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Archived News from December 2021

30th December 2021 0:19

Stags’ boss salutes squad after comeback
mansfieldtown.net, Sunday 26th December 2021

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough hailed the character of his depleted squad as Stags rallied to beat Hartlepool United in a thrilling Boxing Day contest.

An inspired comeback ensured the Stags extended their excellent run of form to ten victories from eleven games.

Speaking to iFollow Stags after a gripping Boxing Day encounter - played in thick fog - the boss expressed his pride at his players’ attitude and psyche during the contest, as Stags came from 2-0 down to earn maximum points.

“It was a bit of a gamble getting the game on today [with us] losing players,” he said, referring to positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp.


“But we thought we had enough with the starting XI [available] to get us a result.

“I thought we were ready for the game, having not played for a couple of weeks [due to positive Covid cases in Forest Green’s squad].

“To comeback from 2-0 down gives everybody a lot of confidence.

“We kept going forward and forward, that’s how we try and play.”

Summing up the match, he said: “It was a brilliant game. I’m not quite sure how we got to be 2-0 down. They didn’t go into our penalty area too many times during the game.

“We’ve gone behind in a couple of games recently here and we’ve managed to turn it around and get the three points like we did today.

“Once you get one goal it changes a game. [It doesn’t matter if it’s] Two or three nil, one goal changes the game.”

The manager’s side performed an inspired comeback, with the first Mansfield goal coming courtesy of star performer John-Joe O’Toole.

“I thought he [O’Toole] was excellent today. I though they [the sponsors] were spot on today [in voting him Man of the Match].

“I thought he was very good. We moved him into the centre of midfield [from centre-back] and he anchored it [the midfield] brilliantly.

“He ends up with a very important goal. I think that’s three he’s got since he’s been with us. Very, very important goals,” said the boss.

George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn, Richard Nartey and Harry Charsley missed the game due to positive Covid tests.

“Stephen Quinn’s is confirmed and we are waiting for the other three to be confirmed,” said the manager.

“[We have] Four injuries and four out with the virus.

“We’ll test [the other members of the squad] in the morning and see where we go [from there].

“We only have 14 fit outfield players and none of the injuries will be back in time for Wednesday night.

“We did everything we can to get the game on today. We lost three this morning and over lunch time. We’ll do what we can to get a team out on Wednesday. “

The gaffer was keen to highlight the importance of the supporters in helping turn around a two-goal deficit as the Stags recorded their sixth-straight home win.

“I think they can see that we’re playing well. The two goals [conceded] were against the run of play and then once we got that very important first goal back [we had the momentum].

“Nearly 6,000 in today. Having so many Hartlepool fans made a good atmosphere as well.

“The supporters play a big part in that [picking up successive victories at home].

“We wanted to play. We wanted to put a game on for the spectators. It’s Boxing Day.”

Watch the manager’s interview in full at mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.


Nigel Clough told Craig Priest for Mansfield 103.2:

"Over the course of the game, we deserved the 3 points.
"I haven't seen it back (the disallowed goal), but the lads in the back four said he was offside.
"I couldn't see the flag go up. I could hardly see the linesman!

"If we'd lost another one or two, then we wouldn't have been able to put the required number out there, I think it's 13 and a goalkeeper. We've got 14 and a goalkeeper. So we were pretty close to it.
"There's a few downstairs coughing and spluttering (in the changing room).
"As soon as the players are in the changing room, it's very difficult to constrain it (the virus spreading).

"I got a call this morning saying we'd lost George Lapslie and Stephen Quinn. We wanted to try and keep the formation. Originally we had Oli Hawkins up top and John-Joe O'Toole at centre half.
"Yeah he was (in response to Jason Law was outstanding). Jason has been very very good in training, so we put Jordan up top with Oatesey, they looked good together, and we just put Jason behind them and get him on the ball as much as possible.

On O'Toole's contract: "I think we're pretty close with it. He has got other offers, but I think he enjoys it. We're doing everything we can to persuade him to stay.


Gamble pays off for Nigel Clough but concerns grown over depleted Mansfield Town fielding a side at Harrogate Town on Wednesday
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sunday 26th December 2021

Nigel Clough admitted his gamble of making sure today's thrilling home win against Harlepool United went ahead had paid off.

But he cast big doubts over Wednesday's trip to Harrogate Town with more players looking likely to fall to Covid on a day when the virus saw so many games called off elsewhere.

Missing eight players, Stags came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 for a 10th win in 11 games, despite losing George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn, Harry Charsley and Richard Nartey to positive tests.

“It was a bit of a gamble getting the game on today after losing players, but we thought we had enough with the starting XI to get a result and we needed a game after two weeks without one,” he said.


“We lost three players at lunchtime, and I think if we'd told one or two half truths we'd have got the game off. “But we wanted to put a game on for the spectators - it's Boxing Day.

“We believe all four have had positive tests as well as having four out with injury.”

He continued: “We have a few more now who have symptoms and are coughing and we will test them in the morning and see where we go.

“We only have 14 fit outfielders and none of the injuries will be back in time for Wednesday.

“We will do everything we can to get a team out on Wednesday but, as much as we want to play, if we can't make the required number we will fall victim like an awful lot of teams have today.

“With it spreading so fast I think it's inevitable there will be two or three more.”

On the game overall, he said: “I thought right from the first five minutes it was a brilliant game and I am not quite sure how we got to be 1-0 down, giving away two sloppy goals.

“They didn't go into our penalty area too many times in the game and we should have been ahead before they scored.

“I said at half-time there was nothing wrong with the general performance, but we'd missed three very good chances in the six yard box and conceded a poor goal.

“But we've gone behind in a couple of games here in recent weeks and managed to turn it around as we did today.

“John-Joe's (O'Toole) goal gave us the spark and I thought he was excellent today. He deserved man of the match. He anchored central midfield brilliantly.”

“To come back from 2-0 down gives everyone a lot of confidence.”

Hartlepool thought they had levelled in added time but were denied by an offside flag and Clough added: “We maybe got a little fortunate in the last minute.

“I have not seen it back - the flag went up quite late. But we were not getting those breaks a couple of months back.”

"We gave too many free kicks away, George Maris before he came off gave two away, Jason Law gave the one away that led to that offside goal. We've just got to work a little bit harder without giving the free kicks away. Because when you have someone like Ferguson with that left foot, he'll put it on a sixpence. And he did, and we just got away with it."


JJ: We always kept believing
mansfieldtown.net, Sunday 26th December 2021

Defender/midfielder John-Joe O’Toole says he knew Stags would acquire points - even after falling 2-0 behind - in today’s Boxing Day encounter as three goals in 11 second-half minutes saw Mansfield beat Hartlepool 3-2 to increase the festive cheer at One Call Stadium.

In a game played in thick fog, O’Toole netted Mansfield’s first in the 55th minute, igniting his side’s magical comeback.

The 33-year-old felt Mansfield were deserved winners despite finding themselves two goals down during the match.


“It was a brilliant game to play [in],” he said. “I think the fans probably got their monies worth today. It was exciting and it had everything.

“We started off quite well [but] we just couldn’t quite get the goal. They then scored against the run of play [and] the message at half-time was to just keep going.

“I think over the course of the 90 minutes we fully deserved the win.”

O’Toole sparked Mansfield’s revival and credited his teammate George Maris’ role in assisting the crucial goal.

“I said to him [Maris] to put the corner on the near stick and to be fair the ball was incredible,” said O’Toole. “He stuck it right on the money.

“I glanced it and it went in.

“Once that went in we were firing. We were always going to get something from the game after that goal.

“The timing of the goal was good to get us back in it and give us enough time to get the other two [goals].

“Perhaps [we were] a little bit lucky with the [disallowed goal for] offside but over the course of the game we were deserved winners.”

Speaking of the character of the depleted Stags, the former Northampton man said: “It’s always a tricky time of the year.

“There’s a lot of games and you’ve got to try and keep in tip-top condition.

“When we had a few go down [unavailable] today and yesterday, I think the manager knows how strong the squad is. He wanted the game [to be] on, and you can see why because the lads have come in and done really well and we got the win.

“Everyone’s doing well and we’re in a good vein of form.

“We want all the games to be on. We don’t want any of these games to be called off because of the form that we’re in. We’d play tomorrow if we could.

“We’re on a good run and we just want to get up the league. We’re just getting started really.

“There’s plenty of games to play and we want to get [at] minimum [a place in the] play offs, I don’t see why not.”

On the young midfielders playing alongside him: "yeah brilliant. Stirkey's been brilliant, really impressed with him. Lawsey hasn't had as much game time as he would have probably liked, but he's come in to today and done really well, he was busy, created a couple of good opportunities, he always wanted the ball.

Watch O'Toole's interview in full on iFollow Stags at mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.


John-Joe O’Toole told Craig Priest for Mansfield 103.2:

(On the disallowed goal) "My initial reaction was I was just gutted. What I think might have happened is the lad that was offside interfered with play.

(On possibly signing a new contract) "Yeah hopefully. I've really enjoyed my time here. Hopefully get something sorted. I'm getting a couple of offers elsewhere so I've got to look after my family and seriously consider them as well. But hopefully we'll get something sorted."

"I felt like I did quite well today in centre mid. But I enjoy playing centre half as well. But I'll play anywhere."


That was a brilliant game to play in says John-Joe O’Toole after Mansfield Town win five-goal thriller against Hartlepool United
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sunday 26th December 2021

Mansfield Town man of the match John-Joe O'Toole said today's 3-2 win was as exciting for the players on the pitch as it was for the fans in the stands.

Despite missing eight players, four with Covid symptoms, Stags came from 2-0 down to reel off a 10th win in 11 games in front of a big holiday crowd.

“It was a brilliant game to play in and I think the fans got their money's worth today,” said O'Toole, who scored after being pushed into a midfield role from defence.

“It was exciting and had everything - and we came away winners.


“We started off quite well but couldn't quite get the goal. Then they scored against the run of play.

“The message at half-time was keep going but convert the chances we get.

“Despite conceding the second we knew we were still in it and once we got the first I don't think we ever looked back.”

On his goal, he said:“The ball in from George (Maris) was incredible - he stuck it right on the money and I just glanced it in. We were firing then.”

Hartlepool were denied a point at the death when they had a goal ruled out for offside.

“It was a little bit nervy at the end,” said O'Toole.

“I am not sure if it was offside but I think we could have dealt with it a bit better. Maybe we got a bit lucky there but over 90 minutes we fully deserved the win.”

Stags are due to play at Harrogate Town on Wednesday night but with Covid biting hard nationwide, it's impossible to know if Stags will have enough fit players to make the journey.

“We are in a good vein of form and don't want any games called off,” said O'Toole.

“We would play tomorrow if we could. We are just getting started.

“We want to get up that league. There are plenty of games to play and we feel like we can definitely get play-offs as a minimum.

“But it's out of our hands and we will see what happens.”


Hartlepool United boss Graeme Lee unhappy over late offside flag that denied them a point in thriller at Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sunday 26th December 2021

Hartlepool United boss Graeme Lee believes his side's late strike should have counted as they were beaten 3-2 in a Boxing Day thriller at Mansfield Town.

Pools saw a 2-0 lead evaporate as depleted Stags hit back with three goals in 11 second half minutes.

Gavan Holohan thought he had snatched a stoppage time leveller but, as he celebrated with the army of over 1,000 away fans, a late linesman's flag ruled him offside.

“From my angle I don't see how it was offside,” said Lee.


“He made a run and came across one of their defenders and knocked it in.

“The linesman believed he was in an offside position before the kick was taken.

“I need to watch it again. If he has got it right then well played, but from my angle it looks a clear goal.

“But we shouldn't be looking for a last minute equaliser when we were 2-0 up. We should see the game out or at least keep doing the right things.”

Lee continued: “It was a tough challenge, we know they're a good team. But when you are 2-0 up I would expect us to win.“I am very disappointed. We knew we were up against a tough team and we probably sat off them too much first half.

“The first time we got hold of the ball we scored. That gave us a bit of belief and it was a great start to the second half to go 2-0 up.

“So it was disappointing to then see us stop what we'd been doing, sit off, and stop pressing them.

“We dealt with crosses really well first half but second half we looked like a different team and no one made the first contacts. It cost us.”


Graeme Lee left 'baffled' by decision to rule out Gavan Holohan's late goal as Hartlepool United slip to defeat at Mansfield Town
By Joe Ramage, hartlepoolmail.co.uk

Graeme Lee admits he was ‘baffled’ by the decision to disallow Gavan Holohan’s stoppage time goal which would have rescued a point for Hartlepool United.

Holohan, a late substitute for Lee’s side, arrived unchallenged in the area to convert David Ferguson’s deep freekick and looked to have given Pools a point at Mansfield Town only for his goal to be ruled out for offside.

The controversial decision led to a number of protests from Pools players with the Irishman appearing to have timed his run well in the area.

As a result, it meant Lee would slip to his first defeat as Pools boss having watched his side throw away a two goal lead in 11 stirring second half minutes at the One Call Stadium.


“I was baffled at first watching the goal. I saw Gav running across their defender which means he’s deeper than their defender.

“The linesman is the one who has given it but the feedback I’ve been given is that he was talking about the number 14 being in an offside position before the ball was taken,” Lee explained to BBC Tees.

“I’m not sure until I see it again from a clearer angle. I don’t know if he’s still watching him when the ball has been taken or if he’s taken his eye off it while Gav’s making his deeper run to come across the defender.

“From my angle I don't see how it was [offside], we’ll have to see it again but from my point of view it looked like a clear goal.”

Despite Pools’ protests, Lee was left disappointed his side were in a position where they had to try and rescue a late point having held a two goal lead early in the second half.

“If he’s got it right then well played but from my angle he’s got it wrong,” said Lee.

“But I said to the lads we shouldn’t be looking for that last minute equaliser when you’re 2-0 up. We should be 2-0 up and we should be able to see the game out, or at least keep doing the right things and make sure when the ball comes in the box we take responsibility and somebody gets the first contact.”


'We looked like a different team' - Graeme Lee verdict on Hartlepool United collapse at Mansfield Town
By Joe Ramage, hartlepoolmail.co.uk

Graeme Lee was left disappointed with Hartlepool United’s second half collapse as he suffered his first defeat as manager.

Lee must have thought his unbeaten run was about to extend after Nicky Featherstone’s goal five minutes into the second half added to Luke Molyneux’s strike to give Pools a commanding lead over Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium.

But Nigel Clough’s side bounced back with a stunning 11 minute comeback to flip the game on its head and hand the Stags all three points.

John-Joe O’Toole headed the home side back into the game before Jordan Bowery levelled the scores just after the hour with another well taken header.


Clough’s side completed the turnaround when George Maris’ cross from the left escaped everyone in the penalty area to find the back of Ben Killip’s net.

And it was those balls into the box in the second half which disappointed Lee the most.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Lee.

“What we did in the first half very well was we dealt with crosses. We made the first contact on every single cross that came into the box, but in the second half we looked like a different team defending the box, no-one made the first contact.

“They scored their first goal from a cross and we allowed them to get those opportunities from further up the pitch but contact in the box is massive and we didn’t deal with balls into the box in the second half and it cost us.

“We were up against a tough team, we knew that,” he added.

“We probably sat off them too much in the first half and didn’t get hold of the ball enough in the first 20 minutes.

“The first time we did get hold of the ball, we scored and that gave us a bit of belief and we were in the game from that point.

“It was a great start to the second half to go 2-0 up and I've said to the players how disappointed we are that we didn’t keep doing what we were doing from that point.

“It was a tough challenge but I’ve said to the lads I expect us to win when we get to 2-0 up.”


Graeme Lee is hoping Hartlepool United can take the positives from their defeat at Mansfield Town ahead of Tranmere Rovers visit
By Joe Ramage, hartlepoolmail.co.uk

Graeme Lee believes there were still some positives to take from Hartlepool United’s defeat at Mansfield Town.

Pools let a two goal lead slip through their hands in just 11 minutes as goals from John-Joe O’Toole, Jordan Bowery and George Maris completed a stunning turnaround for Nigel Clough’s side.

And after midfielder Gavan Holohan saw his stoppage time strike ruled out for offside it meant Lee would taste defeat for the first time since arriving at the Suit Direct Stadium at the beginning of the month.

But despite the defeat, Lee believes his side have to take the positives from the game as they look to quickly bounce back on home soil on Wednesday night when they host Tranmere Rovers (KO 7.45pm).


“There has to be positives because you go 2-0 up against a very good team,” said Lee.

“Probably after 20 minutes I was pleased with the way we were. We started moving the ball a little bit better and we were a little bit braver.

“I said we can’t just keep going long off kick-offs, we neded to try and play it quick. Once we moved the ball at the back they seemed to drop off and we found gaps to play through them and then if we dominated the ball a little bit more it nullified their threats.

“So there were times we did that and worked the ball well for our second goal but we just allowed them opportunities.

“We lost the ball on three occasions where they’ve gone and scored from. So there’s positives but a lot of negatives as well.”

And Lee is hoping his side can learn from their mistakes ahead of Wednesday’s game where the Pools boss is expecting another tough test.

“As much as there’s disappointment we now have to get the recovery sorted and get the focus back on.

“We’ve got another game on Wednesday which will be another tough game. It’s another team who have won again which puts them in the play-offs. But we’ve shown we can match the top teams in this league.

“It’s all frustrating and it’s a disappointed group but we did finish with there being another game coming up on Wednesday and it’s vital that we take the positives out of this and learn from the mistakes we’ve made.”


Ollie Clarke @ollieclarke29
Massive shift from the boys



Latest | December 2021