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Hand makes relegation vow ahead of Mansfield clash
Apr 7 2011, By Chris Slavin
JAMIE Hand has warned his Hayes & Yeading team-mates that they will be relegated if they bask in the glory of Saturday's superb win at Wrexham.
Hand's return after suspension helped inspire Hayes & Yeading's best victory of the season as they upset Dean Saunders' play-off chasers in front of over 3,000 fans at the Racecourse.
That 2-1 win moved Hayes & Yeading out of the relegation zone and they now have their survival destiny in their own hands with three successive home games to come - starting with Mansfield on Saturday.
But Hand, who scored the first goal on Saturday, said: “We cannot get complacent about anything and we cannot afford to think that we will be safe because we beat Wrexham.
“We will be relegated if we do not win another game. It is the business end of the season now and we have five games left.
“Three wins will be more than enough and two wins will probably be enough.”
Hayes & Yeading's three away wins this season have all been followed up by defeats in their next games.
But Hand says confidence is high in the Hayes & Yeading camp now about the relegation run-in.
“I think we have played better than Saturday with our passing, movement and creating opportunities,” he added. “But to go away from home to Wrexham in front of a volatile home crowd and get a result has to go down as one of our best performances of the season. Hopefully, it will give us confidence to win a few more during the run-in.”
Silk relishing return to action at a ground that brings fond memories
NOT too many Mansfield Town players will have fond memories of their trip to Church Road last season. In fact, there are precious few in the current squad who were with the club for that 1-1 draw.
But one who does have cause to recall the occasion with a certain degree of fondness is long-serving right-back Gary Silk.
With the Stags losing 1-0 going into the closing stages of last February's clash, they looked to be heading for a defeat.
That was until Silk popped up from nowhere to bag his only goal of the season in the dying embers of the game, sending supporters home slightly happier.
"It wasn't much of a goal really, I don't think you could even call it a two-yard tap-in," said Silk.
"I think someone put in a cross and Duffers (Rob Duffy) headed it back across goal.
"It went to their keeper, but he dropped it and I was basically there to slide tackle it in from just about on the line.
"I don't score many goals, so I will take any that come my way, however it goes in.
"I've not scored yet this season and I'm due a goal at some point this season, so it would be nice to get one today, if I play, or even better at Wembley!"
Much like his previous two campaigns at Mansfield since signing for the Stags in the summer of 2008, Silk has been a near ever-present this season, only missing out briefly when Steve Cook was brought in on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion.
The 26-year-old has also sat out the last couple of games at home to Rushden and Diamonds and Southport with a foot injury.
But he returned to training at the back end of this week and is hoping to win back his place in the capital this afternoon.
Silk said: "It's feeling better now, but I needed a couple of weeks off to get it back to how it was.
"I did it on the second leg of the (FA Trophy) semi-final against Luton and it got worse and worse. I was struggling to kick the ball near the end on a couple of games.
"It's not perfect, but it's been good enough to train, so hopefully I will be involved in the game.
"But if there are any doubts then I won't play on it, because there is no point in making it worse."
Mansfield's much-reduced squad has been pushed to the limit in recent weeks with a quick turnover of games coinciding with a spate of injuries. No less than seven players were unavailable for Tuesday night's 2-2 draw with Southport.
Yet Silk is still a firm believer that manager Duncan Russell's policy of moving some players on has benefited those who have remained at Field Mill.
"I think this is the best squad we have had now since I have been here and it has done wonders cutting the size of it down," he said.
"It's a really tight-knit group now and hopefully that will help us out as we prepare for Wembley.
"Sometimes it can be unsettling when players are coming and going. You have to build new relationships, while sometimes you might have built a good one when a player leaves.
"But everyone now is getting involved in the team and we are more settled."
The Stags trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in their home encounter with Hayes and Yeading before coming back to win 3-2 with late goals from Paul Connor and substitute Luke Medley.
Silk is expecting another difficult game this time with Garry Haylock's side having won 2-0 at Wrexham last time out and hovering just one point above the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation trap door.
He said: "They are a team who has got everything to play for. They are playing for their livelihoods, they don't want to drop out of this league, it would affect their wages and their families.
"We have already seen the affect that can have on a team when we played Southport in mid-week. We were 2-0 up and cruising and I was sat in the stands thinking we could win 4-0.
"But they came back hard and secured a 2-2 draw in the end, which was disappointing because we are trying to get as many points as we can."
VIDEO: Four in and three out for Hayes clash --->
Alan Marriott, Niall O'Rafferty and Gary Silk are speaking to Jason Harrison (Mansfield 103.2) and Matt Halfpenny (Nottingham post) from today's press meeting.
mansfieldtown.net, Thu 07 Apr 2011
Our injury worries look set to ease with the welcome return of four players to active duty in time for our visit to Hayes & Yeading on Saturday.
Alan Marriott (finger), Ashley Cain (dead leg) and Adam Smith (stomach illness) are all still sidelined whilst Kyle Nix (ankle), Dan Mitchley (tonsilitis), Dan Spence (hamstring) and Gary Silk (foot) will be hoping to feature at Church Road after resuming training earlier this week.
Right back Gary Silk spoke to the press today to update us on his progress whilst also congratulating Steven Istead's performances whilst he deputised for Silk who has not played a game since our FA Trophy aggregate win at Luton on March 19th.
He said: "It's still a bit painful but its bearable pain now and I'm not going to make it worse by playing on it so we'll see how I get through training tomorrow and hopefully I'll be ok for Saturday.
"If I don't play on Saturday then I think everybody will be involved over the next week or so with the amount of game we've got.
"I don't think I've ever played a Thursday night match before. It will be a tough week but that's just the way it goes.
"I think he's (Steven Istead) done well. It's not his natural position but he's one of those players who can play anywhere really. He's a fit lad and I think he's done a decent job.
"He's been joking with me saying that I'm not going to get it (the right back position) back and obviously there's a lot of competition which is healthy for everyone."
Another player hoping to feature this weekend is 18-year-old forward Niall O'Rafferty who was handed his first senior appearance by Duncan Russell away at York just over three weeks ago.
The youth team product has made one further start and an appearance from the bench but is now hoping that a punishing schedule of eight games in just 21 days might see Duncan Russell make use of him as he is forced to rotate his squad.
He added: "I'm hoping for another start. There's a lot of competition but I figure that I've done enough to get another chance and the gaffer's said that he'll give me another chance.
"I'm a bit similar to Cons (Paul Connor) in my physical presence so hopefully if he gets rested a few times then I'll get a few starts under my belt.
"Players like Conor Higginson deserve their chance too after everybody's seen what he can do and Luke Medley's going to play so hopefully I can get a few starts with Wembley coming up."
Finally, goalkeeper Alan Marriott hopes to return to full fitness ahead of schedule as he races to recover from a finger injury sustained against his former club Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday in time for our Wembley date on May 7th.
There was good news for the 32-year-old in a scan earlier this week which indicated that he should be back in contention before the season's conclusion at the end of this month.
"It's (the finger injury) not too bad," he said. "I've seen a specialist down at King's Mill Hospital and they've said it'll be three to four weeks. With intensive physio it should be two to three (weeks) so hopefully I will be pushing to get back into the team in three weeks.
"I've never known anything like it. Touch wood I've been quite good with injuries throughout my career and at Lincoln I played for six years without missing a game but this year it's been one thing after another.
"To be out for five months and work so hard to get back in, and then after 40 minutes break and dislocate my finger at the same time, it's a bit soul destroying really.
"I think you've just got to be positive and get on with it. If you sit there and sulk it's no good for you so you've just got to be as positive as you can. These things happen in football and I think its character building and makes you a better person if you can deal with adversity when it comes your way."
Connor backed to be firing on all cylinders for Wembley
OUT-OF-LUCK Paul Connor will be back firing on all cylinders by the time Mansfield Town visit Wembley.
That's the confident prediction of Niall O'Rafferty, one of a clutch of strikers at Field Mill bidding to be the 16-goal striker's regular partner.
Connor's penalty miss in Tuesday's 2-2 draw with Southport means he has failed to net in his last ten matches.
But O'Rafferty feels it is only a matter of time before a player of his class hits the goal trail.
"Conn's head is down because he can't believe he hasn't been scoring," said the teenager.
"He did everything right with the penalty and we were all praying he would score. It is something all strikers go through, when it won't go in, no matter what they do.
"But once he does get that first one, then he'll get plenty more.
"You don't score as many goals as he has this year without being a good player.
"He has got plenty of games to get his touch back before the FA Trophy final and I'm sure he will."
Today's visit to Hayes and Yeading is the first of four games in eight days.
Boss Duncan Russell insists he will have no choice but to rotate his squad regardless of results and form.
He said: "We are going to have to share it around. You can't expect players to play four times in a week.
"I would love to play my strongest team every game, but even elite athletes aren't asked to play that often, so my lads can't be expected to do it.
"The good thing is a lot of the injured lads are back in training now, so that should help us in this busy spell."
CHAD's excellent StagsTalk. Listen here --->
Stags wary of strugglers
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 7 April 2011
AFTER seeing Southport roar back for a 2-2 draw from two goals down on Tuesday, Stags are now preparing to face three of Southport's relegation rivals inside six days, starting with Saturday's trip to Hayes and Yeading.
“A lot of people will say you are playing teams near the bottom and it should be easy but you don't want to be facing these teams at this time of year,”said manager Duncan Russell.
“You want to play struggling sides early or mid season as by now they are fighting hard to stay in this division and it's going to be tough.
“We have to overcome that and put games to bed like we should have done on Tuesday.
“I didn't need to have a go at the players at the end as I could tell by their body language that they knew they had let slip a game they should have won comfortably.
“In the first half we played some of the best football I've seen us play at Field Mill and, at 2-0 up, if we'd scored the penalty the game would have been dead and buried.”
Apart from Marriott and Rhys Day, who is out for the season, Stags' only other injury problem is Ashley Cain (thigh).
That will give Russell plenty to choose from in a crazy week in which, after the Hayes trip, Stags face three home games in five days.
He added: “I know fans want to see you put out your strongest team every time but it would be asking too much of some off those players, mentally and physically, to play all three games in such a short space of time. So we are just going to have to box clever a bit with it.”
Russell also confirmed he intends to speak to chairman John Radford this week about next season.
“If I manage to procure the manager's job for next season then I need to bring in new players,” he said. “I would want two for every position but they have to be the right players and not players whose chin is on their chest if they are not selected.
“You have to do it the way Crawley have done it or you will not get out of this league.”
Spotlight on Hayes and Yeading versus Mansfield Town
Evening Post, 8 Apr 2011
Hayes and Yeading (from): Harrison, Ferrell, Bygrave, Cadmore, Brown, Pritchard, Masterton, Holmes, Hand, Rents, Buchanan, Wright, Green McWeeney, Appiah, Joseph-Dubois
Mansfield (from): Grof, Collett, Istead, Silk, Foster, Naylor, Sandwith, Preece, Stonehouse, Spence, Higginson, Thompson, Murray, Nix, Briscoe, Smith, Connor, Medley, Mitchley, O'Rafferty.
Team news: Hayes and Yeading expect to choose from a near full-strength, if small squad.
There only absentee is likely to be keeper Delroy Preddie, who has missed the last few weeks with a hamstring injury.
Mansfield's Ashley Cain is unlikely to figure as he continues his comeback from a thigh injury.
Alan Marriott (broken finger) is expected to be out for two to four weeks after having a scan to assess the damage on Tuesday.
Danny Mitchley (groin) Gary Silk (foot), Dan Spence (hamstring) and Adam Smith and Kyle Nix (both ankle) have all missed recent matches, but are now back in training.
One to watch: Bradley Pritchard. The former Loughborough University student signed from Tamworth last summer after moving back down to his native south-east and has excelled as Hayes and Yeading have gone full-time, scoring 11 league goals from midfield.
Manager: Garry Haylock. Led his 'United' side to an excellent 2-0 win at Wrexham in their last outing, but the club are just still hovering dangerously just one point above the drop zone with five games of their season to go
Stags are so consistently inconsistent
Evening Post, 8 Apr 2011
IT could be dubbed 'The Mansfield Town Paradox'.
The very fact the Stags are so inconsistent from match to match, and even half to half, has made them frustratingly consistent in 2010-11.
Slap bang in the middle of the Blue Square Bet Premier in 13th place of 24, their league campaign has been a tale of mediocrity.
In front of their own fans, under the charge of first David Holdsworth and then Duncan Russell, Mansfield have been excellent on some occasions and disappointing on others.
There has been a 5-0 success over York and 4-0 win over Eastbourne Borough, but there have also been 5-2 reverses at the hands of both AFC Wimbledon and Fleetwood.
The Stags have come out on top seven times at Field Mill, but also lost seven games as well, with four draws.
It is exactly the same story on their travels, where the highs of a 5-1 triumph at Cambridge and 4-0 thumping of Altrincham have been tempered by a 7-2 annihilation at Grimsby and 3-0 beating at Fleetwood.
That has added up to a record of eight wins and eight losses with, again, four matches ending in stalemate.
Overall, since their campaign kicked off in August, Mansfield have won 15 and lost 15 matches with the other eight ending all square.
It is a scenario that is as frustrating to the management as it is to the club's supporters.
Tuesday night's game against Southport encapsulated perfectly why the paradox exists; why it is their unpredictability that makes them so predictable.
Mansfield looked to have the game in the bag when they led 2-0 at the break through Conor Higginson and Louis Briscoe goals.
But then they seemed to switch off, and when Paul Connor failed to convert a penalty to secure a game-winning third goal, the Sandgrounders came back strongly to claim a deserved point in a 2-2 draw.
All season long, Mansfield players have tried to explain why they are so up and down.
Midfielder Tyrone Thompson is the latest to offer his theory, having left the pitch in midweek just as annoyed as everyone else of a Stags persuasion.
"I think when things are going well, everyone is confident and wants to get on the ball and we need to be brave and do that when it's not going so well," said the Sheffielder.
"Sometimes we need to be made of sterner stuff and see that things are going wrong and put it right. We need to take back control if we have lost it.
"It happens to teams up and down the country once the going gets tougher, it is not as if we are on our own.
"Sometimes we get a bit smaller, as they say in the game, but we are professionals and we should be able to do a job for the whole match.
"We knew coming in at half-time that we had to keep pushing home our advantage in the second half, but we didn't do it and football has a habit of biting you on the backside.
"If Russ (Russell) is saying we need to take more responsibility, then we have to take that on board."
Thompson believes of the biggest contributing factors to Mansfield's consistent inconsistency is the lack of continuity when it comes to team selection.
In the early stages of the season, when Holdsworth was still at the helm, that was largely due to the then boss being keen to tinker with his line-up. Few players could profess to be a first-team regular.
Under Russell, the squad is much smaller and, while he has been keen to avoid ringing the changes, a succession of injuries has often enforced changes.
Thompson said: "A lot of the top teams have players who have played together week in, week out.
"They get to know each other's jobs, while it has been a bit stop-start for us (all season).
"You can count on one hand the number of our players who have played the vast majority of games this season.
"I think that has been critical. All the chopping and changing can have an unsettling effect."
Tomorrow, Mansfield travel to Hayes and Yeading, a team they came back to beat 3-2 at home after trailing 2-1 going into the latter stages.
"People will expect us to turn up and win that one just because of where they are in the league," said Thompson.
"But they are fighting hard to stay in the division and they showed at our place they will be no pushovers."
All pay-on-the-day supporters will be admitted for £5 for next Thursday's rearranged home game with Bath Ci
Stags goalkeeper upbeat on his chances of being fit for Wembley
Evening Post, 8 Apr 2011
ALAN Marriott today declared himself quietly confident of being fit for Mansfield Town's trip to Wembley for the FA Trophy final against Darlington.
The Stags goalkeeper made his long-awaited comeback after five months out with a hip injury against former club Rushden and Diamonds last weekend.
But before the first half was out he was forced to leave the field with a damaged finger, putting his Wembley dreams in jeopardy.
A scan on Tuesday revealed a crack and dislocation.
But Marriott believes the timescale that has been put in front of him means he should be back well before the May 7 date.
"It's not too bad. The specialist thinks three or four weeks, put with intense physio, I'm hoping it will be more like two or three," said Marriott.
"I want to be back pushing for the first team before the end of the league season to get a couple of games under my belt.
"I've never known anything like this season for injuries. When I was at Lincoln I played for six years without missing a game, then this season, after five months out, I break and dislocate my finger in my first game back.
"You have to stay positive and after being out for so long before, at least this isn't too long.
"But Neil Collett is also available for the final and I'm sure he'll be thinking he deserves a chance, so I will have to battle it out with him."
Healing machine could help Stags keeper Marriott play at Wembley
CHAD.co.uk, Thursday 7 April 2011
ALAN Marriott's Wembley hopes were boosted today when Stags took delivery of a new machine that could help heal his broken finger quicker.
Mansfield Town's number one keeper suffered the break on his comeback from a long injury lay-off last weekend and his chances of making the FA Trophy final on 7th May looked bleak.
However, club phsyio Jason Truscott today said: “This morning we took delivery of a LIPUS ultrasound machine which is a low intensity pulse.
“Alan will use it here and at home for 20 minutes a day and it accelerates the bone growth on fractures.
“I worked at Notts County for six months where we used this on keeper Russell Hoult's broken finger and got him back quicker.
“It's a great piece of apparatus and I am confident I can get Alan back quicker with it. I am almost certain he will be back for Wembley and I would like him to play couple of games before.
“I am setting myself really tight deadlines but I am sure we will make them.”
In the meantime, Stags are to speak to the FA to see if they could get dispensation to bring in an emergency keeper as cover for the Wembley bench if Marriott doesn't make it
Stags must hold on to young stars
Evening Post, 7 Apr 2011
MANSFIELD Town will be doing their utmost to hang on to their promising young players in the summer, assistant manager Paul Hall insisted today.
The likes of 16-goal winger Louis Briscoe and teenage defender Tom Naylor have shone brightly in the second half of the season.
The Stags admit they will not be surprised if they have interest in the duo this summer, even though both are under contract for next season.
But Hall says the club should take that as a compliment that they are doing things right in developing young talent.
And he outlined the determination of manager Duncan Russell and himself as a management team to keep together the nucleus of the squad for next season – if they retain their jobs in 2011-12.
"Some people say we shouldn't say how good our players are because other clubs might want to take them away," said Hall.
"But, for me, it speaks volumes that we are doing something right.
"We want them to come and see the Louis Briscoes, Tom Naylors, Ashley Cains and Conor Higginsons and the calibre of player we are bringing through.
"You could argue that we have the best players in the league for their age in a number of positions.
"The bigger clubs may sniff around, but we want to keep them here and keep the squad together."
Latest | April 2011