PREVIEWS AND TEAM NEWS
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Stags told to forget self-pity
MANSFIELD Town have been warned to forget self-pity and go out and set the record straight against promotion rivals Oxford United at Field Mill tomorrow night (7.45).
Stags dropped two vital points at home to Cambridge on Saturday when they allowed the visitors a stoppage time equaliser.
But manager Keith Curle said: "All we can do from that now is learn from it and move on.
"As you can imagine conceding such a late goal left a sour taste and the lads were feeling down and a bit of self-pity.
"I can understand their emotions as I've been through it all myself. They had a look at the table at the weekend and saw what could have been.
"My job has been to dispell those feelings and get them ready to face Oxford. The sign of a good team is how they react after disappointment."
Stags and Oxford fought out a 0-0 draw for 45 minutes last month before the referee called off the game at half-time due to high winds.
Oxford were certainly reluctant to come back out, after failing to score with a strong wind behind them and Mansfield will not have forgotten that fact.
"It is a great opportunity for us to put Saturday behind us and I hope fans will get behind us and stick with us, even if it takes us 92 minutes to score the winner," added Curle.
Bobby Hassell (groin strain) and Liam Lawrence (head cold) did not train today, but are both expected to be fit for the match.
Laurent D'Jaffo is still recovering from his back injury and, although he is now mobile and jogging, will not play until the pain lessens.
But there was good news for full back Adam eaton, who has only started one game this season due to a persistent groin problem.
He joined in training this morning and Curle said; "I had to re-introduce Adam to the players!
"It was a pleasing sight as joining in a session is something he's been trying to do for 10 months.
"It's been a terrible time for him. As a professional footballer, there's nothing worse than injury and Adam has suffered for a long time."
STAGS DON'T HAVE TIME TO FEEL SORRY
Mansfield's players have been warned that there is no time to feel sorry for themselves - and told to get straight back to winning ways.
Manager Keith Curle said there was a lot of sour faces in the dressing room after they conceded a last-minute goal to drop two crucial points against struggling Cambridge at the weekend.
But with many still dejected when they reported for training yesterday, Curle told them to forget about it and put it right against Oxford this evening.
Curle said: "Players have been feeling down and there has been some self-pity but my job has been to dispel that.
"They have been feeling a little bit sorry for themselves. They realise now what could have been after seeing the league table. But you have to be realistic and this evening is a good opportunity to put everything right.
"The sign of a good team is how you react to that upset. It is not a case of forgetting about what happened but we must learn from it. We have to look forward and be positive and the way to respond is to win."
The Stags are now unbeaten in their last four games, while Oxford have had a dismal time away from home of late, losing five and drawing one of their last six games.
But former Chelsea coach Graham Rix took charge a fortnight ago and he has changed their style of play to a 4-5-1 formation with the emphasis on passing, as opposed to the long ball football experienced under former boss Ian Atkins.
Both sides are in the playoff places but a victory for Mansfield would see them leapfrog this evening's opponents and move into joint fourth with Torquay.
However, they are without the suspended Tony Vaughan, who starts a three match ban following his sending off against Swansea a fortnight ago.
Bobby Hassell has a slight groin strain, while Liam Lawrence is suffering with a cold. Both will have fitness tests today.
But Curle is confident his side will bounce back. He said: "We have to be a team because if one person makes a mistake, we all suffer.
"My emphasis is that we have to work as a team rather than individuals because you achieve more when you work together.
"Oxford are a decent team and we know a lot about them. But this is a great opportunity for us and we need to get the result and we are determined to go out and get the three points."
The manager had special praise for Junior Mendes, who has now scored two in as many games following a 19-game goal famine.
He said: "I knew he always had that in him and I know I have been criticised for sticking by him. He has always contributed to the team and I knew he would start firing again and he is starting to repay me for that faith."
Stags (from): Pilkington, Hassell, Buxton, Day, John-Baptiste, Artell, Curtis, MacKenzie, Williamson, Corden, Lawrence, Disley, Larkin, Mendes, A White, Beardsley.
Latest | April 2004