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Archived News from February 2012

7th February 2012 12:15

Stags boss Cox dismisses talk of Darlington youth
chad.co.uk, Thursday 2 February 2012

PAUL Cox has warned his players and supporters that reports of cash-strapped Darlington sending a team of youngsters to Field Mill on Saturday (3pm) are hugely wide of the mark.


The Quakers have shed some players as they struggle to stay afloat, but Cox said: “Although they have a bench of youngsters, the first XI last week included nine good first team players and they have brought in a couple of new signings this week in their former midfielder Clark Keltie and Sunderland defender Liam Bagnall.

“If my players think Darlington are just bringing youngsters and it will be an easy game, our mindset will be wrong.

“Make no mistake, it will be a tough game and we will have to earn the right. I know roughly what we will be up against.”

There were worries last weekend that Darlington may not even play the game as their administrators looked set to pull the plug on them.

However, there are now parties interested in taking over – the frontrunners being the supporters' rescue group to run it as a community interest not-for-profit club - and the biggest worry about the game now must be the heavy frosts that are forecast this week.

A scan on Matt Green's shin showed no major problem this week and he is expected to be fit, as is midfield ace Gary Roberts, who has been suffering with a bug


Stags box Cox insists there's no room for sentiment against crisis-hit Quakers
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 03, 2012

FIRST it was Chester City two seasons ago, then Rushden and Diamonds at the end of the 2010-11.


Now, as the current campaign reaches its final third, the very existence of two more Blue Square Bet Premier clubs is being threatened.

For Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox, the plight of one, Kettering, touches him personally, having spent a considerable chunk of his playing career in Northants.

The other, Darlington, is an even bigger fish. One who as recently as 2007-08 almost clinched promotion to League One in the same year the Stags were relegated out of the Football League.

Cox is just as sympathetic towards their cause, too. He knows just what a tough task interim manager Craig Liddle has faced in forging a mixture, by necessity rather than choice, of youth and first-team players who have yet to fly the nest.

But that compassion will be placed on hold come tomorrow afternoon when Mansfield take on the crisis-hit Quakers, looking to stretch their unbeaten run to seven league matches.

Sentiment will be in short supply with the Stags hoping to climb up to sixth place in the table – and one point off fifth – should results go their way.

Only once the action has ceased will Cox be wishing Darlington all the best in their quest for survival – which this week saw administrators approve plans for a fans bid to implement a community-based club.

Anything less than a ruthless approach, he says, will be costly for the Stags in their quest of a play-off push.

"No matter what the situation is, as a football person, you don't like to see any other club struggling to stay in business," said Cox.

"We want to help them out how we can and I know our scout Paul Ogden paid to get into their game at the weekend rather than get a complimentary ticket.

"Every few quid helps and it will all be well received.

"But having said that, with other clubs playing in the FA Trophy, there is a huge incentive there for us to win.

"It's a massive, massive game. Psychologically, the rewards of victory are huge, to see us moving up to seventh at worst at this stage in the season.

"The players this week will have had a look at the table. They are not stupid and will understand what it means.

"But we have to go about it in the right way. People will look at Darlington's problems and will assume we will win.

"But you only have to look at how well they have done in their last three matches to see it will be difficult.

"They drew 2-2 with York on Saturday and only lost 3-2 at Hayes and Yeading and 1-0 to Fleetwood. Everyone has to understand that we will have to work extremely hard because there are no gimmes and no certain three points.

"If we go in with the right attitude, we are not a bad side and capable of getting results. But if we think we can just turn up, Darlington still have players like Bridge-Wilkinson, Rundle and Taylor who can make us pay."

Cox believes there is an inherent problem with the way football clubs are run, highlighted by so many falling on hard times.

He suggests expenditure needs to be more comparable to income in the future, although admits such a policy would be difficult to enforce.

Cox said: "Because of the prize on offer (promotion to the Football League) there seems to be more and more clubs spending beyond their means.

"I think we are lucky here that we have someone like John (Radford, chairman). Other clubs don't have that and are probably borrowing money and running up huge debts in their eagerness to go up.

"But only two teams can get promoted and it can leave others, who go for it but don't make it, in dire straits.

"Football is probably the only place where you see that and I think something has to change. Apparently, the Conference are going to be asking to show in the future what money is coming in and going out. But there are always ways around it.

"There just needs to be more thought from those in charge in the future. Players can find another club on similar money, managers and chairman can move on too.

"It's the fans who care about these clubs who are left to suffer and maybe, somehow, they need to have more involvement in the running of their teams."

Mansfield disposed of Ebbsfleet 3-0 last weekend and Cox says that is a sign of the squad's growing confidence.

"Having that belief is a massive thing and the players have grown in stature as the season has gone on," he said.

"We have added that bit of quality and everyone knows their roles better now and are hungry for success.

"They seem to be learning and the spirit is second to none."


Mansfield boss Paul Cox not fazed by lack of contract talks

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox insists he is not worried that no talks have taken place about a new contract despite the fact his current deal ends this summer.

Cox, who took over as manager in May, has guided the Stags to the edge of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off spots.

"Sometimes contracts are not worth the paper they are written on. One minute you're a hero and then everybody hates you," Cox told BBC Radio Nottingham .

"I'm not too fussed about my situation. It will sort itself out."


Stags skipper Murray: Darlington win would be 'massive'
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 04, 2012

ADAM Murray insists victory for Mansfield Town in their clash with Darlington at Field Mill today – which is subject to a 9.30am pitch inspection – would be 'psychologically massive'.


The Stags currently sit ninth in the table, four points outside the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off places with a game in hand.

But the Stags can move up to seventh if they beat the Quakers – sixth if Southport were to lose at home to Kettering – because a host of other top clubs are in FA Trophy action.

Skipper Murray believes seeing the club make such a significant move on the back of a seventh game unbeaten would put the players in a 'great' frame of mind.

"This is the time of the season when you can start to see a fair bit of movement. There will be a couple of teams push on and others drop off," he said.

"We have to go into the Darlington game thinking that it is the biggest game of the season. If we get the result we want it puts us right up there.

"We haven't lost in six games, yet we haven't seen any movement. We have been getting closer to other teams but not moving up.

"This time a win would make a difference and that can only strengthen our belief."


Mansfield set to search for defensive cover
chad.co.uk, Friday 3 February 2012

UNABLE to sort a deal with Crawley to keep loanee centre half John Dempster, Paul Cox is set to delve into the loan market once Dempster's loan ends in a couple of weeks.


It would have been the perfect opportunity for a fit-again Rhys Day to stake his claim for a recall, but Day suffered a serious knee injury last weekend to see his season – and maybe his Mansfield career - prematurely ended.

He ruptured a patella tendon, which connects his kneecap with the lower part of his lower leg, which saw him undertake a career-saving operation today (Thursday).

Dempster is out of contract at Crawley in the summer and so could still find himself back at Field Mill next year. But in the meantime, with John Thompson still not back to fitness either, Cox is suddenly short in a department in which he seemed blessed earlier this season.

“Not only is John a top drawer player but he is also a great professional to have around the club,” said Cox.

“We did all we could to get him but couldn't find a deal that suited all parties in the end.

“He will be very much in my mind at the end of the season for next season. But, for now, we have to look elsewhere.”

On Day's injury, he said: “Rhys has had no luck whatsoever since I have been here.

“Rhys played at Rainworth last week and reports said he was immense and back to what we know he can do.

“Then something like that happens to him. I am really disappointed for him as everyone knows what a fit Rhys Day can do.

“He is having an operation which I hope goes well and then he will have the best medical treatment possible and be well looked after.”

However, Day's contract expires in the summer and, at the end of a season in which he has failed to win a first team place, his future remains uncertain


Kendrick heads north after Stags exit
chad.co.uk, Friday 3 February 2012

JOE Kendrick this week made a loan move to Conference North club Blyth Spartans after being told his Mansfield town contract would not be renewed next season.


The Irish left back began the season well before a back injury decimated his form and season and he looked a shadow of his former self on his recent return.

Manager Paul Cox moved quickly to bring in Sam Craven and loanee Paul Edwards to cover the position and said: “We wish Joe all the best.

“I had to be honest with Joe as he has a mortgage and a young family to consider.

“ I told him we wouldn't be offering him a new contract next season and it would be in his best interests to look for a club. I wanted to give him a bit of a heads up.

“It's nothing personal but we can't stand still as a football club. It's a position in which I felt we needed a bit of extra quality.

“It's a horrible job telling players but it's got to be done and I think Joe appreciated it. His missus is a native of the north-east so he has got himself a club up there.”


Stags striker Matt Green: New men have been key
Nottingham Post, Friday, February 03, 2012

MATT Green says Mansfield Town's early January newcomers have brought a renewed sense of belief the club can clinch a play-off place.


The Stags have gone six games unbeaten since the arrival of Gary Roberts and Ben Hutchinson on January 1.

Green has been impressed by what he has seen from the talented duo, who have both played at a higher level.

He feels, too, that the team is hitting form at just the right time. Should they beat Darlington at Field Mill tomorrow they will go at least seventh in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

"There is definitely more belief in the team, particularly since the new signings have been brought in," said Green.

"Gary Roberts is a great player, having come up through the Crewe youth system. With the passes he plays, I think we are going to link up really well.

"He has helped to take the strain off Muzza (Adam Murray) because there is someone else who can knock it around.

"Ben has also come in and looked sharp and I'm sure he'll get better with more games.

"With the pedigree those two have and the mentality the gaffer instills, we are doing well at the moment.

"When you are all thinking the same way it makes it so much easier, as you could say with the way we were clinical in the (3-0) win at Ebbsfleet."

Meanwhile, boss Paul Cox has confirmed Joe Kendrick was told he has no future at Mansfield ahead of his loan move to Blyth Spartans.

And he is keen to move for John Dempster in the summer – even though the defender will return to Crawley after his loan finishes on February 22.

Cox said: "Sometimes you have to give lads the heads up as they have families to feed.

"We tried every way we could to get him for the rest of the season, but we will be looking to get him in for next."


video interview with Martin Riley --->


Riley enjoying run in Stags side
chad.co.uk, Friday 3 February 2012

CENTRE half Martin Riley, more than once the forgotten man this season, is enjoying his latest run in the Stags side after two successive clean sheets.


“There is nothing more pleasing than a clean sheet and I think we have deserved them. We have looked solid,” he said.

It has been a good week and now we need to push on again. There is a good feeling around the place, a lot of confidence.

“It has been a bit frustrating for me being in and out. It's something I've not really been used to in the past as I knew at Cheltenham I would play every week.

“But it does spur you on. I know if I am not doing what the gaffer wants me to do I won't keep my place. He wants lads who are hungry and show commitment.

“I always need fresh challenges which is why I left Cheltenham in the summer.

“The gaffer picks teams to win games and I've agreed with him 90 per cent of the time. There has been a couple of times I have been left out when I have been in to see him for a chat. But it's a man's game and if you can't take what he says to you, you shouldn't be in it.”

Riley knows this week's two games are both very winnable on paper, but warned: “Another six points would be massive - but it's up to us to produce the goods and be focused.”


Stags' Riley: Spell on sidelines has done me good
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 04, 2012

MARTIN Riley believes a spell on the sidelines at Mansfield Town has helped make him a better player.


The central defender has been in and out of the Stags' side this season.

It follows a period of three seasons where he was consistently picked by old boss Mark Yates, first at Kidderminster and then at Cheltenham.

But Riley feels the extra competition at Field Mill has pushed him on.

He has helped the Stags to clean sheets in their last two outings and will hope to get the nod again for today's clash with Darlington.

"It's been a bit frustrating for me and I've not been used to that because I've been a regular before and knew I was going to play every week," he said.

"I have found out coming here that if I don't do what the gaffer wants then I won't be in the team.

"But at the moment I am doing that and hopefully I will keep my place.

"I think the uncertainty works for me because the challenge has helped keep me focused.

"I wasn't happy a couple of times in the past when I was left out of the team but I spoke to the gaffer about it.

"It's a man's game and if you can't take on board what the gaffer says then you shouldn't be in it."

Counting the permanent signing of Matt Green following his half-season loan from Oxford, Mansfield have made five signings in January.

Riley said: "We have signed some good players that are going to improve the team. We've also had Adam Smith come back from his loan and do well.

"The top teams all strengthen in the window – it's a strong league – and we need to keep with the pace."


Part-timer striker Rhead aiming to be full-time Stags hero
chad.co.uk, Thursday 2 February 2012

GIANT striker Matt Rhead will be Mansfield Town's first part-time player of the modern era.


Rhead (27), manager Paul Cox's former Eastwood Town hit man, signed from Corby Town this week but, as the deal is only until the summer, Rhead cannot afford to give up his day job.

However, that may change in the summer is he proves a hit at this level.

Said Cox: “Like a lot of players at this level he has a good job which brings him money in. If he does well we will sit down in the summer to see if we can sort something full time that will mean he doesn't lose out.

“Rheady will train with us once a week and will train twice a week elsewhere, probably at Eastwood where he knows them and they know exactly what Matt Rhead needs. So he is only missing out on one session really.”

A burly giant of a striker, turning quickly and racing down the channels are not on the agenda, but Rhead is described as almost unplayable when he holds the ball up and his record of 12 goals in 14 games at Eastwood and then 13 goals in 24 games at Corby suggests he knows where the net is too.

“He is going to bring qualities we have not got at the club at the moment,” said Cox. “With hindsight I wish I had gone with my sixth sense and brought him here with me in the summer.

“I watched him against Kidderminster and he was absolutely immense. I think he can bring the best out of Matt Green.

“He is a player that can come on and upset people. You only have to look at the sheer size of him to understand that. He is 6ft 4ins high and about the same wide as well!

“But he is not just a big target man. If you put the ball into the right areas he will score goals too – even at this level. He is also very articulate with the ball – I have heard him described as the non-League Mark Hughes and technically gifted


New Stags defender Craven so happy to be home
chad.co.uk, Thursday 2 February 2012

SAM Craven thoroughly enjoyed his five years is the USA – but Mansfield Town's new left back is delighted to be back in his home county.


“It's nice to be back home as I have family here who haven't seen me play for five years, so it will be nice to get the chance again,” said the former Notts County defender.

“I did have the choice to sign at one or two places over there but I am 23 now and thought if I am going to do it in England I feel this is the right time to come back.

“I am really looking forward to the next six months and it's really exciting. I am a left back but I have played at centre half too. I don't care where I play, I just can't wait to get stuck in whatever.

“I am not here to slip in and be part of the scenery. I am ready to go and I really want to play and work hard.

“We have a high quality of player here at Mansfield. This league is getting better quality all the time which I think is a knock-on effect of so many foreign players in the Premiership. Everyone has moved down a notch. I look at some of the players in training here at Mansfield and just wonder 'what are you doing playing in this league'?”

Craven has just ended his first professional contract with FC New York and said: “I enjoyed my time in America.

“The season is in the summer so the heat is really intense which makes the games slower than here. But technically and tactically they are much better than people here think.

“But the fans are not as passionate as here as they have other sports like American football and baseball. So it's nice to come back here and play in front of real fans again.”

Craven's arrival is a reunion with old friends too as he played with Lindon Meikle and Ben Hutchinson in the County U11 boys side.

He said: “I grew up with Lindon so it's nice being back with him. And I hadn't seen Ben for seven years so coming back was like I'd never been away.”


Battle is on for left-back berth at Stags
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 04, 2012

ONE has arrived at Field Mill from the cosmopolitan east coast of the United States; the other from the slightly less salubrious English north-west.


But both Sam Craven and Paul Edwards have exactly the same aim during their time with Mansfield Town – to make the left-back slot their own.

Former Notts County player Craven has returned to his native country and county after a five-year spell on the other side of the pond, most recently with FC New York in the USL Professional Division.

The 23-year-old trained with the Stags in the summer and has impressed since returning in the past few weeks, doing enough in a reserve game against Rainworth last weekend to earn a deal until the end of the season.

Edwards arrived last week on loan from promotion-chasing Fleetwood where he has been unable to get a game after missing the early stages of the Cod Army's campaign through injury.

But the 32-year-old impressed playing for Barrow against the Stags last season and has a wealth of experience for the likes of Swindon, Wrexham, Oldham and Blackpool after starting out at Manchester City.

With Joe Kendrick having left to join Blyth Spartans on loan and being told he has no future at the club, there is a real opportunity for both men not just to get some first-team football under their belt but also put their name forward to be part of the long-term future in north Nottinghamshire being mapped out by boss Paul Cox.

However, it will be no easy task for either man to break into the team at all, given the current state of affairs on the pitch.

Mansfield's 3-0 win at Ebbsfleet last weekend was their sixth game unbeaten since the start of the year and their second consecutive clean sheet – Luke O'Neill playing out of position at left-back and doing a good job too.

Yet Craven, in his own words, is not here just to be part of the scenery.

"I'm glad to be here and the good thing is that I have already trained with the lads in the summer and again during the trial period, so I'm not starting from scratch," said Craven.

"I made my first team debut for Notts County in a friendly when I was 17, but then I had a stress fracture in my back that I couldn't do much about which set me back.

"It was then I got a call with the chance to go out to Florida and it seemed the right thing to do. I was out there for five years.

"The game there is very athletic and they pay a lot of attention to conditioning and strengthening.

"Technically, it is probably better than people think, but maybe tactically it is not advanced.

"It is definitely not as die hard as over here because they have their others sports like American football.

"I could have stayed out there, but I decided that at 23, if I was going to do it in England, then now was the time to come back."

Craven has been delighted to walk into Field Mill and instantly see two familiar faces.

The former Beckett School pupil played at junior level with both Lindon Meikle and Ben Hutchinson.

He said: "I grew up with them in the city schools U11s side. I haven't seen Ben for about seven years and then I walked in and there he was.

"What strikes you is that there are a lot of good players at this standard who you can't believe are playing at this level."

Edwards lives in Stockport and will be staying over in Mansfield during his temporary stint.

The former Manchester City trainee, who had to be content with a place on the bench for the 3-0 win at Ebbsfleet last week, in anxious to get some game time at Field Mill.

"I missed the first three months of the season and since then the lads at Fleetwood have done really well," said Edwards.

"I've got back fit and training but there hasn't been the opportunity to get in the team.

"I wanted to go out and play some football and that's when the idea of the loan first came about.

"There were one or two others who wanted to take me but Mansfield was definitely the club I wanted.

"I remember playing at Field Mill last season and they are a club that should be in the league.

"The way the club is set up at the moment, and the results they are getting, it's a great time to come in.

"Hopefully the team can push for the play-offs while I'm here. There is always someone who comes with a late challenge and I think that team could be Mansfield.

"I have got a lot of league games behind me before I came down to the Blue Square Bet Premier two seasons ago for a year at Barrow, which was really good.

"I would like to think that experience will serve me well."


Freeman's feat is the future trivia question
Nottingham Post, Saturday, February 04, 2012

NOTTINGHAM Forest defender Kieron Freeman has joined an elite group of footballers who have played for all three major Notts clubs – Nottingham Forest, Notts County and Mansfield Town.


But what makes Freeman's feat so special is that the Nottingham-born 19-year-old appeared for all three in successive weeks.

After playing for the Stags in the last game of his loan spell in a 2-2 draw at York, Freeman made his first start for Forest in the FA Cup draw with Leicester City.

He then made a loan move to Notts County and made history after making his debut in their 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth.

"My dad told me I'd probably be a trivia question one day," said Freeman, who has been at Forest since the age of eight. "I didn't really have a clue but we had a little laugh about it."

After impressing in the Forest youth academy, Freeman was named in the first-team squad for a Carling Cup tie with Bradford in August 2010.

Freeman was an unused substitute as the Reds were beaten by their lower-league opposition.

"To go out and play for your boyhood team is the greatest feeling," he said.

"I was on the bench against Wycombe and Steve McClaren gave me 20 minutes. I came on at left wing and really enjoyed it.

"All my family are Forest fans. It is still surreal for me. To represent any club is a big honour but to play for Forest is great."

Freeman made his full Forest debut against Leicester last month.

Freeman made nine appearances in his two-month loan spell with Mansfield in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

"I have to give a lot of thanks to Paul Cox for having the guts to take me on board," he said.

"They want to get into League Two and most managers want to play their most experienced players to get there.

"For him to take a chance on a 19-year-old lad, I owe him so much."

The Welsh U21 international joins an elite group of players that includes striker Trevor Christie, goalkeeper Darren Ward, defender John Thompson and former Forest boss Colin Calderwood, who have turned out for all three clubs.

Worksop-born Ward started his career with Mansfield and made 81 League appearances before moving to Meadow Lane for £150,00.

He made over 300 appearances in six years with County and 123 for Forest from 2001-2004. He was also capped five times for Wales.

Right-back Percy Mills, younger brother of Notts centre-forward Paddy Mills, joined Notts as a youngster and stayed for 12 years.

He made a remarkable 434 appearances, guesting for both Forest and Mansfield during World War Two. Two of his brothers were killed in the war. Current Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson is Percy's grandson.

Colin Calderwood has made a name for himself as a manager in recent years with Northampton, Forest and Hibs.

But Calderwood, currently assistant-manager at Birmingham, was also sought after as a player and was capped 36 times by Scotland.

He began his career as a junior with Mansfield in 1982, making over 100 appearances before joining Swindon, Spurs, Villa and Forest. He had five games on loan at Notts in 2001.

John Thompson joined Mansfield last year after being released by Notts, where he skippered the side. He captained the Forest U19 team and made 129 appearances from 2001-07.

Half-back Bill Baxter joined Forest as an amateur in 1936 from local football after catching the eye with Nottingham Schoolboys.

His career was blighted by injury and he made only 18 appearances. He turned out for Derby County and Leicester before joining Notts in 1946.

He went on to make 153 appearances before moving to Grantham Town in 1954. He died in 1992.

Another wing-half, William Corkhill, made 288 appearances for Notts. Corkill was 41 when he played his last game for County, at right-back against Barnsley, in 1951.

He also played for Derby County and Cardiff City and had spells as manager of Scunthorpe United and Bradford.

He was later appointed senior Notts FA coach and ran the Earl of Chesterfield pub on Carlton Road.

Nottingham-born forward Ted May, who started his career with Notts Rangers, joined Notts in their first season in the Football League.

He scored nine goals in 38 appearances before moving to Forest (9-5) and signed for Mansfield in 1893.

His twin brother William, also played for Notts. May died in Nottingham in January 1941.

Much-travelled striker Trevor Christie helped Notts County to promotion to Division One in 1981.

Notts doubled their money when they sold him to Forest for £165,000 after bagging 79 goals in 196 appearances.

He also played for Leicester City, Derby County, Man City, Walsall, Mansfield, Kettering, Hucknall Town and Arnold.

Jason Lee had also done the rounds before he signed for Forest in 1994. He went on to play for Charlton, Grimsby, Watford, Chesterfield, Peterborough, Falkirk, Boston United and Northampton Town before joining Notts County and Mansfield. He is currently back at Boston as joint-manager.

Right-winger William Hodder was another whose career was launched by Notts Rangers. He joined Notts in 1888 scoring three goals in 22 outings before moving to Forest. He signed for Mansfield in 1893



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