BIG TWO COULD BE OUT FOR BIG MATCH
BIG TWO COULD BE OUT FOR BIG MATCH
Evening Post, 16 April 2002
MANSFIELD are likely to be without both Chris Greenacre and Adam Murray for Saturday's potential crunch match against Carlisle United.
That is the scenario if Cheltenham manage to secure promotion with a win over the Cumbrian side tonight.
Twenty-eight-goal Greenacre is struggling with a groin problem.
Murray, who scored the seventh goal of his loan spell from Derby County in the 3-1 defeat at York on Saturday, has aggravated an ankle problem.
Stags boss Stuart Watkiss is facing up to a play-off campaign as he expects Steve Cotterill's side to get the three points they need to book their place in Division Two tonight.
Watkiss says Mansfield have handed the automatic promotion place to the Robins "on a plate".
He will be attending the game at Brunton Park to complete a report on Saturday's opponents.
If the managerless Cumbrians gain a draw or a victory from the game then Cheltenham will need to get something from their trip to Plymouth on Saturday, the final day of the regular season.
The Pilgrims secured the title last night with a 4-1 win at Darlington.
Watkiss said: "If the result goes against us tonight then it is very unlikely that they will play against Carlisle.
"If Cheltenham don't win and we have got any chance then we will have to see, but it does not look good at the moment."
Watkiss said he is only attending the game because Carlisle are visiting Field Mill on Saturday.
He said: "I know it is a coincidence but I am only going because we have got Carlisle ourselves and I want to see them play.
"I have got to be able to concentrate on gathering information for our game, but it could be edge-of-your-seat stuff.
"I will virtually be compiling a match report with a blue-and-white scarf on and all we can do is hope Carlisle do us a favour.
"I'll certainly have my fingers, legs and everything else crossed.
"But Cheltenham have definitely got to be favourites now and knowing they just have to get one win will be a huge boost to them.
"I would have been much more confident had we still got a two-point lead over them.
"They would have really had the pressure on them then, but we have got to accept we have virtually handed it to them on a plate after losing at York on Saturday."
Watkiss was left fuming about his team's defending at Bootham Crescent after a goal from Murray gave them a 40th-minute lead.
He said: "It was terrible because we only had to defend about six situations during the whole game and we still managed to concede three goals.
"Our away form has been dismal and we have only got one point from the last 24 on the road.
"For a team chasing promotion, that is nowhere near acceptable.
"Things have to improve if we go into the play-offs."
Duo wait on Robins result
Chris Greenacre and Adam Murray will miss Saturday's home game with Carlisle through injury if Stags' promotion dream is ended tonight.
Greenacre hurt his calf muscle at York on Saturday while Murray aggravated an ankle
injury and both have missed training this week.
"If we are still in with a shout on Saturday then both of them will probably give it a go," said Stuart Watkiss.
"But if it's all over then both of them will be rested along with a couple of others to get them fresh for the play-offs.
"I will decide how to play things when tonight's game is done and dusted at Carlisle."
Watkiss preparing for play-offs
Stuart Watkiss admitted that The Stags must start planning for the play-offs as he does not believe Cheltenham will slip up at Carlisle tonight.
The Robins could finally put Mansfield out of their misery with victory at Brunton Park to end Town's automatic promotion hopes.
Cheltenham stayed over in Cumbria last night to be fresh for the big game and Stuart Watkiss admitted: "Carlisle is never an easy place to go but, with the prize at stake, you have to be realistic and say I expect Cheltenham to get a result.
"Without being defeatist I think, in all probability, we will have to start planning for the play-offs.
"It is a strange position to be in right now. Until tonight's game is over we are just left in limbo.
"I will be there gathering information on Carlisle for our game on Saturday and you can be sure that there will be no one in the stadium more on the edge of their seat tonight than me.
"There will always be a part of you hoping for an upset and I would have felt a lot more confident of us going up if we'd won at York.
"I have said since Christmas that 80-81 points would get us up. But if we win on Saturday now we will finish with 79."
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