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9th November 2021 10:53

Boss marks anniversary with victory
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 6th November 2021

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough left his hometown a happy man as the Stags’ chief celebrated one year in charge with victory at Sunderland.

The boss took over at One Call Stadium a year ago today and marked his first 12 months by overseeing a masterful 1-0 win which sees Stags advance into the second round of the Emirates FA Cup.

A Rhys Oates’ goal in the first-half ensured a 1-0 triumph at The Stadium of Light for the second successive season.


Speaking to iFollow Stags, the boss spoke highly about his team’s discipline to cement the victory, after taking an early lead.

He said: “I think the organisation and the shape of the team restricted a very good side to just a handful of opportunities.

“You’re always going to have a few scares but if you’re organised enough and enough of a threat on the break [you have a great chance of winning the game]."

The manager felt that the Stags were unlucky not to extend their lead further in the first-half.

“Harry Charlsey could’ve had one, Lapslie could’ve had one and I think we could’ve had a penalty shout on Harry as well when he went across the defender [from the Oates cross just before Lapslie's shot].

“Everyone put a shift in today and that’s when you get your rewards. [We’ve had] Two clean sheets on the spin in two matches, it’s brilliant for [our] confidence.”

Over 1,300 Mansfield supporters were present at The Stadium of Light and the Stags’ boss was thankful for their backing.

“The supporters today were absolutely incredible.

“We heard them from the first minute until about ten minutes after the game. When you’re up against it [pressure from Sunderland] and you’re on your knees, that keeps you going as a player. It spurs you on.”

Speaking about match-winner Rhys Oates, the manager said: “We’ve seen the best of him in the last couple of games. We were so keen to get him in the summer [transfer window].

“If you’re a centre half you wouldn’t want to play against him. As a pair or on his own - we know he’s a menace.

“From the press [led by Oates] we nicked one [goal] and he’s tucked it away with a very, very good finish.

“Now he’s got a couple of goals and an assist in the last two games so he is full of confidence.”

On the team’s overall display, he said: “We’ve had a good week’s training again. A brilliant week’s training. We knew it was the sort of game where we were going to have to put a shift in and restrict them [Sunderland].

“Especially first-half I think we frustrated them. We shut down a lot of avenues that usually they would use to go forward.

“We felt great pride when we got a 1-0 [win against Sunderland] last year and in some ways I thought it was a better performance today.“

You can watch the manager's interview in full now on iFollow Stags at: https://www.mansfieldtown.net/ifollow/.


Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"We were trying to work a way to get Danny Johnson in the side.
"But we needed 5 across the midfield, the energy and the legs of those and Oatesey up top. I thought the balance was about right today.
"It meant moving Stephen Quinn a bit wider than his usual position.
"It worked well, we broke up their play and broke with an intent.
"We were worried losing Faz (Rawson) today.
"His wife's having a baby. Things like that, it's very important that he's there.
"It was between Will Forrester and JJ (O'Toole) (who replaced him), but we went with JJ because of his experience.
"Kellan Gordon felt his knee yesterday after training. He just cleared one and he's not quite 100% yet.
"With 5-6 months of the season to go, we've got to get him right so he'll probably have an injection in it, that'll settle it down we hope and we'll see how he is in a couple of weeks time. With Elliott being fit and with James Clarke on the bench, it seems sensible to sort it once and for all."


Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags:
“Rhys Oates has got a sore groin, he came off with that. (George Lapslie) Laps has got a sore thigh so he’s got that.”


Nigel Clough backs Sunderland boss Lee Johnson to overcome the Black Cats' current 'dip'
chroniclelive.co.uk, By James Hunter, 6 NOV 2021

Mansfield boss Nigel Clough has backed Lee Johnson to pull Sunderland out of their current bad run - insisting every team has its 'dips' over the course of a season.

Clough's League Two side dumped the Black Cats out of the FA Cup at the first round stage for the second season running, winning 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.

And that cup exit put further pressure on Johnson, whose team has lost its last three league games, against Charlton Athletic, Rotherham, and Sheffield Wednesday, to lose ground in the automatic promotion race.


But Clough, who signed Johnson on loan while in charge at Derby in 2010, believes the Sunderland have made good progress over the last year since Johnson took charge.

"We did well coming here with Burton, and then the last couple of seasons with Mansfield - I don't know why," said Sunderland-born Clough, son of the Black Cats' legendary goalscorer Brian, reflecting on his successful returns to Wearside over the years.

"It's a special place to come and play football, I know that and the players appreciate that.

"The result today is probably a bit better [than last season] because of the progress that Sunderland have made in the last 12 months.

"They are a different proposition and a better team than they were 12 months ago and Lee has reduced the average age of the team.

"They are having a little dip at the moment but I saw them at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night and I said to him [today] before the game, 'I don't know how you lost that 3-0'.

"With a break here or there, they could have easily got something from that game so they are not far away at all.

"They've got a good manager and a good man.

"Ten days ago they won at QPR and won through to the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup.

"It's an incredible achievement to do that.

"Rotherham, with their physcial presence, can smash you and it certainly wasn't a 3-0 game [at Sheffield Wednesday] the other night.

"I don't see too much wrong. Every team will have its dips."

The only goal of the game came inside the first ten minutes, with a poor clearance from goalkeeper Lee Burge was charged down and fell to ex-Hartlepool striker Rhys Oates, who applied the finish.

Mansfield were the better side in the first half and could have added to their lead, before Johnson made changes at half-time which led to an improvement although they could not force an equaliser - Dan Neil going closest in injury-time, when he hit the bar.

Clough said: "It was a tough, long, old second half.

"I thought we played very well in the first half and could have gone in another goal ahead.

"We didn't come here to sit back.

"We got a bit tired in the second half and Sunderland put the pressure on, so we got pushed back and back.

"I thought they had three major opportunities in the game, and we'll settle for that over 95 minutes.

"You need that bit of luck, and they had the one that hit the underside of the bar at the end was the bit of luck that you get sometimes - we haven't had too much luck this season, so we're due a bit!

"It was very special for the supporters and the players as well - they don't get to play at too many stadiums like this.

"The travelling fans that we had were incredible and it was lovely when you can celebrate with them at the end."

Mansfield are struggling in the league, with their win against Tranmere last weekend ending a 12-game winless run and lifting them out of the relegation zone.

The club had been badly affected by injuries but had a number of first-teamers back against Sunderland, and Clough is hoping that backing up that league win with a cup victory will give his side the confidence they need to climb away from danger.

He said: "It worked 12 months ago, when we got a boost from winning here and got some results. We are desperate to get away from the bottom of League Two.

"It's about building confidence and this will help do that.

"We've dug ourselves a bit of a hole but two or three wins and you can soon get up that table."


Defender salutes Stags’ endeavour after Cup win
mansfieldtown.net, Saturday 6th November 2021

Mansfield Town defender John-Joe O’Toole hailed his teammates’ work rate after Stags advanced into round two of the Emirates FA Cup with a brilliant 1-0 win at Sunderland.

The former Northampton Town man started for the first time since joining the club a fortnight ago, having made a substitute appearance against Tranmere Rovers last Saturday.

The 33-year-old partnered Oli Hawkins in the heart of Mansfield’s defence to seal out Sunderland’s attacking threat.


The new signing was complimentary of how his teammates worked together to overcome the higher league opposition.

“It was a brilliant team performance from all of the lads,” O’Toole said. “Everyone gave it their all.

“We probably would’ve preferred to have had more of the more ball. Sometimes you come to places like this [against higher league opposition] and you have to withstand a bit of pressure.

“We felt quite comfortable for the majority of it and we nullified them in the areas we needed to.

“We got our noses in front and [we] probably could have got another one. Once [we] scored [we] had something to hold on to.

“We were a good unit today.”

The game against Sunderland was O’Toole’s first start for a club in over six months.

On his return to football having been released in the summer, O’Toole said: “It’s been a hard time for myself.

“Obviously [I’ve] been out of contract from Burton last year and it’s been hard. It’s the first time that I’ve been in that position [looking for a new club].

“When I got the call to come down to Mansfield, I was delighted to get [the] opportunity to play again for Cloughy [Nigel Clough] and [it is] a chance to progress my career a bit more.”

View the defender’s interview in full later today via: http://www.mansfieldtown.net/iFollow .


Lee Johnson accuses some Sunderland players of 'hiding' and he could have made changes after 20mins
chroniclelive.co.uk, By James Hunter, 6 NOV 2021

Lee Johnson accused some of his Sunderland players of 'hiding' in the first half against Mansfield Town, and said he considered making four changes after 20 minutes - before deciding to wait until half-time.

The Black Cats crashed out of the FA Cup at the first round stage at the hands of the League Two Stags for the second season running, and were booed off at the Stadium of Light.

While Johnson was outwardly calm when he spoke to the media, his words showed the depth of the anger he felt.

He made four of his allotted five changes at half-time, sending on Callum Doyle, Carl Winchester, Alex Pritchard, and Lynden Gooch in place of Tom Flanagan, Frederik Alves, Aiden O'Brien, and Leon Dajaku, but says he could have made them much earlier.

"Their team worked harder than us," said Johnson.


"As a coach, you want to see your personality reflected out there on the pitch.

"I'd like to think that my personality is tenacious, with a will-to-win, and a bright, footballing mindset.

"I could have made those changes after 20 minutes, to be honest with you.

"I was thinking about it, I really was.

"In the first half, I thought that was a poor attitude and we were low on confidence.

"The second half I was OK with - it wasn't great, don't get me wrong, but there was nobody hiding like there was in the first half.

"What you can't do, playing for a club like this, is hide.

"You have to try and create a vibe that is at least enthusiastic and send the crowd home happy.

"We've lost games - Burton away, for example - where we played with an identity and with a panache, but we just ran out of time.

"Today though, things didn't fall for us such as when Dan Neil hit the underside of the crossbar, and overall you have to say that Mansfield deserved it.

"Our technical performance was so poor today, and you can't use the pitch or the wind as an excuse.

"Both teams are playing in the same conditions.

"Some players should have come in today and really put in a big claim for a place in the Ipswich game.

"They should have been waiting in the wings, frustrated, and then thought 'here we go, I'm going to show everybody - not just the manager - that I should be playing'.

"But it fizzled out in terms of making that statement."

This cup defeat came on the back of three successive league reverses, and that has left Sunderland low on confidence.

He said: "It's clear that we are a bit devoid of confidence right now.

"If you rewind seven or eight games when we were playing compact and popping it round each other and flowing over the ground, that just wasn't there [today].

"I've got a really big job, I've realised, in terms of maintaining those confidence levels.

"It's the biggest challenge in football today.

"We have to show more enthusiasm, identity, pride in what we're doing.

"What does that look like? It looks like ball speed, when the ball goes out of play can we get it back in five seconds?

"Can we articulate and communicate what we want, not just in terms of our voices but non-verbal communication?

"That's what you want. What you don't want is putting out like a numb-type player.

"The pattern of this football club seems to repeat for too long, and that's what I find fascinating because we are now in that.

"We have to turn the tide, we have to buck the trend and get ourselves ready for the Trophy game on Tuesday night and then a really important league game against Ipswich."

Sunderland were booed off by the home fans and Johnson accepts that this defeat will see the criticism intensify.

He said: "By no means am I saying 'don't give us stick'.

"I've said from Day One that fans have got to be allowed to be fans and be emotive.

"We've lost the game today, which we didn't want to, but I'm looking at the big picture and we couldn't compete on all fronts in the cups and do so as well as we need to in the league.

"Our focus is clearly on the league and it has to be on the league."


Sunderland's Lee Johnson explains Ross Stewart's absence against Mansfield Town
chroniclelive.co.uk, By James Hunter, 6 NOV 2021

Ross Stewart and Aiden McGeady were both left out of the squad for Sunderland's FA Cup first round defeat

Lee Johnson has explained that Ross Stewart missed Sunderland's FA Cup tie against Mansfield Town due to injury.

The Black Cats crashed out of the competition with a 1-0 defeat at the same stage, against the same League Two opposition, and by the same scoreline, as they did 12 months ago.

And while Johnson was always expected to make changes, the fact that striker Stewart was not even included on the bench was a surprise.

But Johnson revealed that the Scot has played the last two games with a shoulder injury he suffered in the Carabao Cup win at QPR the week before last, and he took this opportunity to give him some time to recover.

"He's been struggling for a couple of games - he took a big whack at QPR where he got bundled off the pitch into an advertising board, and it was a really sore one on his shoulder," said Johnson.


Stewart was not the only absentee, with Aiden McGeady also left out of the squad despite being available again after serving a one-match suspension that ruled him out of the midweek league defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

McGeady had looked some way short of full fitness before he picked up the ban, and Johnson decided to rest him.

Sunderland have an EFL Trophy game against Bradford City on Tuesday night at the Stadium of Light in which he is expected to name a young side, given that the Black Cats are already through to the next stage.

And with no league game next Saturday due to international call-ups, Johnson will use this spell to work on his players' fitness and give them time to get over the minor niggles they have picked up in recent weeks.

Alex Pritchard - who came on as a substitute at half-time against Mansfield - is one of those who has been playing through the pain, with the midfielder having suffered a neck injury in the win at Crewe a few weeks ago.

Sunderland are on a wretched run of form which has seen them lose four games out of five in all competitions, including three in the league, with their penalty shootout win at QPR in the Carabao Cup their only respite.

After the Trophy dead-rubber, their next game is against Ipswich Town on Wearside and Johnson knows the only way to alleviate the pressure that has built up over the last fortnight is to win that match, and to do that he needs his best players fully-fit.

Johnson said: "We've got a two-week period now where we can design a programme for a few of them.

"McGeady is still a big player for us, let's not forget him, but he needs some fitness work.

"Pritchard has had a neck injury and this will allow him to get over that.

"We have to use these two weeks to prepare ourselves as best we can for the Ipswich game."


Nathan Bishop @natthb13
A massive thank you to those who travelled yesterday. Support was incredible and was felt all game long!! A great result on the road, the lads were (emoji on fire)

John Radford
Wow what a win again at the stadium of light coys

listened on the EFL radio (iFollow), fantastic reporting Martin and Dean, and wow how loud are our supporters. (the fa and bbc need to get themselves into the 21st century no streams)

John Radford
Well done to Nigel and the players.
Superb performance.
Fans excellent also; non-stop singing and backing.
I’m a proud chairman this evening.

David Sharpe @DavidSharpe91
Get in!! Hell of a shift from the boys! Supporters different class as well, didn’t stop singing all game! Everyone associated with the club can be proud tonight!! In the Top hat for the 2nd round! @EmiratesFACup