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Archived News from July 2014

19th July 2014 0:24

video interview with Paul Cox, 16th July 2014


Trialists to feature against West Midlands duo
mansfieldtown.net, 16th July 2014
Boss confirms between four and seven trialists will feature in next two games.

Read more at http://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/article/trialists-to-feature-against-west-midlands-duo-1763593.aspx#7Ch0T43oVM05P8sr.99

Manager Paul Cox says that up to seven trialists could feature in our upcoming pre-season friendly matches against Aston Villa and Birmingham City - both at One Call Stadium.

Our team, who looked impressive during a 3-1 victory over Notts County last weekend, host Premier League Villa tomorrow night (Thursday 17 July) and Lee Clark’s Birmingham on Saturday (19 July).

Looking ahead to the two matches, our boss said: “It’ll be very different to [the Notts County] game. [Aston Villa] are a Premier League club with a number of players who’ve been at the top level for a number of years

“[The match will] give us a different game with different tests and as long as we’re getting something out of it then it’ll be a positive run out for us.

“We know that Villa are going to have a lot of possession and it’s a situation where over the next two games we’re going to have a number of trialists.

“We want to have a look at them, but I also want to be questioning our shape, our fitness levels, our desire and all the [other] little things that these games will test.”

Asked how many trialists could feature tomorrow night, Cox continued: “We’ve got a number that are training with us at the minute and I anticipate that over the next two games, there will probably between four and seven that we’re going to have a look at.

“We’ve got to be prudent with the timescale that we give them over the two games, because we want to get the lads that are already signed here a number of minutes on the park.

“We’ll try and ramp it up a little bit with the Leeds United game, Grimsby Town and Lincoln City, etcetera, but we want to get a lot out of these fixtures.”

Tomorrow’s match could see two of Villa’s summer signings, Joe Cole and Keiran Richardson - both ex-England internationals - make their first appearance for the West Midlands outfit.

“I think it’s a great game for the supporters,” added Cox. “Hopefully, they’ll come out, as they normally do, and support us and see an entertaining game.

“The last time a Premier League cub was here was the Liverpool game. The stands were packed; there was a great atmosphere inside the ground and it was a good football match.

“So we want to make it a good test for ourselves, but I’m aware now that we’ve had two good results and good performances, but I want teams to ask questions about us.

“I’d rather get all the ‘nitty-gritty [things]’ out of the way before the season starts and that’s why we’ve picked the opposition that we have.”

In team news, Ryan Tafazolli is expected to miss the next two matches due to an ankle injury he picked up in the win over Notts County, whilst fellow centre-back Luke Jones is rated as 50/50.


Nostalgia: Mansfield was the scene of a famous Aston Villa revival
birminghammail.co.uk, Jul 16, 2014, By Mat Kendrick

Mat Kendrick takes a look back at the Aston Villa tie with Mansfield that signalled the rebirth of the club


Calling it a field of dreams might be overdoing it slightly, but Field Mill remains the scene of a great renaissance in Aston Villa’s history.

Villa go back to the Nottinghamshire town tomorrow evening hoping to inspire another revival of sorts when they kick off their pre-season programme against League Two club Mansfield.

It’s a bit much asking Paul Lambert’s claret and blues - especially in a friendly - to replicate the rebirth of AVFC, which was sealed by then Villa boss Vic Crowe and Co on April 24, 1972.

But those Villa fans old enough to recall that Division Three promotion clincher will hope this summer’s first practice match at Field Mill will provide a glimmer of hope for the future as well as a warm glow from the past.

Mansfield was the scene of a famous Aston Villa revival
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Among those misty-eyed supporters will be claret and blue fanatic Colin Abbott, who, through interviewing most of the main protagonists from that era, has chronicled Villa’s 1970s comeback tour in his book Encounters of the Third Kind: Aston Villa’s Division Three Odyssey.

Abbott, for whom writing the book has been a labour of love, remembers the Mansfield moment as the culmination of a great adventure and a turning point in the club’s history.

“The first chapter explains how Villa came to find themselves in Division Three,” says Abbott, a Trinity Road season-ticket holder based in Worcester.

“It was a huge shock when Villa plummeted. At the time Villa were the most decorated English club in domestic football. Imagine Manchester United going down to the third tier now?

“It was due to uninspiring managers, poor signings and quality players being pushed out the door. That is my opinion, anyway, after talking to players from the time, though others may have a different perspective on the subject.

“The most significant moment is obviously gaining promotion at Mansfield on a Monday night in April 1972.”

Abbott notes the jubilant scenes after Geoff Vowden’s goal secured the point Villa needed for promotion to Division Two despite John Fairbrother’s late equaliser for Mansfield forcing a 1-1 draw.

“As the game entered the closing stages Field Mill was reverberating to the chants of ‘champions, champions, champions’ that the Villa faithful among the 12,454 chorused,” he writes in the book.

“The whistle blew to conclude the tie, the Villa fans vaulted the barriers and danced across the pitch, their team weren’t champions - yet - but they weren’t bothered, it was just a question of time.”

As if winning promotion wasn’t, in itself, a promising enough sign of a brighter future, Villa lifted the FA Youth Cup after sealing a 5-2 aggregate victory over Liverpool the day after the Mansfield victory.

One of their FA Youth Cup stars, a certain Brian Little, then scored on his first senior start against Torquay four days later as Villa clinched the title with an emphatic 5-1 win at Villa Park. It was certainly the catalyst for a meteoric rise. Within a decade the club were First Division champions and European Cup winners.

Abbott has loved writing the book, especially meeting and interviewing players he worshipped from the terraces as a boy. He got many of them back together as guests of honour for Villa’s home draw with Southampton in April, which coincided with his book launch at Villa Park.

“My bedroom wall was adorned by them all,” he smiles. “It didn’t matter if it was Charlie Aitken, who’d been there since William McGregor’s time - it certainly felt like it!

“Or Geoff Vowden, who’d joined us recently, just after the ‘71 League Cup final, from that lot across the city.

“I was fortunate in that I spoke with the majority of the lads who played in those Third Division days, the Riochs, Andy Lochhead, Ray Graydon.

“They should all be mentioned, really, as well as the youngsters such as Brian Little, Jake Findlay and so on who helped bring the FA Youth Cup back to Villa Park.

“Ray Graydon was more special than most hence I named my son Graydon Daley Abbott after the great man himself and another of our legends.”

Villa’s only trip back to Field Mill since 1972 was in May 1983 when a reserve side won 3-1 in former Stags defender Kevin Bird’s testimonial.

They go there tomorrow for another friendly with a string of newcomers, including assistant manager Roy Keane, hoping to help Lambert kick-start a modern-day revival.

It has hardly been vintage Villa in recent seasons as the claret and blues have battled relegation for four years in a row and the struggles could continue with Randy Lerner yet to find a buyer.

Abbott is relieved his beloved club have avoided tumbling down the divisions and not fallen to the depths of four decades ago, and he believes the Third Division revival can provide a source of encouragement for today’s struggles, even though finances have changed the game beyond recogntion.

“We have struggled of late, it’s no secret,” says Abbott.

“Unfortunately Martin O’Neill spent money like it was going out of fashion and now the managers and supporters are paying the price. Randy Lerner has decided to step aside and allow someone else to take Villa to the next level.

“He should be commended for what he has done in his short spell as custodian.

“Who knows, we have always been a bigger club than Chelsea and Manchester City - as the old adage goes, form is temporary, class is permanent.”

- Encounters of the Third Kind: Aston Villa’s Division Three Odyssey by Colin J Abbott is published by ABZ Publications and is available priced £16.95 from the Villa club store and other local bookshops, and online.


Stags aim to narrow keeper shortlist as big guns hit town
chad.co.uk, 15 July 2014

Mansfield Town are hoping to narrow down their goalkeeper loan shortlist this week as they take on big guns Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Leeds United over an exciting six day period at One Call Stadium.


The Stags, without a senior keeper on the books, used a Wolves keeper in the 4-1 behind-closed-doors win at Huddersfield Town last Thursday before Nottingham Forest’s 6ft 3ins Bulgarian U21 international Dimitar Evtimov (20) played in Saturday’s sparkling 3-1 home win over Notts County.

For tomorrow’s (Thursday) visit of Villa, manager Paul Cox has lined up a Birmingham City youngster with a Swiss keeper flying in to take part in Saturday’s game with Birmingham and Cox then needing to decide who to put in against Leeds United on Tuesday.

Cox also has another decent candidate in the pipeline if his club let him come and said he is in no hurry to rush into a decision.

“We will have a good look at a number of them and make sure we are heading in the right direction,” he said.

“Football clubs in general have been excellent with us and we have had faxes from clubs offering us keepers with Football League experience. Another is a Premiership keeper, not Lewis Price, who has shown an interest in coming to us.

“We have one whose name I don’t want to mention who we are in advanced talks with. We have agreed something with him, but there is a complication with his parent club as their first choice keeper may be on the verge of moving on and they would need to bring in another keeper before they would let him out.

“But I have seen him numerous times and he is held in very high regard.

“I thought Dimitar was excellent on Saturday and he is still in the frame. I have been very impressed with his attitude. To be fair I don’t think we saw him under a lot of stress on Saturday but everything he did, he did very well.

“After this Saturday we may have a second look at one of them before making a decision. But it is not something I am overly concerned about and I won’t rush into anything. We still have a good number of games left to play pre-season.”

Cox had hoped to bring back last season’s loan keeper Lewis Price from Crystal Place with the Selhurst Park club paying the bulk of his hefty wages like the end of last season.

But interest in Price’s services from another club look to have ended that possibility.

“Another club has come in who want to take Lewis as their number two so that now looks dead in the water,” said Cox. “We only paid £250 a week towards his wages last year so he was outstanding value for money for what he gave us and he is a great keeper and a great boy to work with.

“We’d like to thank Palace for helping us last year and hope we continue that good relationship with them in the future.”

A secretive Cox ran the rule over several unnamed trialists in the County game on Saturday and had half a dozen more come in on Monday, with some of them set to figure in the big friendlies this weekend.

“It is exciting to have three massive clubs coming here,” he said. “All three will test us and put us under stress and, hopefully, show us where our weaknesses are.

“It is good to win games. But sometimes it’s not a bad thing to lose in pre-season and see the bad in your unit and where things need improving.”

Cox plugged two of the gaps in his small squad this week when he signed left back Amari’i Bell on loan from Birmingham and brought in free agent midfielder Fergus Bell.

“It’s now all about match fitness and upping game time, said Cox. “Everyone has done 45 minutes so far and we will up that to an hour for the Villa and Birmingham games. Making anyone play 90 minutes twice in three days would kill the boys right now.”

Defender Ryan Tafazolli turned an ankle on Saturday and will miss the Villa game tomorrow, though should be fit for Saturday or Tuesday.

Luke Jones’ pre-season injury should be cleared up for him to face Leeds, if not earlier.

New signing Liam Hearn and Lee Beevers are both expected to be pitched in against Leeds with Hearn coming back from a serious knee injury and Beevers having had a summer operation on his problem shoulder.

Cox is hoping to add another behind-closed-doors game to let him look at players away from the glare and scrutiny of a public match.

Against a young Huddersfield side last Thursday, Stags triumphed 4-1 with goals from Ollie Palmer, Matt Rhead, Alex Fisher and a trialist.

Cox denied the club had received a bid for Sam Clucas last week and said there had been no new interest shown in his players.

“I am quite happy with that as I want to keep my best players,” he said.



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