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Archived News from May 2004

27th May 2004 22:38

Evening Post, BY STEVIE RODEN, 27 May 2004

Stags midfielder Neil MacKenzie is desperate to play at the Millennium Stadium - driven by the heartache of missing out last time.

He scored three goals to help get former club Blackpool to the LDV Trophy final two years ago but had to sit and watch in Cardiff because of injury.

The Stags midfielder remembers the electric atmosphere as his team-mates beat Cambridge 4-1.

And he recalls the pain at not being able to play after being ruled out by a hernia operation.

"To miss out last time was just horrible," said MacKenzie. "To be there and be injured was awful. I was gutted as I had played in most of the games to get there and scored three goals.

"At least I had resigned myself to not playing because of the hernia. It was not as if it was a sudden injury.

"But it was still hard, especially when I was at the stadium. I just wanted to be playing. However that is going to make it extra special this time round."

The 28-year-old central midfielder has played a major part in Mansfield's season, making 29 starts and ten substitute appearances, scoring five goals.

But sickness ruled him out of the Huddersfield match on May 1, and he lost his place to Lee Williamson.

MacKenzie came on for the final few minutes of the second-leg of the play-off semi-final with Northampton and scored one of the penalties in the shoot-out, placing it into the top corner.

"Nobody really knows what Monday's team will be at this stage," said the midfielder. "We are just working hard in training.

"If I am not in the starting 11 I will be disappointed - anyone would be.

"But hopefully I would then be on the bench and do a job if I came on. If that is the case, I will just get on with it but I was unfortunate to fall ill the night before the Huddersfield match because I was in the team for that game."

MacKenzie cannot wait to get back to the Millennium Stadium.

He said: "It is a phenomenal place. Everything about it is superb. It is the perfect place to play football.

"From what I remember last time, the pitch was not as good as it could have been but then that was two years ago. A lot can change in that time.

"But a lot of our lads have played in big games, like Tom Curtis who won at Wembley in the play-offs.

"That experience will help but all of us have got used to big games throughout the course of the season.

"We have 90 minutes to do it. That is what the season comes down to. It is a huge game for this football club."
Evening Post, BY STEVIE RODEN, 27 May 2004

Stags midfielder Craig Disley has revealed his frustration at sitting on the bench for most of the season - but he is ready for a fairytale ending.

The 22-year-old has been a first-team regular in the last three seasons.

But he has found himself in and out of the team during this campaign and has been unable to put a long run together in the first 11.

But after starting in both semi-final play-off legs against Northampton, Disley is hoping to be doing the same at the Millennium Stadium against Huddersfield.

He said: "It has been frustrating. I have come into the team and thought I had done well, but then I find myself out of the team. It has been spent mainly on the bench.

"I hope the season will have a fairytale ending. I have played in both play-off legs when we have gone with just one up front.

"Hopefully we will go the same way in Cardiff and I will start. It will be great to play but if not, I will hopefully be on the bench and come on to do a job.

"Obviously if I am not in the team I will be very disappointed. But there is no point being down. You have got to be happy to be involved and be ready to do your best if and when you get on."

Disley is one of the club's longest-serving players, making 121 starts and 36 appearances as a substitute, scoring 16 goals. This season he has started 25 matches, coming off the bench on 17 occasions. He has scored five goals.

When he has played this season, it has primarily been behind a lone frontman when Keith Curle has opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation.

But either way Disley admits this is he biggest game of his career and says the whole squad cannot wait for the match.

Disley said: "It is going to be an amazing experience and I'm sure there will be a few sleepless nights on Sunday. It will be a great occasion for the whole town.

"It has been a case of keeping my head down and working hard when I have not got in to the team but I hope to start on Monday.

"It is the biggest game I have been involved with. Simply because of the venue, the massive crowd and the whole occasion.

"I think I have done alright in the two play-off games but whether I play depends on the system we play.

"It will be a great day and hopefully we will get the result."
Evening Post, 27 May 2004

Huddersfield find themselves in great shape as they head into the play-off final in Cardiff.

Manager Peter Jackson was expected to name a 20-man squad for the match today, before they travel down at 1.30pm tomorrow.

But he received a welcome boost when defender Nathan Clarke and Tony Carss both returned to training yesterday.

The pair had been on the treatment table but have recovered to give Jackson a full squad of players to choose from.

The only absentee is goalkeeper Ian Gray with a hand injury but Paul Rachubka is expected to continue in goal.
Evening Post, 27 May 2004

Mansfield Town play-off merchandise has gone on sale at Field Mill for fans to purchase ahead of the big game with Huddersfield.

The club hopes the clothing and accessories will help create a carnival atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium this Monday.

Navy and yellow T-shirts with 'Millennium 2004' and 'Stags on Tour' have gone sale at £7.99.

And giant St George flags with the club initials are also being sold, along with car flags. They are £5.99 and £3.99 respectively.

Other special merchandise includes giant Mansfield Town foam hands at £2.99 and Stags in the play-off teddy bears.

All the merchandise is now on sale at the club shop at Field Mill. It will be sold up until the shop closes on Saturday afternoon.

A club spokesman said: "The idea is to help get the fans into the play-off mood. This will help create a great atmosphere in Cardiff on the day and give all the players a massive boost."


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