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FLITCROFT, JORDAN GRAHAM, ROB EDWARDS REACTION
17th October 2018 23:03


Manager pleased with effort shown in victory
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Stags’ boss David Flitcroft has praised his players’ ‘application’ in tonight’s 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Wolves’ under-21s at One Call Stadium.

Midfielder Jacob Mellis and defender Mal Benning both netted in either half to give Mansfield the victory that ensured they would progress to the next round of the competition.

Speaking after the game, the Stags’ manager spoke highly of the effort his charges showed in the match.

“The most important thing is winning football matches. I’ve been really disappointed at only achieving two points from the last two games.

“The players were hurting after the Bury game. I thought the boys’ commitment tonight and application [were good].

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2018/october/flitcroft-post-wolves/

“I was disappointed not to get the clean sheet tonight because I think Logan’s performance deserved one.

“You look at the application [from the players] and you know you are playing for the shirt, playing for the town and playing for your place. I thought our application was really good.

“His [Atkinson’s] application today to get forward and move them [Wolves] out of position was fantastic. We really set about them early.

“We just didn’t get enough crosses in second half to really hurt them. But I’m still delighted with tonight’s performance and result.

“We saw it [the game] out a lot better. We utilised the ball well. We spent more time moving it wide and frustrating them, and that’s what we have to improve as a group.

“It’s another learning night and another night where we have got a victory. I’m really delighted with the application tonight from everyone.

“There were a lot of questions tonight that we wanted answering, and we were able to look at quite a lot of things that we wanted to.”

After making seven changes to the side that last appeared for the Stags against Bury, the manager was pleased with the displays of the players who came into the team for tonight’s match.

“Jordan Graham has been knocking and he has been training really well. He’s a really good finisher. I just said to him at half-time, ‘believe in yourself.’

“Again, we saw what Butch [Calum Butcher] could do in there as a different number ten to Otis [Khan]. He’s robust, athletic, and gets around the pitch. He works incredibly hard.

“I’m really happy with the players and minutes that the players have got, and what we have got out of tonight’s game.

“It [Graham starting] gives everyone hope. We’ve had a lot of the young players train with us who want to get that chance and have an opportunity.

“Jordan has been waiting in the wings and learning. Jordan’s got minutes in tonight and Gibbo [Lewis Gibbens] was unlucky not to play.

“The [new] training ground will help, when the under-21s are training alongside us. I’ll be able to get out in the afternoon and coach them. It’s exciting.”

The manager went on to highlight the importance of the Checkatrade Trophy competition, with a trip to Wembley on offer for the tournament’s finalists.

“Any competition is important. There’s a chance at getting to Wembley. It’s a phenomenal place and something that this competition gives us as an opportunity.

“These [games] can be tricky. They have powerful and quick players. We could’ve put this game to bed after ten minutes quite easily.”

Lastly, the Stags’ boss spoke of the postponement of this weekend’s scheduled fixture against Grimsby Town, and gave the latest updates on the injuries of midfielder Alex MacDonald and striker Craig Davies.

“When the Crewe game was postponed, we tried fitting it in as soon as possible. It was proving really difficult to get the game on. You’re waiting to catch those three points.

“When the international break comes around and the two centre-backs who have been key in keeping one of the best defensive records in the league [get called up], that’s the difficulty in itself.

“You’re taking away two of your back-line. [Hayden] White was still a doubt and we had to let Grimsby know by 1pm [on Monday].

“Neal Bishop is suspended, Alex MacDonald is out and Craig Davies. It’s one we’ll get back, but it’s just one of those things.

“Alex [MacDonald] has had his operation which went really well. Macca was fit and strong as he went into the operation. We don’t have a timeline on it just yet.

“We are still looking into Craig’s injury, to see if we can settle the ankle down. We have nothing definite on that at the minute, but it’s something that I am eager to get news on.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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Flitcroft delight as win over Wolves sets Mansfield Town on the Wembley trail
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft was delighted to see his side bounce back from Saturday’s late disappointment at Bury to beat a talented Wolves U21s side 2-1 and take the first tentative step on the Wembley trail in tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy clash.

Bury’s late leveller in Saturday’s 2-2 draw rocked Mansfield but tonight they held their nerve to qualify for the knock-out stages and Flitcroft said: “I am delighted with the performance and result.

“I thought the boys’ commitment and application tonight was really good.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/flitcroft-delight-as-win-over-wolves-sets-mansfield-town-on-the-wembley-trail-1-9388990

“Any competition is important and there is a chance of getting to Wembley. I have been and it’s a phenomenal place.

“As a League Two club this competition gives us an opportunity to get there. “The most important thing is winning football matches. I have personally been very disappointed only achieving two points in the last two games with 30 attempts at goal, though not enough on target. “The players were hurting after the Bury match and it’s great sometimes to get that out your system early so you have not got a week stewing on it. “There was only a thousand fans in and that can sometimes be difficult. But you are playing for the shirt and for the town

“I was disappointed we didn’t get the clean sheet as I though Conrad Logan deserved one with his performance.”

Flitcroft was impressed by the Wolves youngsters. “They gave us some problems tonight,” he said. “But they are going to do as they have some quality in there. “They have powerful players - quick players - they think quick and are technically good. If you’re not switched on they can hurt you. “First half was as one-sided a showing as you’re going to get in this tournament and I was really delighted how we got about them. We could easily have put it to bed in the first 10 minutes.”

Wing back Will Atkinson missed two close range headers in the first three minutes before Jacob Mellis fired them ahead on four minutes and Flitcroft smiled: “I have no idea what I am going to do with Will Atkinson’s head. “It must be the shape of it. I think it must be in his contract he can’t score with his head! “We were hurting them with crosses from different angles. It’s when we stopped crossing it we didn’t hurt them enough. There were good lessons to learn. “Their goal gave them a lift and gave them hope. But we saw it out a lot better.” He was also delighted to see Hayden White come back from injury and get through the game. “The medical staff got in a lot of work on Hayden White and he got 90 minutes in which allowed us to look at that back three combination. It’s one we’ve not utilised yet.”

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Blank weekend frustration as Mansfield Town play it safe over missing key defenders
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Mansfield Town face a frustrating blank weekend and playing even more catch-up after calling off their big home clash with Grimbsy Town this Saturday. But manager David Flitcroft said he could not have risked going into the match minus two of his three key defenders - and he had three others on the injury list too. Ryan Sweeney and skipper Krystian Pearce are two of the three players called up for international duty, along with winger/forward Omari Sterling-James.

Flitcroft said: “It’s just one of those things. To have three internationals playing in League Two is unusual.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/blank-weekend-frustration-as-mansfield-town-play-it-safe-over-missing-key-defenders-1-9391196

“And it is more logistically the positions of those players that have warranted the game being called off. “The way the internationals fell, it’s two centre halves who have been key to keeping one of the best defensive records in the league. That is the difficulty in itself. “I have not utilised Omari much this season, but Pearce is in really good form and Sweeney has been outstanding since he came in. You’d be taking away two of the back line.”

Flitcroft said it had been touch and go if Hayden White was going to be fit for the weekend as back-up which was another big factor in calling the game off. In the end he made his comeback in midweek. “Whitey was a doubt,” he said. “There was a sanction on that you had to let Grimsby know by a certain time and Whitey only got through training about that time to come through. “I also have Bish (Neal Bishop) who is suspended and Alex MacDonald out plus Craig Davies.”

Grimsby usually fill the away end for a game that has a ‘local derby’ rivalry to it, but if the game is rearranged for a Tuesday night it could see a lower away attendance and drop in income. It is the second game postponed for call-ups this season and piles the pressure on Mansfield to win them to get themselves into a truer position in the table. “The difficulty is when the Crewe game was off we tried desperately to fit it in as soon as we could,” said Flitcroft.

“But it was proving really difficult from Crewe’s end. “When you get international call-ups you hope both teams want to play the game really quick. But Crewe didn’t. “So you are waiting and waiting to try to catch those three points up.” Sweeney has been called up to the Republic of Ireland U21s, who face Israel today (Thursday) and Germany next Tuesday in the UEFA European U21 Championship. Pearce is set to represent Barbados in a CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier against El Salvador on Saturday while St Kitts & Nevis have selected forward Sterling-James in their squad for their CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier at Saint Marteen on Sunday. Sterling-James has also been called up for St Kitts & Nevis when they play Canada on 18th November.

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Graham debut will give other youngsters hope says Mansfield Town boss
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft said he was delighted to give U21s striker Jordan Graham his full Stags debut on Tuesday night and hoped it would fill the other young players with hope.

Graham, 20, played the first 65 minutes of the 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy win over Wolves U21s and Flitcroft said: “Jordan Graham has been knocking - he’s been training really well.

“It gives everyone hope as we try to move the whole thing forward. “We have had quite a few young players training with us. It’s okay training but they want to have an opportunity.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/graham-debut-will-give-other-youngsters-hope-says-mansfield-town-boss-1-9390647

“Jordan has been waiting in the wings. He’s been listening, he’s been learning and he got minutes in tonight. “He is a really good finisher and I told him at half-time to believe in himself and get in the box. “It’s about understanding. A seasoned striker knows that when Mal Benning has that body shape to cross, he’s getting in there as you know it’s coming in with pace and quality.” Flitcroft said fellow youngster Lewis Gibbens came close to starting too but circumstances dictated it wasn’t possible. “Gibbo was unlucky not to play on Tuesday,” he said. “With Pearcey going on international duty I wanted to give him another 90 minutes and have a look at White and Preston as a combination with him as it’s not one we’ve utilised yet.” But chances will come for him and others in the future. “I want those U21s to think they won’t be overlooked. “The new training ground will help with that when the U21s are alongside us and Coops (Academy coach Richard Cooper) is up there,” he said. “I will be able to get out in the afternoon and coach the U21s and U18s lucky enough to come up to the training ground.”

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MacDonald on the mend for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Mansfield Town midfielder Alex MacDonald has made a good start to his road to recovery following a knee operation. MacDonald was expected to be out for six weeks and boss David Flitcroft said: “It’s positive on Alex. He’s had his operation and it went really well.

“Macca was fit and strong as he went into the operation and he’s been maintaining that and focusing on that. “We don’t have a timeline on it after just three days. We’ll see how that settles down.”

Stags are still waiting to find out what the issue is for striker Craig Davies after he was ruled out with an ankle problem. “Craig is still having exploratory and we are looking to see if we can really settle the ankle down,” said Flitcroft. “There is nothing defined on that at the moment but it’s something I am keen and eager to get the news on.”

Also having treatment at the moment for a leg injury is midfielder Neal Bishop. But, he will have plenty of time to see that improve as there is no game this weekend and he faces a one-game ban for five bookings at Swindon Town a week on Saturday. He will be available again for the trip to Morecambe on Tuesday, 23rd October.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/macdonald-on-the-mend-for-mansfield-town-1-9392488

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Striker 'buzzing' after making first start
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Striker Jordan Graham shared his personal delight after making his first full start for Mansfield Town following the 2-1 victory over Wolves U21s.

The Stags secured their place in the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy as Jacob Mellis and Mal Benning were on target for the home side.

Pedro Goncalves pulled a consolation goal back for the young Wolves side but it was never enough to trouble Mansfield as they made it six points from six in Group H.

Graham led the line on the night, and despite not netting a goal during his hour-long stint, he was still pleased to have attained minutes under his belt for the first team.

“Obviously I would’ve liked to score but it was good to get minutes in the first time and it was my full debut, so I’m buzzing,” he began.

“It felt great [to be playing in the senior side]. I did get a bit tired before being taken off as I haven’t played as many minutes as certain people but it was still good.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2018/october/graham-post-wolves/

“I was alright in the first half and then, in the second half, they had more possession so it became a harder game. Overall though I think I did okay.”

After making the jump to the first team last season, the striker noted how much of a difference there was between youth football and tonight’s outing.

“The players were of a much better standard, especially their two midfielders who I thought were outstanding on the ball. The defenders were very strong so it was hard against them,” he admitted.

“The tempo of the game is so much better than playing under-21 football and that’s what I want to be involved in every day.

“I’d like to play at least 10 games this season in the first team - whether that’s starting or coming off the bench.”

Graham has also made a couple of first-team appearances from the bench, and he believes he has integrated into the set-up nicely courtesy of help from staff and players around him.

“A lot of the senior players are very helpful - they guide you through certain things, even during training, they’re all just very supportive so that’s good.

“He [David Flitcroft] has been very supportive. He brought me in a couple of times at the end of last season and then this season I’ve been constantly with the first team,” the 20-year-old said.

“There are a lot of senior players helping me as well as a few other young players, so it’s been comfortable for me to fit in nicely.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Jordan Graham's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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Graham sets 10-game target after enjoying Mansfield Town debut
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 09 October 2018

Young striker Jordan Graham has set himself a target of a minimum of 10 first team appearances for Mansfield Town this season after enjoying his full debut on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old started the home Checkatrade Trophy win over Wolves U21s, earning the praise of boss David Flitcroft - and he loved every minute of it.

“The tempo of it is great - so much better than playing U21s football,” he said. “That’s what I want to be involved in every day. “I'd like to play at least 10 games in the first team this season, whether that’s starting or off the bench.

Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/graham-sets-10-game-target-after-enjoying-mansfield-town-debut-1-9390706

“The manager has been very supportive. He brought me in at the end of last season and put me on the bench a few times and then this season into the first team and it’s just been good.”

Looking back on his 65 minutes on the pitch, he said: “It was all right to be fair. “First half I thought I did okay, then second half they had a bit more possession and it was a harder game. I think overall I did okay. “I would have liked to score, but it was good to get minutes in the first team and my full debut - I’m buzzing.”

Graham is used to playing against other U21s but said the Premier League youngsters were a class above his usual opposition. “They were lot better standard,” he said. “Their two midfield players were exceptional on the ball and hard to mark. “Their defenders were strong as well. It was hard playing against them. “I got a bit tired just before I came off as I haven’t played as many minutes as certain people, but it was good.” Graham said he had guessed he was starting before he was told. Graham debut will give other youngsters hope says Mansfield Town boss “In training on Monday when we were doing a shape session I worked out for myself I would be starting,” he smiled. “I was confident before the game. I wasn’t too nervous as obviously I have come on a couple of times this season so it was just another game.” On the senior players around him, he added: “They are very helpful and guide me through training and the game, they were all being supportive.”

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https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/under-23/20181009-mansfield-2-1-wolves-u21-match-report/

9th October 2018

QUOTES

Rob Edwards said: "I'm disappointed, no one likes to lose games. I can never question the commitment or spirit of the group but I thought we lacked knowledge of the game at the beginning of both halves.

"We didn't control the game enough but I thought in the second half we did show some really good quality."

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Edwards insists young side will learn from defeat
https://www.wolves.co.uk/news/under-23/20181010-edwards-insists-young-side-will-learn-from-defeat/

Rob Edwards admits his young Wolves side were not good enough at either end of the pitch as the under-21s fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat at Mansfield Town in the Checkatrade Trophy.

A spectacular Pedro Goncalves free kick wasn't enough for a Wolves side which was looking at getting their first three points of the competition after registering a point in their inaugural Group H fixture away at Scunthorpe in September.

After the match, head coach Rob Edwards said he was disappointed with the result, adding: “Obviously no one wants to lose games, and the lads are disappointed, as we are as staff. But we take a lot of heart from the fact we took good signs from the game.

“I can never question the effort, the spirit or the commitment of the group, that was never in question at all, we just lacked a bit of quality at times.”

Two goals in the opening minutes of either half from Jacob Mellis and Mal Benning were enough to condemn the under-21s to the bottom of the four-team mini-league.

Edwards said: “We didn’t deal with them well in the first 10 minutes or so and conceded, and we didn’t deal with them in the first two minutes of the second half and conceded again, and that’s frustrating but we will learn from that. That’s the development stage we’re in now and we’ve got to learn and learn fast.

“But full credit to Mansfield, I thought they were excellent and they obviously respected us and really went for us, and we struggled to cope with the opening exchanges.

“In the second half when we did go 2-0 down we showed a lot of good quality to get back into it and I thought the goal was outstanding. There was a lot of good individual performances on the night. Everyone works hard but we're frustrated in the manner we conceded the two goals.”

Wolves under-21s head to Lincoln City on November 6 for their crucial final group game, but Edwards believes his players have shown they can cope at EFL level.

“Some of these lads are 18, 19, 20-years-of-age and they’re going to be able to do it. They’re going to have careers, but the more games like this we can get the better.

“I don’t want to dwell on mistakes, but we have got to learn from the things we didn’t quite get right, and that’s part of life, not just football.

“It was tough, difficult, and a good challenge for all of us, but in the second half we showed lots of good signs and we could have got an equaliser late on without really threatening their goal. We had a bit of pressure, but we’ve got to really create in both boxes. We’ve got to defend in one and create chances in the other, and we just weren’t quite good enough in both boxes.”

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