Poor Cheltenham pitch will be no excuse for Stags on Saturday

Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Photo by Chris Holloway
Mansfield Town's Manager Steve Evans - Photo by Chris Holloway

Mansfield Town will not use Cheltenham Town’s poor playing surface as an excuse if things don’t go their way at Whaddon Road on Saturday.

Carlisle’s ex-Stags boss Keith Curle described it as a ‘dump of a pitch’ after their 1-0 defeat there on Tuesday and today Stags boss Steve Evans admitted it was more like a field than a football pitch.

But he insisted his players knew what lay ahead and he will pick a side suited to the state of the pitch.

“It’s a field, not a playing surface and it’s meant the manager has had to change in January the type of players he likes to work with,” said Evans.

“Gary Johnson is a football man who likes to get it on the grass and play football. Some of his teams have been outstanding.

“I remember the Bristol City team he had that went to the play-off finals. They were a stunning team who got it down and played.

“He went to Cheltenham and played that way getting out of the National League and up into League Two.

“But the pitch has played a part and now they have had to sign players to play in a certain way.

“I have no problem with that as you have to find a way to win a football match.”

The pitch certainly upset Keith Curle in midweek and Evans smiled: “Gary Johnson probably had a glass of wine yesterday and a little chuckle at that comment.

“At this stage of the season you don’t always turn up and play on the best of pitches.

“We will not be offering the pitch at Cheltenham as any excuse on Saturday. I won’t allow anyone to make that excuse, not even me afterwards if it went against us.

“We have to go there and we know what we are getting in advance – there’s no secrets.

“Me and my staff here fancied Cheltenham to beat Carlisle on Tuesday with the state of the pitch and style of play.”

He added: “It will certainly affect how we approach it and may affect which personnel is picked.

“It’s not a game, dare I say it, where any team is going to be playing any sort of silky football unless you’re 3-0 up, then you can knock it around anyone.”

After watching manager Johnson take Cheltenham back into the League at the first attempt, Evans admitted he was a fan as he plotted to halt the Robins’ three-game winning run.

“Gary Johnson has worked a miracle going in there, rejuvenating them and getting them back up from the Conference into the Football League,” he said.

“They have a manager who said he thinks he had the best January transfer window in the league. That was evident by their results quickly changing.

“I’d expect nothing less from Gary Johnson. He is a winner as a manager.

“The one thing his players will be doing is giving him everything.

“If we match them 100 per cent for effort it gives us chance of winning as we have a lot of quality.”