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Archived News from December 2002

23rd December 2002 17:22

Stags goal hero praises new boss
CHAD website
GOAL hero Andy White spelled out just what a difference new player-manager Keith Curle has made on the park.
As Stags won 1-0 at Barnsley with White's 50th minute strike and recorded their second consecutive clean sheet since Curle came into the team, White said: "Having the manager out there has made all the difference.
"We now have someone out on the pitch who takes command and talks and encourages you which we didn't have before.
"You feel much more part of a team and it makes a massive difference.
"I needed the break I had at Crewe and feel very happy to be back. I can't speak highly enough of Dario Gradi.
"Obviously our gaffer has liked what he's seen of me and put me in and it was very pleasing to get the winner."
Assistant manager John Gannon said: "It was a great finish from Andy top drawer stuff. That will give him more belief in himself.
"The gap at the bottom is now closing and people are looking over their shoulders. People can now see we are really giving it a go.
"We said before the game at Barnsley that we were going there to win it. If that didn't work out we'd have taken a draw but in the end it was a great result.
"In the first half we defended with our lives. It may not have been pretty at times but sometimes you have to do the nasty jobs and everyone stuck to it well.
"We felt we were letting them come on to use too much so we told them to tighten things up second half.
"Iyseden was unlucky with the penalty. It hit the bar but two inches lower and it would have been a goal. But we told them that was gone and the match was still there.
"It is not easy to go somewhere like Barnsley as they are in the scrap at the bottom as well. You know you are not going to get everything your own way. We just had to make sure we did not let them dictate."
Just one point now separates five teams at the bottom with Stags having a great chance of building on their first back to back wins of the season with Boxing Day's visit of Stockport (1pm).
Tom Curtis (thigh) and Neil MacKenzie (knee) both face fitness tests for that one
Evening Post, 23 December 2002

Stags' assistant manager John Gannon says top performances will get the Stags out of relegation trouble, regardless of what any other team does.

Andy White's 50th-minute winner at Barnsley put Keith Curle's side level on points with Huddersfield and Peterborough.

Just four points separate the bottom nine teams in the Division Two table. But Gannon said it is far too early to think about events elsewhere as Stags recorded their first consecutive victories of the season and went two games without conceding a goal.

"All we are worried about is our performance and, if we get that right, results will come," said Gannon. "It is far too early to worry about what other teams are doing.

"We went to get a win and we defended for our lives, sticking boots and bodies in the way, which hasn't always happened this season.

"We were letting them come onto us a little bit too much. We had to be tighter across the pitch and our passing let us down but we improved all those aspects in the second half."

Iyseden Christie missed a penalty in first-half injury time, the fifth spot-kick the Stags have missed this season.

Gannon added: "Whoever is positive and takes the ball, we don't mind. Iyseden has been in great form and wanted the penalty but it was one of those things. If it had been a couple of inches lower, it would have been a goal.

"We had a number of chances to finish them off but we still held strong at the back."

Stags' home clash with Wigan Athletic has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 28.

The game was scheduled for January 4 but Paul Jewell's side are still in the FA Cup.
Evening Post, 23 December 2002

Barnsley 0 v 1 Mansfield Town

All of a sudden, we are left wondering what all the fuss was about.

Not that the task has been completed yet, you understand, and the managerial staff at Field Mill will be underplaying individual victories until safety is assured.

But it is difficult for Mansfield Town fans to avoid going into the festive period with huge smiles on their faces.

Saturday's game at Oakwell was not the best spectacle they have been involved in this season and they have certainly put in performances when their attacking was more potent.

But, had you asked any of the 1,000 or so about both these aspects at 4.50pm in South Yorkshire, they wouldn't have given a monkey's.

Four points now separate the bottom nine in Division Two. They're back in it.

Again, it was the defence that have to take the plaudits because they held firm in the face of a bit of an onslaught in the first half but, once Andy White's goal had turned the home crowd against their team, they were firmly in control.

Two wins and, perhaps more importantly, two clean sheets, will lead to many Stags loyalists having to be pinched but, again, there was a lack of the panic that has been evident for most of the season and many will see Keith Curle's inclusion in the team as no coincidence.

His calming influence has done wonders for the side in the last couple of weeks and Stags now have that experienced leader that they have been lacking since the departure of Les Robinson.

And the fact Curle can still play a bit as well obviously helps.

In the end the victory could have been more comfortable, although, in the first half particularly, Kevin Pilkington had to be at his best to prevent Barnsley from taking the lead.

The missed penalty, Stags' fifth without success this season, proved to be academic but would have provided a little bit of breathing space, that would have been welcomed in the seats behind the goal that were occupied by supporters who have witnessed a few too many ding-dong matches this season.

None of those missed spot-kicks have yet cost Mansfield results.

At the moment, it might save a few minutes if a goal kick were awarded every time a Stags forward was up-ended in the penalty area.

The foundations of a successful relegation avoidance campaign are only useful if they are built upon and, with confidence probably now at its highest point in the whole season, they have a chance to push on.

But that won't happen if they underestimate Stockport on Boxing Day, which, on paper, looks like the most winnable of their games over the Christmas and New Year period.

If they do slip up, lots of their hard work will have been undone and they would probably be back in the cart.

The situation at the bottom is just too tight for any complacency.

At the moment, Curle can do no wrong and will need to keep motivating his team in the same manner to dig themselves out of the mess and, above all, not let this result, and last week's 4-0 success over Blackpool, go to anyone's head.

Christmas doesn't leave much time for celebration if you are a footballer. But, if they can build on these two performances, they are going to have a great chance of getting out of the relegation zone.

With more performances and defending that Scrooge would be proud of, they can get out of it.

But this is not a time for the players to pour themselves a drink and reflect on how wonderful life is. There will be enough fans doing that for them.


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