Mansfield Town defender Matt Preston targets all-time clean sheet record

Mansfield's Matt Preston
Mansfield's Matt Preston

Despite unexpectedly giving up three goals in one game last weekend, Mansfield Town defender Matt Preston said there was still time to break the all-time Football League record for clean sheets in one season.

Mansfield Town’s 17-game unbeaten run was halted by a 3-2 defeat with 10 men in a ‘blip’ at Carlisle, but it still left miserly Stags joint top of the League Two clean sheet charts with MK Dons on 12 shut-outs.

Now Preston is eyeing up the 30 clean sheets record achieved by Port Vale in Division 3(N) over 46 games in 1953/54.

Preston said: “We want to get back to keeping clean sheets and earning more wins.

“And we’d love to get the record for clean sheets for a season. We have gone 12 already so it’s certainly do-able. You never know, we’ll see what happens.”

Preston admitted it had been a shock to let in three in one game.

“It was a big blow to us when we came off the pitch. We’re not used to conceding one at the minute, let alone three,” he said.

“It’s not what we’re about, and we need to bounce back from it - and I am sure that we will.

“We’ve shown all season we can defend well. It’s not in our personalities to accept things like this and we won’t.

“It is something that you have to brush off your shoulders as quick as possible and get back to winning. We want to get that momentum back and go on another run.

“Regardless of last Saturday we are still flying, so it’s other teams that have to be worried about us.”

Preston said the team were very proud of their defending so far with just over half the season gone.

“I wasn’t expecting to do as well as we have done,” he said.

“I think we have an outstanding record from a defensive point of view.

“That’s the standard that you want to hold yourself to, but to actually achieve it is another thing.

“It’s been nice to have a high standard, and to have kept it for such a long time.

“The weekend was a blip and something that we have to overlook and get back to keeping clean sheets and winning games.”

Preston said, despite the disappointment, you sometimes had to credit the opposition for opening you up.

“As the game panned out I think we were unfortunate,” he said.

“We were down to 10-men second half and they played some good stuff. You have to hold your hands up. A couple of their goals were very good goals.

“We killed ourselves in terms of being 2-0 down and down to 10 men, so the second half was always going to be an uphill climb.”

It was Preston who netted to give Stags late hope, but United dug in for victory.

“When I got my goal to make it 2-1, I thought we had a fighting chance and a foot in the door. Unfortunately, it just didn’t pan out that way,” he said.

“We’ve been practising set pieces in training, and I’ve always said to the players that if you get it in the right area, I will at least challenge for it.

“I don’t even know how to describe it because it happened fast. I think it hit the side or back of my head and I flicked it towards the end of the goal I was hoping for and it went in.

“I didn’t even get time to celebrate, which was unfortunate. It was get the ball and straight back to the halfway line to start going again.”

Stags will be without influential midfielder Neal Bishop this Saturday after his red card at Carlisle and Preston admitted: “There’s no one that can replace Neal Bishop.

“But we have players that will do a job and that’s exactly what we need. We have depth in the squad to stand in for key players like Bish.

“We have people that can fill in for him and I’m sure we’ll have enough firepower in our team to be able to hurt Yeovil.”

Preston and his team mates can’t wait to play two home games in four days after two games on the road.

“I said at the start of the season that we needed to turn the One Call Stadium into a fortress and I feel that we have done,” he said.

“The management and players all feel like that it’s a big bonus when we come home.

“I don’t think there is a team in the league that can really do much to us at home. It gives you an extra 10 percent playing in front of a home crowd.”