EVENING POST REPORT AND REACTION
GANNON PRAISES ROCK-SOLID STAGS
Evening Post, 17 March 2003
Assistant manager John Gannon said Stags' ability to hold on to a 2-1 win against Swindon on Saturday was more pleasing than if Keith Curle's side had won by two or three goals.
Stags dominated the first half and gained goals from Junior Mendes, his first for the club in his ninth game after joining from St Mirren, and a Wayne Corden penalty. However, Alan Reeves pulled a goal back just before half-time and an inspired defensive performance made sure Mansfield held on to three vital points.
They remain in the bottom four but only goal difference separates them from Port Vale and Peterborough in the positions of safety above them.
Gannon said: "We stood up and we ground out a result and I think that is more pleasing than winning the game 3-1 or 4-1.
"We didn't give anything away in the last period and you have to take your hat off to the boys.
"We were magnificent in the first half and they did everything we required of them.
"Going forward, Corden and Mendes were outstanding and we could have been more ahead.
"Unfortunately, we were not marking correctly from the free kick and we gave them a little bit of life going into the break."
Curle missed the game through suspension and decided to play Adam Eaton alongside Rhys Day, who was cleared to play after an FA appeal went in his favour on Thursday.
"I don't think there was anything makeshift about Adam at centre-half," Gannon continued.
"And Rhys Day was absolutely outstanding. I wish I had a pound for every time he headed the ball away for us.
"We are a very good side to watch when we are in the sort of mood we were in in the first half.
"Sometimes you don't get games all your own way and we should have scored more in that period.
"We were left asking whether we had enough to stand firm and not give anything away and the answer was 'yes'."
Attention now turns to the McAlpine Stadium, where Stags will take on Huddersfield in a crunch match tomorrow night.
The Terriers, who lost 2-0 at Colchester are currently three points behind the Stags, having scored just 27 goals all season.
Gannon said the players have not needed to be made aware of how important the match is and it comes just three days before a tough-looking visit to promotion-chasing Cardiff.
He believes both of those games will demonstrate how much the team has learned from last week's horrific 3-1 defeat at Cheltenham.
He said: "We have beaten Swindon but we are going to be judged on this week. We have told the lads that it is no good winning and then going down at Huddersfield and Cardiff.
"We will see from those games how much we have taken on board from last week and we will be assessed at the end of the week."
JUNIOR LEADS STAGS REVIVAL
Evening Post, 17 March 2003
Mansfield Town 2 V 1 Swindon Town
It is a complete fallacy in football that some teams are consistent. The truth is that some are simply more inconsistent than others.
After all, even Arsenal lost on Saturday.
But what can sometimes be witnessed is a team taking on a totally different persona from the one that trotted out the previous Saturday.
In a swings-and-roundabouts season, the Stags provided a noteworthy example in their 2-1 win over Swindon.
But what will have come to the attention of the Stags faithful more than anything was the reassurance that they do have the stomach for the fight.
The most noticeable component of the performance was not that they took Swindon to the cleaners in the first half, but the fact they went into the break leading by just one goal.
That has come to be expected at Field Mill as the Stags have demonstrated their assets in this department on numerous occasions and against better opposition.
And the fact Junior Mendes managed to knock in his first goal for the club will do his confidence a great deal of good.
More heartwarming, however, was the way they rolled their sleeves up when confronted by a barrage from Andy King's men after the interval and managed to grind out what will, I have no doubt, prove to be three very important points.
Bodies managed to get in blocks, the ball was hacked off the line on two occasions and Keith Welch put in the sort of performance between the posts that must have left Kevin Pilkington - who was back on the bench - wondering whether he will have a part to play in the remainder of the campaign.
Adam Eaton was drafted in to the centre of defence and played with assurance in the absence of his manager and, alongside him, Rhys Day had probably his best game since coming to the club.
It might not have been pretty in the second half but it got the job done and, probably to the dismay of the purists who will be in denial, I'm afraid nothing else matters at this stage of the season.
But, as has been so often the case, the value of the points will only become apparent after the next match - tomorrow's crunch affair at Huddersfield Town - because they haven't been able to string two wins together since Curle won his first three league matches at the helm back in December.
The elation behind this result may be snuffed out very quickly if they don't do the business at the McAlpine Stadium.
And here is where the inconsistency comes in.
In recent weeks Stags haven't won matches in which they were the favourites and have helped themselves to three points against Luton, and now Swindon - games which I certainly didn't have on my five-more-to-win list.
They have proved they can do the job, even if it might have been a little bit nervy towards the end, and now they just have to try and knit together a run of games to take them away from trouble.
Success against the Robins needs to be the foundation of a push away and not a lonesome bright spot in a miserable spring.
When they need a result to stop the pack getting away, they generally come up with the goods but now they have to keep on doing it.
A similar performance will bring the necessary reward and sink Huddersfield deeper into the mire, which should be motivation in itself.
It was a nervy afternoon on Saturday, and I get the feeling we might just be subjected to more of the same.
But they have proved they can do it.
All they have to do is make sure the job is completed and make sure they are, well, less inconsistent.
I'm sure you know what I am getting at.
Latest | March 2003