Can ‘worst team in Stags’ history’ make Marriott a Wembley winner at last?

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ALAN Marriott is determined to finally win a major final and see ‘the worst team in Mansfield’s history’ become heroes.

After a season of injury, the Stags stopper starred in the defeat at Bath City last weekend to all but cement his place in Saturday’s FA Trophy starting line-up at Wembley and said: “We have seen the posters saying ‘be part of history’ and we know if we win we can go down in folklore here.

“I know some people have said we are one of the worst Mansfield Town teams ever this year, and our finish in the league reflects that.

“To hear that does hurt, but people pay good money and are entitled to their opinion. It would be a boring game if everyone was in agreement and sometimes it spurs you on.

“Players react differently. Some need an arm round their shoulder and others need a kick up the backside. But you have to take the rough with the smooth as a professional - and it’s mostly the rough!

“I know at Wembley the fans will be 110 per cent behind us.”

He added: “I have lost in three play-off semi-finals and two play-off finals with Lincoln so I have never won in a major final yet.

“I still get the mick taken out of me for crying after them. So it would mean a lot to win at Wembley, particularly as I will have family there to watch me.

“I was delighted with my performance at Bath though I would have preferred to have won the game.

“It is good to bounce back after a bad game with those two goals I conceded against Gateshead. As a keeper, if you make a mistake then nine times out of 10 it’s a goal.

“If I am selected on Saturday I would feel sorry for Neil Collett as he played in the early rounds, as did David Grof, and it would be soul-destroying for him.”

STAGS head to Wembley with a 15-man squad after the FA refused to rescind Steven Istead’s red card appeal.

The tigerish midfielder was shown an instant red for a foul after only 15 minutes at Bath City last weekend and today Stags were told their appeal had failed and Istead will now be banned for four matches, one added for a failed appeal.

“I have to be careful what I say about referees or I will be in trouble again but I don’t think Saturday’s referee understood and I don’t know if he had ever played football himself,” said boss Duncan Russell.

“It was the softest red card I have ever seen in football. I have never see anything like it. It was a tap.”

After his dismissal, Stags lost 2-0 in a poor display and Russell added: “Before the sending-off we were in charge and I thought we were going to win it quite easily.

“But I think the sending-off worried the rest of the players as Stevie Istead was dismissed for such a weak challenge and they were worried about missing Wembley too. I am sure that’s what happened.”