WATKISS PROUD, DESPITE DEFEAT
WATKISS: WE DID OUR BEST
Mansfield manager Stuart Watkiss was in philosophical mood after seeing his side beaten 1-0 at home by Cardiff City.
Peter Thorne's header proved enough to condemn the Stags to defeat, but Watkiss said: "We couldn't do any better than we did against the quality of players we were up against.
"We had a game plan to make them go long and try to stop them playing from the back.
"For the majority of the game it worked well, though when they occasionally got out you could see the quality of their players. The lads did everything I asked and most important they got the ball down and passed it.
"We did create chances, but unfortunately we didn't take them, though I know Cardiff had their chances as well.
"If my players can look me in the eye and say they've given everything, they know I won't have a pop at them, and I can't ask any more of them on this occasion, apart from maybe converting their chances.''
Battling Stags earn praise from boss
STAGS manager Stuart Watkiss was delighted with the way his players performed against Division Two leaders Cardiff City - but once again they had nothing to show for their efforts in a 1-0 defeat at Field Mill.
"I was happy with the performance but I am gutted it was another game we got nothing out of," he said.
"It was certainly a step in the right direction though it was another game with nothing on the board.
"I have always said that if my players can look me in the eye and say they have given everything then I won't have a pop at them. And I really could not have asked any more from them against Cardiff apart from maybe converting their chances.
"They did everything I asked of them and, most importantly, they got the ball down and passed it. We could not have done any better against the quality of players we were up against.
"I thought we were unlucky not to get one of two penalty shouts and I also thought the referee should have added more time on at the end. But they are minor details that shouldn't detract from our performance."
Watkiss adopted a bold 3-4-3 formation which worked a treat and said: "We had a game plan to make them go long and try to stop them passing it from the back.
"For the majority of the game it worked well though on the occasions they did get out you could tell their quality.
"Sam Hammam said to me afterwards that he couldn't believe we were bottom. He said we played like a side at the top and we should keep playing like that, keep passing, not get dejected and keep on believing.
"I said thank you very much Sam but could you please tell my chairman!"
Watkiss is now focusing on Friday night's visit of Colchester and added: "It's all right doing it against Cardiff at the top of the league but we now have to repeat it against sides like Swindon and Colchester. That's what has been letting us down."
WATKISS PROUD, DESPITE DEFEAT
Evening Post, 30 October 2002
Mansfield boss Stuart Watkiss said today that his players must show the same level of commitment for the visit of lowly Colchester as they did against high-fliers Cardiff.
Colchester are the next opponents at Field Mill, on Friday night, following Stags' 1-0 battling defeat against the Bluebirds last night.
Watkiss said he was proud of his team after the performance and could not have asked for any more of his players.
Bluebirds striker Peter Thorne scored a 70th-minute header to take Lennie Lawrence's outfit to the top of Division Two and keep the Stags on the bottom.
The Stags boss now wants to see the same level of commitment when they host Colchester.
He said: "They couldn't have done any better against the quality of players they were up against.
"We had a game plan and we played the 3-4-3 to make them go long and stop Cardiff from passing the ball from the back and for the majority of the game it worked well.
"Most importantly, they got the ball down and they passed it.
"Sometimes, when the back three are getting it off the keeper, the crowd want it to go forward, but in order to bring the midfield in, the back three have got to be brave enough.
"We created chances but unfortunately we didn't take them.
"I've said all along that if the players can look me in the eye and they have given absolutely everything then I won't have a pop at them.
"They have certainly done that.
"I can ask no more of them, apart from perhaps converting their chances.
"I'm happy with the performance but I'm obviously gutted that it is another game that we have got nothing out of.
"It's okay doing it against Cardiff who are top of the league.
"But they have got to repeat it against Colchester and they have got to repeat it when they go to places like Swindon and Peterborough. Those are the sort of games that have let us down.
"It's a step in the right direction but it is another game we have got nothing from."
DEL PIERO MIGHT HAVE STRUGGLED
Evening Post, 30 October 2002
Mansfield Town 0 v 1 Cardiff City
In defence, Danny Gabbidon is one of the most accomplished centre-halves outside the Premiership. His policing of Alessandro Del Piero was one of the reasons why Wales beat Italy the other week.
In midfield, Gareth Whalley, despite being one of the best players to have come out of Crewe's renowned academy in recent seasons and having gained plenty of experience at the highest level with Bradford City, had to be content with a place on the bench.
And, up front, well, don't get me started.
Peter Thorne, the scorer of the solitary goal that undid the Stags last night, is reported to be on £10,000 a week and pocketed a similar amount in the form of a bonus for his 70th-minute header.
Robert Earnshaw scored the goal that meant Wales were the last team to beat Germany before Brazil saw them off in the World Cup Final.
And Andy Campbell - who cost £1m - only got on for the last 11 minutes.
Having considered all these factors, there is certainly cause for Mansfield Town to be proud of their performance against Division Two's big spenders last night.
But while we can go on about the size of Sam Hammam's cheque book and make hopeless comparisons of pay packets, the one factor that was present at Field Mill last night that has been absent on occasions this season was sheer hard work.
Despite the result, Stags demonstrated what potential they have if they work their socks off.
It is difficult to decipher whether it was the quality of their opposition or the encouragement of the crowd that made Stags play as if they had nothing to lose. I suspect both contributed significantly.
The question that always follows an encouraging showing is why can't they do it every week and, with just two days now until the meeting with Colchester, the pressure will be on them to produce some more of the same.
But, just as an ambitious formation and tigerish determination was evidence of Watkiss going for it against the odds, it could be a signal that a bit of a cavalier approach would not go amiss.
No-one really expects Stags to stay up outside of Field Mill and, apart from the Team Bath FA Cup tie, they are unlikely to be in a match that will see them installed as hot favourites.
So why not go for it because if there is overwhelming evidence that they have given it a go, I'm sure people will not be too critical.
Cardiff were the better side last night but only because they had a little bit more about them. They didn't work as hard as Stags and there was certainly cause to believe the home side were good for a point, particularly when they had a very good shout for a penalty turned down in the first half.
Both loanees looked very good. Tony Vaughan seemed to have got the rustiness out of his system and gave Stags' defence more of an assured look.
But another addition has been made to the 'Lost' column of the Division Two table and cynics will point to the fact that you can play as well as you like but you still get nothing if your opponents score more goals.
What has to happen for Stags to maintain their Division Two status is for them to show the same desire in every game.
They weren't doomed after losing at Swindon at the weekend and they certainly aren't now.
Because they won't face anyone better than Cardiff this season. Certainly on paper anyway.
Latest | October 2002