FOREST GREEN PREVIEWS / CLOUGH ON LATE GOALS
Results over performances in final ten games - manager
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 22nd March 2021
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough says the last ten games of the season will each consist of his side ‘doing whatever is necessary to get a result,’ as the Sky Bet League Two campaign edges towards its conclusion.
The Stags welcome high-flying Forest Green Rovers to One Call Stadium on Tuesday evening for their third successive home fixture.
Nigel Clough expressed his belief that the midweek clash with Rovers will be an ‘open’ game in Nottinghamshire.
Stags have accrued their two most recent victories against sides in the top seven, and when asked why Mansfield have secured results against teams higher up in the division, he said: “It’s very difficult to put your finger on it [Mansfield playing better against teams higher in the division]. It’s not as if they’re made big games by the crowds as there is nobody in there.
“We don’t approach the games any differently - it might be the style of play [from the opposition] and that sort of thing that makes it a little easier.
“Forest Green’s versatility and flexibility in the way they play makes them one of the best - if not the best - team in the league.
“These games [against the top sides] tend to be a little more open, with both sides creating chances.
“We’ll ask them to perform as they have done in the last three home games in terms of scrapping and battling.
“We’ve beaten Cheltenham, drawn with Carlisle and Grimsby - so we want that sort of effort and commitment, and we’ll take our chances from there.
“Forest Green have adapted a little this season, probably more than previous seasons. Sometimes you have to do whatever’s necessary to get a result, and that’s going to be the last ten games for us.
“We ask the players to get results in the last ten games, and I think they [Forest Green] have done that over the course of the season better than anybody.
“We go out and try to play how we want to play. You’ve seen some of the stuff against Cheltenham and even against Cambridge and Bolton when we lost.”
The boss also offered his thoughts on the Stags conceding late goals, following Grimsby’s stoppage time equaliser at the weekend.
“We try to play our stuff, sometimes we can’t, but that’s how we set out. We then deal with the opposition accordingly with whatever teams throw at us,” he added.
“These late goals are killing us at the moment, but we do feel as though we’re being punished by every little thing. Some of it is our own making, without a doubt, but some of it not.
“When you start a season and concede a few late goals, it gets into the player’s psyche and mentality - it’s very difficult to get it out during a season.
“Pre-season is where we’ll really work on it. If you can start the first six games of the season and don’t concede late, get a couple of late goals yourself, then all the players think ‘we’re gonna score late goals’ instead of conceding.”
There was also an injury update from the boss ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Forest Green.
“He [Sarkic] will be assessed this week and will be scanned and everything. But we think we’re looking at around three or four weeks at the moment.
“George Lapslie is back in training this week and we’ll hopefully see him on the pitch at some point.
“We need him back. We have a really congested fixture list and we’ve had a few things [injuries and suspensions] that we can’t really legislate for in that time.
“We’re hoping so [that Ollie Clarke makes the squad for Forest Green]. It’s day-to-day, seeing how he feels physically.
“He’s another one that’s gone from charging around and his running stats being up with the highest in the team, then he’s hit a wall and can hardly raise a leg at the moment.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham (video available on iFollow):
"George Lapslie is doing light training. He won't be fit enough to start tomorrow, he'll need a good week's training.
"I don't think Ollie Clarke will be up to starting [tomorrow].
"Stephen Quinn should be ok after his rest, we hope.
Nigel Clough told Notts TV (video available on iFollow):
"We need options to make changes to keep people fresh.
"We're relatively happy with midfield. We need a couple of strikers and a couple of defenders. They'll be the priorities in the summer.
"We don't want a massive squad of 26/27 people. We are working on 18 strong outfield players, 3 goalkeepers and a couple of youngsters."
Late goals and hectic schedule proving costly for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Monday 22nd March 2021
Stags - who have been pegged back 11 times from winning positions this season - ready for 13th game in six weeks...
Nigel Clough believes Mansfield Town's hectic schedule has taken its toll on the squad.
Tomorrow's clash with Forest Green Rovers will be the Stags' 13th match in the six-week period since February 9.
With a series of injuries in the camp, it has been a testing time for Clough's men, who have been caught out by a number of late goals in recent weeks.
Mansfield have been playing catch up following a number of postponements in January and February, where the 1-0 victory at Southend was the side's only match in a 25-day period.
"In January it was that break that did us," Clough said.
"Nobody could envisage us having such a long break with the games being off.
"We've still got enough bodies, but Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday Tuesday is catching up with the players."
Saturday's 2-2 draw with basement side Grimsby Town was the Mariners draw level with a stoppage-time free kick.
Mansfield have dropped points from winning positions in 10 league matches this season and also seen an early lead cancelled out when they exited the FA Cup at Cheltenham.
Grimsby's equaliser was one of nine goals scored in the final 10 minutes of play that have cost the Stags League Two points this term.
Three of those goals may have come before Clough took on duties at the club, but the Town boss has spotted a pattern.
"We've got to get up the pitch," he added.
"It wasn't the case at Crawley last week as that was just out of nothing.
"But generally when we're defending leads, when we can, get up the other end and spend some time in the opposition half, that's the best way to deal with it."
The Stags have seen winning positions taken away from them in 11 matches this season.
Two-nil leads against Leyton Orient and Bolton Wanderers ended in a draw and defeat respectiveley, while 1-0 leads against Exeter City and Newport County both resulted in defeats.
It was the same story in the FA Cup at Cheltenham Town.
Against Walsall, Bolton, Colchester United (home and away) and Grimsby Town one-goal leads resulted in draws.
The Stags also led 1-0 when they hosted Crawley, but there was a different mood in the camp come full time on that occasion as Andy Cook's stoppage-time equaliser completed the fightback from 3-1 down.
However, the boot has often been on the other foot when it comes to conceding late goals.
Orient, Bolton, Colchester, Crawley and Grimsby have all scored after the 80-minute mark to rob Mansfield of points this season.
Orient netted twice in a six-minute spell to force a draw while Bolton levelled at the death in the north west and scored two late goals at One Call Stadium to complete a 3-2 victory.
Colchester have also scored in the final minutes both home and away to claim two points.
Nigel Clough optimistic after seeing work-rate of his Mansfield Town players
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill, Monday 22nd March 2021
Nigel Clough is optimistic for the future after watching his Mansfield Town players give him everything they can.
Mansfield have produced a mixed bag of results in recent weeks after being hampered by costly errors and conceding late goals.
But the Stags gaffer believes they are mental aspects of play that can be worked on and not down to a lack of fitness or effort.
“The effort is what we are looking at, that is why we are feeling positive,” he said.
“We saw the players come off devastated having conceded another late goal (against Grimsby). It is demoralising, it is frustrating, but I tell you what, they could hardly stand up after the game, they are giving that much effort.
“That's always been the bottom line with us. We can work on the other things, but it's very difficult to start instilling that effort and commitment at this stage of the season.
“I think that we have got that in place and that is what is giving us the optimism despite the frustration of the late goals.
“They are killing us in terms of our points total and league position.
“We would be safe without the late goals. We are contributing to our own downfall though.
“We have had deflections and things that we can’t do anything about, but we are being punished for every mistake we are making.
And Clough believes that the next pre-season campaign could be the key to developing a ruthless streak for his side.
It has been a familiar story for the club over the last three games, with far too many late goals see points go begging.
“It is definitely a mental and not a physical issue and it has been happening all season,” he added. “It is amazing how it affeccts the players when it has happened for six months.
"Having got the lead for a second time against Grimsby, we should have hung on to it.
"It is pre-season mainly where you work on it (not conceding late goals) and the attitude.
“If you can get through the first half dozen games of the season without conceding late goals, and even get one or two yourself, all of a sudden the players’ mentality changes around and they start to think they are going to score late and not concede.”
“You need a few characters in the team and building to instil that belief and we will hopefully get that in the summer.
“It is quite deep rooted (conceding late goals over the last three season) if everyone thinks like that.
“Even when fans are coming back into the ground are frightened late on that we will concede because it's happened before and we have to change that mentality.”
Here's why Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough believes Forest Green Rovers are a great role model for clubs looking to win promotion
chad.co.uk, By Stephen Thirkill
Stags boss Nigel Clough believes Forest Green Rovers are a perfect role model for any club seeking to win promotion.
Rovers have progressively built up since being promoted to the Football League in 2017.
They currently sit third in the League Two table with Clough believing it is only a matter of time before they escape the division.
“We are trying to emulate how they have built, how they play good football and how they have sold players when needed to,” said Clough.
“They have got a good manager, play good stuff and are a good role model. It's only a matter of time before they get promoted.
“You have to have flexibility and options to win different games at this level. You need the ability to change formation and to defend the ball in the box - they have got the best balance in the league to do that.”
While confident Stags can beat Rovers tonight (Tuesday), Clough knows his side will need to defend well and be on their game.
“We are playing one of the best, if not thee best in the league,” he added.
“They have a great variety of play and can mix it up, technically they are probably the best team in the league.
“We will have to defend. I fancy us to score, but we have to defend and keep clean sheets.”
It is the latest in a gruelling run of games which has seen Stags pit their wits against teams desperate for points one way or the other.
“We have played teams scrapping for survival or promotion,” said Clough. “We don’t mind it though, we don’t look at the opposition. It makes no difference, they are all just hard games.
“The lads are scrapping and fighting and the work-rate has been brilliant.
“It will be our 14th game in 45 days and it is a heavy schedule for us after the break.
“We have not had that many options to make that many changes.
“Oli Sarkic has picked up another injury and that's a big blow for him and us. We didn’t think George Lapslie, Ollie Clarke or George Maris would get injuries - you can't legislate for that
“Everyone else is stepping up and as long as everyone is fighting that is what we have to do.”
Forest Green Rovers head coach Mark Cooper ahead of trip to Mansfield Town
Midweek visit to the One Call Stadium for third-placed side in League Two
What’ve you made of Mansfield recently?
When he (Nigel Clough) came in the effect he had was incredible. He’s a top manager for this level and above and he always gets his teams at it and playing. I’m sure next season they’ll be a massive force in the division. I think it gets to a stage when you’ve played so many consecutive Saturday-Tuesdays, mentally and physically your energy can become sapped. You can pick up injuries and when there’s not a lot to play for it becomes difficult. They’re still competitive in every game that I’ve seen. They beat Cheltenham the other week. It’s a dangerous opposition.
They’ve lost a remarkable number of points from winning positions, so you’re always in the game against them…
I think you can look for as many stats as you want and you can find both a positive and a negative. If we concede the first goal we can say, ‘right, okay, Mansfield concede goals and they lose points,’ but let’s not get in that position. Let’s score the first goal and keep going. You hear me talk about it a lot, it’s on the day. If you perform on the day and your best players come to the fore and you work hard, you have a chance to win. You need seven or eight players in your 11 to step up every week and be better than the opponent you’re up against to win the game.
The fixture schedule has been bonkers all season. Mansfield have played 13 games in six weeks, what are your thoughts on that?
That’s because they’ve had issues with their pitch. They’ve had lots of games called off and they have to play them all in a short space of time. It does seem crazy, but that’s this season. I think everyone wants to get it over and done with and look ahead to a proper season next year.
Latest | March 2021