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6th May 2022 0:00

We weren’t ‘clinical’ enough - boss
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 2nd May 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side were missing a ‘clinical’ edge during this afternoon’s 2-2 draw away at Salford City.

The result means only a victory against Forest Green on Saturday, and other results going the Stags’ way, would see Mansfield finish in the automatic places.

A point in the final match of the regular season guarantees that the Stags record a first play-off position finish since 2019.


Speaking to the local media post-match, the boss said: “I thought both teams had to go for it [the win].

“[I am] Unbelievably disappointed with the goals we conceded today.

“[They’re] Two headers from the middle of the goal unchallenged and ultimately that’s what has cost us the game.

“I thought our lack of being clinical in the final third [was disappointing].

“We had enough situations [to score more] throughout the game.

“We had enough chances to go and win three, or four, two.

“They’d got to win.

“They’d got to go for it to have any chance at all [of making the play-offs] so they were leaving spaces but unfortunately our front three or four didn’t exploit it.”

The manager felt several his players didn’t perform to their usual standard in the televised encounter.

“I think four or five didn’t perform to their abilities, so they’ll be disappointed in that,” he said.

“But it’s a first big game for a few of them as well, of this stature.

“We’ve just got to relax and play our stuff and we did after 20 minutes - it was excellent [but] we didn’t do that enough today.”

Full-back Stephen McLaughlin netted a brace for Mansfield this afternoon. The Irishman’s first, from a free-kick, came as no surprise to his manager.

“As soon as we got it [the free-kick] I fancied him,” said the gaffer.

“He’s got the ability to go over the wall or put it in the open side.

“He’s as good as anybody from those situations.”

Saturday’s hosting of title-chasers Forest Green Rovers is a game that has added incentive for both teams.

“They [Forest Green] need to win to have a chance of winning the league,” the Stags’ chief says.

“They’ve been up now for a week or two, I’m not really interested too much about them, it’s about us [and] what we do.

“The players are disappointed in there [the dressing room] because they know realistically, we haven’t got a chance of making the automatics.

“That’s [today’s match] finished, that’s gone. You’ve got three or four days to get over it, clear your heads and get ready for Saturday.”

The boss provided an update on midfielder Stephen Quinn’s hip injury.

“We’ll see [if he’ll feature against Forest Green]. He tried to train yesterday, and he was still pretty sore.

“It’s just [a case of] how it [Quinn’s hip] heals and how he feels in the next few days.

We certainly missed his composure today at times on the ball.

“It was all a bit frantic, but we have to avoid that because I don’t think it suits our style.”

Nigel was full of praise for the Mansfield supporters ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale.

“We’re still in with a chance [of promotion] going into the last day and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

“They’ve backed us all season.

“They’ve seen their team have a go today and create enough chances to win the game.

“From where we’ve come from, second from bottom a few months ago; to be in with a shout on the last day is brilliant.”


Nigel Clough told Craig Priest for Mansfield 103.2:
"It was a difficult team to pick today leaving Elliott Hewitt out. But we thought with Smith we had to put Oli Hawkins back in at centre half, and he dealt with him generally very well indeed.
"But we conceded two goals from the middle of our penalty area, the middle of our goal, free headers, and it's cost us the game.
"The front three misfired and that is the reason we didn't get more goals.
"Ollie Clarke has trained a couple of times and I thought we might need his physicality in there, which I thought we lacked at times.
"We're not a very good team at tackling especially in the midfield area, and that's one thing he excels in, that's why he was on the bench.


Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough tells disappointed players to focus on securing play-off spot in final game after Salford blow
chad.co.uk, Monday 2nd May 2022

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has told his players to quickly get over the disappointment of probably missing out on automatic promotion today and focus on Saturday's crucial final game at home to title-chasing Forest Green Rovers.

The Stags need only a point to guarantee a spot in the play-offs next weekend, but saw their automatic hopes all but extinguished after a 2-2 draw at promotion rivals Salford City in today's televised lunchtime kick-off.

“We now need a point against Forest Green to guarantee play-offs so we must not lose the game. It's perfect clarity,” said Clough.

“It would have been nice to have a chance of automatic, but with Bristol Rovers' home fixture with Scunthorpe that is highly unlikely now.


“But anything happens on the final day - you never know. Funny things happen and we just have to make sure we do our job.

“Forest Green will need to win it to have a chance of winning the league. They have been up a week or two now. But I am not interested in them. It's about what we do.

“The players are disappointed in there as they know, realistically, we haven't got a chance of automatic now. That's gone and they have three or four days to get over it, clear their heads and get ready for Saturday.

“We are still in with a chance going into the last day. That's the main thing and our fans have backed us all season.

“They have seen a team have a go today and create enough chances to win a game.

“From where we've come from, second bottom a few months ago, to be in with a shout on the last day is brilliant.”

He added: “Individually, when you get such a big game and TV cameras are here and everything, I think four or five players did not perform to their abilities.

“They will be disappointed with that. But for some of them it was their first experience of a game of this stature, even at League Two level.

“We just needed to relax and play our stuff. When we did it was excellent. But we didn't do it enough today.”

Clough was disappointed to see his side give away two goals from free headers.

“Both teams had to go for it, but I am bitterly disappointed with the goals we conceded - two headers from the middle of our goal unchallenged,” he said.

“Ultimately that was what cost us the game and our lack of being clinical in the final third.

“We had enough situations throughout the game.

“After they scored, for 20 minutes we were absolutely brilliant.

“We were calm and composed, got the goal back, and then for some reason stopped doing what we had been doing in that period and they got back into it.

“We got a break with the penalty on half-time then conceded another poor goal in the second half.

“But we had chances and situations to win three or four-two, especially at the end.

“They had to win so they were going for it and leaving spaces, but unfortunately our front three or four didn't exploit it.

“We were looking for someone to produce a little bit of quality to win the game.

“Rhys Oates on another day would have had two or three goals today.

“They had situations at the other end, though Bish (keeper Nathan Bishop) has not had too much to do.”

Veteran talisman Stephen Quinn again missed out with his hip injury and Clough said: “He tried to train yesterday but it was pretty sore. It's just how it heals and how he feels in the next few days.

“We certainly missed his composure today. It was all a bit frantic.

“We have to try to avoid that as it doesn't suit our style.”


Stephen McLaughlin told Sky Sports:
"We never came out in the second half. Credit to Salford for that, they put us on the back foot. Just one cross and in fairness he ran across in front of me, I should have done better."


McLaughlin enjoying incredible season
mansfieldtown.net, Monday 2nd May 2022

Defender Stephen McLaughlin says where the club has come from in recent months, to now be fighting for a place in the top seven heading into the final game of the season, is ‘unbelievable’.

McLaughlin was speaking after Mansfield’s hard-fought 2-2 draw with Salford City.

The Irishman was on target twice at Peninsula Stadium, first with a precise 20-yard free-kick in the 15th minute and then from the penalty spot on 45+3 minutes.


The result means Mansfield need just a point from their final game of the season to secure a Sky Bet League Two play-off spot, which McLaughlin is heartened by after the club found themselves in 23rd place after losing 2-1 to Exeter City on 23 October 2021.

McLaughlin told iFollow Stags after his point-clinching brace: “From where we’ve come from is unbelievable and it’s an absolute credit to the whole lot of us. The fans as well because when we were on that bad run they stuck with us home and away, and we’ve come a long long way.

“We’re a bit down because we knew [with] a good win here today, on Saturday we could’ve done it [secured promotion], but we’re in good spirits.

“If anybody said ‘you’ll reach the play-offs’ after Northampton away [on 16 October 2021] people would laugh at you. [We were] second from bottom now look where we are, fighting to get promoted, it’s a good place to be.”

Salford took an early lead in the game through Jordan Turnbull’s header after 90 seconds, before Matthew Lund’s header equalised for the hosts on 52 minutes. McLaughlin was disappointed by the way Mansfield conceded the two goals.

“It was a bit hectic,” he said. “Salford are a good team. They needed to win today so it was always going to be very tough.

“[In the] First ten minutes of the second half, if we saw that out we could’ve gone on to win the game comfortably because Bish [Nathan Bishop] didn’t really have too many things to do [after that]. He had a couple of long-range shots [to deal with] but nothing really to trouble him.

“We didn’t see it out. We made a few errors leading up to that [second] goal. The gaffer [Nigel Clough] always says ‘if you make a few errors in and around your penalty area you’re going to get punished against a good team’. We didn’t stop the cross and we didn’t follow the runner into the box and we got punished for it.”

The 31-year-old notched his sixth and seventh league goals of the season, including his third against Salford this term.

On his superb free-kick goal, McLaughlin said: “It was a good passing move [to win it]. A free-kick is really 50/50 but I’ve just put it in the bottom corner. I couldn’t even see the keeper because he was stood behind the wall.

“I was just like ‘get it on target, get enough power on it and anything can happen’, even if he saved it I think Lucas [Akins] was there for a tap in but it went straight in for me.”

On his penalty, he said: “I take them in training, I’m confident of hitting it.

“I’ve only taken one penalty this season, I just took my time and put it up the middle. I knew he [Salford ‘keeper Tom King] was going to overcommit to that save.”

The full-back concluded by crediting the incredible Mansfield fans ahead of the club’s crucial clash with Forest Green Rovers at One Call Stadium this Saturday.

“It’s going to be a great game,” he said. “We know at home that we can beat anybody any time, we’re really looking forward to it.

“[Our fans were] incredible. They out sang the home fans, you’d think we were the home team today with the fans. They’re a credit to themselves and I can’t wait for Saturday because they’re going to pack the stadium again and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Watch the full-back's interview now by clicking here.


We are down but, from where we’ve come, we should be proud says Mansfield Town’s Stephen McLaughlin after draw at Salford City
chad.co.uk, Monday 2nd May 2022

Experienced Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin said, amid the disappointment of seeing automatic promotion hopes all but die in the 2-2 draw at Salford, the players and fans should be proud their side can still make the play-offs at the end of a rollercoaster season.

Stags have dragged themselves up the table from second bottom to have a chance of the play-offs if they can at least hold title-chasing Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

“It is a huge game ahead, but from where we have come it is unbelievable and an absolute credit to the whole lot of us - and the fans as well, as through that bad run they stuck with us home and away,” said McLaughin, who netted a free kick and a penalty at Salford.


“We have come a long, long way. We are a bit down now as we knew with a win today and another on Saturday we could have done it.

“But if anyone had said we'd reach the play-offs after we played Northampton away, people would have laughed at us - second from bottom.

“Now look at where we are, trying to get promoted and it's a good place to be.

“We are down. But there are worst things happening in the world and this is a game of football.

“Forest Green have slipped up but want to win the championship, so it's going to be a great game.

“We know at home we can beat anybody any time, so we are really looking forward to it.

“Our fans were brilliant today, they out-sung the home fans. They are a credit to themselves and I can't wait for Saturday.”

Stags conceded in the second minute today, fought back to lead, then allowed Salford a second free header to level up.

“First five or 10 minutes of the first half we were sloppy and conceded from a set piece,” said McLaughlin.

“We were told before the game don't give away silly free kicks - and we did and got punished.

“After that I thought we were the better team for the rest of the first half. We looked calm, passed the ball and created chances.”

On his goals, he said: “I just put the free kick in the bottom corner.

“To be fair I couldn't even see the keeper as he was stood behind the wall, so I knew I had a good chance. Get it on target with enough power in it.

“I take penalties in training and I am confident. I just took my time and put it up the middle and I was happy it went in.

“The game was a bit hectic. Salford are a good team and they had to win today so it was always going to be tough.

“But if we had seen out that first 10-15 minutes of the second half I think we'd have gone on to win the game comfortably.”



Salford City manager Gary Bowyer insisted they are moving in the right direction, despite seeing their hopes of reaching the play-offs ended by a draw with promotion-chasing Mansfield Town.

"[It's] disappointing 100%, and the lads are absolutely gutted because they gave everything like they have done again today. They're a great set of lads to work with and we've got to come back stronger now," Bowyer told BBC Radio Manchester.

"You look at the way that they are on the pitch and they're going in the right way."

This is Salford's third season since joining the English Football League for the first time in 2019.

"The start of the season we played really well. We didn't quite pick up the points that I felt the performances deserved and then we had a real bad spate of injuries - I think we had 13 missing at one point and we can't call the games off," said Bowyer.

"Then Covid comes and you can call the game off with a couple of cases, the timing of that, you need a bit of luck on that. We've just got to come back better now."

Tenth-placed Salford face Stevenage away on the final day of the season, while Mansfield host already promoted Forest Green Rovers looking to secure the one point they need to guarantee them a play-off place.

While Nigel Clough's team are only a point behind third-placed Northampton Town, the draw with Salford means the chance of automatic promotion is still possible but now out of their hands as they need the Cobblers and Bristol Rovers to drop points.

"It would have been nice to have a chance at automatic, but obviously with Bristol Rovers' fixture at home to Scunthorpe that is highly, highly unlikely now. But anything happens on the final day. You never know," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"Players are disappointed in there because they know realistically we haven't got a chance of automatic now. That's finished, that's gone, we've got three or four days to get over it, clear your heads and get ready for Saturday."


Gary Bowyer wants Salford improvements as play-off dream ends in Mansfield draw

Gary Bowyer said Salford “need to get better” after they missed out on the Sky Bet League Two play-offs in a 2-2 draw with Mansfield.

The Ammies, who needed a victory to keep their hopes of a top-seven finish alive, secured a dream start when Jordan Turnbull opened the scoring inside 90 seconds.

However, the visiting Stags - promotion contenders themselves - completed a rapid turnaround through a Stephen McLaughlin double in the first half.

Matty Lund handed the hosts a lifeline when he headed accurately into the corner, but Salford’s efforts were ultimately fruitless.

“The lads are absolutely gutted because they gave everything this season like they have done today,” commented boss Bowyer.

“They’re a great set of lads to work with and we’ve got to come back stronger now. You look at the way that we are on the pitch and we’re going the right way, but we need to get better.

“We started the game ever so well, but I’m disappointed with the manner of the two goals that we concede. It became a bit of a basketball game where we had to go for it, but it was that little bit of craft and guile in the final third which we missed.

“I didn’t think it was refereed particularly well, especially with the manner of the two decisions that led to their two goals. It wasn’t a difficult game to referee, but he wanted to blow his whistle quite a bit. But the way we went about it, we were terrific.”

Mansfield, who could have gone third with victory ahead of the season’s finale, responded well to their early setback.

McLaughlin capped a frenetic opening 15 minutes with a precise free-kick into the far corner and completed the Stags’ turnaround from the penalty spot before half-time.

After Lund’s leveller, the visitors threatened through a lively Rhys Oates but could not find a winner.

Boss Nigel Clough said: “Both teams had to go for it, but I’m unbelievably disappointed with the goals we’ve conceded today. Two headers from the middle of our goal, unchallenged, and that’s what’s cost us the game.

“We’ve had enough chances to win 3-2 or 4-2, especially at the end. They’d got to win and had to go for it, so they were leaving spaces, but our front four didn’t exploit it. We just needed somebody to produce a little bit of quality today to win the game.

“We got into some great positions and (Nathan) Bishop didn’t have too much to do. I’m just disappointed after that really good 20 minutes that we played that we didn’t really get back onto it.

“It feels like an opportunity missed today because the goals that we conceded were really poor.”