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Archived News from December 2004

9th December 2004 0:00

Audio interview with Carlton Palmer from Radio Nottingham (RealPlayer needed)

Palmer slams Stags fitness
CHAD website
STAGS caretaker boss Carlton Palmer said today that last night's 2-1 surrender at Darlington underlined his players' lack of proper match fitness.
"I had them assessed and my fitness man told me we have five or six players who can play high tempo and close people down for about 50 minutes which is not enough to win football matches," he said after a lengthy lock-in after the game.
"We played well for 50 minutes against Leyton Orient and were the better team and it was the same last night.
"It is no coincidence that this club had only won once in 11 games before I came here, It is all down to levels of match fitness and they have to improve.
"There were some harsh words in there at the end. We lost our shape and our discipline even though we had been working hard on it all week.
"We were leading last night and comfortable. But I was disappointed with our second half and I am not going to make excuses about defenders being out injured.
"Obviously Darlington are going to get a telling-off at the break and then come at you and up the tempo. We just didn't stand together, dig in and see it out.
"We didn't keep the ball well enough and we have gone so long without a win that we lost a bit of belief.
"The first goal was particularly disappointing as they were down to 10 men and we have not tracked back from midfield and suddenly Alex Neil has got two opponents to deal with. Then their second goal was a deflection.
"When fitness levels go, so do discipline and concentration."
New signing Simon Brown came on at half-time in place of Derek Asamoah but showed nothing of the rich promise the club have seen in him.
"We had worked hard on our shape all week and Simon was with us the whole time," said Palmer.
"He knew the way we were playing it was important to keep our width and discimpline yet he kept going inside and eventually I had to change it and put Paul Warne out wide.
"You can't win matches if you don't keep your shape and discipline.
"I know Derek was disappointed when I took him off. He worked hard enough but he wasn't offering us much going forward.
"I thought Simon would but it didn't happen. But it was his first 45 minutes for us.
"There wasn't much else I could alter from the bench. Most important I need to get the lads fit and it won't just happen overnight."
Evening Post website

Caretaker Mansfield boss Carlton Palmer said: "I'm disappointed and there have been a few harsh words said in the dressing-room.

"To concede the equaliser in the way that we did was a massive blow, especially when we looked so comfortable.

"The lads are fit in terms of running all day but they are not fit in terms of closing down."

Darlington manager David Hodgson believes the second-half comeback against Mansfield will go some way to erasing the memory of the 3-0 home defeat by Lincoln.

"There was a bit of a fear factor coming back here and playing in front of our own fans," said Hodgson. "The Lincoln game was a fiasco and we had to remind ourselves of that.

"Mansfield got a goal in the first half and our public got a little disheartened with one or two boos.

"At half time I told the lads to go out and enjoy their football, like they did at Yeovil and Cheltenham.

"When we scored our second I couldn't see them coming back into it."

Darlington Official Site
Following Darlington's 2-1 home win against Mansfield Town at the Williamson Motors Stadium Darlington manager Dave Hodgson spoke of a fear factor about playing in front of a home crowd once again.

"There was a bit of a fear factor starting to creep in, coming here and playing in front of our own fans," said Hodgy. "Lincoln was a fiasco and I thought in the first half obviously they got a goal and our public got a little bit dishearten and one or two boos started to come out."

Mansfield of course had not won for nine games and this latest defeat extended the run to ten game. Once they did get their noses in front the visitors packed their box and defended. Quakers however elected a more patient approach despite a small section of fans booing them and their patience was rewarded.

"Because they haven't won for a long time they put nine men behind the ball. But I played at a club where they keep the ball and there is a purpose to it," said Hodgson. "And the reason for keeping it and knocking it, as long as the ball is moving, sooner or later someone is going to try and step out and nick it. It is at the point where they do that you have to be clever and get round them and when you have players like Hignett on the pitch, who can exploit those types of errors by the opposition then your always in with a chance."

At half time Hodgson revealed he has issued a challenge to his players to be much more positive in the second forty five minutes.

"When we came in at half time I said: Listen, forget the booing, go out there, I don't care if you get beat 3-0. If you go out for the second half and you don't go and try and score goals, you don't be positive then this is going to be a long season because every time we come here at home, unless we get a goal early doors, then you are going to get further and further into a shell and your going to have to rely on your away form to get you results," said Hodgson. "Get out there and start enjoying it like you did at Cheltenham, like you did at Yeovil and go and play football but most of all be very positive, get it into strikes. No from A to B, work it wide get in, get it wide and get crosses in. After the first five or ten minutes I think we had about five crosses in and Clarky was responsible for those deliveries and they started getting on the back foot and that got us into the game and when we scored I didn't see them beating us."

The Quakers boss gave special credit to Adrian Webster who received a standing ovation when he substituted near the end of the match.

"You can increase the tempo and still keep the ball. Put it has got to be right, it has got to be accurate and your midfielders has to be positive and make runs. Webby I thought tonight was fantastic. His off the ball running was superb especially when you had Maddo and Higgy who are dropping reasonably deep," said Hodgson. "Higgy did a lot more in the final third in the second half than what he did in the first half. I said to him at half time: Higgy, they are scared stiff of you. Your name alone sends shivers down them. But your name alone will not hurt them if you are getting the ball off our back three. Be a bit more positive, leave Maddo to get the back and get it to you, you get up there and around their defenders and their midfield players and then see how they react. And of course when Higgy gets the ball he can do anything with it and got them on the back foot. Once we got the goal we were always going to win it."


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