Boss previews Harrogate clash
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 22nd February 2021
Manager Nigel Clough has previewed Tuesday night’s clash away to Harrogate Town, with the Stags aiming for a return to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two.
The boss, speaking in Monday morning’s news conference, spoke of the upcoming match with the Sulphurites, describing them as being ‘as competitive and physical’ as any other team in Sky Bet League Two.
Nigel Clough says that the Stags can use recent performances as motivation for their next few fixtures.
“It’ll be a tough one [against Harrogate],” he told iFollow Stags. “We know from when we played them at home, they are as competitive and as physical - in the right way - as any team in the league.
“They have come into the Football League and have gotten such a lift from it - they’ve battled and scrapped to stay in the league. They close you down and they stop you playing as well as anybody.
“We have to deal with that and play, but also deal with their threat [going forward] as well.
“Once they got that lead [at One Call Stadium], they were throwing bodies in front of the ball and fighting to hang onto it.
“I think they have had a brilliant first season in the Football League. We’ll certainly be mentioning it [reverse fixture] but the only motivation we need is the last week.
“To play as well as we have done in patches and come out with one point out of nine, is incredibly unfair and unjust on us.
“I think the next games are good ones for us to have, but we need to get some points on the board to try and get back into the top half of the league.”
The Stags’ boss offered his final thoughts on Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Cambridge United, suggesting that the eventual scoreline was harsh on his side.
Despite this, the manager did concede that the amber and blue must improve defensively in upcoming matches.
“Having watched the game back, it backs up what we said on Saturday. Some of our football between the penalty areas was as good as it’s been in recent weeks, so it’s difficult to know how to take it [loss],” he added.
“One thing that was absolutely clear is that we have to improve in both penalty areas, especially defending.
“We were pretty close with Jordan Bowery and Harry Charsley in the first-half, but we’re getting into some really good situations.
“Defensively, we have to do better. Teams aren’t pounding us, so the odd time we do have to defend, we have to do it better than we are at the moment.
“That’s goals against - goals scored, we’re alright. I think we’re up there with most teams in the league [for goals scored]. It’s the goals against that has to improve.
“But to think they’re top of the league and we’ve dropped down to 18th, there wasn’t a lot of difference between the two teams.”
Saturday’s clash saw youngsters Tyrese Sinclair and Jason Law introduced from the bench, and the manager spoke of the pair - along with his relatively young squad as a whole - in Monday’s news conference.
“We’ve seen a bit of Tyrese before, but it was the first chance we had to get Jason Law on. He’s impressed us in training and he’s improved week-by-week, training with the first team.
“We’ve seen that improvement week-by-week, and he’ll get some game time between now and the end of the season.
“If Kellan [Gordon] plays right-back, the goalkeeper and two centre-halves are all under 24. There is a lot of room and scope for improvement within it [young squad].
“They [young players making debuts this season] will notice a difference next season when they play in front of crowds. It’s one of those things that, as a young player, you have to adjust to.
“But the biggest thing is getting them adjusted to playing first team football. And we think he [Law] is one, in the next few years, that we think could do that.”
There was also an injury update from Nigel Clough ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Harrogate.
“We’re hoping Kellan’s going to train [today]. Whether he’s fit enough to start the game, we’ll see.
“But if we don’t get him in for Tuesday then we’ll certainly hope for Saturday.
“We’ve had one or two knocks from a tough week. Stephen Quinn has got a couple of knocks and James Perch has.
“We’ll just have a count-up [on Monday morning] and get a decent 11 out there to have a go at Harrogate.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Mansfield Town boss says side must improve in the box to challenge for League Two title next season
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Monday 22nd February 2021
Nigel Clough knows Stags must shape up in both boxes if they are to challenge for the League Two title next season.
The Mansfield manager watched his side slump to a 3-0 defeat at home to league leaders Cambridge United on Saturday, despite having more shots and possession.
And Clough believes ruthlessness in the box is the key area separating Stags from the table-toppers.
“We have got a good pattern of play now between the penalty areas,” he said. “We just need to keep highlighting to the players what the difference is between us and what Cambridge did on Saturday.
“We had more possession, more shots and played well between the penalty areas so what do we have to do to turn that into three points? We have to be better in both boxes, that's it - it’s very simple.
“Our play between the boxes was good and we created some good chances. It was one of the most unfair 3-0’s you will ever see.
“We have to do more to score and more to keep the ball out of our net.”
Clough believes he now has the nucleus of a good squad at his disposal but tweaks are still needed to take them to the next level.
Amongst the summer shopping list will be two new strikers to bolster Mansfield’s options over the season.
“We hope to have a few new players in during the summer and that will help bolster the nucleus of a good squad,” he said.
“We are very happy with the front three at the moment, but we need a couple of options and two strikers will be on the list for the summer.”
With Stags now clear off the danger zone and struggling to mount a challenge for the play-off places, Clough believes it will give him an ideal chance to blood promising youngsters.
“We shouldn't be worrying about the bottom two now,” added Clough. “We are far enough away and our level of performance is good, but you never know.
“We have got to get some results now. If we get into the mid-table position where we can’t challenge for the top seven then it's a good chance for the young players to play some football.
“We have always given young players a chance wherever we have been. They will have an opportunity and that is all they can ask for.”
Nigel Clough feels Mansfield Town are unlucky not to have more points
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Monday 22nd February 2021
Nigel Clough believes Mansfield Town have been unlucky to not rack up more points.
Stags came away with just one point from three quick-fire games following back-to-back defeats to Bolton and Cambridge United.
They also saw two points go begging against Colchester after a late deflected goal pegged them back to a 2-2 draw.
But Clough believes his side could have picked up at least six more points if they had had some luck go their way.
“In some ways I don’t think performances have been bad this week at all,” he said.
“Over the three games we have played it is harsh to only have one point out of the nine. It could easily have been seven, maybe even nine without doing too much differently.
“We have not played too much different in the last three games as we have in our five game winning runs so things have to turn.
“In some ways we have played better football, certainly than we did at Southend at times. It is just very fine details and margins.”
Despite the disappointing points return Clough believes his players must keep doing what they are doing.
“We have to keep going and believing,” he added. “When you are playing as well as we are you have to keep doing it. We have to just improve on what is stopping us getting those results at the moment.
“It is just a case of concentrating. We are up there in terms of goalscoring, but we need to tighten up defensively.
"We also need two or three changes here and there per game to give players a rest when they need it.”
Nigel Clough confirms Tyrese Sinclair and Jason Law will get more game time for Mansfield Town this season
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Monday 22nd February 2021
Nigel Clough expects youngsters Jason Law and Tyrese Sinclair to get more game time this season.
The duo impressed during Mansfield’s 3-0 defeat to Cambridge at the weekend, with Law making his league debut.
“I was very pleased with both of them,” said Clough. “We have seen Tyrese come on a bit but it was Jason’s first league appearance.
“He has impressed us in training in recent weeks and we have just been trying to get the opportunity to get him on.
“The games are so tight usually so it is difficult. It is not ideal putting him on when we are 2-0 down to the league leaders.
“He handled it very well and we’re looking forward to seeing more of him until the end of the season.”
But Clough believes the players will have to adjust once again to the step up when fans are finally allowed back into stadiums.
“It will be another step for them in front of a crowd, but actually playing in the first team is the biggest step,” he said.
“It is a big difference having the crowd. The crowd noise was one of the first things I noticed when I was a player.
“It will probably be an even bigger shock for these lads when it does happen because they have played in front of near silence.
“It is good to just get them involved at the moment and hopefully we will have a few thousand fans in at the start of next season.
“We have just been waiting for the right chance to get the young players on the pitch. It's easier to bring them on now we are further away from the relegation zone.”
WEAVER PRE MANSFIELD - "WE'VE GOT TO KEEP BUILDING"
Weaver on potential changes for tomorrow
We’ll look at them and if any are overly jaded or not quite right we’ll change it because we’ve got a good, strong squad to choose from. I don’t think anything is broken though from how we played the other day, we’ll learn where we went wrong.
On our win at Mansfield back in November
It came at a time when we need a win. It was a hard fought battle on a tough pitch and it’ll be a tough pitch tomorrow and a tough night against a team which Nigel Clough has done really well with and rejuvenated. It’ll be a typical League Two battle and one we have to meet head on.
On Nigel Clough
He made his Liverpool debut when I was a young kid in 1993. I went to Anfield to watch Liverpool v Sheffield Wednesday and just before getting into the stadium, Radio Sheffield were about and they asked how I thought we’d go on. I said we’d win 5-0 but we lost, Nigel Clough scoring two goals, one of which was a superb goal to disappoint a young Wednesday fan.
He actually signed for Wednesday a few years later and he was great for me because I was a young reserve and he was an experienced pro. One of his poorer managerial decisions was to try and sign me when at Burton. Unfortunately the move didn’t go through.
On Josh March’s form
He’s made things happen and worked well in a front two with Aaron Martin. He’s been slippery up there in a good way and a real handful. There’s no coincidence we’re now winning penalties with his runs in behind and committing players to foul.
Potential of Jack Muldoon partnering Josh March up top
Possibly. I think the form of Aaron alongside March at the moment they work in pair, keep it simple and they’ve relished each other’s company. It’s up to others to change that. I still think there’s nothing broken, they’ve been very good for us and I also think Jack Muldoon has a big part to play as well.
On the next games potentially being six pointers
I think so, we’ve got to keep building our points tally up. I don’t think Mansfield will be in the mix at the bottom but they could compete with us looking upwards. Anything is possible is what we keep telling the players. It could be an exciting end to the season if we learn from mistakes and get on a real run.