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Archived News from December 2019

12th December 2019 22:01

Boss delivers honest assessment
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 07 December 2019

Manager John Dempster has delivered an open and honest assessment on this afternoon’s game against Cheltenham and the season so far.

The boss spoke to iFollow Stags after goals from Jonte Smith, Will Boyle and Alex Addai sentenced his side to a 3-0 defeat at One Call Stadium.

The manager, while speaking of the disappointing campaign so far, says that this afternoon’s result is ‘gut-wrenching.’

“There were a couple of times where we got into reasonable positions but in terms of shots on target, it didn’t happen enough,” he began.

“We’ve been very weak in our own box - the second goal just can’t happen. We tried to be positive with our substitutions but they didn’t come off either.

“It’s gut-wrenching. I think I have to take responsibility for the standards and spirit that needs to be drilled into the players.

“When they’re done properly, when you play badly you win, and when it’s close you’re on the right side of it.

“It’s about having that togetherness to get you through the hard times. At different stages of the season, we haven’t had that, and in crucial points in games, we haven’t had that.


“There has been heavy investment and it’s up to me to get the best out of them, and that hasn’t happened.

“I’m here to win football matches for this club and thus far, this season, we haven’t won enough games.

“I believe that we have a mountain to climb now, but we’re not dead. We need 17 wins from the remaining games. That’s the mountain we have to climb now - that’s how tough the challenge ahead is.

“Stranger things have happened - people have achieved bigger things and had bigger mountains to climb. There will be a team that comes [into the play-offs] late. The way we’re playing at the minute, it won’t be us, but it always happens in every league.”

The boss highlighted ‘togetherness’ and ‘character’ as key aspects to improve on if the Stags are to make anything of this season.

“Togetherness is key, the boys pulling together,” added the manager. “It’s a difficult time, nobody can hide away from that - the whole football club is frustrated.

“It saddens me that I’m the man on the front line. Of course, I’ll never give up the fight, but that togetherness and fight is up to us to get through this.

“I’ll never give in. Of course [I still believe in myself]. Without being over-confident, I’ll always believe in myself. I believe in my values and I believe in this football club. I want it to be successful because of all the people I’m connected to.

“It hurts me as much as anyone. At times like these, straight after the whistle, it’s an emotional, difficult time to take, but of course, that’s when you need character.

“So far we haven’t seen it [character]. So far, there hasn’t been enough. Equally, it’s up to me to find it and get it out of the players.”

Reflecting on the loss to the Robins, the boss thanked the ‘excellent’ supporters for their backing during a frustrating afternoon.

“When you look back at the game, they’ve scored two very poor goals [to concede] and one on the break. But that’s the difference.

“I felt for the supporters today. I know I’ve been getting a lot of stick and I got some walking off today but I feel for them. They’re a passionate lot who want to come and watch their team get results, and this season we haven’t had enough.

“At time, the criticism has been over the top, but today I thought they [fans] were excellent. I think they deserve credit because this has happened too often.

“When you pay your hard-earned money to come and watch your team play, it’s your passion, and I understand their frustration.”

John Dempster also spoke of the performance of the officials this afternoon: “It was interesting because the officials before the game were very professional and spoke well with both teams, but they were emphasising to me what a massive game it was.

“So they’d obviously done their research in terms of our league position. Being honest, the occasion probably got the better of them today.

“It was a pressure cooker at times. He [referee] made some big mistakes and booked people that shouldn’t have been booked and failed to book players that deserved it.

“He had a tough afternoon as well but that’s not why we’re stood here having lost 3-0 at home. We’re stood here having lost 3-0 at home because we haven’t been good enough.”

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


'We need 17 wins now and it's a mountain to climb' admits Mansfield Town boss John Dempster after Cheltenham defeat
CHAD.CO.UK, BY JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 07 December 2019

Under-pressure Mansfield Town boss John Dempster refused to give up his play-off ambitions, despite a 3-0 home defeat by Cheltenham that left them down in 18th place.

Dempster also sympathised with fans over the poor run of form.

“I believe we've got a mountain to climb, but we're not dead,” he said.

“I think we need 17 wins from the remaining 26 games.

“That's how tough the challenge is to get in the play-offs.


Stranger things have happened and teams have had bigger mountains to climb.

“There will be a team that comes late, that always happens, but the way we're playing at the minute it won't be us. It is gut-wrenching.”

On the Cheltenham defeat, he said: “Their togetherness and spirit was probably the difference.

“At times it was a decent League Two fixture but they scored two very poor goals and one on the break in an otherwise even game.

“They are a side that can play badly and win at times, but this season even when we've played well we've lost. That's a”

Stags were booed off at the end and Dempster said: “I felt for the supporters today.

“I know I've been given a lot of stick, but they are a passionate lot who want to come and see their team get results and this season we haven't had enough.

“At times the criticism has been over the top but today I thought they were excellent.

“Considering where their team is in the table and some of the performances, I think they deserve credit.

“When you pay your hard-earned money every week to come and watch your team and it's your passion, I understand their frustration.”

Referee Sam Purkiss angered both managers with his decisions and booked Dempster at one point.

“The officials said before kick off that it was a massive game and, being honest, I think the occasion got the better of them today. When the referee came over to book me he looked like a rabbit in the headlights,” said Dempster.

“It was a pressure cooker at times and he made some big mistakes. He booked players that should not have been booked and failed to book some that deserved it.

“He had a tough afternoon but it's not why we lost 3-0 at home. It's because we haven't been good enough.

“I have to take responsibility for the standards and spirits that need to be driven into the players as when they are done properly, when you're playing badly you still win. When that happens consistently it's not luck.”

He continued: “I am obviously not managing the group well enough. They're a decent group at this level, maybe not as good as some people make out.

“But there has been heavy investment. It's my job to get the best out of them and that has not happened.

“I will never give up, that comes from my upbringing. The strongest steel goes through the hottest fire and I have been absolutely torched at times. I will always believe in myself.

“It's the old cliché of both boxes. We're leaking too many goals and not scoring enough and that's a recipe for disaster.

“So far we haven't seen enough character in this dressing room. Equally it's up to me to get it out of the players.”


Shot-stopper reflects on defeat
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 07 December 2019

Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik offered thoughts on his first Sky Bet League Two appearance in almost one year, despite defeat against Cheltenham Town at One Call Stadium.

The Austrian shot-stopper had racked up three appearances this season - all coming in the Leasing.com Trophy - but was yet to feature in the league until this afternoon.

His last outing came against rivals Notts County on 08 December 2018 before suffering a cruel ACL injury that prematurely ended his season.

Now back at full fitness though, he was able to share his thoughts on returning back to action in Sky Bet League Two.

“It was obviously nice to be back out there playing again,” he told iFollow Stags.

“You don’t realise how much you miss it, being out for a whole year, but all the credit has to go to the medical staff and manager for believing in me.

“As well as to Aidan [Stone] and Conrad [Logan] because that’s really how I got back to training the way I have been.

“The manager called me up on Friday and told me I was starting and I think I blurted out that I was buzzing. It was a nice feeling, and it was nice as I say that he believes in me, so hopefully I’m going to try and repay him.”


The Stags were condemned to a 3-0 defeat on Saturday afternoon, and the 33-year-old marked the contest as one to be left frustrated with.

“It was a frustrating one, especially for the supporters to watch. If you take away the goals it was actually a good performance - in the second half there weren’t many shots on target and I didn’t have too much to do throughout the whole game.

“We’re working on it at the minute, we’re trying to figure out what’s gone wrong and it’s really, really frustrating but I think we just need to stick together.

“The first one [goal] was a great ball by them, I was trying to make sure I caught it but the guy came in to head it. The second was probably a mishit because everyone’s at the back stick and the guy at the front read it.

“And then the third one, you’re chasing the game and it’s a typical counter goal they’ve scored.”

The former Exeter man also believes confidence will play a key part in the remainder of campaign as his side look to ascend the league standings.

“I think confidence definitely plays a part,” he added. “You look at the top [of the table] and sometimes teams are there not because they have the best players but because confidence makes a big difference.

“The fans have got big expectations of us and so have we. We’re just disappointed.

“If we were to give up now, what’s the point in carrying on, I might as well go on holiday now. We have to believe. Nobody’s really pulling away, it’s still a tight group so we need keep picking up results to stay in there.

“Looking back at other games we’ve played well, we’ve got a game plan, we’ve excellent players but sometimes things don’t go for you. Every player goes home before talking about the game on a Monday.

“Every player’s looked at their performance so all we can do is go back and do our best again.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Bobby's interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Bobby Olejnik delighted with league return and not giving up on promotion dream with Mansfield Town
CHAD.CO.UK, BY JOHN LOMAS, Saturday 07 December 2019

Goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik was delighted to be back in a Mansfield Town shirt in a League Two match today, one day short of a year since he suffered a serious knee injury.

It wasn't the best of days as Stags crashed 3-0 at home to Cheltenham Town, but Olejnik said they were not giving up on their promotion dream.

On his return to league action, he said: “It was obviously nice to be back playing a game. Being out for a whole year you don't realise how much you miss it.

“All the credit has to go to the medical staff and to the manager for believing in me, also to Aidan (Stone) and Conrad (Logan) for pushing me.

“How I have got back and all the training is down to those two.


“They have been unbelievable in training and I just wanted to challenge myself against them.

“It's nice to be out there again.

“The manager called me up on Friday and said I'm going to make a change and play you. I think I just blurted out that I was buzzing. It was a nice feeling.

“It's nice the manager believed in me and I am going to try to repay that.”

On today's game, Olejnik said: “It was frustrating. If you take away the goals conceded it was actually a good performance.

“There weren't many shots on target and I didn't have much to do.

“We are talking amongst ourselves, trying to work out why it's not clicking at the minute. We just need to stick together and work as hard as we can.

“You look at our dressing room and no matter what game we've played, we've got so many great players in there so there's something not quite right at the moment.

“We can out-play any team in the league but we just have to better in both boxes.

“Confidence plays a part. The way the results are going, the atmosphere at home games is sometimes not the best.

“The fans have big expectations of us and so have we. All we can do is keep going and train as hard as we can.”

But he stressed there was a lot of the season still to play and Stags could yet come good.

“If we were to give up now, what would be the point of playing? We might as well go on holiday now,” he said.

“We have to believe. You look at the league and no one is really pulling away. We just need to stay in there and keep picking up some results. It's almost halfway though the season and so why not have a good run in the second half.

“It's happened before - teams have done that. There is only us stopping ourselves from doing that.”


John Radford
Thank you all so very much for your birthday wishes - it really does mean so much to me. I also want to thank you for your loyalty and support during these difficult periods. I feel a huge amount of responsibility for our current situation. I want to reaffirm my commitment to you as chairman - I will make sure we turn this around. Hopefully my wife has got me a good birthday present this year!


"That's the complete away performance" - Cheltenham Town manager Michael Duff after the 3-0 win at Mansfield Town
By Jon Palmer, 7 DEC 2019, gloucestershirelive.co.uk

What did you make of that performance?
I thought it was the complete away performance, to be honest. We scored three goals, could have scored several more and then the defending when the ball is coming in the box, winning first contacts, first headers, blocking, Chris Clements made one unbelievable block and Scott (Flinders has hardly made a save. They had a bit of pressure, but they are a good team with some good players, make no mistake about that. I thought we were excellent.


One of the better performances in a series of very good away performances?
Yes, winning 3-0 away from home you are going to struggle to find things to pick out of it to criticise the lads. First half we could have used the ball slightly better, but we have been resilient away from home, really resilient, but forgotten to use the ball. Today we hurt them in loads of areas, our overloads in wide areas for the first goal and chances in the second half, 2 v 1 and they bring someone over to make so we make it 3 v 2 and they bring someone over, so we just put another one over there. We got good balls in behind them again, so I was really pleased with every facet of the game.

Jonté Smith off the mark in the Football League
Yes, Jonté has his first League goal, Grant Horton we managed to get on the pitch for his debut and he'll remember this forever. It's been a good day all-round and I thought Alex (Addai) was brilliant today and looked like a proper centre forward. They had a decision go against them, but five minutes before that we had the same thing happen to us, which would have been a penalty as well, but he is working hard and I was pleased for him. He got through the 90 minutes as well.

Did you think the early incident involving Alex Addai was a penalty?
Yes. I thought it was a penalty and potential red card as well as he was the wrong side of the defender. I know they'll come out and say the same thing, so you could say he was consistently bad, the referee. But I thought he got both decisions wrong.

What was it that pleased you most about the performance?
The use of the ball and the chances we created. We know the shape of the team has looked good and we have been resilient, difficult to beat generally. We conceded three during a poor 45 minutes last week, but I can't remember Scott making many saves and we gave three goals up. That's been there and it's been good, but today we got back to trusting each other with the ball again and using it and doing the patterns that we work on.

You've had a number of draws recently, was this performance a step up from some of those?
Yes. We have been resilient, but not used the ball well, as I said. We've not put two halves together, but today we stitched two halves together and were resilient, using the ball well. It was much better.

Has it been a difficult week, after what happened on Saturday and then the draw on Monday?
No, not for me. Control the thing I can control. I can control the second half performance because we should have been better and that's down to me. The result and what happens after that, there is no point worrying about it as you can't control it. It's whats ifs and maybes. What you can control is getting a performance in the next game and that's what we've managed to do.

What has happened this season, compared to last season, is that the away form is suddenly exceptional
It's bizarre how it's gone from night and day. There was a lot of work behind that. I'd like to think the staff and the players need to take credit for that. The players need to deliver the performances, but we did some soul-searching and a few other things to try and change the psyche of the team because we knew we hadn't become a bad team. It was the same shape and the same players, being asked to play in the same way. I have touched on it before, it was a perception thing and we were going away from home trying not to lose, while at home we were going to win. You don't always win, but we had the mindset to go and try and win. That's what they've managed to change for every game now and we very rarely change what we do. When we do it well, it's performances like today.

Based on today, would you say you look like a top seven team?
Well, we are in the top seven at the minute, so yes. It isn't me dodging questions, but I take it one game at a time. Two weeks ago people were saying we'd only won one game in eight. I don't get obsessed with it, we've won the next game, brilliant. Learn from it, learn what we did well and things we could have improved on and move on to the next one. Keep trying to win the game in front of you. That's authentic. I want us to get promoted, but it's in me and I want to win every game. I wanted to last year as well and we couldn't do it. The mindset is win the one in front of you.

How big a moment could that be for Jonté Smith, scoring his first Football League goal
Yes, well he had a difficult Football League debut and was take off after 45 minutes, but you don't make a judgement on players on 45 minutes. We see him in training and he is a threat. He has great feet and wriggles out of situations and you don't know how he does it. We did a session on Thursday with 1v1s, mainly working on the defenders but nobody could get hold of him. He's not particularly quick, he always seems to get a shot off and he does land on a goal. I am delighted for him because he's come in, worked hard and it's always pleasing when you see people who put the work in, get the rewards. It doesn't mean he'll start every week and his contract is up in January, so we still have to re-assess that. On a personal level, I was delighted for him.

Alex Addai has six in eight starts, how pleased are you with that scoring ratio?
He is working hard, he's infectious and I was delighted for him. He looked like a centre forward today, he didn't look like a winger. He played in the middle of the pitch, recovered into the middle of the pitch when they had the ball. A lot of his work was on the corner of the box rather than on the touchline and that's something he's been working on a lot. Again, it's pleasing to see people working hard and getting the rewards they deserve. You don't always get them. He was another who was hooked at half-time against Colchester, but we have a squad for a reason and the game wasn't panning out the way I wanted it to. Today it did, which is why we didn't make a change apart from Grant.

You saw Max Sheaf doing some extra running after the game, what does that say about the culture now?
I think it tells you as much about the individual. He wants to learn, he'll be disappointed not to get on the pitch. You can take the disappointment, go home and sulk and let your ego get in the way of it and blame everything else about why you are not playing and all that, almost half disappointed the team's won as you think you might not get in next week. But he is a young player who has unbelievable ability, fantastic attitude and he's as fit as a fiddle. That's why, he's doing an extra 10 yard run to everyone else. I am a firm believer and I said when I couldn't win a game at the start, if you work hard enough it pays you back a lot of the time. Things like that, that's player driven, it's not me telling him to do it, it comes from within.

Some people were worried you didn't have Reid or Varney, but with both Addai and Smith on target, does than allay your fears?
So was I worried! It's opportunities. At the moment the two centre forward shirts are waiting to be taken, with chopping and changing and there have been six or seven nailed on starters for the most of the season, but there are always opportunities for people and that's every day in training as well. The players are made fully aware of that. They get plenty of time off, plenty of down days, but when they are in, they are expected to work hard. I had to work hard in my career. I wasn't particularly good, but I managed to do all right. If I can do things like that, I am adamant better players than me, which I think we have in our team, can do the same.



Latest | December 2019