STAGS manager Duncan Russell was a happy man on Saturday night after his side saw off Newport County 4-2 at Field Mill in the FA Trophy – and promised the fans a big name signing early next week, reports John Lomas.
“I hope this result is a really massive boost for our fans,” he said. “I am also now 99 per cent sure I will be able to bring in a player of the highest calibre on Monday who has played at the highest level.
“I think the fans will love it and he will give the rest of the players a massive boost.”
No names are being revealed, though there are strong rumours that it is 33-year-old former England international Lee Hendrie who played for 12 years at Aston Villa. Hendrie, also an England U21 international and former Sheffield UNited player, recently completed a spell at Bradford City.
On today’s game which took the Stags into the last 16, Russell added: “I was pleased for the boys, especially as we had to make so many changes in so many positions.
“It was a fighting performance against a very good side and it’s probably the first time we have beaten anyone above us.
“It was a relief and hopefully I will be able to go home and actually sleep tonight. It would be great to see this competition through to its fruition – that’s my aim.”
He added: “Everyone dreams of Wembley and I am lucky enough to have been there and the Millennium several times and always on winning sides too. It’s an experience you never forget.
“I was disappointed to concede two, though. The first was an own goal and unlucky as Gary Silk couldn’t do anything about it.
“But the second was from a set piece and we must stop letting in goals from set pieces or sides will come here and work to get corners and free kicks as they know they will get a goal.
“I said to them at half-time, don’t be complacent and start brightly. We knew they would come right back at us with that wind.”
“And they are a good side with good players so we expected them to have a time in the game when they would have the ball.
“I thought Neil Collett was outstanding in goal and pulled of some good saves. And I asked Paul Connor to go in there today and get me some goals and he did – that’s Paul Connor for you.
“He should have had a hat-trick. It is all about his presence out there. He is a journeyman and well known to everyone in this division. Having him in your side helps you win the psychological battle.”
Two-goal Paul Connor added: “It was nice to be back and get on the scoresheet with a couple of tap-ins.
“It should have had a hat-trick but their keeper did well at the end as I had headed it down and he spread himself well.
“I have had to bide my time after missing a game through injury at Christmas.
“It worked well with me and Keigan (Parker) today. He is a good player and would say himself that Mansfield has not seen the best of him yet.
“He is starting to enjoy his football again and getting his love for the game back.
“Both sides had players out. But that was a full Newport side and they tried hard in what is a big competition. So to beat them we must take the confidence that breeds into the league games.”
Newport caretaker-boss Tim Harris said: “No excuses. We had played missing but we still had lads out there with enough experience at this level of football to deal with this today.
“We have got to start winning football matches. And we won’t do that giving away goals like we have today.
“We started brightly enough to be fair but we made mistakes and Mansfield punished us.
“We made the changes at half-time, forced our way back into it and have our supporters, who had made such a long journey, something to cheer.
“I thought Mansfield’s goals were down to poor defending, not offsides.”