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We’ll go into big match with confidence - manager

19 November 2019

Stags’ boss John Dempster says that his side will go into Saturday’s match at league leaders Swindon Town 'in a positive mood' off the back of six consecutive away matches without defeat.

Mansfield’s away form has been a key strength to the season, having lost just twice on the road this term.

The manager says that his side will go into the weekend’s game against the high-flying Robins with the aim to return to One Call Stadium with all three points.

“Swindon are in good form and have some very good players,” he told iFollow Stags. “At home, they’re very well-supported. It will be a good atmosphere.

“We’ll be going into the game in a positive mood because we’re unbeaten in six away from home. Our home form’s been poor, but our away form is very good.

“We’ll go there and we’re hoping to return with three points. We’ll prepare as we always do throughout the week, we’ll look at their strengths and weaknesses then prepare ourselves.


“We’ll concentrate on ourselves because we feel we have a strong squad that has performed very well away from home. We feel that there are clean sheets in the squad.”

Reflecting on the Stags’ most recent fixture, a 0-0 draw at Macclesfield, the Mansfield boss discussed the way he set his side up for the match.

“It was a difficult game and the conditions were hard to play in [at Macclesfield],” he added. “We found it difficult to play on the pitch and they were very strong and resolute.

“Going through the team, I think Conrad [Logan] and the back-three were very good. We played with one sitting midfielder and two advanced, while Macclesfield used two sitters and one advanced [midfielder].

“We were hoping to get more play in their final third and create more opportunities but because of the conditions and sometimes a lack of quality, we didn’t get the ball in the right areas for long enough.

“We played with two centre-forwards like we have done for the majority of the season, while a lot of teams play with one. It’s more positive and attacking to play with two strikers. To say that it was a negative setup, I’d disagree.


“If you were to say both teams cancelled each other out a little bit, that would be a fair assumption.”

The manager also discussed the way his side defends corners, adding: “We don’t always have 11 players back from corners. If you take the Colchester game as an example, we set up a certain way.

“Colchester had two players out taking the corner, which allows them to either play short or put the ball in the box – so we send two players out to mark them.

“We have the goalkeeper in between the sticks and two players on the goal-line as zonal markers, one in the front post zone and one in the six-yard box. So that’s four players.

“Then you need to mark the player that goes onto our goalkeeper, which is then five players. We also need to man-mark the pod that are going to attack the players, which is another four players.

“Then we mark the player which is on the edge of the box, as if you don’t mark that player he can land on the ball. That’s 11 players.


“The debate is an interesting one as you’d either have to sacrifice the front post zone or the six-yard zone and I think over the course of the season, you’d concede goals.

“When you look at top level football, it’s something that Liverpool and Manchester City do. The teams that currently occupy the automatic promotions spots [in Sky Bet League Two] do the same.

“It’s not something that’s uncommon or negative – it’s something that other teams do.”

Stags’ reserves are back in action this afternoon (Tuesday), with the manager revealing that a ‘mixture’ of senior and young players will feature in the clash against Rotherham United at The RH Academy.

“It [team for reserves] will be a mixture. Omari [Sterling-James] will play, Jimmy Knowles will play, Jordan Graham will play.

“We’re hoping that Davo [Craig Davies] will come off the bench for some minutes. Bobby [Olejnik] will play in goal.


“It will be a mixture of some experienced pro’s, some of our under-21s and some under-18s. It’s a fixture we’re looking forward to.”

After striker Danny Rose went off injured against Macclesfield, the boss offered an update on the frontman. There was also an update on the welfare of wing-back Hayden White.

“Danny [Rose] is going to be out for three to four weeks with a hamstring strain. As you can imagine we’re all very disappointed and so is Danny.

“He’s a good healer – we saw that with his ankle. It will be three to four weeks, but the sooner he’s back, the better.

“Hayden White will be scanned again on Thursday because we need to check whether the last bit of pain that he’s got is just bone bruising, or whether we need to potentially get the rod that’s in his leg out, which would mean a longer time out for Hayden.

“He’s had a really frustrating time and he’s desperate to be back and fighting for the football club. He’s a big part of the squad and we’re hoping for a positive result on Thursday for Hayden.”


Two players who missed Saturday’s match against the Silkmen through injury were midfielders Otis Khan and Neal Bishop. The manager added: “Otis [Khan] will train on Thursday – he’ll be out with the medical team again today and they’ll be putting him through his paces, making sure he’s ready to return.

“Bish [Neal Bishop] had an issue with his back – he’s also had tonsillitis. We’re hoping he’ll be back in tomorrow to do a light session.

“Otis has [a chance to play on Saturday]. We’ll have to see how Bish [Neal Bishop] is over the next few days.”

John Dempster also revealed that he had been accepted onto a UEFA Pro Licence course, in order to further his self-development.

“I’ve been accepted onto my [UEFA] Pro Licence [course] – it’s something that I applied for last season.

“I’ve been picked along with a number of lucky candidates and I’m very pleased to be picked to go onto it and very appreciative of the football club for supporting me.

“I think I’ll probably be one of the youngest candidates there so I’m really pleased with it. It’ll certainly improve my network and it’s a highly-acclaimed, recognised worldwide qualification.”

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

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