STAGS boss Duncan Russell today branded Luton manager Richard Money ‘a sore loser’ and told Mansfield Town’s players that mention of Wembley is now banned until the end off the season ahead of their BSBP league trip to bottom side Histon tomorrow night (7.45pm).
Money believed the referee got key decisions wrong on Saturday as the Hatters had two players sent off and conceded a late penalty in Stags’ nail-biting FA Trophy semi-final success at Kenilworth Road on Saturday and also allegedly made comments to Stags’ assistant manager Paul Hall.
But, in his final press conference in which he will discuss the FA Trophy before the 7th May final, Russell today said: “I am not happy with what Richard Money said to Paul Hall, who is one of his former players. He said they had battered us and we needed to learn how to win.
“But we’re the ones who won the tie and we’re the ones who are going to Wembley.
“I am going to call him ‘Mr Richard Mancini’ from now on, because his handshake was like when Mancini shook (Mark) Hughes’ hand.
“It was pathetic and I can’t stand poor losers. You have to be chivalrous in defeat and modest in victory.
“No one likes losing, but you have to have respect for other managers whether you want to shake them by the hand or by the neck.
“You have to keep your feelings private and for a man of his experience it has shocked me really.”
On the ‘Wembley ban’, he added: “This is the last time I will mention Wembley now. We will put it to bed. We are going there on 7th May and will think about it nearer the time.
“In the meantime we will stay professional and I don’t want to hear the lads talking about it.
“Histon’s manager will think we are going there on a high tomorrow and it is probably the best time to get hold of us. Instead we must go there and show them why we are going to Wembley. We must make a statement and come out of the game with three points.”
Stags are now 14th, 16 points off the play-offs with five games in hand but refused to concede their promotion dream is over.
“I know our chances are slim but while ever we can mathematically do it we will scrap and fight every point we can get to try and get on a run as other teams are slipping up,” he said.
“I know what my players are capable of and any of them not performing at their optimum could jeopardise their chances of starting at Wembley.
“It is not just about what happens on a Saturday. It is all about the effort and enthusiasm they show from Monday to Friday too. The Wembley shirts are up for grabs.”
That begins tomorrow at a Histon side who are 10 points from safety and have lost four on the bounce.
Russell said: “We needed a late winner to beat them up here. They need the three points and won’t be sitting back and didn’t play at the weekend so will have fresh legs.
“Our fans will expect us to win but we will show Histon respect. They are a resilient side and very dangerous.”
Louis Moult (back strain) is unlikely to figure while decisions have also to be made on Kyle Nix (concussion), Ashley Cain (thigh strain), and Gary Silk (knee).
With such a hard 120 minutes of football on Saturday, Russell admitted he may have to tweak things tomorrow with skipper Adam Murray ready to step in for Nix while Adam Smith would be a straight swap for Cain.
If Silk is ruled out then Dan Spence would switch to right back with Paul Stonehouse at left back.
He could also use Kevin Sandwith there and recall Steve Foster to centre half.