FLITCROFT, SWEENEY AND MARK COOPER REACTION
Manager describes 'hard-earned' away point
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 29 Jan 2019
Stags' boss David Flitcroft has summarised tonight's 1-1 draw at Forest Green Rovers as a 'hard-earned point' against a 'very good team.'
The Stags took a one-goal lead into the break courtesy of Jorge Grant, whose finish capped off a fine first-half showing from the amber and blue.
Despite hitting the woodwork and having strong penalty appeals waved away in the first-half, the Stags would be pegged back by a Reuben Reid header in the second period.
The manager reflected on the first-half chances for his side, but maintained that being defeated just once on the road in league matters this season is an 'impressive' feat.
"At 1-0, a team always has hope, and you have to take that hope from them," he said. "We hit the bar [twice] with Nicky's [Ajose] header and then the wonder strike from Ty [Walker].
"Then there was a penalty we should've had. Bar a few inches, we end up 3-0 up first-half. We really got about them in the first-half.
"Second-half they had a rally and were really moving it about well. They had nothing to lose and pegged us back.
"We then did earn the point and respected it. One defeat all season on the road is quite impressive.
"Granty's shot is instinctive. It's a fantastic finish. The cleverness by Nicky with the little reverse pass, and he's took it early with the 'keeper not set.
"We allowed crosses from their right-hand side a little too easily in the second-half. They kept coming and asking questions of us.
"The effort and togetherness of this squad coming down here again and competing like they have done, they gave us everything tonight.
"We'll go home with a hard-earned point against a very good team who win a lot of games here."
The Stags have been active in the transfer market this week, securing Fleetwood right wing-back Gethin Jones on loan until the end of a season, and seeing defender Ryan Sweeney commit his future to the Stags on a free transfer from Stoke City.
The manager spoke of what both deals bring to the club.
"With the Hayden White [injury], it does floor you. So we had to find someone who's been taught as a full-back," he added.
"He [Jones] is an adventurous defender who plays with aggression. He nearly scored early doors.
"He's someone that we've looked at for quite a while. He suits what we're trying to do here, either as a wing-back or a full-back.
"Stoke have been brilliant. Ryan's agent has been good as well. He's found a home here, a million per cent. The lads love him in the dressing room.
"He is a leader. He really balances that [left] side off. I think he's had a really good season - he's been excellent.
"We've established some assets in our team and I see Ryan as an asset for the football club.
"It shows progress. He's a young, good asset for the football club. It's up to me now to keep developing him and making him better.
"Greg [Abbott, head of football operations] is working hard on the balance of the squad and making sure our numbers are right.
"We're still working as there's another 48 hours as we speak. We're working on certain aspects, and if they come off, great.
"I've had two windows to balance the squad, tidy it up and get the age right down. We know we've come out of it [January] stronger."
Mansfield welcome Macclesfield Town to One Call Stadium on Saturday, an occasion that allows free entry for under-18s, following a scheme from chairman John Radford and chief executive Carolyn Radford.
The Stags' boss says it would be 'brilliant' to have 'young energy' inside the stadium on Saturday.
"The stadium against Tranmere was brilliant. You can feel the optimism. There's a stadium full of shared passion.
"The football is good and there is an energy about what we do. We want more fans in and want them to come down.
"That younger element that might have something planned, come down and bring your pals and have an afternoon at the One Call.
"It's your town and there is a togetherness growing. It would be brilliant to have that young energy and optimism."
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft happy with hard-earned point from rivals Forest Green
Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft was delighted to bring home a hard-earned and ‘respected; point from a 1-1 draw in their big game at promotion rivals Forest Green Rovers last night. But he knows how close his side came to taking all three points on the night.
“The effort and togetherness of this squad coming down here again and competing like they have done, they gave us everything tonight.” he said.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-boss-david-flitcroft-happy-with-hard-earned-point-from-rivals-forest-green-1-9564773
“We’ll go home with a hard-earned point against a very good team who win a lot of games here.
“But I have said it before - at 1-0 a team has always got hope and you’ve got to take that hope from them.”
Mansfield certainly came close to doing that.
“We’ve hit the crossbar with Nicky’s (Ajose) header,” said Flitcroft. “Then we had the wonder strike by Ty (Walker) - it was fantastic. He caught it perfectly. I thought it was going to dip and go in.
“And then there was a penalty we should have had. “Barring two inches we maybe end up 3-0 first half, and deservedly so. “We really got about them in the first half.
“Second half they had a rally and were really moving the ball about well. They had nothing to lose and pegged us back.”
He added: “We then did earn the point and respected it. One defeat all season on the road is quite impressive. “The lads have really dug in hard to get that one point, which is important.” Mansfield Town held to 1-1 draw at Forest Green Rovers Jorge Grant had made it three goals in two games with Mansfield’s first half opener and Flitcroft said: “Granty’s shot is instinctive. It’s a fantastic finish.
“It was also the cleverness by Nicky (Ajose) with the little reverse pass round the corner to Granty, and he’s took it early with the keeper not set. It was a really good goal.”
But Rovers battled back, and he added: “We allowed crosses from their right-hand side a little too easily in the second-half.
“We had a warning shot just before and we’ve got to defend better to try to nail that clean sheet. “They kept coming and asking questions of us, but we staunchly defend our goal.
“They penetrated us that once and that’s why we’ve not got all three points.”
Ryan Sweeney has found a home at Mansfield Town says boss David Flitcroft
chad.co.uk, Tues 29 Jan 2019
Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft said Irish U21 international defender Ryan Sweeney had ‘found a home’ with the club after agreeing a free transfer from Stoke City.
He also vowed to improve the youngster, who has impressed so much already. With six loan players on the books and only able to field five, Stags moved to take Sweeney permanently and were very happy to last night secure a free transfer with a sell-on clause.
“I was delighted to secure him on a permanent,” said Flitcroft.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/ryan-sweeney-has-found-a-home-at-mansfield-town-says-boss-david-flitcroft-1-9565039
“Greg (Abbott, football operations manager) has worked really hard getting it over the line and the chairman has supported us in that.
“Stoke have been brilliant. Ryan’s agent has been good as well. “There is a sell-on fee clause, but to pull off a free transfer is absolute credit to Stoke and the way they’ve handled it.
“I think they felt it was the right football club for him to come to and the right management staff to work with. “He’s found a home here, a million per cent. The lads love him in the dressing room.”
Flitcroft said of Sweeney’s attributes: “He is a leader. He is 6ft 5ins, left-footed and really balances that side off. I think he’s had a really good season - he’s been excellent.
“I wanted to reduce the age of the squad from when I took over - that was something we outlined from day one. “Probably after the first month I knew I wanted to work with him and improve him.
“We’ve established some assets in our team and I see Ryan as an asset to the football club, as is Matty Preston.
“It shows progress. He’s a young, good asset for the football club. “It’s up to me now to keep developing him and making him better. But he is a good student and loves training.”
Mansfield this week also brought in right wing back Gethin Jones on loan from Fleetwood as cover for broken leg victim Hayden White.
“With the Hayden White injury, it does floor you,” said Flitcroft. “So we had to find someone who’s been taught as a full-back. “Gethin is an adventurous defender who plays with ambition and aggression. He nearly scored early doors when he’d just come on last night but tangled accidentally with the goalkeeper.
“He’s someone that we’ve looked at for quite a while. “He suits what we’re trying to do here, either as a wing-back or a full-back. We can change the shape when we want to with him.”
Mansfield Town chase another new face before transfer window closes tomorrow
Promotion-chasing Mansfield Town are still hoping for another new face in the transfer window, which closes at 11pm tomorrow. Stags have already brought four new players in with Jordan Smith, Jorge Grant, Nicky Ajose and Gethin Jones signed on loans. The Stags have also made Stoke City loanee Ryan Sweeney a permanent signing.
But they are not finished yet and boss David Flitcroft said: “Greg (Abbott, head of football operations) is working hard on the balance of the squad, making sure our numbers are right and that we’ve got cover in positions.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/mansfield-town-chase-another-new-face-before-transfer-window-closes-tomorrow-1-9564886
“We’re still working as there’s another 48 hours as we speak. We’re working on certain aspects, and if they come off, great. “I’ve had two windows to balance the squad, tidy it up and get the age right down. We know we’ve come out of it stronger already. “Hopefully, come Thursday night, it will look even more impressive.”
Sweeney spells out delight after permanent move
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 29 Jan 2019
Defender Ryan Sweeney revealed he was ‘buzzing’ to have made the permanent switch to Mansfield Town following his side’s enthralling 1-1 draw with Forest Green Rovers.
Prior to kick-off at The New Lawn, where the Stags earned a deserved point, Sweeney cemented his place in the Mansfield ranks via a permanent move from Stoke City.
After 23 appearances and a solitary goal against Stevenage, the commanding centre-half has slotted into the back-three with ease.
And Sweeney, who has chalked up 12 clean sheets this season, disclosed his delight at signing a two-and-a-half year deal under David Flitcroft’s stewardship.
“The gaffer put it to me last month and I was really interested,” he said.
“Working with him and Futch day in, day out I feel as though I’m improving, especially in the way he has us set up.
“We’re solid at the back and it’s something I was really, really excited about and I was buzzing when it was done today.
“I think it’s all down to the environment the gaffer has us in. I’ve said before it’s an easy side to come into - everyone knows their roles and responsibilities - so it’s one of them where I try to give 100 percent every game.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time - and I’m really excited about the prospect of the next two-and-a-half years here.”
The 21-year-old completed yet another 90 minutes in Gloucestershire as Jorge Grant’s first-half opener was cancelled out by substitute Reuben Reid.
It meant that both sides walked away with a point apiece, and Sweeney was quick to praise his teammates’ work ethic that earned a battling point.
“I thought our shape was really good without the ball, and Mellis and Bishop were getting in really good positions in front of us.
“Nicking the ball back meant we looked good on the counter attack. We’ve hit the woodwork twice and scored a great goal - it was a great finish by [Jorge] Granty.
“We knew second half they would have a response because they’re a good side, especially at home, and they scored a good goal after bombarding us.
“But we come to these places where the conditions are tricky and we’ll take well-earned point.”
Sweeney then reflected upon the work that was undertaken in training to ensure that the Stags would not go home empty handed.
“We spoke about setting traps yesterday and they left themselves exposed to our players who have good pace,” he divulged.
“That was the game plan that worked well first half. They changed it a little second half and we struggled to get to grips with it a little bit but that’ll happen.
“You can’t dominate every game but we dug in to take a point.
“We knew that they were a good side because we had done our homework on them and they’ve been on a good run of form.
“The boys dug in really well second half, and when games aren’t going your way you have to try your best, which I thought we did tonight.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the defender's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later this evening.
Ryan Sweeney ‘excited’ to make Mansfield Town move permanent
chad.co.uk, Tues 29 Jan 2019
Irish U21 international defender Ryan Sweeney said he was excited to commit himself to Mansfield Town Football Club for the next two and a half years. Sweeney made his loan move from Stoke City permanent yesterday and said he had really enjoyed working under David Flitcroft and Ben Futcher and had also settled nicely into the area.
The 21-year-old has already helped keep 12 clean sheets in his 23 appearances and on making the loan permanent, he said: “The gaffer put it to me the back end of last month and I was really interested. “Working with him and Futch day in, day out I feel as though I’m improving, especially in the way he has us set up.
Read more at: https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town/ryan-sweeney-excited-to-make-mansfield-town-move-permanent-1-9565043
“We’re solid at the back so it’s something I was really, really excited about and I was buzzing when it was done today. “I think it’s all down to the environment the gaffer has us in.
“I’ve said before it’s an easy side to come into - everyone knows their roles and responsibilities on the pitch - so it’s one of them where I try to give 100 percent every game.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time - and I’m really excited about the prospect of the next two-and-a-half years here.”
He continued: “When I came in I knew the gaffer has assembled a really good side to challenge at the right end of the table. We are sitting in a good position and we’ve set it up nicely for the back end of the season. “You always want more and want to keep pushing and striving to be the best you can.
“Another thing that attracted me to the football club was that I have settled in really well in the area. I am delighted to be here. I’ve really enjoyed my time under this management.”
Sweeney played his part in an enthralling 1-1 draw away at promotion rivals Forest Green Rovers last night and said: “We knew that they were a good side because we had done our homework on them and they’ve been on a good run of form.
“The boys dug in really well second half, and when games aren’t going your way you have to try your best, which I thought we did tonight.
“We spoke about setting traps yesterday and they left themselves exposed to our forward players who have good pace. “That was the game plan that worked well first half.
“They changed it a little second half and we struggled to get to grips with it a little bit, but that’ll happen. “You can’t dominate every game, but we dug in to take a point.”
He added: “I thought our shape was really good without the ball, and Mellis and Bishop were getting in really good positions in front of us. “Nicking the ball back meant we looked good on the counter attack. We’ve hit the woodwork twice and scored a great goal - it was a great finish by (Jorge) Granty.
“We knew second half they would have a response because they’re a good side, especially at home, and they scored a good goal after bombarding us. “But we come to these places where the conditions are tricky and we’ll take a well-earned point and move on to Saturday.”
Neal Bishop @NealBish
Massive thanks to all that travelled, greatly appreciated and that fantastic support doesn’t go unnoticed!
Gethin Jones @GethinJones8
Made up to have made my @mansfieldtownfc debut last night! Hard fought point away from home! Thanks to all the fans for the support and the welcome messages
REACTION: Mark Cooper post-Mansfield Town
Mark Cooper speaks after an important point against Mansfield Town at The New Lawn.
The Forest Green Rovers boss discusses his side's lofty league position and the impact of his substitutions. He also gives an update after a nasty injury to goalkeeper James Montgomery.
A 1-1 draw with a decent Mansfield side, how are you feeling after that one?
I would say more than decent. They are a very good side and you look at the players they’ve got, they’re very accomplished, strong, pacey and they are always going to score goals, but we took them close today and we dominated the second half today and could have won it. We could have lost it as well, but we could have very easily won it. I’m pleased with a point and we’ve moved up a place so all good.
You went behind in the first half, it’s been a while since that happened but how did the players react?
There was nothing in the game. It came from our goal-kick because we kicked it straight down the middle of the pitch which I don’t really like to do but we did that and 10 seconds later it’s in the back of the net. We didn’t defend well and the shape of our midfield was wrong to allow Jorge Grant to go through where we should be picking him up. We rode our luck a little bit because Nicky Ajose usually scores those headers, he played for me at Swindon and he’d usually bury those, but we got away with that one, but after that there wasn’t too many and we dominated the second half.
With the attacking threats they’ve got, did it pose a problem that you had to address at half-time?
The problem is, if you’re pushing for an equaliser then you have to compromise somewhere, and you have to leave a bit of space at the back which is dangerous with Mansfield with the pace they’ve got. We changed the shape and went to four at the back with a diamond in midfield to make sure we stayed strong and we could get a foothold of the ball and dictate the game. I thought behind the ball our lads defended really well.
Were you pleased with the way your substitutes worked out today?
Reuben’s [Reid] had to be patient but he’s come on and scored a great goal and could have easily got us a winner, but the subs are there to make a difference and they did.
How important is it when you have a squad like you have, especially with the strikers, to make sure everyone is happy?
It’s difficult. It’s impossible to keep them all happy because they all want to play but when they get their chance they’ve got to take it. I can’t just put them on the pitch because they are a new signing or they are an experienced player but when they get their chance they get their chance they’ve got to take it whether that is half an hour or 10 minutes, they have to take it. That’s how you earn a place.
We had a couple of chances late on but the ball just didn’t quite bounce our way did it?
No, we had a couple of great chances from the edge of the box, I don’t know how Browny’s hasn’t gone in, I was right behind it and I thought it was in but it took a slight deflection and went just wide. Reuben had a one -on-one as well and we had a couple of scrambles at the end so we are disappointed that we didn’t get the winner but we are not too disappointed that we got a point as well.
How’s James Montgomery?
It’s a bad one. Horrible facial injury so he will need some treatment and he’ll be going off to hospital now.
Lewis Ward came in though and he made a really important safe against Jorge Grant. He got off his line really well. Are you pleased with what you’ve seen from him?
He’s done really in training, you can tell from the players reaction who are playing against him, he’s made a lot of saves and he’s one that will definitely push Monty all the way.
'It's not a nice injury,' - Cooper provides update on Montgomery
Mark Cooper has confirmed James Montgomery will be off to hospital for treatment on the injury he suffered during tonight's 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town.
Montgomery was forced off after an hour after Gethin Jones caught him on the face with his studs.
The keeper lost a couple of teeth and had a nasty gash and the Rovers boss provided an instant update on the keeper.
'He looks like he's been in a motorbike accident," Cooper said. "His face is horrendous. He's got a massive piece of his lip missing and teeth knocked out and he'll be going off to hospital, I don't think they'll be able to treat him here."
Lewis Ward came on for his Forest Green debut.
Cooper was pleased with the second half performance after a tactical reshuffle at half time.
He also praised Mansfield who he feels can challenge Lincoln City for the title.
Watch his post-match press conference here.
Keeper James Montgomery has teeth knocked out as Reuben Reid's equaliser helps Forest Green Rovers secure point to move fourth
Lewis Ward replaces keeper Montgomery who goes to hospital with facial injury after collision
By Henry Port
Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper admits there won’t be "anyone coming in but may be some going out” with just two days of the transfer window left after his side drew 1-1 with promotion rivals Mansfield Town.
The news comes after first-choice goalkeeper James Montgomery was forced to go straight to hospital with a facial injury after a collision with Mansfield substitute Gethin Jones, paving the way for Reading loanee Lewis Ward to make his debut in goal for Forest Green.
The 21-year-old came on in the 60th minute and impressed in his short cameo for the club, with Cooper agreeing the young goalkeeper was “brilliant” against the Stags.
Cooper said: “It’s like I said to the players after the game “take the positives out of that”.
“Lewis Ward’s come on and he’s looked accomplished.
“He’s looked really good and he’s been very good in training.”
As for Montgomery, it’s a nervous wait for Forest Green fans with his manager believing it looks as though “he’s been in a motorbike accident”.
“His face is horrendous.
“He’s had a massive piece of his lip missing, his teeth knocked out.
“He’ll be going off to hospital because they won’t be able to treat him here because it’s not a very nice injury.”
As for the game, it was the definition of a ‘game of two halves’ with the away side dominating in the first half and took a deserved lead early on through the impressive Jorge Grant.
The attacking midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the Forest Green area and after being laid off by Charlton loanee Nicky Ajose, his low drive beating Montgomery to his low right-hand side.
Cooper, however, is the first person to admit his side weren’t up to their usual high standards in the first-half.
He said: “We didn’t pass the ball quick enough in the first half and that led to us turning the ball over in good areas and have led to couple of attempts that hurt us,” he said.
“Obviously the goal is from our own goal kick and they hump it down the middle and they have one shot and it’s in.
“They hit the woodwork with the header and we didn’t move the ball quick enough.
“We were too slow with the ball and we had opportunities to hurt them but we didn’t.”
However, a change of formation to four defenders and a switch of personnel with Lloyd James replacing Nathan McGinley at half-time ensured his side got back to their best very quickly.
Rovers would find that all-important equaliser against the visitors through another one of their substitutes in Reuben Reid, who nodded in a typically-brilliant cross from wing-back Liam Shephard in the 70th minute.
Cooper believes that this deserved equaliser and improved performance in the second half came down to the formation and the impact Reid provided when introduced to the game.
“I felt Nathan (McGinley) looked a little bit tired, not quite at it,” Cooper said.
“He’s played a lot of games recently for a young lad.
“We just needed a little bit more control in the middle of the pitch and a diamond does that.
“It offers a lot of control in midfield and you can gain that much-needed control that enabled us to build our attacks.
“It helped to get our full-backs forward and it was where our goal came from and we had chances to win it as well.”
On Reid’s impact Cooper said: “Reuben’s a good player.
“He’s been unfortunate these past few weeks and the subs I’ve put on are all about pace and trying to get in behind teams.
“But I didn’t think that was the right option today, I thought we needed a target man up there so the midfield players and Christian (Doidge) could play off him.
“It was important we got it wide and exposed them that way.”
Following this impressive second-half performance from his side, Cooper sees his Forest Green side move up to fourth place, just two points off automatic promotion and simply described his side’s achievement as “wow.”
As for their next game, they look ahead to the short trip to Swindon Town, as they lcontinue their push for a place in the top three for an automatic promotion place come the end of the season.
Forest Green Rovers: (3-5-2): J Montgomery (L Ward 60), L Shephard, G Gunning (C), F Rawson, N McGinley (L James 45), J Mills, C Winchester, P Digby, R Brown, G Williams (R Reid 59), C Doidge.
Mansfield Town (3-4-3): J Smith, M Preston, R Sweeney, K Pearce (C), M Benning, N Bishop, J Mellis, J Grant, C Hamilton, N Ajose (G Jones 56), T Walker.