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NEWPORT PLAY-OFF 1ST LEG PREVIEWS
14th May 2019 0:18


Gaffer previews semi-final first leg
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Manager David Flitcroft held a news conference in a packed media room at One Call Stadium earlier today.

The Stags’ boss has described the competitiveness displayed by his charges in training sessions leading up to Thursday night’s play-off clash against Newport County, adding that his players are showing ‘real fight’ ahead of the match.

Mansfield will take on the Exiles at Rodney Parade on Thursday evening, before welcoming them to One Call Stadium on Sunday for the second leg of the semi-final.

The manager spoke highly of the season that Thursday’s opponents have had, before adding that he sees the play-offs as an opportunity to continue the good work shown by his players throughout the campaign.

“Newport have had a fantastic season,” he said. “Flynny [Michael Flynn, Newport manager] has done an unbelievable job.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2019/may/gaffer-pre-newport/

“When you get a cup run, it usually impacts your league form. I’ve seen that happen a lot, but it hasn’t done. It’s inspired them.

“It’s going to be some game, but one that we’re really looking forward to.

“We were brilliant on the day [3-0 win over Newport at One Call Stadium]. Then we went to Newport and it was a game that I would want to forget, with what happened to Danny Rose [suffering a broken jaw].

“But we have the opportunity to go there now after the season has finished and carry on what we’ve been doing well this season.

“A lot will be made of the form [going into the game], but we’ve set the right mood [this week] and there’s a real fight amongst this group of players.

“Today’s training was competitive, which I’ve demanded. We have a squad of 20 players who all want to play and be involved.

“If we get this right, it could be five Sky games in one season. There are a lot of positives. I see it [play-offs] as a real opportunity.”

The Stags’ boss described the extensive support given to him by chairman John Radford, chief executive Carolyn Radford and the Mansfield faithful this season.

“It’s a case of if you’re winning, you’re doing the right things. Just because you’re losing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing the wrong things.

“There are fine margins in these games. The group, for 95% of the season, have been an outstanding team.

“On Saturday, we froze in the first-half. But out of that, when we really chased the game down, I thought we looked threatening.

“That’s what we’ll do when we go to Newport, play with that intent that was there in the second-half at MK Dons.

“It’s a simple message [to the players], that over the season, we’ve got so much right. Stick to that formula and concentrate on what we’ve done well.

“The players know and understand that. We’ve had a phenomenal defensive record this season and our goal difference is the second best in the league.

“I think it [promotion] would mean so much to our owners, who have given it everything. They can’t give any more.

“It’s the same with our supporters this season. They can’t give any more. They’ve followed us away and the average gates are up.

“I have a group of players who are desperate [for promotion], and probably over the last three games have been over-desperate.

“We’ll be nice and relaxed going into this game knowing what the job in hand is.”

The manager says that Sunday evening’s annual awards dinner allowed the Stags to reflect on the successes of the season and refocus the team following Saturday’s disappointment against MK Dons.

“Saturday was difficult in every aspect. Saturday night was our low point. But then you wake up on Sunday to messages of support. Sunday morning was a completely different day - it was a day for fighting.

“Luckily, we had the awards evening [on Sunday]. It’s the best thing that could’ve happened, because we showed a montage of the season, and we could see how successful the team has been this season.

“You just realise that this group of players have had a really good season. It was a case for me at looking at the hope and moving forward, and the Sunday night dinner did that for us.”

David Flitcroft also revealed that centre-back Matt Preston is likely to miss both legs of the play-off semi-final, following the concussion he sustained in Saturday’s trip to Stadium MK.

“The only issue we had was with Matt Preston who came off with concussion [against MK Dons]. It was a bad collision he had with the ‘keeper, and he’s had concussion already this season.

“It’s something that’s really important that the football hierarchy are trying to get right [treatment of concussion].

“We have a duty of care for players, and Matty Preston will probably miss the game due to having concussion.

“It’s such a short turnaround, with Thursday and Sunday looming. We’ll then assess him after that. He’s been brilliant for us this season, and two games you’d want him to play in, he can’t.

“But that just opens up another opportunity for someone else. Our support and love is with Matty, but that opens up another opportunity for someone else.

“Ben Turner is made for these big games. His leadership qualities, he’s a brilliant person to have around.

“It’s been difficult for him, as we have the best defensive record in the league. Turns picked his opportunity up on Saturday [against MK Dons], and he was really good.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.

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Matt Preston hammer blow for Mansfield Town as play-off semi-finals loom
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Mansfield Town were delivered a hammer blow for the play-offs with the news that key defender Matt Preston will miss both legs to recover from his second concussion of the season.

However, boss David Flitcroft said that will open up an opportunity for the patient Ben Turner to show his worth in League Two’s meanest defence against Newport County.

Preston suffered a nasty blow to the head when challenging MK Dons keeper Lee Nicholls on Sunday and, having tried to carry on, went down in challenging Chuks Aneke and this time left the field with just 19 minutes gone.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/matt-preston-hammer-blow-for-mansfield-town-as-play-off-semi-finals-loom-1-9754197

“It was a bad collision he had with the keeper,” said Flitcroft.

“He has already had concussion this season. It’s not just topical, it’s something that’s really important that he football hierarchy are trying to get right. We’re trying to put things in place. We have a duty of care to players.

“Matty will probably miss both games due to having concussion for the second time this season.

“It’s such a short turnaround with Thursday and Sunday looming.

“We will assess him after that. There is a protocol to go through step by step.

“He has been brilliant for us this season and two games you’d want him to play in he can’t.

“Our support and love is with Matty but it just opens up an opportunity for someone else.”

Turner turned in a superb performance in the defeat at MK and Flitcroft has no qualms about putting the big man in.

“The press and pundits are obsessed with tactics,” he said.

But these games are won with people and Ben Turner is made for big games. His leadership quality and his defiance in not letting somebody get ahead of him - he is a brilliant person to have around.

“He said to me the other week, gaffer, whenever you need me I am keeping myself ready.

“It’s been difficult as we have the best defensive record in the league and the three lads have played phenomenally all season to lock out teams.

“Turns has been unlucky and had to be patient, but he picked his opportunity up on Saturday and was really good.

“When you work with him every day you realise why he has played at the level he’s played at and why he’s done what’s he’s done. There is a defiance about him. He is a player I want around.”

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Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft wants to be a manager at Wembley
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft would love to end the season as a winning Wembley manager.

After suffering the hurt of missing out on automatic promotion at MK Dons on Saturday, attention has quickly had to swing to Thursday’s first leg of the play-off semi-finals at Newport and Flitcroft said he was definitely looking ahead and not back at what might have been.

“I see this as a brilliant opportunity and it excites me,” he smiled.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-david-flitcroft-wants-to-be-a-manager-at-wembley-1-9754510

“I woke up on Sunday morning and thought, wow, I could actually be a manager at Wembley.

“Wembley has been a big part of me growing up as a kid as a passionate and proud England fan.

“It’s a special, unique place and somewhere I’ve been as an assistant manager. I would love to go back there as a manager. The prize is a phenomenal one.”

He said the players were also now looking forward and competition for a starting place tomorrow very high.

“Training has been competitive as I have demanded. There will be apologies for getting kicked in training. It is what it is,” he said.

“If we get injuries we get injuries. I have told them to show me they want to be involved in another massive game for this football club.”

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Forget the form book says Mansfield Town boss ahead of play-off semi-finals with Newport County
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft said he paid no attention to form books as prepared his side for the League Two play-off semi-finals against Newport County.

The Exiles go into Thursday’s first leg in Wales 10 matches unbeaten while Stags lost their last three games to miss out on automatic promotion.

But Flitcroft said: “The form will be in the game. If we go 1-0 up then we will be the form team.

“That’s how I look at every game - I don’t do ‘form’. When you are winning you’re doing the right things.

“Just because you are losing doesn’t mean you’re doing the wrong things.

“It’s about key moments and in one moment against MK Dons we didn’t do our job and accept responsibility on a corner. They scored a goal that took them out of the league.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/forget-the-form-book-says-mansfield-town-boss-ahead-of-play-off-semi-finals-with-newport-county-1-9754519

“They are fine margins in these games. But this group has, for 95 per cent of the season, been an outstanding team.

“Yes we’ve had three defeats but I analyse it more closely than that.”

He added: “I have looked at Newport’s successful run and other teams have had chances in them.

A lot will be made of form and that we’ve dropped out now. But we have set the right mood and there is a real fight among that group of players.”

Ironically Stags began the current season with a 3-0 home win over Newport - a score they’d like to repeat in Sunday’s second leg.

Flitcroft said: “It’s mad how it works out isn’t it?

“We were brilliant on the day, then we went to Newport and it was a game I would want to forget with what happened to Danny Rose on the day. It was one of those games you put to the back of your mind very quickly.

“Newport have had a fantastic season and Flynny has done an unbelievable job. Massive credit to them.

“When you get a cup profile team usually it impacts your league form - we’ve seen that happen a lot. But it hasn’t done to Newport - it’s inspired them.

“It’s going to be one hell of a game and one hell of a week, but one we’re looking forward to.”

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Mansfield Town boss David Flitcroft hits back at critics over use of Alex MacDonald as right wing back
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft hit back at critics who questioned his use of Alex MacDonald as a right wing back in Saturday’s defeat at MK Dons.

With Stags trailing 1-0 and struggling to create chances, Flitcroft pushed MacDonald into a midfield role after the break but was happy with the player’s first half contribution and, as a winger by trade and tenacious tackler, said using MacDonald as a right wing back was an obvious choice.

“He has played 85 per cent of his career as a right winger so it should have been the easiest game he has ever had,” said Flitcroft.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-boss-david-flitcroft-hits-back-at-critics-over-use-of-alex-macdonald-as-right-wing-back-1-9756014

“He has played 25 games a central midfielder, so the stats back up the decision I took.

“Was he better second half? A million per cent. But the game was totally different second half. They sat deep and we got on top of them.

“I’ve seen the decision being questioned and I am shocked.

“Alex MacDonald has been a right winger all his career, but suddenly now he can’t play right wing or right wing back - it’s quite incredible.”

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Awards night was perfect tonic to boost Mansfield Town’s devastated players
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Mansfield Town manager David Flitcroft believes having to attend Sunday evening’s club awards night was the best tonic his squad could have had after the heartbreak of missing out on automatic promotion the day before.

“Saturday was difficult in every aspect and Saturday night was a low point,” he said.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/awards-night-was-perfect-tonic-to-boost-mansfield-town-s-devastated-players-1-9756021

“But then you wake up on Sunday to messages of support and words of wisdom from people who are important in your life, it was a completely different day. It was a day for fighting, moving forward and planning for Newport.

“Luckily we had the awards dinner that night and it was the best thing that could have happened.

“They might have been moping and skulking around, but there were over 400 people at the awards.”

He continued: “There was a montage of the season and how it had gone and it’s mad when you look at how successful the team has been this season, what they have achieved and how far they’ve come with four in the EFL team and two in the PFA team.

“You just realise this group of players have had a really good season. We have hit a lot of our key performance indicators. It gave us hope moving forward at that awards dinner.”

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Newport County happy to be underdogs for semi-final against Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by JOHN LOMAS, Tuesday 07 May 2019

Newport manager Michael Flynn is very happy to go into tomorrow night’s League Two play-off semi-final first leg as underdogs against visiting Mansfield Town.

The Stags only missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of the regular season - a third defeat in a row - while Newport only scraped into the seventh and final play-off spot with a late goal against Morecambe to make it 10 games unbeaten.

“I’m quite happy with them being favourites,” said Flynn.

“They finished fourth, they finished above us in the league season, they’ve got a very good group of players, they’ve got an ambitious manager and a lot bigger budget than us.

“They’re rightfully favourites and we go into the game with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s going to be down to us to upset the odds.

“I think our league season was very good. We finished seventh with some big teams in there.

“Some of those bigger teams haven’t made it to the play-offs, so it’s a fantastic achievement for us as a football club.

“That’s down to the players and my staff.”

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/newport-county-happy-to-be-underdogs-for-semi-final-against-mansfield-town-1-9756838

Flynn admitted he was surprised the Stags didn’t go up automatically.

“I am, if I’m honest, considering the quality they’ve got in the squad.

The pressure is definitely on them,” he said.

“But that’s not my concern. I hope they continue their poor form and we’re at our best and we make it to the final.”

Mansfield were comfortable 3-0 home winners over Newport in the first game of the season.

“On the day up there we had one or two chances to get right back into the game,” said Flynn.

“It wasn’t to be and it was some poor defending that cost us.

“To be fair to the boys, they haven’t done that too often this season and I’m hoping that we don’t repeat that up there.

“But we’ve got the home game first and it’s going to be rocking at Rodney Parade.

“It’s going to be a big crowd and it’s going to be a tough game for Mansfield.”

He added: “I don’t think that was one of our worst performances at Mansfield, if I’m totally honest.

“Yes, they were better than us and they were stronger than us.

“They took control of the game in the first half, but they didn’t do that so much in the second half and they definitely didn’t do it at Rodney Parade.

“But they deservedly won their home game and it’s going to be tough.”

Flynn said the Exiles needed something to take Mansfield for Sunday’s second leg.

“I’m not looking to keep it tight; I want to take an advantage to Mansfield,” he said.

“If we don’t then we’ll just go for it on Sunday.

“But there is absolutely no pressure on us because we’ve already climbed a mountain to get into the play-offs.

“It’s a fantastic achievement. But we are going into to it to win.

“We want to make sure we get in a good position on Thursday and then we’ve got to do the same on Sunday, otherwise it’ll be Mansfield going to Wembley and we’ll be looking back on what could have been.

“But, if we go and produce the performance levels that we know we can do, we can cause a big upset.”

Only a late equaliser against Morecambe saw them into the play-offs at the weekend and Flynn smiled: “We never do things the easy way. “We were never going to be 4-0 up with 20 minutes to play at Morecambe on Saturday.

“They did very well on the day, especially in the second half, and they caused us a lot of problems.

“It was the most nerve-wracking two minutes of the season.

“It’s not the only time that my nerves have been tested as Newport County manager, though. It’s not doing much for my health.

“But for us to come through that and not lose when we weren’t anywhere near our best was another tick in the box.

“It kept that unbeaten run going and the only pressure is they’ve got to keep doing it now for another three games.”

He added: “I’d much rather be going into the play-offs with a 10-game unbeaten run than a 10-game losing run.

“It’s given the boys confidence and it’s showed them that they belong in the play-offs, because they’ve done it the hard way - like we usually do.

“We go in with confidence but there’s no good going in too confident and getting carried away because nothing is done yet.”

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