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Archived News from October 2002

29th October 2002 8:07

Evening Post, 28 October 2002

Mansfield Town assistant manager Neil Richardson found it difficult to hide the disappointment as a 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Swindon sent the Stags back to the bottom of Division Two.
Liam Lawrence had given Stuart Watkiss's side a great start with a goal inside 90 seconds, but defensive errors let in Sam Parkin and Eric Sabin to take the points for the Robins.
Richardson said: "We got off to a great start and had to kick on from there and, at the end of the day, the defeat is down to two sloppy goals.
"The players we have available have got to get their confidence back and the way to do that is by passing and moving and playing to their strengths.
"They have got to show the courage to keep doing that because that is what got us promoted last year and, if we do that, then we could be OK."
Attention now turns to the visit of high-flyers Cardiff on Tuesday. That match will be followed by a clash with Colchester United on Friday night at Field Mill.
Richardson said: "We will be going all out to win both matches. Cardiff is going to be a massive game and it is up to us to get off the bottom.
"Psychologically, when we do that, that would be a big bonus but we have got to start picking up points."
He said he and Watkiss would continue to do everything in their power to halt the slide.
"All you can do from Monday to Saturday is do your job as well as you can and, if it doesn't work out, all you can say is, 'I had a go'," he said.
"It is a horrible situation to be in and we do feel a bit of pressure. But it is a cut-throat business.
"Effort-wise, they are giving it their lot. It's a big jump from the Third Division and there are a lot of young lads playing at a standard they have never been at before.
"Hopefully they will come out of it stronger."

Evening Post, 28 October 2002

Swindon Town 2 v 1 Mansfield Town

John Francome, the man celebrated as "the greatest" by his Channel Four racing colleague John McCririck, is the most famous sportsman ever to come out of Swindon.

Apparently, the former champion jump jockey cannot walk the streets of his hometown without being asked when he is going to step in and save the cash-strapped local Division Two outfit.

Answering this on TV on Saturday morning, he said: "When I'm asked about that, I sit in the stand and think about which players I would be happy to pay their wages. The answer is none of them."

Wiltshire is not a football hotbed. I should know because I used to live there and spent many an hour in its hostelries groaning at the world and his wife's recollection of the 1969 League Cup Final win over Arsenal.

After negotiating the magic roundabout, where six islands surround one in the middle (which is quite aptly positioned outside a club that, having been in administration twice, doesn't really know if it is coming or going) it was apparent that playing Mansfield was considered beneath them by many Robins loyalists.

But there was not a lot between the teams and it would be easy to come to the conclusion that they were both as bad as each other.

Stags never really got going, despite a flying start handed to them by some defending reminiscent of what has gone in their own penalty area at times this season.

Slip-ups exposed Arjan van Heusden in his final game for the Stags as, somehow, Swindon managed to gain three points from what was a torrid spectacle.

The fact Stags were unable to see off a team which is likely to feature in the relegation struggle with them will depress the majority of Mansfield supporters and there was a bit of a if-we-can't-beat-this-lot feeling about proceedings.

But it has to be remembered that, while Liam Lawrence's shot that hit the post looked like the only time they really threatened after their lightning start, Swindon didn't really menace either.

For the first goal, the defence was outpaced and, for the second, Neil MacKenzie handed the opportunity to Eric Sabin.

It was just a shame that a confidence boost was not obtained because few will fancy their chances when they tackle Cardiff City on Tuesday.

But no one wants to see them at the bottom, which is a rather unfair position because, despite the fact they have not got results when they have played well, they are not the worst side in the division.

Without reading too much into one result, it is now plain that fifth from bottom is going to constitute a good season for Stuart Watkiss's side and any hopes of a respectable mid-table finish have to be restrained until that particular obstacle has been negotiated.

A good performance against the Bluebirds on Tuesday may warm a few hearts and then they've got Colchester on Friday in a game they really must win.

There isn't a lot of money about and a significant section of the squad is injured.

It's not looking good at the moment but they did give it a go on Saturday and, in the absence of what you could genuinely call class at this level, no one can ask for more than that.

Even if the Stags do go down, I fancy we might be going back to the County Ground next season anyway.

And, for the record, Francome, famed for the ability of looking at a horse and telling you if it is going to win, isn't a bad judge of a footballer either.

Evening Post, 28 October 2002

The draw for the First Round of the FA Cup has thrown up an intriguing possiblity for Stuart Watkiss and his Mansfield Town side.

The Stags could face Team Bath - the first student side into the hat for the first round proper since 1880.

The team of ex-professionals and University of Bath students must first beat tonight's visitors Horsham in a replay, with a home tie against Mansfield the incentive.

The student club play in the Screwfix Direct Western League Premier Division. Their FA Cup campaign has already seen them beat Barnstaple Town, Backwell United, Bemerton Heath Harlequins and Newport County. But they were held 0-0 by Ryman League opponents Horsham in the fourth qualifying round.

To be played November 16/17


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