Moult dreaming of sibling rivalry

Mansfield new boy Louis Moult will be hoping to make his debut this Saturday and put one over on his brother in what is sure to be a white-hot atmosphere at Field Mill when the Stags entertain in-form local rivals Alfreton Town in the FA Trophy (3pm), writes Tom Head.

This clash is one of the more notable ties of the third round and 18-year-old striker Moult, who joined on loan from Stoke this week, could come face to face on the field with older brother Jake, who plays for the high-flying Reds.

Rated highly enough by Tony Pulis to earn himself a two-year contract at the Premier League outfit, he has some League experience too, having spent the earlier part of the season at Bradford.

“Bradford was a good experience for me, even though I was played out of position a lot of the time,” he said. “.I scored once, but was put on the wing when I’m a centre forward. I want to be up front and scoring goals”

This desire to put the ball in the net will only be intensified by a certain someone in the Alfreton side - Louis’ brother Jake, a central-midfielder, is set to be playing for Town on Saturday, and this could be the first time that the sibling rivalry has made it into a professional environment if both play.

Louis said: “When we were growing up, it certainly was competitive. We learned from each other but I would always end up chasing his shadow - he’d probably try and beat me up if we win!”

The banter will be a little less light-hearted come Saturday afternoon.

Moult was one of three transfer window deadline day signings on Monday.

Another was David Grof, a young goalkeeper with a lot of confidence, who has been brought in to provide some competition for Neil Colllett and is likely to begin the day on the bench.

Signed just before the transfer window closed from Notts County, the Hungarian is on loan until the end of April and relishing the chance to play for the Stags.

He said: “I’m here to gain some experience, I’m up for the physical challenge the Conference has to offer, and I believe Mansfield should be in the Football League.”

Grof (21) has already impressed early on in his career. Although his time at County has been short and included a six-day loan spell at Tamworth, it was at Hibernian where he had his finest hour.

In the summer of 2008, Hibs took on Barcelona in a glamorous pre-season friendly. By the time their Catalan counterparts had stuck six past the Scots, Grof came on for the last 20 minutes, an experience he will never forget:

He said: “I was facing people like Messi, and Henry. Even though we lost 6-0, we didn’t concede while I was on the pitch, and so I can say I kept a clean sheet against Barcelona!”

Also bolstering the defensive ranks on deadline day was right-back Dan Spence, a graduate of the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain, who can also play left back and in midfield.

Working with former Stags boss George Foster, a trial was arranged for Spence and, after impressing in training, boss Duncan Russell offered him a contract.

Saturday’s renewal of rivalries between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire appears to be too close to call.

Alfreton are flying high in the Conference North, and have won all seven of their away games in a season decimated by postponed fixtures.

They are four points off the top in their division, with six games in hand on leaders Nuneaton Borough. Losing once all season, their charge towards the Blue Square Premier looks impervious. Even their FA Trophy form has been formidable, knocking six past Cambridge in the previous round.

Mansfield have been a relatively free-scoring side, but their mid-table struggles have been down to the 46 goals they have shipped this season. Only the bottom three have conceded more league goals.

Winning on Saturday would leave Mansfield just three games away from a Wembley final, but Russell knows Alfreton will not make it easy for them and said: “The cup is a level playing field and we don’t have a divine right to say we should win. Alfreton are a success because of their determination and will to win.

“It’s still an exciting time, all the players want to reach the final, and I would love to lead them out at Wembley, but we have to take these games one at a time.”

Russell also defended his policy of investing in youth, and spoke highly of the new additions to the team, saying: “These three will give us the strength in depth that we need. There is now more pressure on positions, and players know they have to perform to keep their place in the team.

“I wasn’t ready to throw a lot of money at ‘journeymen’, who wanted ridiculous amounts of money and Moult and Grof are rated very highly by their clubs.”

Mansfield are still without goalkeeper Alan Marriott and front man Adam Smith is back on the treatment table after last week’s cameo role against Wrexham, but new trio Grof, Spence and Moult are all available to bolster the squad.

With just under 1,000 Alfreton fans expected and reduced ticket prices still on offer for just £12 for adults and £6 concessions, another bumper crowd is hoped for at Field Mill, after last week’s barnstorming encounter with Wrexham.