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Archived News from March 2003

5th March 2003 12:35


Mansfield's assistant manager John Gannon hailed "three crucial points" as his side held on for a 3-2 win against Luton.

Gannon said: "We were having heart palpitations by the end. We seemed to be in control of the game, but one slip and we ended up with an anxious last 10 minutes.

"Fair play to Luton - they kept at it. They are pushing for a play-off spot and didn't want to lie down.

"But that was three crucial points. It was a big jump for us and nicely sets up the weekend's big game at Cheltenham.

"We haven't had a great deal of luck recently, and conceding late goals that cost us points in the previous three games really hurt us."

Evening Post, 05 March 2003

Assistant manager John Gannon was delighted Mansfield Town managed to hold on to a 3-2 win over Luton last night and believes the victory will help the team "grab the game by the throat" when they travel to basement boys Cheltenham Town on Saturday.

Rhys Day, Iyseden Christie and Wayne Corden were on the scoresheet for the Stags as they completed their first home-and-away double of the season, although they were made to sweat after Tony Thorpe made it 3-2 eight minutes from time. Despite taking their points total to 36, the Stags are still in the relegation zone, behind Huddersfield on goal difference, who suffered a 3-0 home reverse against QPR.

Gannon said: "We seemed to be in control of the game at 3-1 and were looking to push on and keep it that way. But there was a slip and it made it an anxious last ten minutes.

"It's a great three points and they are crucial now we are in the run-in. It's a big jump for us and sets us up nicely for the trip to Cheltenham at the weekend."

He was pleased with the contribution of Bobby Hassell, who made a return at right back and teenager Craig Mitchell, who made his first start for the club he has always supported.

Junior Mendes played on the right side of midfield while Liam Lawrence was dropped to the bench.

But Gannon said it was a squad game and all the players will have their part to play in the remaining 11 games.

He said: "Ben Doane is ill and that made it a simple choice to bring Bobby back in, and we just feel we needed a change in midfield.

"We didn't think Liam was quite firing at the moment and we saw Junior's pace as a way to get round them.

"Mitchell's a young boy and he has been champing at the bit to have a go and I thought he was excellent. "We now have a decent squad of players and they are all fit and sometimes it is about who is in possession of the shirt.

"If we feel we will have to make a change for tactical reasons then we will do that.

"We have made it clear to the players and I am sure they will understand there will be changes along the way."

"We need to stick together because it is a squad effort and the boys have responded to the decisions we have made."

The win brought an end to a run of three games where the Stags conceded points to late goals, but Gannon is positive with the way the team has been playing and confident they can move on from here.

He said: "I don't think it is recent performances that will have worried people, I think it is recent results.

"If you lose points in the final minutes it is worrying for everyone. It hurts and we don't like it.

"I think we were good against Oldham, we battled down at QPR for an hour with ten men.

"But three points gives us another chance to get a run together and that could ease a lot of problems.

"Getting three points will help us go to Cheltenham on Saturday, grab that game by the throat and try and win the match."

Former Stags striker Shayne Bradley has joined Lincoln City on a month's loan from Chesterfield.

Evening Post, 05 March 2003
Mansfield Town 3 V 2 Luton Town

I Just hope Mansfield Town get on and secure their four wins as quickly as possible.

Manager Keith Curle targetted five wins to stay in Division Two before last night's victory over Luton.

And I don't suppose I am alone among those who follow the Stags hoping that they get the other four soon.

Because even though I was not born a Mansfield fan, I don't know how much more of this we can take.

They may still be in the bottom four, but last night's win can only do wonders for their confidence, particularly with a big game at Cheltenham on Saturday looming.

In beating Luton - who became the first team this season to fail to take a point off the Stags in two games - Mansfield showed all the qualities essential in the battle for safety.

It was the sort of gutsy performance we have come to expect because the team never dies nor packs up.

They caused plenty of problems for the Luton defence and found their shooting boots as well, converting the chances when they arose.

A change of personnel brought Craig Mitchell alongside Iyseden Christie, who took his season's tally to 20, up front with the pace of Junior Mendes on the right causing Sol Davis such a rough ride that he could have easily been sent off.

Had Paul Taylor been refereeing, he probably would have, but just as I was keen to question the ability of Saturday's official, it has to be said that last night's official Clive Wilkes had an excellent game.

However, the reason for their success was more than just managing to put the ball in the net.

But they showed the togetherness in battle by not letting two mistakes ruin their evening and held on to a win, the true value of which will only become apparent as April turns to May.

Bobby Hassell was back in the side and gave Stags that extra dimension in attack as well as a more-than-handy long throw and he will have been delighted to have set up two of the goals.

And the crowd played their part too with the first chants of 'We are staying up' swirling in the stiff breeze that appears a constant at Field Mill.

That's the spirit. Everyone is in it as one and it could make all the difference.

But the last eight minutes, after the impressive Tony Thorpe had reduced the margin to 3-2, seemed to go on forever, exasperated by three minutes of injury time turning into six.

Having seen the Stags concede in the last few minutes in the last three games, it was all hands to the pump and all prayers to The Man upstairs but the tonic of three points arrived at exactly the right time.

If they had thrown it away, I don't know how they would have coped. It could even have been the beginning of the end.

Although the disappointment of the late goals still leaves a horrid taste, there must be some satisfaction gained from four points from games against QPR, Oldham and Luton.

It shows the Stags are moving in the right direction and, if Curle thinks four more wins will do the job, then six matches against teams in the bottom half should prove enough to get them.

But the benefits of a united effort were illustrated last night and now is the time to build on the roll.

The old advice stays the same, including ignoring league tables and other results, sticking together and grinding out the points they need.

Hopefully, the frantic minutes of whistling can also be avoided and a perfect end to the season can be realised.

Curle likes to be positive and, following last night's result, he has ever reason to feel just like that because, on paper, they have a great chance.

They just have to make sure they continue to do the business on grass because there's no room for complacency. Etc, etc.

I'm sure you know the drill by now.


Latest | March 2003