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Archived News from April 2022

30th April 2022 0:19

Stags’ chief predicts exciting run-in
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 25th April 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough predicts there will still be ‘twists and turns’ in Sky Bet League Two as the race for promotion intensifies.

Stags have three final games remaining in the 46-game regular league campaign with Stevenage up next at the One Call Stadium tomorrow evening (7:45pm kick-off).

The amber and blue sit in sixth position in the table, with three more points than eighth-placed Salford City and with a game in hand.


Speaking to the local media at a news conference today, the boss said: “As you get down to the final six to eight games, each one gets a little bit more important as you stay in the mix.

“I think Northampton play Exeter next week which is a big game and we’ve still got Salford and Forest Green to play.

“Forest Green have just secured promotion but will want to win the league now no doubt. With 10 days to go, there are still to be many twists and turns in the league to come.”

The gaffer is expecting an ‘aggressive game’ from Stevenage under the lights at the One Call Stadium tomorrow.

“It will be just as tough as Saturday was against Crawley,” said Nigel.

“We’ve not had any sort of walkovers [this season] and we certainly will not expect that against Stevenage.

“I think they’ll be aggressive in the right way in terms of closing us down and stopping us playing.

“They’ve just beaten a play-off chasing team in Tranmere on Saturday and they’ll be as confident as anyone in the league having secured their league status.”

With final three games of the season to go, the boss said: “We know we’ve got to do everything to get the three points on Tuesday night and see how the league table looks after that.

“Now we are in it [the play-off places] with three games to go, we have to stay in it.”

Stags have no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow’s contest, however, the boss revealed that starting Rhys Oates in the 2-0 win over Crawley was a ‘gamble’.

“He’d improved slightly [on his injury] and did a little bit of training. With these sorts of injuries, it is always a risk, but we were just pleased that he got through it.

“We don’t know whether we have another three games to go or another six.

“We’ve got to put a team out the best we can.”

Midfielder George Maris won the fans’ Man of the Match accolade from Saturday’s win after starting for the first time in two months and the gaffer said: “He played well [against Crawley]. He’s been injured and he’s been ill, that’s why he has not been in the team [previously].

“The odd time he did come in, his form had dipped. He is coming back at the right time and we’ll see how he recovers because that was his first game for a long time.”

Meanwhile it was revealed that defender/striker Oli Hawkins had missed Saturday’s game following the birth of his second child. The club sends its congratulations to Oli and his partner.


Stevenage visit now most important game of the season so far says boss Nigel Clough
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 25th April 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said tomorrow night's crucial home clash with Stevenage was now the club's most important game of the season so far.

Stags remain in with a shout of both automatic promotion and the play-offs with three games to go, so know how crucial it is to win this massive game in hand.

“The performance and result against Crawley on Saturday were just what we needed after the two defeats,” he said.

“We needed to get back on track and the manner we did it against a good side was as important as the result.


“Other teams don't keep winning and we certainly don't keep losing and there was quite a big swing on Saturday.

“It puts a little bit more pressure on for Tuesday night as it now becomes our biggest game of the season.

“When you get down to the last six or seven games then each one does get a bit more important if you stay in the mix. If you drop out the mix then it doesn't really matter.

“With us being right in there with three to go then this is the most important one.”

If Stags win tomorrow they will hope second-placed Exeter City can do them a couple of favours over the last two games to take points off chief automatic promotion rivals Northampton Town and Port Vale.

“Northampton play Exeter next week, which is a big game, and we have still got Salford and Forest Green to play,” said Clough.

“Forest Green have secured promotion now but will want to win the league no doubt.

“So 10 days to go and I think there are still a lot of twists and turns to go yet.

“When you get down to 10th and 11th and still in with a chance of the play-offs it suggest this is a seriously competitive league.

“We have to get the three points on Tuesday night and see how the table looks then. It can change in one game.

“We were so unlucky to lose a couple of games last weekend and all of a sudden we were outside the top seven.

“We have our sights set on the top three, but drop outside the top seven and you're struggling just to get back in.

“Now we are back in it with three games to go we have to stay in it. The play-offs would be a brilliant achievement.”

Clough will run the rule over Rhys Oates, Stephen Quinn and Stephen McLaughlin after Saturday's win before naming his side.

“Even with a few games to go, we have to look if anyone is going to do any further damage. We don't know if we have got another three games left or possibly six.

“But we have got to put out the best team we can from those who are fit.

“Oatesy was a little bit of a gamble on Saturday. He got through 80 minutes and we will see how he is.

“We have one or two others carrying knocks, but you just have to get them out there with very little training in between, wrap them up in cotton wool as the saying goes, and just concentrate on games.

“Oatesy was 50/50 then he improved slightly and did a little bit of training.

“But with these sorts of injuries it's always a risk. We are just pleased he got through it.

“We were trying to get him off as soon as we could. That's why the second goal was important.

“But, even then, Crawley are such a dangerous side, having scored in 17 consecutive away games before coming to us, we knew they could get a goal out of nothing. Even with 10 men, all of a sudden it was still game on.

“It was more important to win the game and then we looked after the three lads as soon as we could.

“We have one or two carrying knocks, but we hope nothing too serious.

“Stephen Quinn got a whack on his hip and Stephen McLaughlin got a couple of whacks as well on his hand as well as his head which led to the sending-off, which I think did warrant a second yellow card.”

Oli Hawkins will also return after missing Saturday.

“It was a personal thing,” said Clough. “They had a second child on Thursday night, so emotions were all over the shop, but he is back in the squad tomorrow.”

The Stevenage game is all-ticket and none are available on the night.


Mansfield Town focused on beating Stevenage and not the expected Steve Evans ‘circus sideshow’ on his return
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 25th April 2022

Boss Nigel Clough said his Mansfield Town side would be fully focused on winning tomorrow night's home clash with Stevenage as fans' reaction to the return of ex-Stags boss Steve Evans threatens to become something of a distracting ‘circus sideshow’ at a crucial game.

Stags are still in with a shout of both automatic promotion and the play-offs but know how crucial it is to win this massive game in hand with only two games left after it.

Evans is widely disliked in Mansfield having suddenly quit the club to become Peterborough United manager in February 2018 and is likely to get a very hostile reception on his first visit back.

“We have to completely ignore it and do exactly what we did on Saturday,” said Clough


“We have to be completely focused on our performance.

“We don't want anything to distract or subtract from that at all.

“We have a reasonably experienced side out there which helps as they just calm everything down. That's what we will need in the next few games.”

On the opposition, he added: “I think Stevenage will be aggressive in the right way in terms of closing us down and stopping us playing first and foremost, then they are a threat.

“They have just beaten a promotion-chasing team in Tranmere on Saturday, which ended their unbeaten run of a few games, and I think Stevenage will be as confident as anybody in the league, especially after securing their status.

“We expect it to be a physical game in the right way.”

Stags were furious when Stevenage were recently allowed to postpone this fixture due to an alleged Covid outbreak in the squad straight after Evans took over and Clough said: “We should have played them a few weeks ago and the game we still think was unjustifiably called off.

“They got themselves safe on Saturday which was a big milestone for them.

“Now they can relax and play a little bit and Steve will be looking to build for next season.

“There is the personal aspect of him being a former manager here and everything, they have just got safe and have players who are out of contract who will be desperate to earn new contracts there or elsewhere.

“So it will be just as tough as it was against Crawley on Saturday. In the 43 games we've had I don't think we've had an easy one.

“There have been no walkovers and I don't expect it to be like that against Stevenage.”

He added: “Literally within about five minutes of the end of Saturday's game we were concentrating on Tuesday. That's the focus the players need to have and we all need to have.

“We've done our job in that one and now we are working the team and how we can best get three points against Stevenage.”

Clough said Mansfield would not be changing their game in any way, despite the mounting pressure.

“Saturday's win over Crawley was a very similar performance to the one at Carlisle and we didn't panic after the two defeats,” he said.

“We have to stay calm and composed in the last few games and keep playing like we do.

“There is no point in trying to change it at this stage after 40-odd games. We have been trying to play this way since the first game of the season.

“Sometimes it's good and it works and sometimes it doesn't, which is down to us or the opposition, but playing that is our strength and we have to keep doing it and keep doing it well.

“Our first goal on Saturday epitomised it. James Perch on the edge of his own box, instead of just whacking the ball clear, just played a little four or five yard ball which started a 10-pass move in which the ball doesn't go above knee height until the cross comes in from Elliott Hewitt.”


Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough backs proposals for new independent football regulator
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 25th April 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has tentatively welcomed the government's decision to establish an independent football regulator after backing recommendations made in the fan-led review into the men's game.

Amid a climate of clubs going bust or in crisis and having unsuitable ownership, the regulator will have powers to sanction clubs in English football who break financial and other rules.

As Stags continue to press for promotion under Clough, safe in the envied ownership of John and Carolyn Redford, Clough said: “I just hope it's a good independent regulator.

“Just looking at a few of the decisions in the last few years I am not sure we can guarantee that.


“It has to be the right one, a good one and it has to have some teeth to be able to do things.

“You saw the protests at Oldham on Saturday against the owners.

“People forget that while owners own football clubs, they don't really. They belong to the supporters who have come for years and years.

“It's their club and it needs a sort of stewardship to take care of it for people.”

Among the suggestions is clubs having a 'shadow board' made up of supporters.

“I am not sure about 'shadow boards', but fans should have some sort of representation without a doubt,” said Clough.

“There should be more contact and dialogue with supporters' groups.

"We had about 180/190 people in for our forum recently and it is fascinating hearing about the queues at the kiosk.

“You want to know about trying to buy tickets and things like that as they're the problems that fans experience and the things we can do something about.”

A new owners' test will be introduced and legislation will give fans more say in the running of the game.

It comes after the review, chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, made 10 recommendations to government on how to improve football governance last year following a number of high-profile crises such as the failed European Super League and the collapse of Bury FC.

The government said a white paper will be published in the summer.


Mansfield Town players to have their say on travel arrangements for crucial trip to Salford City on Monday
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 25th April 2022

Mansfield Town will try to continue their automatic promotion push with a tough penultimate game of the season away at Salford City live on Sky TV on Monday (12.30pm).

And boss Nigel Clough said he will give his players the choice of travelling over the night before or going on the door with such an early kick-off time.

As a thrilling season looks set to go right down to the wire, Clough said: “We have planned the week training-wise but we're not sure if we are going overnight yet.

“It's a 12.30 kick-off which complicates things.


“We will have a chat with the players and see what they want to do.

“I have enjoyed just travelling on the bus and going on the day, but whether it's too far or not with the kick-off time I am not sure.

“The roads should be clear on a Bank Holiday Monday morning. But it is still a couple of hours from here.”


Mansfield Town striker Jimmy Knowles back on the grass at last on his way back from serious knee injury
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Monday 25th April 2022

Forgotten Mansfield Town youngster Jimmy Knowles is making his first strides towards a return from a serious knee injury.

Stags boss Nigel Clough said it was unlikely the 20-year-old Sutton-born striker would be fit enough to take part in pre-season but said he was keen to take another look at him as soon as possible.

Knowles ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament 11 games into a loan spell with Scottish Championship club Greenock Morton when they were playing Kilmarnock back in November.

“He is back on the grass and doing a little but though nowhere near football-wise or anything like that - just a bit of light running, which is a good psychological boost and a hurdle to get over.


“Once you get out the gym and back on the grass it is a boost and he will be working over the summer,” said Clough.

“Pre-season might be a bit too soon for him but we do want to have a look at him..

“The idea was for him to go and play in the Scottish League up there and get some experience and get some goals.

“Unfortunately it was cut short.”

Knowles had returned from a successful spell on loan at neighbours Notts County, where he netted six goals in 29 games.



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