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Boss demands ‘strong, positive’ response

22 August 2019

Manager John Dempster has called for a ‘strong, positive reaction’ from Tuesday night’s disappointing 3-2 defeat to Leyton Orient when the Stags take on Stevenage this Saturday at One Call Stadium.

The amber and blue held a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the break in the midweek Sky Bet League Two clash, but three second-half goals from the O’s saw the points go back to London.

The boss says that although the second-half display from his side was ‘unacceptable,’ he wants his players to ‘move on quickly’ with maximum points this weekend.

“The players and I were very disappointed after the [Leyton Orient] game. The second-half performance was unacceptable, the players know that and the staff know that.

“It’s important that we learn from it and move on quickly because we have another game on Saturday.

“We take full responsibility for our second-half performance – myself included. It’s important that we learn and move on quickly because we have a massive game on Saturday that we’re well capable of getting the three points from.


“From a professional point of view, it was unacceptable. We can’t allow something like that to happen.

“You don’t want to hold onto that disappointment for too long. You’ve got to use that negativity to fuel you. We have to move on quickly and make sure we’re fully focused for the next challenge.

“I want a strong, positive reaction from everybody involved. We’re a collective and we need to move forward together, and that’s what we’re going to do.

“We look like we’re going to score goals. I feel like we’ve got that right but the goals against column is against us and we need to tighten that up. If we do that, we will be a force.

“There are definitely things we can do better, without a doubt. We’re looking forward to Saturday. We’ll have a good training session today and tomorrow.


“We’re focused. There is a real focus from the group and it’s important that we put it into practice on Saturday.”

The boss also discussed Stags’ substantial injury list and confirmed that midfielder Neal Bishop and striker Nicky Maynard will not feature on Saturday, while adding that wing-backs Kellan Gordon and Hayden White are doubts for the clash.

“Our numbers are low – we’re supported well by our under-21s – but we have to make sure we get our best players out on the pitch,” he added.

“Kellan Gordon had a bit of a bad reaction after the game, his back’s gone into spasm. So he’ll be getting treatment and going to the swimming pool today.

“Hayden White had a whack where he broke his leg. There’s no long-term damage but as you can imagine he’s very tender. He was in on crutches yesterday.


“Nicky Maynard has got a grade one hamstring tear, which will look like a week or two [out of action].

“Bish [Neal Bishop] will probably be available for the Exeter game. It’s not a long-term injury but it’d be nice to have him available on Saturday.

“There’s no point crying about it, we have to get on with it. We’re fortunate that we have quality available in our squad and the XI that we put out on Saturday will be a strong one.

“Bishop won’t be available [for Saturday], Kellan will be 50/50, Hayden White will be 60/40 not to play. Nicky won’t be available for Saturday.

“Jimmy [Knowles] is still an under-18 and there’s a possibility he could make the bench on Saturday. Tyrese Sinclair will also be in contention to make the bench. So it’s brilliant for those players.”


One positive of John Dempster’s squad for this weekend is the availability of commanding centre-back Matt Preston, who returns from suspension following his straight red card against Morecambe in Sky Bet League Two.

“Pressie [Matt Preston] is a defender – in the current climate it’ll be great to have him back. It [right centre-back role] is a role that Preston has done very well in last season.

“He’s a good head in both boxes as well, which is important at League Two level.

“It’ll be good to have him back. He’s been working hard, so to have him back in the squad will be brilliant.”

Due to the seemingly ever-growing injured list, the manager says the Stags will likely venture into the transfer market for ‘reinforcements.’


“We’ve been looking for reinforcements. They’ll be coming in over the next nine to ten days. The likelihood of getting someone into the starting XI on Saturday is slim.

“I’d say two to three maximum [incomings]. We’ll probably look at [signing players to play] through the spine of the team, so centrally.

“Andrew Burgess [head of recruitment] is working hard, currently speaking to agents and clubs from higher divisions.

“We’ll try and strengthen the team – there’s no point bringing people in for the sake of it.”

The manager also revealed that talks had been held with free agent midfielder Timi Elsnik, on loan with the Stags last season, but discussions had 'hit a dead end.'

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

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