EAST ANGLIAN DAILY TIMES PREVIEW
Birthday boy wants three points
East Anglian Daily Times
February 14, 2003, 07:00
COLCHESTER United's acting player-coach Mick Stockwell would love to celebrate his 38th birthday with a precious win over fellow strugglers Mansfield Town tonight, writes Carl Marston.
Former Ipswich Town veteran Stockwell boasts a marvellous record at Layer Road. Incredibly, he has not missed a match since his move from Portman Road during the summer of 2000.
Stockwell has relished his role as a coach since Geraint Williams' appointment as caretaker manager, following Steve Whitton's departure on January 29.
And when he limped off with a back problem at Bristol City last Saturday, after just two minutes of the second half, he stood alongside Williams in front of the dug-out, urging on his team-mates to a fine 2-1 victory.
“I want to celebrate my 38th birthday with a win,” enthused Stockwell, who has played all 122 league games since his free transfer move from Ipswich.
“I've had treatment on my lower back this week. It clicked out of place at Bristol City, but I've had it clicked it back in and I'm feeling fine. I'll be able to play, just so long as it doesn't seize up overnight, which it shouldn't do. I certainly don't want to spoil my record of playing in every game since I've been at Colchester.
“We want to put our home form right, and we have a chance to against Mansfield. We just need to recreate the same sort of enthusiasm and effort that we have managed over the last couple of weeks,” added Stockwell.
The U's were soundly beaten 4-2 at Field Mill on November 1, but both clubs have moved on since then - Williams is in his third game in charge as caretaker with the U's, while Keith Curle took over from Stuart Wakiss as Mansfield boss in December.
“Mansfield are a dangerous team. They score a lot of goals,” warned Stockwell, who made his league debut for Ipswich 18 years ago. “It's a big game for both teams, although nothing will be decided on this one performance. We have 16 games left, which means 48 points to play for. We will not stay up or go down on this one game alone.”
Caretaker manager Williams has already masterminded a battling 1-1 draw at Stockport, and an excellent 2-1 win at Bristol City, since he stepped into Whitton's shoes. A new full-time manager will probably be announced some time next week, so Williams will be eager to further his own cause with encouraging displays against Mansfield and then at Brentford next Tuesday night.
Former Mansfield, Rochdale and Barnsley boss Steve Parkin, and Reading player-coach Phil Parkinson, remain the favourites for the Layer Road post, but Williams must be in with a chance.
“This game is an opportunity for us to take three points, and off a team near us in the table,” said Williams.
“Mansfield have improved defensively since Keith Curle took over. He has spent most of his career as a centre-half, so it's something he feels strongly about.”
Williams was also quick to praise birthday boy Stockwell: “Micky has a fantastic record at Colchester. It's testimony to his professionalism that he has not missed a game. He doesn't have to train flat out these days, at his age, so he has been able to assist with some coaching as well.”
The U's will continue to be without long-term absentees Gavin Johnson and Joe Dunne, in addition to defender Mark Warren (torn groin) and Kevin Rapley (returned to training yesterday after a hamstring and knee injury).
United's last home victory was a 2-0 success over Chesterfield on October 18. That was a Friday night success, so a repeat would be very welcome this evening.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Brown, Stockley, Chilvers, Fitzgerald, White, Stockwell, Izzet, Pinault, Keith, McGleish, Morgan, Williams, Coote, Duguid, Baldwin, Bowry, Atangana, Keeble, Canham, McKinney.
MANSFIELD TOWN: Welch, Doane, Gadsby, Daly, Eaton, Lawrence, Curtis, Williamson, Corden, A White, Mendes, Christie, Curle, J White, Disley, Mitchell, Hassell.
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