OPINION: It’s time Stags had some luck as injuries mount

Mansfield Town v Barnet.
Rhys Bennett makes progress down the right wing.
Mansfield Town v Barnet. Rhys Bennett makes progress down the right wing.

Luck can sometimes play a big part in a manager’s career - just look at Sam Allardyce’s start to his England career and the last-kick win in Slovakia.

So Stags boss Adam Murray must be hoping it will be his turn soon with some good news on the injury front.

He made plans in the summer for a revitalised strikeforce to play alongside Matt Green this season after a lack of fit and consistent partners for the talisman forward last year.

Sadly the best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.

Three of Murray’s new strikers - Danny Rose, Pat Hoban and Darius Henderson - have either been injured or suspended for the best part of three or four weeks. And, of course, defender Kyle Howkins has also been ruled out for some time.

As Murray admitted, that has left the Stags again relying heavily on Green, something he had hoped to avoid after last season - and something he could not have foreseen.

Click HERE to read the match report

Click HERE to read Adam Murray’s thoughts

It has not been the ideal way to start, particularly at a time when the midweek matches have come thick and fast - another source of frustration for the manager.

You might have thought it was time for that luck to change, particularly as Danny Rose was able to return and play with a mask protecting his facial injury against Barnet on Saturday.

Instead, that injury jinx struck again – first Adam Chapman joined fellow midfielder Chris Clements on the injury bench before kick-off to rob Murray of his two most creative players.

Then, within just 22 minutes of the 1-0 defeat central defender George Taft limped off with a hamstring problem to force Murray to again turn to Plan B and alter his formation.

As he admitted after the game, it was far from ideal and certainly upset their rhythm as Barnet ended the Stags’ unbeaten home League record.

Perhaps it is time for the luck to change?

At least when the strikers and creative midfield players are all 100 per cent fit the Stags will be much stronger, which when you consider their terrific start to the season – before Saturday – can only be good news.

Sadly that great start was not continued against Barnet, who showed the fine margins between victory and defeat in football.

Despite not being at their best, the home side had more than enough chances to get at least a draw from the game.

Green had a header cleared off the line and dinked another good chance over after being put clear by a terrific, incisive Danny Rose pass.

Mitch Rose was also denied a fourth goal of the season by a good block.

Instead the Stags were punished for one poor pass as one piece of clinical finishing that they could not match proved decisive.

How appropriate that it was striker John Akinde who was the matchwinner after Murray had praised the Barnet frontman in the build-up to the game.

After two successive home matches without a goal, the manager will no doubt be hoping that it is his strikers who are more clinical and grab the limelight in the coming weeks.

There was definitely more entertainment at Once Call Stadium, despite the defeat, than in the goalless draw against Cambridge seven days earlier.

But two successive home matches without a home goal – and just two from four matches – is not enough to improve the inconsistent results at One Call Stadium under the manager.

That is why there were a few boos at the final whistle and why, just like last year, the early season promise is being built on away results.

The challenge now for Murray’s men is to bring the away-day consistency to One Call Stadium.

It was great to see the Stags’ new U21/reserve side get a first taste of action last week.

Yes, they won 1-0 at Rotherham United in the Central League, but more important than the result was the two main thrusts of the venture - to help youth players make the step up to first-team football and to give first-team players, who are recovering from injury or not getting a game in League Two, the chance to take part in a competitive match.

And that is exactly what happened in their first match. Three first-team players – James Baxendale, who has not played regularly yet, and Hoban and Jamie McGuire, who are both coming back from injuries - got vital match action on the pitch.

It is a great move by the club to restore a reserve side and, at the same time, develop further the younger players.

The likes of striker Zayn Hakeem, for example, who is on the fringes of the first-team, can only benefit from these competitive matches.