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Archived News from February 2014

18th February 2014 23:17

Cox: Defeat is a learning curve

Manager Paul Cox believes today’s 3-0 defeat at Oxford United will be a ‘massive learning curve’ for our players.

Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/cox-defeat-is-a-learning-curve-1361793.aspx?#MZPgFYvFYhg046Dr.99

Despite creating more chances than the promotion-chasing hosts, goals from David Connolly, Nicky Wroe and Deane Smalley consigned us to our first away defeat since Boxing Day.

Our manager insists that we had enough chances to win three matches, and over the coming weeks it is simply a case of taking those opportunities when they arise.

“We had enough chances on and off target today to win three football matches, comfortably,” said Cox. “At this level, it’s the team that scores first that usually wins the game.

“We created some good chances, especially in the first 20 minutes. We’re not talking about ones where people create their own chances, we’re talking about ones where the keeper shouldn’t stand a chance.

“That’s the thing what is frustrating for me, because the players are working hard, they’re putting a shift in, and their learning curve in terms of keeping the ball and moving it very quickly, is paying dividends.

“It’s just the quality and difference between the two sides today was finishing.”

Our boss continued: “Oxford are in a different place to us. They’re going to be in that top three. They’re geared for promotion with the stadium and their squad of players, and they’ve got that ‘know how’.

“I’ve said to the boys that this is a massive learning curve, because [Oxford] are one of the teams as a benchmark for us.

“Although the score-line says 3-0 and it looks as though we’ve taken a bit of a tonking, I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game.

“I thought that we played some really good stuff. We passed the ball well, created some really good chances and I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game.

“Even in the second half, when we were kicking against the wind, we were camped in their half for long periods. It’s frustrating, because we just need to take one of the numerous chances that we’re creating.”

Cox added: “With the chances that we had in the first 20 minutes before they scored, we should have been out of sight. We’re not just talking about long-range efforts; we’re talking about tap-ins.

“I’d like to see how many chances they had. I don’t think it’d be more than five or six, but they put three of them away.

“You look at the quality of Connolly, (James) Constable, (Dave) Kitson and Smalley, and that was the difference [between the two teams] today.”

On injuries which James Jennings and Martin Riley suffered, our boss said: “JJ pulled his thigh muscle and I think that’s looking like quite a bad one.

“’Riles’ we’ve got to have a real look at, because there was a problem around his ankle or achilles area. [The injuries] didn’t help us, but I thought the boys that came on did really well.”


Frustration for Cox as Stags’ defeat underlines desperate need for a goalscorer

Mansfield Town boss Paul Cox’s frustrations increased as his side were given a finishing lesson in today’s 3-0 defeat at in-form Oxford United, but he is still unable to bring in the goalscorer that would have made all the difference today.


Stags dominated the game and created the vast majority of chances, but it was the home side who showed the deadly touch that Cox is desperate to bring to the One Call Stadium.

However, he is currently unable to get any players out to free up cash, and he also saw his squad shrink at Oxford as he lost defenders James Jennings and Martin Riley with first half injuries.

On the striker situation, Cox said: “We need one and I have been saying that for a long time.

“We have been crying out for one for five or six weeks. The boys need a bit of help.

“We need to bring someone in who will rub off on the others and bring them on.

“We thought we had one in Emile Sinclair, It can be the difference between promotion and relegation at this level. We just need that killer touch.

“But I can’t do anything unless I can get someone out. I am being honest with everyone. That is what I am up against.

“It is frustrating as a goalscorer added to this group of players now would make all the difference with the number of chances we are creating, especially away from home. We just need someone to put them away.”

He added: “The chances we created in the first 20 minutes before they scored, the game should have been out of sight.

“We are not talking long range, we are talking tap-ins, that was the difference. They were opportunities where the keeper shouldn’t have stood a chance.

“You look at the quality of players like Constable, Kitson, Connolly and Smalley, that’s the difference.

“I would like to see how many chances they had, maybe five or six and they’ve scored three of them. That’s a good ratio.

“Their first goal was disappointing as we were so heavily on top at the time. We were passing the ball well and playing some good stuff.

“It was so sloppy. The build-up to it was sloppy and we let the ball get into our box too easily.

“You can’t do anything about the second goal. It was just a wonder strike. Then we went chasing the game and started leaving little holes.

“If we are not going to score then we need to get back to at least keeping a clean sheet.”

Cox continued: “Oxford are in a different place to us. They are going to be in that top three and are all geared up for promotion. They have got the know-how.

“This a massive learning curve for us and Oxford are a benchmark for us. But there wasn’t a massive difference between the sides today apart from the quality of the finishing.

“The scoreline reads 3-0 and looks like we took a bit of a tonking. But I thought we were the better side for the majority of the game. But you can’t argue with the score. You always get what you deserve in football.

“We had enough chances to win three football matches comfortably.

“We will all watch the DVD on Monday and I must make sure their heads do not drop now. It’s not a witch hunt, just about being more ruthless.

“Then we will have some finishing practice in training.

“Finishing is the most simplistic factor of the game. Polish up on that and we will be a decent side.

“I feel sorry for our supporters today as they should be going home with a bit of something and they aren’t.”

On the injuries, he added: “James Jennings has pulled a thigh muscle, and it looks a bad one. Martin Riley’s injury is in the ankle/Achilles region and we need to have it looked at. But I thought the boys who came on did well.”


Mansfield boss Paul Cox:
“If I’m honest I thought the game should have been won in the opening 20 minutes because I thought we had enough chances.We keep turning round and saying the keeper is in inspired form, but some of those chances he shouldn’t have been able to get to.

“We need to be more ruthless in the opposition’s box. A 3-0 scoreline looks like we have been dominated and beaten badly and how we have come away with nothing is extremely frustrating. We are left scratching our heads."

Read more at http://www.oufc.co.uk/news/article/00170214-mansfield-verdict-1363972.aspx?#jOHzVjzjsvUiJwUS.99


Lewis: We were brave

Oxford caretaker Mickey Lewis admitted he decided "go for it" by bravely naming four centre forwards in the 3-0 win over Mansfield.

Former Republic of Ireland striker David Connolly struck in the 27th minute, and Nicky Wroe and Deane Smalley added further second half goals as the U's equalled their biggest home win of the season and stretched their unbeaten run to eight games.

Lewis said: "We decided to go with four forwards to go and win the game, and this result makes our three away draws we've just had now seem even better results.

"I talked it over with Andy Melville and my coaching staff and we just thought 'let's go for it'.

Lewis found a way of accommodating experienced strikers Dave Kitson, James Constable, Smalley and Connolly, with Kitson dropping deeper.

Yet Mansfield could look back on missed chances as they had plenty of the game, but lacked a killer touch in front of goal.

It was Lewis's 49th birthday, so a third successive home win proved a pleasant birthday present.

He said: "I was trying to keep that quiet really. We rode our luck a bit in the first half, and the wind was awful so it was hard to get out of our own half.

"But lads have put their bodies on the line, Ryan Clarke made two great saves, and then David Connolly showed his quality. He was great all day, he just keeps the ball for you.

"All the goals were good goals, and the third goal showed the quality we have got."

Lewis added: "You can see when the first goal went in how the confidence is lifted.

"The players are a fabulous bunch to work with. It was a really good team performance. It's lovely to have three wins on the bounce at home, let's build on that."


Oxford caretaker Mickey Lewis told YellowsPlayer: "we were fortunate to be ahead at half time."


Clinical Connolly delighted with three points + match highlights video

DAVID Connolly was keen to dish out praise to Oxford United’s early rearguard action following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Mansfield Town.

A lot was made of caretaker boss Mickey Lewis’s decision to start with four strikers for the Sky Bet League Two clash.

But while goalscorers get the headlines, Connolly was eager to mention the vital role United’s back line played in keeping the visitors at bay.

Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke made two vital stops early on, while United’s defence withstood a barrage of attacks from Mansfield, who were playing with a strong wind at their back.

“It (the wind) was a big factor today because we struggled to get out of our half and we were indebted to Clarkey for keeping us in it,” Connolly said.

“David Hunt and Johnny Mullins were throwing themselves in front of blocks too, the whole defence did very well.

“It was a team effort to keep their score at nil, but while you can argue we could have been quite fortunate to go 1-0 up, in the second half we produced a much better performance.”

Connolly opened the scoring with a neatly-taken goal, his second at the Kassam Stadium in two games.

“It seemed a bit of a scruffy finish in the end,” he said. “It almost trickled over the line, but of course I’ll take it.

“Today was a really good three points and it was nice to contribute.

“We did not create too many opportunities and I’d love to get four or five chances a game.

“So far I think I have had two shots and they have both been goals, but that won’t last forever!”

Connolly was full of praise for Nicky Wroe’s long-range effort which made it 2-0 and gave United some breathing space.

“Nicky scored a cracking goal,” he said.

“The second goal was key and it took something special, because it deflated them a touch.”

He added: “We are at the business end of the season where you need to win matches and have goal threats in your team.

“You can’t be too gung-ho, but fortune favours the brave and credit to Mickey and Andy (Melville) for recognising that we need to win matches and putting out such an attacking team.

“We have some tough away matches coming up, and it’s not easy to win away from home, but a point on the road can be a good thing if you’re winning your home matches.”



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