CLOUGH AND PERCH PREVIEW SALFORD GAME
Boss calls for 'calm' heading into season climax
mansfieldtown.net, Friday 29th April 2022
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has called for his side to remain ‘calm’ as the Stags enter their final two matches of the Sky Bet League Two season.
Currently fifth in the league table, Mansfield can secure a minimum of a play-off place finish with a victory away at Salford on Monday afternoon.
Consecutive 2-0 victories at home to Crawley and Stevenage in the past week puts Mansfield in a healthy position, but the gaffer hopes his side can remain focused over the next week with the season drawing to a close.
Speaking to the local media in his news conference today, the boss said: “We’ve tried to [keep the atmosphere calm around the club], we tried to at half-time on Tuesday night against Stevenage when we weren’t playing very well.
“There’s no point us getting panicky at this stage.
“We have to stay calm and be as composed as we can going into the last two games.
“We’ve tried to do it [remain calm] for 44 league games and so we’re not going to change now.”
Stags head to The Peninsula Stadium on Monday targeting a first top seven finish since 2019.
“A win [at Salford on Monday] is the only thing that guarantees us to be in the play-offs and gives us a shout [of making the top three] going into the final day,” said Nigel.
“When you look at our results, people will say we haven’t had enough draws.
“If we’d turned [a couple of] the defeats into draws, then certainly we would be in a better position but not at the expense of going for the wins.
“We’ve won a lot of games this season, especially at home so we need to keep doing the same [things].”
Salford have promotion aspirations of their own. Gary Bowyer’s side need a result to maintain their push for a play-off finish.
“I think they’re still more than capable [of getting into the play-offs],” the Stags’ chief said.
“They’ve had a good little run recently which has put them back into the [promotion] picture.
“They’ll know they need to win, without doubt, to still stand a chance going into the final day.
“It’s going to be an interesting one, I know we’re going to take a few supporters up there, so we want the lads to play.”
Monday’s fixture was rearranged due to television coverage, the Stags could potentially head into the top three, at least for a brief period, after the Salford game - depending on Saturday's results.
“[By playing on Monday, after Saturday's fixtures] It’s going to add a little bit of clarity to the situation, certainly.
“We still know what we need to do. We need to go and win the game.
“I think we’ll probably outnumber them. There’s a lot of interest in the game.
“It’s so exciting, you see it after the game, we weren’t brilliant against Stevenage [but] we got the result in the end, and you see everybody’s reaction.
“What we don’t want to do is let them [the Stags’ supporters] down.”
The gaffer provided an update on his squad’s injury list.
“Quinny [Stephen Quinn] is 50/50 for the game,” he said.
“He got a very, very sore hip after the whack against Crawley so [we’re] not sure [if he’ll feature at Salford].
“Ollie Clarke is down to start training this week which will be a bonus, but he’s obviously not done anything for a good few weeks now so we’ll see how he comes through that.”
With optimism building, the manager says he will look to manage the ever-growing excitement surrounding the Stags’ push for promotion.
“You want that anticipation and quiet excitement.
“[But] You don’t want to be over the top with everybody in, screaming and shouting.
“We’ve achieved nothing yet, absolutely nothing.
“We’re not even guaranteed the play-offs.
“I think it’s lovely for everybody, football fans or not to be interested in their local team.
“We know that a couple of thousand will go up to Salford and make their presence heard.
“We’re all excited but we’re just trying to keep it under wraps and channel it the right way.”
Watch the manager's news conference now by clicking here.
Nigel Clough's keeping it calm in the camp as Mansfield Town prepare for Salford City trip
chad.co.uk, By Mark Duffy, Friday 29th April 2022
Nigel Clough says all is calm in the Mansfield Town camp as they prepare for two defining games over the next week.
Stags go to Salford City on Bank Holiday Monday before hosting already-promoted Forest Green Rovers five days later, knowing that an automatic promotion place is the biggest prize on offer, or at the very least the guarantee of a play-off spot.
And Clough is keen to keep his side relaxed in the lead up to the encounters.
He said: “We’ve tried to keep it calm all week and we tried to at half-time on Tuesday against Stevenage we weren’t playing very well.
"There’s no point in getting panicky at this stage, we have to stay as calm and composed as we can going into the last two games.
"We’ve tried to do that for 44 league games so we’re not going to change now."
Clough said his side will be going for the victory at Salford, to put them in as strong a position as possible going into the Rovers match.
He said: "A win is the only thing that guarantees us a play-off place and also gives us a shout going into the final day of automatic promotion, so that’s the plan.
"When you look at our results people will say we haven’t had enough draws and if we’d turned a few of the defeats into draws then we’d certainly be in a better position, but not at the expense of going for the wins.
"I think that’s been on of the strengths, we’ve won a lot of games this season, especially at home, so we need to keep doing the same.”
Salford’s away form has been better than at home all season, with a large number of draws on their own patch too, but Clough won’t underestimate the task, also highlighting his belief that if City don’t go up this year, their moment won’t be far away.
He said: "Salford are still more than capable. I think they’ve gone on a little run recently which has put them back into the picture and they’ll know they need to win without a doubt to still stand a chance going into the final day.
"So it’s going to be an interesting one and we’re going to take a few supporters up there so want the lads to play just as we did in our last away game at Carlisle. We’ll take that standard of performance every day.
"I think Gary [Bowyer] has done a brilliant job this season and I think next season they’ll come up with a serious challenge.
"[The money spent] shows how serious they are about taking the club up the leagues.
"All you have to do is look at the teams who have just been promoted from League Two, they’ve been knocking at the door for the last four or five years and eventually got there.”
We want strong finish for fans - Perch
mansfieldtown.net, Friday 29th April 2022
Mansfield Town defender James Perch says he and the squad ‘know how much’ the race for promotion means to the Stags’ faithful as the regular 46-game season approaches its climax.
Nigel Clough’s men face promotion rivals Salford City in Greater Manchester this Monday knowing a win would guarantee a place in the end-of-season play-offs at the minimum.
Stags will be backed by an army of 1,316 supporters and 36-year-old Perch says he and his teammates appreciate the fans’ eagerness to finish in the top seven, with two games of the season remaining.
“We know how important this is for the fans and the club,” said Perch.
“We’ve come a long way since the start of the season and put ourselves in a position to do something good.
“I’ve been there previously [to Salford] and it’s a tough place to go. They have a good team and manager, but we’re playing well at the moment. We’d fancy going anywhere and getting a result, so it’s all on us.
“We have a great squad. We have 18 to 20 players who could get into the starting 11.
“Everyone is competitive and wants to play. We’re on a high at the minute. We’re playing well, with two clean sheets and two goals. We all know what the prize could be at the end of it if we win two from two.”
The former Nottingham forest defender spoke highly of boss Nigel Clough and his determination to win every football match in which he competes.
“Home or away, he [the manager] wants to get three points. That’s his mentality. Whether we’re playing top of the league or bottom and that’s what I like about him. There’s nothing in between, he’s very ‘black and white’.”
Midway through last month, Perch made his first start of the season for six months after suffering a fractured skull in an innocuous aerial challenge.
It was feared that the Mansfield-born centre-back would miss the rest of the season with the injury, however, he was cleared to return to first team training at the end of January .
Recalling his spell on the sidelines, Perch said: “It was terrible [the injury]. I didn’t know if I would come back and play again.
“As soon as it happened I saw a fogginess in my eyes and started ‘seeing stars’. It was probably the worst pain I’ve had. I thought my time was up.
“I stayed fit, stayed in the gym and the club has been brilliant with me. I was doing weights and stuff and felt strong and thought that I have to come back.
“The gaffer was great. I sat on the [substitutes] bench at Sunderland [in the FA Cup], and helped him on the training pitch. He kept me involved.
“He didn’t rush it or announce anything. He kept it under wraps so there was no expectation of me coming back.
“When something bad happens to you, you can go one of two ways. You can sack it off and not play again or try your best, like I’ve done, and get back playing. Speak to anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I have a determination that has put me in good stead.”