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Mawson on South Yorkshire Derby

18 February 2016

With a South Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers this weekend, Reds defender Alfie Mawson gave his assessment of this weekend’s opponents.


The earlier result this season saw the Reds lose 2-1 in the final minute of the game.


The centre-half is hopeful of revenge and that the Reds can get one over on Doncaster and come away with all the points this weekend.


He said: “With the way the league's looking, given their position and our position, I think it will be a tough game and that last time we felt we deserved a win or at least a point.


“That was the way things were going at that time but it’s going to be a tough game, they’re a well-drilled, organised side, we’ll have to be on top of our game and hopefully we’ll get three points.


“You don’t want to say you’re favourites for the game, the betting may go with us but recently we’ve been playing well for a reason and if we stick together we can hopefully get three points.”


Rovers’ leading marksman, Andy Williams, is a man that Mawson will have to watch with particular interest but the defender already knows plenty of him, both on and off the pitch.


“I know about Williams and he’s with my agent. He’s a threat and does what all good strikers are paid for. He’s always going to be a threat but we’ve got to play our game and not be worried about other players," he said.


Recent form for the Reds has seen them move to within eight points of the play-offs and this form has given the defender renewed hope of mounting a late push for the top six.


He added: “I feel everyone can see we’ve turned the tide in results, not so much in terms of performances because they were always there, but results and clean sheets.


“Winning seven on the spin always helps, and the emphasis in the dressing room is to go in 1-0 up and go out and score more in the second half because we know we can.


“The players are smart enough to understand roles. We have to try and get one on Saturday but it is a way to show everyone how far we’ve come in the league.”


Despite a second appearance in 12 months at Wembley for Mawson, the defender insisted that he is not getting carried away with the thought of playing under the arch just yet.


The defender was on the wrong end of a play-off final defeat with Wycombe Wanderers and is keen to avoid a similar outcome with the Reds.


“It’s gut-wrenching losing at Wembley, I want a win because I don’t think I could bare another loss and it would be nice to get a bit of silverware,” Mawson said.


“At the moment, we can’t get too focused on Wembley because this next month is massive for is, but it is always going to be in the mind of the players, especially the young players.


“If we can string together three or four results and get on another run, we genuinely feel that we can make the play-offs.”


Despite spending the majority of his time in defence, the centre-back has bagged six goals so far this season and puts his form in front of goal down to one main reason.


“I’ve got a huge head and I put it down to that,” Mawson quipped. “I seem to have a knack of being in the right place right time. I never think about it too much but I feel comfortable in the box.


“It’s always nice to get a goal, I set myself a target of eight goals at the start of the season and wanted to take that into this league.


“I feel I could have scored more, but if we propel up the league and keep clean sheets then nothing else matters.”


Kevin Long has returned to Burnley after a brief loan spell with the Reds and Mawson is expecting a new partner at the back this weekend.


He is also wary of the competition posed by Lewin Nyatanga and Marc Roberts and feels his place in the side may well be at risk.


“I have to try and keep my place as well in the side," he added. "We’ve all been training really well. Me and Longy had a good partnership on and off the pitch and the others behind me have experience I lack in age.


“He’d (Long) go and muller people and I’d tidy up behind and look pretty. I’m more than comfortable playing with either of them.


“It’s not up to me to make the decision as to who I partner but we have more than enough in the locker to get a result and I’m fighting for my own place as well," he added.


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