Rookie boss John Dempster’s early season problems are piling up on him as Mansfield Town search for some consistency – and a little luck on injuries.
As good as they were in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Carlisle, they were as bad in last night’s second half capitulation against plucky Leyton Orient.
There are myriad reasons why Stags are failing to get going yet, not least the endless issues over players available.
It is still far too early for a section of fans to be questioning the appointment of Dempster after only four League Two games and I am sure he is learning bucketloads from every game. He has only one of the first four.
Only in the opening game at Newport has Dempster had his first choice back three, who did so well last season, available to him.
They have already conceded nine times in the five games, with only one clean sheet at Carlisle. That has to stop as it’s asking too much of the forwards week in, week out.
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Mansfield’s midfield were impressive in the first half against Orient but seemed to vanish after the hour mark as Orient upped the ante and Stags failed to match them.
They defended deeper and deeper and the inevitable happened.
I have defended keeper Conrad Logan against his critics so far and it did take two excellent stops from him in the first half to ensure Mansfield went in with a two-goal advantage.
However, after he inexplicably dropped an easy-looking cross, he seemed to suffer some jitters and knows he should have kept out Lee Angol’s low shot from a tight angle.
Angol had not scored for almost a year, but at his former club, he was delighted to see his hopeful shot somehow get underneath Logan to level.
That gives Dempster another dilemma. Does he back Logan and keep him in or throw new boy Aidan Stone in instead?
Logan is certainly not the only one to make mistakes, but keeper’s ones are always the most noticed. And he is likely to have fans on his case from minute one on Saturday.
Playing 3-5-2 continues to throw up the problem of not being able to play CJ Hamilton as an out and out winger – by far his best position.
But it is a great formation with the attacking full backs Stags have on their books.
With Neal Bishop looking more like the Bish of last season at Carlisle it was a huge blow to lose him for up to three weeks.
To also see Hayden White and Nicky Maynard pick up knocks last night to potentially join an already lengthening list of unavailable players, I can’t see that Dempster has any option but to strengthen before the deadline a week on Monday with at least an experienced midfielder.
If White is struggling then he may also need a decent experienced centre half too.
He does have talented youngsters on the bench. But the way the season’s start is panning out and the lack of patience of football fans, it could damage them by pitching too many in from the start of games.
From the joy of the win at Carlisle on Saturday and the comfort of a 2-0 interval lead last night, it’s not hard to imagine the horror Dempster felt inside as his team crumbled to a defeat no one saw coming at the break.
His mettle is certainly being tested and he’d do well to stay off social media to see comments being made.
But if he can cover the holes that are appearing and come through it all with a season that improves, these early problems will do his career no harm in the long run as it all goes with the job.