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3rd October 2021 0:18

Maintain your ‘resilience,’ says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 28 Sep 2021

Manager Nigel Clough has called on his players to replicate the ‘defensive determination and resilience’ shown against Leyton Orient in this weekend’s home match against Barrow.

The Stags host the Bluebirds for a 3pm kick-off at One Call Stadium on Saturday, following a first clean sheet of the season in E10 over the weekend.

As well as a commitment to preserving a second successive clean sheet, the boss also wants to see his players ‘play their football’ on top of a similar defensive performance.

read more at https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2021/september/gaffer-pre-barrow-h/

“We’re looking for that [same] sort of defensive determination and resilience [as seen against Leyton Orient], then [to] go and play our football on top,” the manager explained.

“When we lost the four games, we stripped everything back and said ‘right, we can’t lose.’ We got a great point on Saturday and now we have to take it on.

“It [Orient point] has laid the platform for us and now we have to get some wins.”

Looking ahead to the next challenge in Sky Bet League Two, the boss added: “We’ve seen them [Barrow] two or three times recently, and I think it [Mark Cooper’s influence] is starting to show through.

“He [Mark Cooper] has only been there [Barrow, as manager] for only two or three months, so give him some time and it will really shine through.

“I thought it was a brilliant appointment for them and it’s going to be an unbelievably tough game.

“They play a similar sort of shape to how Rochdale played. They drop into little pockets and holes and cause you problems.

“We want to win our home games, but in the circumstances [against Rochdale], to get a point was good. We followed that up with one on the road and a clean sheet, so we want three points and a clean sheet on Saturday if we can.”

Reflecting further on that first clean sheet of the season against high-flying Orient, Nigel Clough says his men ‘deserved’ to leave the Breyer Group Stadium having not conceded a goal.

“It was our first clean sheet and the one thing that stuck out was how hard they had to work for their chances, which hasn’t been the case in every game this season,” he said.

“Orient had a couple of situations on Saturday, but we defended them brilliantly and we deserved our clean sheet. That’s the sort of attitude that we need to have going into games.

“We want to keep that clean sheet, then we know we can play our football on top.

“They [Orient] have threats all over the pitch and they score a lot of goals on the break. We were conscious of that, and in open play, they didn’t carve us open. I thought we were well organised.”

Amidst a raft of current injuries and absentees, the boss provided the latest on George Maris, Oliver Hawkins, Ollie Clarke, Kellan Gordon and Ryan Stirk.

“He [Maris] has trained okay, which is a relief. It [injury] was just around his eye, it was closing up and impairing his vision. But it’s nothing serious, so he’s trained.

“A couple [of players] didn’t train, Oli Hawkins because his back was stiff, and Ollie Clarke, who got a whack on the nose. He’s gone to see somebody as he might have a break in there that may need resetting.

“They should be okay for Saturday. He [Hawkins] should be fine, it’s just a precaution that he didn’t train.

“We’ve had slightly differing diagnoses [for Ryan Stirk]. Hopefully it’s three or four weeks, but we’ve had a more pessimistic one [diagnosis] for longer than that. He’s back in Birmingham having treatment, and we hope it’s the lower end of the [time] scale.

“Kellan [Gordon] has seen a specialist this morning. We’ll know a bit more after that, but his knee just flared up after the Rochdale game. We’ll know more later in the week.”

Following his update on Stags’ absentees, the boss discussed the possibility of dipping into the free transfer market: “There are one or two names that are under discussion at the moment.

“It depends on the news we get about Kellan and Ryan Stirk, and how long they’re going to be out for.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.


Crisis worsens for threadbare Mansfield Town ahead of Barrow visit
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Threadbare Mansfield Town will take on visiting Barrow this Saturday with at least seven first team players ruled out and worries over a few more.

Stags battled to a first clean sheet of the season in Saturday's fine 0-0 draw at high-flying Leyton Orient but had Tyrese Sinclair sent off and George Maris come off injured to add to their woes.

“You don't expect this many out,” said boss Nigel Clough.

“You work on 10 per cent, which is a couple of players, or 20 per cent at worst, which is four.

read more at https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/crisis-worsens-for-threadbare-mansfield-town-ahead-of-barrow-visit-3400212

“But we've lost seven now and two are self-inflicted by getting sent off, which is inexcusable.

“The injuries are to such important players too. I don't think we've won a game since James Perch has been out the team.

“But over the years I have been in this position before and you just have to get on with it and deal with it.

“It gives an opportunity to everybody else. Harry Charsley and Jordan Bowery are back in the team now.

“It's up them now to take the chance and stay in so when the others become available we can't put them back in.”

Stags are waiting for news on injured duo Ryan Stirk and Kellan Gordon.

“We have had slightly differing diagnoses for Ryan's ankle ligaments injury,” said Clough.

“One was hopefully three or four weeks but there was also a more pessimistic one of longer than that.

“He is in a 'boot' at the moment and back in Birmingham having treatment. We hope it's the lower end of the scale.

“Kellan is seeing a specialist after his knee flared up after the Rochdale game.”

Clough knows he will have to turn to youngsters to fill the bench on Saturday.

“We do have the first year pros,” he said.

“That's what you have an academy. To try to bring your own players through and have an opportunity in the first team.

“George Cooper travelled with us on Saturday as 19th man in case anything had happened and he will most likely be on the bench on Saturday.”

On three other new doubts, he added: “George Maris has trained okay on Tuesday which is a bit of a relief. It was just on his eye which meant it was closing and impairing his vision.

“But it was nothing serious and it was a big relief we got through training without any other injuries!

“But two others didn't train. Oli Hawkins' back is stiff after all those balls he headed. He should be fine for Saturday - it was just precautionary.

“Also, Ollie Clarke got a whack on the nose and has gone to see someone as he might have a break in there and need it resetting, but hopefully he will be all right for Saturday too.

“So if no one else gets hurt in training this week it will hopefully be just the seven missing!”


Mansfield Town can build on platform of two fine draws says boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has urged his side to build on two excellent draws as they go into three home games in eight days with the visit of Barrow on Saturday.

A run of four defeats was halted by a draw with Rochdale before a first clean sheet of the campaign at Leyton Orient and Clough said: “It was a big one against Rochdale - not losing after losing the previous two.

“We want to win our home games but to get a point in the circumstances was good.

“Now we've followed it up with a point and a clean sheet on the road, we want three points and a clean sheet on Saturday.


“It's nice to be back at home on the back of two positive results.

“We go into it in good heart, despite the absentees.”

He added: “We will need that sort of defensive resilience and determination we showed at Orient on Saturday and then go and play our football on top.

“After the two draws, we have got to take it on. It's laid a platform for us now and we have to take it on and get some wins.

“These players can defend. The goals we have conceded have been from isolated incidents.

“There is a stat that we have conceded the most goals from the least number of chances created by the opposition.”

After Orient's tactics of launching the ball into the box, Stags expect Mark Cooper's Barrow to play much more football and Clough said: “We have seen them a few times recently and Mark Cooper's influence is starting to show through.

“When you have such a long period as he did at Forest Green and did so well, give him some time and it will really shine through at Barrow. “I thought he was a brilliant appointment for them and it will be an unbelievably tough game.

“They were one down at the weekend but came back and won so they will be full of confidence.

“They are a similar sort of shape to Rochdale with three defenders.”

Clough wants to see the same level of determination to keep a clean sheet as last weekend.

He said: “It was a first clean sheet and the one thing that stuck out was how hard the opposition had to work for their chances, which hasn't been the case in many games this season with the goals we have given away. We've conceded far too many too easily.

“Saturday was the sort of attitude we need to have going into games. Let's keep that clean sheet, then we know we can play our football on top.

“They didn't carve us open from open play. Any chances or situations they got were from long balls into the box. We were well organised and they didn't pass through us.

“We had to work unbelievably hard for it - but you have to for clean sheets and wins. Hopefully they're coming soon.

“But no one is going to give you a clean sheet - you have 11 players desperately trying to score against you. You have to do your jobs.”

Stags will again be without at least seven key players with youngster George Cooper likely to fill the last space on a depleted bench.

On bolstering the squad with free agents, he said: “There are one or two names we have under discussion at the moment which we will chat about later in the week.

“It will depend on the news on Kellan Gordon and Ryan Stirk and how long they are going to be out.”


Loan keeper Nathan Bishop the unsung hero believes Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Nigel Clough believes Manchester United loanee goalkeeper Nathan Bishop has been the unsung hero of Mansfield Town's season so far but that has been lost amid the defeats and goals conceded by the team.

Bishop, 21, produced an outstanding late save as Stags earned their first clean sheet of the campaign in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Leyton Orient and Clough said: “I think the goalkeeper was outstanding against Leyton Orient in everything he did.

“I was disappointed with one or two of his kicks, but we'll forgive him that.

“We have lost sight of him a little bit because of everything that's been going on and all the goals we've been conceding and defensive mistakes.


“I think he has been an absolute beacon as a professional doing his job behind them.

“He's not had a chance with many of the goals he's conceded this season - maybe the one against Bradford when he could have parried it away and they got the winner. But that's not bad in nine or 10 games.

“Apart from that he has been brilliant. When you think he's hardly played at all last season, he has settled in superbly with the lads.

“He is enjoying it and I think, hopefully, he's going to keep a few more clean sheets this season.

Clough continued: “I think when you look at the other goalkeepers in our league, and the one above, he is as good as anything.

“Although he's not played many games for the best part of 18 months, you can see he's been around a place like Manchester United.

“He talks about Fernandes doing his shooting afterwards, it's bound to improve you.

“Now he is ready to play a full season at this level and I would expect him to go up a level or two if he goes out on loan next season.

“He spreads confidence straight away. After the first session or two the back four were absolutely delighted to have him behind them.

“They knew straight away we'd got a top goalkeeper - and it helps.”

Striker Oli Hawkins played at centre half last weekend and he added: “I think Nathan is probably up there, with what I've seen, among the best shot-stoppers I've been with. And he is still so young.

“Any time anyone shoots or a team have a chance, I think 'Bish has got this, he will save it'.

“He is a massive presence and us four in front can't thank him enough.”


Large crowd to give Mansfield Town youngsters a taste of big match atmosphere on Tuesday
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

A young Mansfield Town side will experience the big match atmosphere on Tuesday when over 1,600 Sheffield Wednesday fans back their side in the Papa John's EFL Trophy group clash at the One Call Stadium (7pm).

Stags' squad is stretched right now with injuries and suspension, though red card pair Tyrese Sinclair and Stephen Quinn are allowed to play in this one, and boss Nigel Clough said: “Everyone who doesn't start on Saturday will get a game.

“So players like James Clarke, Keaton Ward, Ryan Burke, George Cooper will play as well of course Stephen Quinn and Tyrese Sinclair.

“That pair will certainly be playing 90 minutes.


“In the Harrogate game we played some of the youngsters and they were disappointed with their performances. They will get another opportunity now.

“Jason Law played ever so well in the friendlies we had. He now needs to start showing it in first team games.”

In Wednesday selling out their allocation, Clough said: “That's absolutely brilliant. I know we've brought the kick-off forward to help them with the train times and everything getting back to Sheffield and I hope we can get a few of our own fans in as well.

“That will depend on Saturday. If we get a good result on Saturday it takes everyone into Tuesday night in good heart.”


Forward relishes centre-back ‘challenge’
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 28 Sep 2021

Striker Oliver Hawkins says that, although his ‘number one option is being a centre-forward,’ he will ‘never hide away’ from playing at centre-back, a position he ‘really enjoys.’

The 29-year-old’s comments follow a resolute display at the heart of Stags’ defence on Saturday, as Nigel Clough’s men battled towards their first clean sheet of the season away at Leyton Orient.

The former Portsmouth man says he can see himself playing more often at centre-back in the latter stages of his career.


“It’s somewhere that everyone knows I’ve played before [at centre-back],” he told iFollow Stags. “With injuries and players missing, I looked forward to the challenge of playing there.

“We ended up getting a clean sheet, our first of the season, so I was very happy that we were able to do that. It was a good point away from home and for myself, I put a good performance in.

“I am able to play there, and I do really enjoy it. It is exciting when I’m back there and it’s a position I’ve grown to really, really like.

“Don’t get me wrong, my number one option is being a centre-forward and scoring goals, but I would never hide away if someone asked me to play centre-half.

“The older I’ve got, I’ve realised that centre-half might be a position I end my career in. I want to play up front for as long as I can, until I physically can’t.

“For me, it’s striker first [as my preferred position], but I’m very happy to play centre-half if needed.

“Individually, I thought I did my job [against Orient], and as a team, I thought we all did our jobs as well.

“We got a point away at one of the most in-form teams and we just have to go from there now and start the season again from these two draws.

“It [clean sheet and point] gives us a bit of momentum now to go on and get some wins. We know we can score, but we wanted to focus more on defending and conceding fewer goals, which we’ve done over the couple of weeks.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s match at home to Barrow, Hawkins says the Stags will go into the game with ‘confidence,’ following two successive draws which snapped a recent losing streak.

“I’ve played against them [Barrow] in non-league previously in my career,” he added. “I’ve seen them once this season and I know they have a few lively players up front.

“They do a good job and it will be a tough game. Every game this year is going to be tough, it doesn’t matter if a team is bottom or at the top, it’s about ourselves.

“It’s about how we adapt to the game and how we get on. If we can start on the front foot like we did in the first few games of the season, I think we’ll get the crowd going and it’ll be a lively game.

“It [the next two home league games] are very important. As players, we all know that.

“I think the last two results have been that stepping stone for us, and we’re going into it [Barrow game] off the back of a clean sheet against a really strong team. I think we’ll be confident and thriving on Saturday.”

It was revealed by manager Nigel Clough in his news conference interview earlier this afternoon that Hawkins did not train with the rest of the Stags today.

The striker says he was absent from training as a ‘precaution’ due to some stiffness in his back.

“It’s just a precaution. It’s nothing serious, it’s manageable. It’s just about making the right decisions.

“Hopefully towards the end of the week I’ll get a couple of sessions in.

“I just thought today, [it would be good to] have a day off, do some [light] exercises, some stretches and try and strengthen it [back] up a little bit ready for the weekend.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Oli’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Oli Hawkins enjoyed role switch as Mansfield Town clinch clean sheet at last
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Striker Oli Hawkins was delighted to help Mansfield Town to their first clean sheet of the season as a makeshift centre half at Leyton Orient last weekend.

With so many defenders missing, the towering frontman partnered Farrend Rawson and admits he enjoyed the unexpected role.

“Everyone knows I have played there before, but I wasn't expecting to play there for Mansfield this early on,” he said.

“But I always look forward to the challenge of playing there and we got our first clean sheet of the season. It was a solid performance at the back.


“I really like the position and think I will probably end my career there, though I will play up front as long as I can.

“I am very excited and happy we were able to get the clean sheet, a good point away and, for myself, just put a good performance in.”

He added: “I played there a few times in non-league. Then professionally I played there a few times when I was with Dagenham & Redbridge.

“Then at Portsmouth I probably had over 20 games at centre half with, at one stage maybe, a 10 game run.

“I personally think, and I think others could tell you, I did a good job. So I guess that's why it's stuck that I am able to play there.”

As much as he enjoys defending, Hawkins emphasised his number one love is up front.

“I do enjoy it, it is exciting to play back there and I have grown to like it,” he said.

“Don't get me wrong - number one option is playing at centre forward and scoring goals.

“But I would never hide away if asked to play centre half.

“I think the older I have got and matured in myself, I have thought centre half might be a position I might end my career on in terms of your physicality and speed.

“I might not be able to cope up front as much.

“But I want to play up front as long as I can until I physically can't do it any more, then I would maybe look to be a centre half towards the end of my career.”

Hawkins said his knowledge of playing up front was a help when defending against other strikers.

“I think being a striker helps in certain things when I play centre half in terms of positioning and anticipation,” he said.

“But if you are not a natural centre half there are things I need to work on. But I can read the game because of my position playing up front. You have to be more mentally switched on there.

“It helps having Faz next to me as he is a great talker and a great leader.

“I didn't have much to do. I just had to do a job next to Faz and not look out of place and I don't think I did.”

Manager Nigel Clough said: “Oli has done centre half before and because of the size of their centre forward last weekend we thought he'd be the best suited to back go back there - and he did exceptionally well, as all the back four and goalkeeper did.

“We could have put him there a week or so ago. We have discussed it - it's been on our minds. We just though this was the right time to do it.

“Whether we continue to do it on Saturday at home is a different matter.”


Mansfield Town can now press reset and move forward believes Oli Hawkins
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Oli Hawkins believes Mansfield Town can now press reset on their promotion drive after two fine draws ended the run of four defeats.

Striker Hawkins was drafted into central defence for Saturday's battling 0-0 draw at Leyton Orient and said: “After the two draws we have now just got to start the season again and start getting some wins.

“The point last Saturday gives us a bit of momentum to go on and start getting some wins.

“It is a stepping stone and we now go into two big home games, games we can definitely win, and in two or three weeks time with two wins, we'll probably be sitting in the top 10.


“Momentum will have changed, confidence will have changed and we will not worry as much.”

He added: “It's still very early in the season.

“We have been unlucky with results, with refs' decisions, with injuries, but two or three wins puts you straight back into the top five.

“We have a squad and a team capable of being up there and getting promoted. We are just waiting for that click of everything coming together. Then we could be flying.

“If we can have a good run and get the balance right between scoring and conceding it will put us up there. That is key.”

On opponents Barrow, he said: “I played against them in non-league - it's not a nice place to go. And I saw them against Villa in the cup this season.

“They've got a few lively players up front. They do a good job and it will be a tough game.

“But it's about ourselves and how we adapt to the game. If we can start on the front foot like we did the first few games of the season, we'll get the crowd going and it will be a lively game and we'll come out on top.

“We are going into it on the back of clean sheet knowing we are capable of scoring goals and keeping a clean sheet.

“At home it's a real advantage with our fans and how loud they are to get us going. We just need to give them a result now this Saturday and the following Saturday and get us up that league.

“It's big having two home games after last Saturday's result, giving us great momentum.”

Hawkins has not trained this week with a back issue, but believes he will be fit to play, whether up front or at the back.

He said: “It has been causing a few problems the last few weeks but nothing serious. It is manageable and it's just about making the right decisions. I hope to get a couple of sessions in this week.

“Before that it will be rest, a bit of exercise and a few stretches and work on it to strengthen it up a bit for the weekend.”