
“Let’s finish in a good position this season and we will have had three excellent seasons. When I came here this was a mid-table mediocre Conference club that was going nowhere. We have worked hard and put in a good infrastructure now.”
The players are back in training after two days off and will head up to Morecambe tomorrow for an overnight stay, but Cox will be without suspended pair James Jennings and Anthony Howell and injured players Ross Dyer, Ben Hutchinson, Paul Black and youngster Jack Thomas.
“Training today will be intense and we will get them focused again,” he said.
“With two suspended and Paul Black now injured as well, we are a bit threadbare at the minute. But we are not complaining. The boys are working hard and, after a couple of days off, we will go up to Morecambe with fresh impetus.
“We got some good results in March and put some decent points on the board. But the job is not done yet. Mathematically there is still a chance we could get dragged back into it.
“All we are looking at is winning the next game in front of us. That is Morecambe on Saturday. Then Saturday night or Sunday we will reassess the situation and plan accordingly from there.
“We don’t want to get too above ourselves. We want to go into the game level-headed.”
Dyer and Thomas were hurt in a midweek reserve game and Cox added: “Ross’ injury was quite a bad one and he is still waiting for the swelling to go down. Jack may be back in training today. He has a bit of an infection and a bit of bruising but nothing too serious.”
Cox to talk budgets once Stags safety is achieved
As soon as Mansfield Town confirm keeping hold of their Football League status, manager Paul Cox said he will sit down with chairman John Radford to begin plotting how to make the club successful next season.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Morecambe, where Stags could take another massive step to being mathematically safe, Cox said he had already begun initial talks with Radford.
“I have had a little chat with the chairman,” he said. “But we have not finished anything yet. We need to make sure we are safe.
“Once we are, then he will give me some honest feedback over the season - he is always honest with me - and I am sure he will give me an honest wage bill that he thinks I can achieve with next year.
“No matter how high or low it is, he he knows I will try incredibly hard to be successful with it.”
Radford backed Cox mid-season when the Stags were struggling badly and some fans wanted him out, and Cox said he was delighted with that loyalty and never doubted his own ability to keep the club up.
“The chairman can see I am very loyal to him and he is very loyal to me. We have a good working relationship and a good friendship away from the football club,” said Cox.
“I have never doubted myself. I knew what I was coming into here as a manager. I knew it would be tough and there was high expectation among the supporters.
“I also knew some of the politics in the club - I am not a stupid lad. I did my homework.
“But I have always believed in my own ability and tried to believe in my players. I am a young manager and I have made some massive mistakes since I have been here. But I am learning and we have come through in the end.
“You are always going to have your doubters. That’s no problem. The game is always about opinions. My job is making the club bigger and better than when I came here.
“As a manager you are always fighting for your job every three games as, lose three on the bounce, and you are in danger of losing your job.
“But this game is like a drug and I don’t want to stop enjoying it. If I did leave I would probably go and join the circus!”
He added: “When we had our bad run I think a lot of people stopped believing in us and sometimes it is hard for the players to pick themselves up and dust themselves down. So all credit to them for doing that.
“They stuck together and team spirit has always been good. I can’t fault them - they have been excellent.
“In the last three years we have always had a sticky spell at this football club when a lot of people lose their heads. But you have to be a bit single-minded and keep your focus. We have always come through it, though this season it’s been a bit different as the prize was a bit different.
“Sometimes you can’t progress until you have had a period standing still and acclimatising. I hope the club now knows what it is all about so we can go forward.”
McGuire walking suspension tightrope
Mansfield Town midfield tiger Jamie McGuire is walking a suspension tightrope at Morecambe tomorrow.
McGuire is on nine yellow cards with a two game ban looming if he picks up another card like suspended pair Anthony Howell and James Jennings have in the last two games.
But Cox will continue to pick the player and expects him not to change his game in any way.
“I can’t protect him - that would be unfair on the player and the other players who can play in that position,” said Cox.
“We had three of them on nine yellows and now two are suspended. If they get booked, they get booked. We have to deal with it.
“I thought Jamie was a bit unlucky to get booked at Hartlepool. In his mode he is brilliant. He covers every blade of grass and wears his heart on his sleeve. Ask any of the players, he is a dream to work with.”
Morecambe v Mansfield Town: Match preview
Nottingham Post, by Sarah Clapson
THERE were some who doubted Mansfield Town would ever be in this position.
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Given only a few weeks ago they were dangerously close to the relegation zone, another year in the fourth tier looked far from certain.
From the highs of an eight-match unbeaten streak at the start of the campaign, to that almost three-month stretch without a league win, it has been a long, unrelenting season.
The Stags may have reached the magical 50-point mark, but with survival still not mathematically certain ahead of tomorrow's trip to Morecambe, manager Paul Cox has stressed it is still not over yet.
Despite all the tough times though, not once did he doubt either himself or his players.
"No, never," said Cox, who will be without James Jennings and Anthony Howell at the Globe Arena, due to suspensions.
"I knew what I was coming into when I first came here as a manger.
"I knew it would be tough, I knew there was high expectation from the support, and I knew some of the politics that were happening at the club.
"I'm not a stupid lad. I'm probably not just your average manager that will go in just because it's a job - I did my homework.
"But I always believed in my own ability. And I try to believe in my players.
"I try to give my players all the help I possibly can, to be successful.
"I'm still learning. I'm a young manager that's made massive mistakes since I've been here.
"But as a group of people - myself, the players, the supporters, I include everyone in that - we've always come through at the end.
"What I want most is just to come through the rest of this season, then sit down and reflect a little bit as a club."
Securing another term in League Two is just one part of Cox's remit.
Building for the future is another.
"We haven't just been successful on the pitch, we've tried to build an infrastructure here," he said.
"It was a massive job when I first came here, but the kids are coming through, the infrastructure's getting stronger and we're all working hard to try to make this football club a big club.
"When I've been here in the past, all I kept hearing was potential. Potential is like a 16-year-old player that could come through into the first-team or could be playing in non-league in two years' time.
"My job is not just to get results on the field, but to make sure this club grows year in, year out.
"It's been tough but I think we're getting there."
His ambition should not be questioned.
Cox has made it clear that whilst his team currently sit 13th in the table, they must use the last six games to climb as high up it as they can.
Nevertheless, he is keen to keep check on expectations at the One Call Stadium.
"What we've had in the last two seasons is just ultimate success," he added.
"The win ratio of the team going into October was something like 70 per cent; it was amazing.
"Then to come down and crash as we did - I'm hoping it's brought the whole club back down to Earth.
"Sometimes you can't progress unless you've had a period of standing still and acclimatising. I'm hoping that's what we've done now."
So just how high can they go before the final game at Bristol Rovers on May 3?
"When you look at October or November, you would probably have said fourth from bottom would be a good finish," said Cox.
"There have been amazing highs and lows in the season - we were sat in the top three after about 12 games and people were talking about promotion.
"Then we went through an incredible dip and people were saying, we just need to survive.
"I would be happy to maintain our status, but I wouldn't be me and the players wouldn't be them if we don't want to finish as high as we can.
"If we've got something to chase, like we did last year, and nail one or two down, you'd like to think a top half finish.
"But you never know. I don't want to get too above our station with it all, because the main thing is winning the next game in front of us.
"The job's not done yet, mathematically there is still a chance we could get dragged back into it.
"We've got to make sure we're mentally strong and finish the job now."
Palmer growing in confidence
mansfieldtown.net, 3rd April 2014
Now approaching the end of his debut campaign as a Football League player, striker Ollie Palmer admits his confidence has continuously grown since he joined us.
Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/palmer-growing-in-confidence-1465059.aspx#OBU2gg8dywTds3Go.99
The 22-year-old put pen-to-paper on a deal to join us from Havant & Waterlooville the day before the start of the season and has since netted five goals in all competitions.
Palmer has been in good form in recent weeks, scoring in our 1-1 draw at Northampton Town and also playing key roles in our winning goals against both Hartlepool United and AFC Wimbledon.
“My confidence is growing and hitting strikes from anywhere was what I was doing at my previous clubs,” said Palmer.
“I think I’ve grown up a lot and I understand the game a little bit better. I’ve still got a lot to learn and I know I’m not the finished article, but this season has been a fantastic learning curve.
“I didn’t have a pre-season with the club and I got chucked in straight at the deep end, so the gaffer has had to nurture me through and play me at different times, but it’s been a fantastic season for me and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“If I can get better and bring it into next season and have a great season with the club, who knows what’s going to happen.”
He continued: “I was gutted not to score [against Chesterfield] as it would have been fantastic to have taken all three points. I would have had nice accolades from it, but it’s about the team.
“We played well against Chesterfield and then went away to Hartlepool and won 4-2 and it was 11 fantastic individual performances from the boys.
“That’s the most important thing at the moment and if we can finish the season on a fantastic run, the better it is for the club.”
The youngster has also praised the contribution of team-mate Matt Rhead, whom Palmer has formed a good partnership with since he came back into the starting line-up in March.
“He’s a very strong, unique centre-forward,” said Palmer.
“He wins most of his headers, he holds the ball up very well, he’s a got touch and he’ll nick you the odd goal too. He’s fantastic at what he does and that’s a massive credit to him.”
Meanwhile, Palmer also defended our direct style of play, insisting that it has been effective on many occasions this season.
“I watched Manchester United the other night and they were playing ‘long ball’ football against Bayern Munich. Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to play,” said the forward.
“There have been times when we’ve played some fantastic football and played well, but maybe not got a result. So we’ve shown that if we play ‘direct’ we get better results and that’s important at this stage of the season.”
Our team could take another step towards achieving mathematical safety in Sky Bet League Two if we win what Palmer’s expects will be a tough match at Morecambe on Saturday.
“If we can go to Morecambe and pick up three points, that would be fantastic, but the boys know that we can’t afford to get complacent,” said the striker.
“I don’t think they’ve won in a couple of weeks, so they’ll be desperate to pick up all three points at home. We know it’s going to be a tough game, but if we can put in the same [level of] performance like we have been of late, hopefully we’ll take all three points.”
An interview with Ollie Palmer will be available to watch on Stags Player later today. To subscribe, click here.
Palmer starting to blossom for Stags
Ollie Palmer can’t wait for tomorrow’s game at Morecambe to come around as he finally enjoys a run in the Mansfield Town side.
The young striker is forming a powerful partnership with man-mountain centre forward Matt Rhead and said: “It’s been a long season for me and I have learned an awful lot. Now the fans are starting to see what I have learned being put into my game and I am working hard for the side.
“He (Rhead) is fantastic to work alongside. He is a very strong, unique centre forward. He wins most of his headers and has a fantastic touch.
“My confidence is growing. At my previous club I would have a go from anywhere, but it always takes time to grow that confidence.
“I think I have grown up a lot. I understand the game a bit better. There is still a lot to learn and I am not the finished article.
“I didn’t have a pre-season with the club and I was chucked in at the deep end. The gaffer has had to nurture me. But it has been a fantastic season and I have enjoyed every minute of it. If I can get better next season who knows what is going to happen?”
Palmer came so close to getting his head onto Adam Murray’s free kick that beat Ross Worner to secure Stags a 1-0 home win over AFC Wimbledon last weekend.
Palmer admitted: “I didn’t really get a touch but I did put the keeper off a bit and made him hesitate. It was Adam’s first goal of the season so I will let him have it.
“I don’t think Morecambe have won for a couple of games so they will be desperate to pick up the three points at home.
“We just want to win as many games as possible, as we have all season, and finish the season on a high.
“A lot of the boys need new contracts and their performances will help bring that to them.”
Palmer is not worries about some of the adverse comments about Mansfield Town’s direct and physical style of play.
“We work hard and we stop teams playing,” he said. “We like to press on the front foot and not allow teams to play around us. If we do what we do well we know we can come out on top.
“I watched Man United this week and they played long balls against Bayern Munich. Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to play. But at times this season we have played some fantastic football. We have played well and not got a result.
“It’s fair to say that being a bit more direct has got us results, which is very important at this time of the season.”
Palmer was almost an instant club legend, but failed to bag a golden last minute chance in the Chesterfield derby two weeks ago and said: “I was gutted not to score against Chesterfield. It would have been fantastic to get all three points and it would have been nice to get the acclaim from it. But it’s not about me. It’s about the team.”
Beevers facing summer operation
chad.co.uk, 03 April 2014
Lee Beevers is hoping to end the season in impressive form so he can have a summer operation on his injured shoulder safe in the knowledge he is being offered another Mansfield Town contract.
Beevers needs another operation to repair the shoulder that keeps dislocating and, ahead of Saturday’s game at Morecambe, he said: “My shoulder is a concern. I have seen a specialist and it’s not good. It is something I need to look at.
“Let’s get safe then I can go and see the specialist again and hope I can get it operated on so I can get ready for the start of next season.
“That would be win, win. I need to get on the surgeon’s table. I had it operated on four years ago but I have ripped through all the surgeon’s good work. It is a bit of a pain but I know it needs doing again.”
On his future with the club, he said: “I definitely want to stay. I have really enjoyed my time here and I love playing for the club. I would like to stay here as long as I can.
“You always look towards the next season and wonder how you will support your family or get the bills paid. All I can do is keep working hard and hopefully I will get the rewards.
“I will continue working hard to the end of the season, speak to the manager and see where it goes from there. I am in the shop window now and need to show what I can do for the remainder of the season.”
Beevers is aware that, although Stags have passed the 50-points mark, they are still not mathematically safe.
He said: “Everyone is looking to get to that 50-point mark. But that is no guarantee of staying safe. Teams have gone down with more than that. We are not mathematically safe so we are still fighting for every point we can.
“Everyone was looking a bit nervous and anxious during the game last weekend, so we were happy to get through it and get three points.
“The early goal helped settle us down. We couldn’t get the second goal, but we were always comfortable to get the three points and a clean sheet.
“I am enjoying getting forward and trying to create a few things, putting a few balls into the box for Rheady’s (Matt Rhead) head.”
He added: “Back-to-back wins was a massive thing. Put a run together and you can move up the table quickly which we have managed to do. Now we want to keep that run going until the end of the season.
“It’s been a strange year. We didn’t know what it was going to hold. We started well and everyone got really excited. Then we had a bad spell, but we rode the storm and now we are picking up a bit.
“It is a bit of a distance to travel, but we are going up Friday night so we should be relaxed. And we have not done badly on our travels this year.”
Bentley: We won’t limp over the finish line
Jim Bentley has challenged his Morecambe side not to limp over the finish line as the League 2 season draws to a close.
The Shrimps slipped to a 1-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers on Saturday and are now five games without a win ahead of Mansfield’s visit to the Globe Arena on Saturday.
Bentley believes his side need one more victory to ensure Football League safety for another season as they sit eight points clear of Northampton in the final relegation place after Kaid Mohamed’s last-minute winner at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
He insists however in a tight division that the Shrimps should have their eyes firmly fixed on a top-half finish.
Bentley said: “The bottom two didn’t win on Saturday so the distance stays the same but that’s not what I’m about.
“I don’t want to limp over the line and just see ourselves safe.
“The league’s that tight that one win can shoot you into the top half.
“I want to try and finish in the top half this season but if we don’t do the right things at the right time in the right areas of the pitch we’re going to come unstuck like we did in the 93rd minute on Saturday.
“We’ve got to battle on.”
Bentley believes his players should be treating the final six games as cup finals starting with the game against the Stags this weekend.
He said: “We’ve got six games to play and they are six cup finals.
“Now all the teams are playing each other so someone’s going to pick up points.
“But we’re still what we were away from the bottom two. We probably still just need a win to make sure we’re safe.
“The longer it goes the more pressure it brings but everyone’s in the same boat.
“It makes next week’s game all the harder because if we’d picked up a point on Saturday the difference between ourselves and Bristol Rovers would have been the same and it would have been a point further clear of Northampton.
“It would have been a clean sheet and there would have been some positivity so the result was very tough to take. But we’ve got to learn and learn quickly.”
Bentley: I feared we’d be in a relegation battle
04 April 2014
Jim Bentley is relieved his side aren’t scrapping against relegation as the League 2 season enters its final stages.
The Shrimps have six games to play starting with Mansfield’s visit to the Globe Arena on Saturday with the Morecambe boss believing one win will get his side safe.
Bentley insists it is an achievement that shouldn’t be frowned upon despite his side slipping to 18th in the table after the 1-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers last time out.
He said: “I’m still new to the managerial side of things but I think I’ve picked a few things up and one of them is to remain positive at all times. ?“I don’t do doom and gloom. I’m honest and at this stage last season when I knew how much we were going to cut from the budget, what players we were going to lose, the experience that we were losing, I did think we could struggle this year.
“But one win takes us over the 50-point barrier with five games to play and we’d only be five points off where we finished last season so I think that’s a great effort if we can get the all-important win.”
The Shrimps boss believes improving on last season’s total should be considered a good campaign’s work given the club’s size compared to others in the division.
And with chairman Peter McGuigan working hard to secure possible investment Bentley has paid tribute to his squad’s efforts.
He said: “Our hardcore fans realise the position we’re in and we’re doing okay.
“We all want to win every game and sometimes you’ll take a tonking here and there but sometimes you’re going to hand them out and that’s what’s happened.
“Our expectation realistically has got to be to stay and establish ourselves as a Football League club.
“We might somewhere along the line get a bit of investment and if we do then your expectations go up in line with what you’ve got.
“But it is what it is and if things don’t change next season then you’d think we’re probably going to struggle again.
“There’s a chance we’ve got the smallest budget in the league at the moment.
“But what we have is honesty, a good team ethic and great togetherness and we’re proud of that.”
Latest | April 2014