WITH Alan Marriott holding his hands up for mistakes for both Gateshead goals today and continuing injury worries, Stags boss Duncan Russell admitted he was a long way from having an idea what team he will put out at Wembley in les then two weeks,
“I am not certain of my Wembley team,” he said after the stunning 3-2 win over Gateshead this afternoon.
“Neil Collett had a good game at Wimbledon, so we will have to look at them this week, see who gets the shirt for Saturday and then who starts at Wembley.
“We only had one fit player who could play as a striker today and that was Niall O’Rafferty who is a midfield player really anyway.
“But he took a knock which seemed to lose his confidence a but and I thought he looked a bit nervous on the big occasion. So bringing him off was the right thing.
“It’s all in the lap of the physio now. Paul Connor is an experienced player and we really need his calming influence at Wembley. We will have to see if he can train by the end of this week and if he could feature in any capacity at Bath. But he won’t play if he isn’t fit.
“Out of all of them Danny Mitchley is likely to be back sooner than later so he has a chance. And Luke Medley should be fine as is Tom Naylor who is likely to feature next weekend.”
“I wanted to win the game today. But I brought Adam Smith off as he had worked so hard and is still not back to his peak form. I certainly had no qualms about sending Paul Hall on as he is quality. It was a big thing for the team to see him come on and start talking to other players. He has a lot of experience.”
Less than two weeks from taking a Stags side to Wembley, the Mansfield boss was booed at half-time with some fans calling for his head once more.
But the jeers were replaced by cheers after the last fightback as three goals in the last 15 minutes earned the win.
“If we’d lost I would have been public enemy number one tonight,” he said.
“I changed a couple of things at half-time and told them to go out there and be brave.
“Keep the ball on the ground and play football as that’s what we are best at.
“But yet again we conceded from two set pieces which really annoys me as it happens week in, week out.
“The players know who they are; if can’t do something about it then I will get other players in.
“I know I should be happy after the win, we carved them open with three good goals from open play. Gateshead didn’t do that – we gave them two goals.”
He added: “It was the Adam Murray show today.
“I rang Adam a couple of times and told him I was thinking of playing him behind a lone front player and said when you get the ball you can join in as a two. He is so comfortable on the ball.
“I know he is not a striker – he is a midfield general. But it is a role he can play and we were getting balls to him n acres of space. And when you give a player like Adam Murray that much space he is going to punish you.”