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Archived News from August 2003

25th August 2003 19:40

Evening Post, 25 August 2003

Keith Curle today talked of the "inner belief" that will fire Mansfield Town's promotion push and declared: "We can give anyone a game."

As Mansfield prepare to take on Scunthorpe at Field Mill tomorrow, Curle insists his team's mental strength can bring them success.

"The difference between this season and last season is that the players have a lot more belief in what they're doing," said the Mansfield manager.

"The last campaign was a very difficult one for all concerned but I sense a real inner conviction this time around.

"What it amounts to is that my players fear no one and believe there is no team in the division they can't compete with.

"Providing they retain that positive attitude and inner conviction, I see no reason why they can't go from strength to strength."

Mansfield's 3-0 victory at Southend was founded on positive, attacking football.

And Curle is adamant they will maintain that approach.

"We don't just want to win football matches, we want to win them by playing in an entertaining and adventurous way," he added.

"We will continue to try to knock the ball around and play our football in an attractive fashion.

"At the same time, I'm a defender and I want to see us keeping clean sheets and being solid at the back.

"It's all about trying to find the right balance between sensible defending and positive attacking, and I think we found that formula at the weekend."

Curle believes the performance at Roots Hall proves Mansfield are on the right track.

And he praised his players for their battling efforts.

"The performances have been there since day one - it's just the results that haven't gone our way," he said.

"To be honest, this sort of result had been coming for a while, because we've played really well since the start of the season.

"Although Iyseden Christie took the spotlight with his three goals, what pleased me most was that it was a real team effort.

"It wasn't just a case of this individual or that individual doing the business - the team did the business.

"What the result will also do, of course, is give us massive confidence going into tomorrow's game.

"The players can only be lifted by what happened at Southend and they will be in a good frame of mind to take on Scunthorpe.

"It won't be easy - Scunthorpe are a threat and very well organised.

"But our level of performance was excellent on Saturday and I see no reason why we can't carry that on."

Mansfield (from): Pilkington, Larkin, Corden, Artell, Christie, Hassell, Vaughan, MacKenzie, Lawrence, Day, Williamson, John-Baptiste, J. White, Mendes, Clarke, A. White.
Evening Post, 25 August 2003

Southend United 0 v 3 Mansfield Town

Prior to kick-off, rumours abounded that Mansfield Town's players had been forced to pay for their own hotel accommodation because the club wouldn't fund an overnight stay.

If that was true - manager Keith Curle refused to comment on the matter and for some reason insisted that he did not want his players talking to the media ahead of tomorrow's game against Scunthorpe - it was money well spent in the case of striker Iyseden Christie, who fired a hat-trick to earn Mansfield their first victory of the season.

Christie looked as fresh as a daisy in the energy-draining humidity of the south-east, pouncing with close-range headers in the 42nd and 51st minutes and with a deflected eight-yard shot seconds from full-time.

Such was the ease with which Mansfield blew away a combative Southend side, they could scarcely have played better had their pre-match travel arrangements included a visit to a health farm.

For once, Mansfield produced a favourable result to go with an excellent performance, after encouraging displays in their opening two league games yielded plenty of plaudits but just a solitary point.

As Curle enthused when battle was done, "my boys played like mad today", and the smiles on the faces of his players as they undertook their post-match warm-downs were in stark contrast to the wretched expressions seen at Field Mill seven days earlier after Leyton Orient had fashioned an injury-time equaliser.

Such has been the prolific number of late goals Mansfield have conceded in the past 12 months, one might have thought that they actually worked on it in training - rather than worked to prevent it from happening.

As the closing minutes ticked by at Roots Hall, and despite a two-goal cushion that any neutral would have deemed as safe as houses, the visiting supporters fell noticeably silent as they imagined all number of calamitous scenarios that resulted in surrendered supremacy.

Even Curle, whose satisfaction at the final whistle was more matter-of-fact than wildly ecstatic, appeared palpably anxious in the game's closing stages.

"I was shouting at them not to do anything stupid," he admitted, with the air of a man used to banging his head against a brick wall.

As it was, Christie's third goal buried all fears of a Southend comeback which, in truth, were sunk after his second goal, a simple header from six yards after he was teed-up by Rhys Day.

Lawrence, dropped for the Leyton Orient match after being spotted in a nightclub two days beforehand, was one of five changes as Curle shuffled his pack.

Lawrence replaced Junior Mendes; former Nottingham Forest defender Tony Vaughan and Rhys Day were handed their first starts of the season in place of Jamie Clarke and Luke Dimech; Neil MacKenzie was preferred to Tom Curtis in midfield and Colin Larkin was brought back to partner Christie up front.

Mansfield took a little while to adjust to the reshuffle and were neither particularly troubled nor significantly threatening during a scrappy opening to the match, and it was not until midway through the half that they summoned their first effort on target, MacKenzie firing straight at goalkeeper Carl Emberson from 20 yards.

Once Christie had opened the scoring with a stooping header from Bobby Hassell's right-wing cross, however, there was no stopping Curle's side, who might have run up a hatful.

Lawrence came close with an audacious 45-yard chip, while Christie had three presentable opportunities to complete his hat-trick before he duly did so via a deflection off Cort.

Apart from Christie's heroics, the most memorable action of the day came during the half-time interval, which featured the most brazen "sexing-up" of a football match one is likely to witness.

It involved a group of scantily-clad female dancers and much wiggling of posteriors.

So well were these young ladies received by the crowd, there were groans of disappointment when they left the field to be replaced by the footballers - not least, it has to be said, in the press box.


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