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Archived News from March 2004

12th March 2004 14:14

Evening Post, 12 March 2004

Keith Curle said today his Mansfield side "owe Lincoln one" as they look to build on last week's 1-0 success against Hull at Keith Alexander's Imps tomorrow.

The Stags are three points off an automatic promotion place and have games in hand on Huddersfield and Oxford, who slipped to defeats in midweek.

The Imps are on the verge of the play-off picture themselves but have only won once in their last five games.

However, they did beat Curle's side 2-1 in December.

Curle said: "We were playing well when they came to our place and upset the apple cart.

"We are going there believing that the three points are attainable. The mood in the camp has remained buoyant and I have noticed an extra bite in training this week with players giving me that extra yard."

Curle will have virtually a whole squad to choose from after Tony Vaughan and Craig Disley managed to shake off the knocks they picked up in the win over the Tigers.

Midfielder Neil MacKenzie has had a cartilage operation but is expected to be back in training next week. But Adam Eaton has gone back to Lilleshall for treatment on his long-standing groin problem.

Meanwhile, Curle has failed to entice Lee Thorpe to the club from Leyton Orient.

He has been told that his Brisbane Road contract will not be renewed at the end of the season and is currently on loan at Grimsby.

Curle said he was the type of player he wanted to bring to Field Mill but his financial package was insufficient to tempt the former Lincoln striker to join.

Curle said: "I made enquiries about Lee and spoke to his agent. We are simply talking too much money, but he is the sort of player I am after."

It looks as if former fans' favourite Chris Greenacre will not be re-joining the club after all.

Stags follow up their trip to Lincoln with a clash at Bury on Tuesday. They will then have seven of their remaining 11 games at Field Mill.

MANSFIELD (from): Pilkington, Hassell, Vaughan, Dimech, Day, Williamson, Disley, Lawrence, Corden, D'Jaffo, Christie, Curtis, Pacquette, White, Larkin, Buxton.
Lincs Echo, 12 March 2004

Mansfield Town manager Keith Curle has ruled out the feeling of fear from his side's promotion run-in.

The Stags drive ran out of steam last month when they lost three times in four matches to Rochdale, Doncaster and Cheltenham.

However, they got back on track last Saturday with a 1-0 win over Hull City, and Curle believes being fearless played a vital part in their success.

"I said before the Hull match it was a vitally important game for both teams," said Curle. "But I have not felt under pressure. Pressure comes when you have no job, a mortgage to pay and a wife and three kids to support.

"The important thing is we got the result. I told the players they have nothing to fear on a football pitch.

"I said it was a platform to perform and express themselves, and that is what they did. I made each one stand up in the changing room and I looked everyone in the eye to see if there was any fear."

The Stags travel to Sincil Bank tomorrow (3pm) looking to avenge the 2-1 defeat they suffered at the hands of the Imps back in December, thanks to goals from Richard Butcher and Peter Gain.

"We will show Lincoln the respect they deserve by focusing on this game," he said.

"We were going well when they came here and upset the applecart, so it would be nice to go there and come home with the points in return.

"We know their strengths. They play at a high tempo, put men behind the ball and get forward quickly.

"They are not scared to put the ball forward into dangerous areas with belief.

"We have played all the other teams before and had them watched many times so there are no unknown entities.

"We know their weaknesses, and have identified ours."

Luke Dimech misses tomorrow's game through suspension, though Dave Artell is back from a one-game ban and likely to be the straight replacement for Dimech in the centre of defence.

Midfielder Neil MacKenzie is still recovering from a knee operation, but is expected back in full training on Monday.

Junior Mendes is fit again after missing out last Saturday with a slight thigh injury, while ex-Boston United loan striker Andy White and Alex John-Baptiste are also back in contention after returning from their spells at Burton Albion.

Colin Larkin will also be back in the picture having had to leave the substitutes' bench during the game last Saturday to go to hospital after hearing his wife had been taken ill.

Meanwhile, with transfer deadline day just two weeks away, Curle is looking to bolster his squad.

Former Stags goal ace Chris Greenacre is staying put at Stoke City, so Curle is set to turn his attentions elsewhere.

Richard Pacquette has returned to Queens Park Rangers at the end of his loan spell, but new signing Laurent D'Jaffo made an explosive debut with the winning goal against Hull City last Saturday.

"Ideally I would like to get another striker, a midfield man, and one other for the final push," said Curle. "But they have to be players of a certain quality. We won't take players for the sake of it.

"I have not given up on Chris Greenacre yet, but I understand he wants to stay and fight for his place at Stoke City.

"If so, then all credit to him for the belief he has in his own ability. But these things can change quickly. You can have that belief on a Monday or Tuesday but, if by Thursday or Friday, you are not in the manager's plans, it can be disheartening.

"If I had my whole squad firing on all cylinders right now I wouldn't need to be looking elsewhere. But it doesn't work like that in football."
Lincs Echo, 12 March 2004

Lincoln City are poised to clinch the signings of left-sided players Kevin Sandwith and Kevin Ellison today.

Left-back Sandwith (25) is set to arrive from Nationwide Conference side Halifax Town in a £10,000 deal.

And left-winger Ellison, who was 25 last month, has been recruited on a month's loan from Second Division outfit Stockport County as Imps manager Keith Alexander looks to bolster his squad ahead of what will be a vital 12-game run-in.

It rounds off a busy week of transfer activity at Sincil Bank, with central defender Jamie McCombe signing from neighbours Scunthorpe United on Wednesday.

Sandwith arrived yesterday for talks, after a fee had been agreed with the Shaymen.

He asked for time to mull the move over, but Alexander was hopeful it would be concluded in time for him to be in the squad for tomorrow's crunch home game with Mansfield .

"I'm hopeful both of them will have signed today, and will be in the squad for tomorrow," said the City boss. "We need a left-back to replace Paul Mayo and Sandwith is a good player who we have watched on several occasions.

"The problem is he's part-time, but on the same wages as Mayo was, so he's got a big decision to make and asked for time to think it over.

"People still think that when they sign for a club there is big money available - but that's not the case.

"However, this is a big chance for him to play in the Football League and my gut feeling is that he'll come to us."

Liverpool-born Ellison is a left winger who can also play up-front.

He made his mark at Altrincham, and was snapped up by then Leicester City boss Peter Taylor for £50,000 in February 2001.

However, he made just one substitute appearance for the Foxes - against Manchester United at Old Trafford - before moving to Stockport for £55,000 in November 2001 on the recommendation of ex-Imps boss Colin Murphy.

His chances have been limited at Edgeley Park, although he did play in the first nine games this season - including County's 1-0 Carling Cup win at Sincil Bank back in August.

"I'm still looking to strengthen the squad, and we only have one left-sided player in the squad and that's Peter Gain," explained Alexander.

"Ellison will provide competition and keep everyone on their toes. I'm still looking to bring another one in, although that really depends how quickly Richard Butcher comes back from his knee injury.

"He has recovered well, but you expect that from a young lad."

The Imps are set to be boosted by the return of wing-back Mark Bailey and top scorer Gary Fletcher for the visit of the Stags tomorrow.

Both missed last week's 3-2 defeat at Cheltenham through injury, but were back in training this week after recovering from groin and stomach problems respectively.

However, Ben Futcher is serving the second of a two-match ban and will miss out.

Mansfield will start the day in sixth spot after winning just two of their last six games.

"It's an important game, but I wouldn't say 'must-win' because we'd still have 11 matches left to put it right," said Alexander. "Most of the teams above us are having a wobble and it's all about holding your nerve.

"We went through it last season and that should stand us in good stead."

The Imps won 2-1 at Field Mill back in December, thanks to goals from Butcher and Gain.


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