CLOUGH & PYM PREVIEW BRADFORD
Boss excited for home battle against ‘strong’ Bantams
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says he is welcoming the challenge of looking to continue Stags’ magnificent home form when his side welcome Bradford City to One Call Stadium this Saturday.
The Bantams, who sit one place behind seventh placed Mansfield in the Sky Bet League Two table, are an outfit that the boss believes have one of the ‘strongest’ squads in the division.
Despite the tough test at the weekend, the gaffer hopes Mansfield can build on the club’s sequence of four successive home league victories so far in the 2022/23 season.
Speaking to iFollow Stags yesterday in a news conference at RH Academy, Nigel said: "We want to play the same way no matter who we're playing against. That's home and away.
"We look at the fixtures, we've got Bradford and [then] Carlisle.
"[We hope that] That'll be six points or whatever, [but] it doesn't [always] work out like that.
"We hope we can get it, but it's two unbelievably hard games.
"They've [Bradford] got one of the strongest squads in terms of numbers in the league.
"They'll have a big following.
"Without doubt, in terms of numbers, [they’re] the biggest club in the league.”
The Stags enter the game off the back of a convincing first away win of the season at Doncaster last Saturday - defeating Rovers 3-1 at Eco-Power Stadium.
"We need to stick to our principles, we scored two fantastic goals and created a host of other chances [against Doncaster Rovers],” the boss said.
"That was reassuring for everybody.
"Also, it was a reaction to the Sutton game [the weekend prior].
"To rebound and beat Man City under-21s and score three against Doncaster - I think it's a very good sign of a good dressing room, a determined dressing room and one that's full of character as well.
"We didn't work hard enough at Sutton, but we did against Doncaster and Manchester City.
"Manchester City [at home] was our biggest physical output this season.
"There were three or four highest individual distances and high speed running [displays of the season] against Doncaster.
"We've definitely stepped it up, we spoke about it in the week.
"We have to work harder, we haven't worked quite as hard for whatever reason away.”
Stags have had several injury and illness issues in recent weeks. The manager provided an update on his squad’s fitness.
"He [Hiram Boateng] felt his hamstring in the middle of training last week.
"On Wednesday morning [last week], we had a light session for those who didn't play [against Manchester City under-21s].
"He felt his hamstring again and had a scan. He’ll probably [be out for] a couple of weeks.
"[John-Joe O'Toole has a] Foot injury sustained at Sutton, he had a scan and it's not too bad. He’ll be 50/50 for the weekend.
"[Rhys Oates] Is looking good, apart from his shoulder.
"The scar is very neat.
"[He can’t do any] Real movement at the moment, but he will start jogging within the next week or so and get things moving.
"[It’s a] Couple of weeks since he did it [rupturing his pectoral muscle], so we're talking two and a half months until he's back in action.
"He [Elliott Hewitt] came in from the warm-up [on Saturday] and was violently ill.
"He sat down and he looked terrible, really rough.
"Jordan Bowery and Oli Hawkins have missed games with this [bug] recently.
"His wife came and picked him up from the stadium.
"He's feeling a lot better, [and] should be in contention for next week.
"He'll be back [in training today] doing a little bit.
"[He'll] Do a bit on Wednesday and Friday and then he's back available again.
"James Perch tweaked his knee with a blocked tackle on the edge of the box in the second-half [at Doncaster].
"He managed to continue for 10-15 minutes but was then replaced by Kieran Wallace.
"He's the only one we need to check on.”
Goalkeeper Christy Pym has impressed since joining on loan from Peterborough in the summer. The shot-stopper produced a superb save to deny George Miller’s header on 32 minutes at Doncaster.
"The save in the first-half from Christy Pym was outstanding.
"I think it's as good as there has been.
"That was the top save he's made since he's been with us.”
With morale at a high, the manager revealed he and the squad went out for a meal last night to further enhance Stags’ collective bond.
"We always try and do it at this time of year after the transfer window,” he said.
"We'll train, and [then] go for a bite to eat.
"I encourage the players to organise their own [social] things as well.
"It's a vital part in team building.”
After missing out on the signing of a forward on deadline day at the eleventh hour, Nigel gave the latest on any potential addition of a free agent in the foreseeable future.
"We've looked through a significant number of free agents in general,” said the manager.
"We've had an offer for James Gale to go out on loan, but he's still part of the squad at the moment.
"We've had Theo Robinson working with us [in training].
"Lucas [Akins] was up top on Saturday, I thought it was a magnificent centre-forward’s performance from him.
"[Lucas] Is a very good all round team player.”
Mansfield Town still studying free agents list for possible swoop after deadline day blow
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Mansfield Town may still bring in a free agent striker after the disappointment of missing out on transfer deadline day last Thursday.
But, as they prepare for two crucial home games in four days against Bradford City and Carlisle United, boss Nigel Clough said there was no urgency and he was happy to stick with what he already has if a suitable player is not found.
“We have trolled through the lists of free agents and there are quite a number,” he said.
“There are a significant amount of forward players - and players in general, but especially forwards at the experienced end of things.
“We are whittling it down to contact a few of them. There are some surprising names on the list when you go through it - names you have forgotten about.
“Some may have been paid up on transfer deadline day and are now free agents.
“But one thing that concerns you with free agents is that they may not done anything since the end of last season, haven't been training with a team, then there's quite a few weeks work to get them up to speed.
“So we have to judge if it’s worth that effort bringing someone in.”
For now, Stags will keep young striker James Gales in the building.
“We have had an offer for James Gale to go out to a National League club on loan,” said Clough.
“He is in our squad at the moment, but ideally we'd like him to get out get some games. So we will judge that in the next week or so.
“We will see what's around this week. We have had Theo Robinson training with us, so obviously he is one option straight away.
“He is a good, experienced striker. It helps that he's been training with us so we know he's got a couple of weeks under his belt.
“But the way we're playing at the moment, and it's interesting with Lucas (Akins) up top on Saturday with a magnificent centre forward performance, you can play one off.
“Do you play two strikers all the time or are you better with a George Lapslie off or a George Maris off or even Will Swan off Lucas?
“You don't need a load of strikers at this point with the system we're playing.”
Stags believed they had sorted a deal to bring Charlton forward Diallang Jaiyesimi but that collapsed just before the window closed.
“It is frustrating when you think you've got one like that,” said Clough.
“It was out of our control, but there is no great blame on Charlton.
“They are entitled to do that as they didn't get a target in. We just didn't know it was dependent on that.
“We had three options and had two lined up, or the one, it was the same money between them. We didn't really think we needed two bodies, just one.
“But if they were going to come along at two for the price of one almost we would have taken them.
“We kept those deals going and stringing them along, which we don't like doing, until about 9pm.
“Then we were assured everything was going ahead only to be told five minutes before the window shuts, sorry it's off, leaves you absolutely no time. It was a bit frustrating. But it's not as if we don't have any strikers. We're not desperate.
“It was one where we went into it wanting a forward player, and it would have been quite an expensive one, but the owners had sanctioned it for us again. Sometimes it's just not meant to be.
“We have said all along we are very happy with the squad and the options within it. We don't mind starting any of our players at any point and I don't think it would significantly weaken us.”
Important week as Mansfield Town target top three placings with two home games
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Two home games in four days could propel Mansfield Town into the early chase for automatic promotion.
Bradford City are the visitors on Saturday followed by Carlisle United on Tuesday and, after Saturday's fine 3-1 away win at Doncaster Rovers, boss Nigel Clough admitted: “These are two very important games now.
“We have got ourselves on the fringes of things and by the middle of next week we could be right in the thick of chasing the top three, which is our aim.
“There is certainly no complacency, despite how good our home form has been. These will be as tough as any.
“Our home form has been incredible for almost a year now, so let's keep it going.
“People may see we have Bradford and Carlisle and think that will be six points.
“It doesn't always work out like that, though we hope we can get it. But they are two unbelievably tough games.”
He continued: “Bradford have made a steady start but I think there is a lot more to come from them.
“They probably have one of the strongest squads - certainly in terms of numbers - in the league.
“Mark Hughes will still be putting his stamp on things there, so it will be - as we found out last year - a very tough prospect.
“We lost 3-2 at home to them early on in the season. We went toe to toe with them but just lost out in the last few minutes.
“Bradford will have a big following. In terms of the crowds they get, without doubt they are the biggest club in the league. And they will be looking to get back up into League One and beyond sooner than later.
“I would expect them to be up among the pacesetters once the league has settled down after 15 games or so.
“But we just want to go out there and play the same way no matter who we're playing against - and that is at home or away.
“We took almost a third of the crowd to Doncaster on Saturday but we say it's at home where we have to do our business. We know we'll get a fantastic following behind us.”
Ahead of the two home games, Clough took his squad into Nottingham for a team bonding meal this week.
“We always try to do it this time of year after the transfer window so new players can settle in,” he said.
“This is the squad in place now bar maybe a free agent coming in, so it's a good time to get everyone together.
“We do encourage players to organised their own things as well. Some do it with partners and without partners. They have their own social gatherings.
“It is an absolutely vital part of the team building and bonding. No one goes silly and gets absolutely legless or anything like that.
“We have two big games coming up and we're training in the morning. It is more about sitting down together to eat - and not a pre-match situation.
“We do it for pre-match for away games but this is different. It's more relaxed and you get to know a lot about your team mates in these sort of scenarios.”
Mansfield Town boss delighted with Riley Harbottle performance after last minute team switch
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Nigel Clough has high praise for young Forest loanee centre back Riley Harbottle after he was pitched into Saturday's win at Doncaster Rovers at very short notice and was outstanding.
Elliott Hewitt was given the nod over Harbottle when the team was announced only for Hewitt to take ill after the warm-up.
“Riley has also been under the weather a bit the last couple of weeks,” said Clough.
“We had been undecided about the team all week and it was 50-50 with Riley and Elliott, but we just went with Elliott because of the pace of George Miller up front for Doncaster, who caused us so many problems with Walsall last year.
“We thought Elliott was 100 per cent as opposed to Riley. So great credit to Riley for coming in and playing so well when you're not in the starting line up then at 2.40 you get the shout.
“We always tell the lads to be ready if you're on the bench as you could be on after a minute and you could be named in the line-up at a quarter to three.”
Clough continued: “Elliott just came in from the warm-up and was violently ill.
“He sat down in the changing room and looked terrible - when you get that sort of grey, sweaty pallor. He looked really rough.
“We've had a few with this bug - Jordan Bowery and Oli Hawkins have missed games with it recently. There is a lot going round at the moment and it just comes on out of nowhere.
“His wife came and picked him up from the stadium. Obviously we didn't want him on the bus or anything like that. The last thing you want is it spreading through the dressing room.
“He is now feeling a lot better and should be in contention for Saturday if he recovers.”
Clough will also run the rule over James Perch and John-Joe O'Toole before the visit of Carlisle United on Saturday.
“John-Joe suffered a foot injury at Sutton. He's had a scan - it's not too bad though still a little sore and he's 50-50 for the weekend,” said Clough.
“James Perch came off after tweaking his knee with a block tackle on the edge of the box in the second half. He managed to continue for 10-15 minutes before being replaced by Kieran Wallace, so he's the only other one we really need to check on.”
But midfielder Hiram Boateng will not be fit.
“Hiram felt his hamstring in the middle of last week while training,” said Clough.
“He had played 20 minutes or so at Sutton and then trained on the Monday.
“Then he was on the bench against Man City but didn't feature.
“Then we just did a light session on the Wednesday morning with those that hadn't played and he just felt his hamstring a bit again.
“He has had a scan and he will probably be a couple of weeks - something like that.”
Striker Rhys Oates is also starting out on the comeback trail from his chest operation.
“I saw Rhys for the first time on Saturday since his operation when he came to the game at Doncaster and the scar looks very neat,” said Clough.
“He just has no real movement at the moment. But he will be getting round jogging in the next week or so and get things moving.
“Then it's just a process of extending his range of movement as each day goes by. It's already a couple of weeks since he did it so we're talking about two and half months before he is back in action.”
Pym hails Stags' spirit
mansfieldtown.net, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Mansfield Town goalkeeper Christy Pym says the Stags’ squad is ‘one of the best I’ve worked with’ as the club aim to record a fifth successive home league win against Bradford on Saturday.
The former Peterborough shot-stopper has been impressed with Mansfield’s ‘very good group’ since joining on loan from the Posh this summer.
Stags’ togetherness was highlighted at the weekend as Pym and his teammates recorded a convincing 3-1 win away at Doncaster and a first victory on the road this season.
Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference at RH Academy prior to Saturday’s hotly-awaited battle against the Bantams, Pym said: “[The] Togetherness [is fantastic] and everyone who wasn't involved, coming into the team, knows what they've got to do.
“We have a good squad.
"It's always good to have a [strong] relationship between the goalkeeper and the back four or five.
"You know everyone's strengths and weaknesses.
"[We have a] Very good group, [a] good bunch of lads [and] one of the best [squads] I've worked with.
“I'm enjoying it so far.”
The 27-year-old has started all seven league games so far this season and shone at Doncaster last weekend by producing an outstanding fingertip save to deny George Miller’s goalbound header.
"It was a good save, [I] put my hand out and hoped for the best.
“[I’m] Just a bit disappointed we didn't get the clean sheet.
"[It's an] Important part of the game [keeping clean sheets] and we're just frustrated with the goal we did concede.”
The win at Eco-Power Stadium was Stags’ first away points of the campaign.
"We were excellent, we fully deserved to win the game and could've won by a bigger margin,” Pym said.
"We needed to get that away win ticked off.
"We spoke during the week about taking the catch off a little bit and going for it, not being too safe.”
Mansfield have lost just one home league match in 2022, a run Pym hopes to continue this Saturday against Bradford.
"[The] Club’s had great home form for the past two seasons now.
"[We’ve] Just got to keep going if we want to get promoted and [the] positives are that in the games we're losing, we're playing well.
"We're dominating and as long as we dominate games going forward results will come.
"I feel good, feel like I'm playing well, [I'm playing at a] consistent [level] which is the main thing as a goalkeeper.
"I've made saves during these games but on a whole we aren't being carved open.”
The Bantams sit just one place behind Stags in eighth.
"They've started well,” said the ‘keeper.
“It'll be a tough game but the home form we've got at the moment means we are confident going into it.
"[Our] Form [at home] going into the game is going to give you confidence.”
Mansfield Town goalkeeper Christy Pym reflects on wonder save at Doncaster Rovers ahead of Bradford City clash
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tuesday 6th September 2022
Mansfield Town goalkeeper Christy Pym says the club’s home form will continue to be crucial in their quest for promotion - having played a key role in securing Stags’ first away win last weekend.
Pym’s superb first-half save to deny Doncaster’s George Miller drew many plaudits, including from his manager, and helped his side eventually secure a 3-1 win.
Stags host Bradford City this weekend as they look to build on their current seventh place spot in League Two, but before looking ahead to that game, Pym reflected on his impressive stop at Doncaster, as well as the team’s overall performance.
He said: "Any save’s good, if it stays out of the net that’s the main job, but it was a good save and one of those reaction ones where you stick your hand out and hope for the best and I got it over the bar.
"It’s one you train for every day and they don’t come along that often in a game so it was nice to pull it off.
"It’s just disappointing we didn’t keep the clean sheet and frustrating with the goal we did concede.
"I couldn’t name anyone in the team who didn’t give their all. We were excellent and could have won by a bigger margin and it was definitely the best away performance so far - we’ve had some good ones at home but it was important to get that away win ticked off and get the monkey off our back and we did that and hopefully can kick on now.
"We had discussions in the week leading up to the game about taking the catch off a bit and just going for it and not trying to be too safe away from home.
"The support was brilliant on Saturday and has been all season. For a League Two club to get that sort of support at home and everywhere you go is fantastic.”
Looking back on the season so far, Pym believes there has been plenty of good to take from it so far, as well as lessons to be learned.
He said: "It’s been positive. We’ve had frustrations away from home but the club’s had great home form for the past two seasons now so that’s something we need to keep going if we want to get promoted.
"The positives are that we’re playing well, even in the games we’ve lost away from home. We’re creating chances to win the game and be in the game and I feel like we’re dominating matches and as long as we’re doing that and going forward, then results will come away from home, especially if we play like we did on Saturday.”
On a personal note, Pym’s been happy with how things have gone so far, also highlighting how those in front of him have played a big part in his own form.
He said: "I feel good and like I’m playing well and am consistent, which is something you strive to be as a goalkeeper. I’ve got a good team in front of me and if I’m in a team and we’re dominating games, I’m not needed as much which is the main thing.
"I don’t think I’ve been called upon that much. I’ve done well and made saves at good times in games but on the whole we’re not getting carved open with masses of chances and I think that’s the main thing.”
Looking ahead to Bradford, Pym added: "It’ll be a tough game. They’ve started well but the home form we’ve got at the minute means we’ll be confident going into the game, especially with the support we get there.”
Manager Nigel Clough, meanwhile, paid tribute to his goalkeeper’s role in the win at Doncaster, and in particular his save from Miller.
He said: “Winning at Doncaster and scoring three times was a good sign of a very determined dressing room and one that's full of character as well.
“It was probably epitomised by Christy Pym's first half save which was outstanding.
“I saw the Everton v Liverpool highlights and Jordan Pickford was praised for the saves he made, some of which were very good. But I didn't see anything as good as Christy Pym's on Saturday.
“That's as good a save as we've had since I have been here. There have been some very good ones, Bish (Nathan Bishop) made some great ones - he made a similar one at Bradford last year.
“But to be going the other way and get a strong enough hand to get it onto the bar and over - usually goalies get a hand on them and it hits the bar and comes back out or goes in the net.
“That was the top save he's made since he's been with us and I hope he doesn't have to make too many more like it. It was a crucial save at that time.”
Hughes excited for Bradford City's game at Mansfield
By Simon Parker
MARK Hughes predicts City’s clash with Mansfield will be a “good advert for League Two.”
Saturday’s visit to last season’s beaten play-off finalists promises to be an early test for the Bantams’ promotion credentials.
Nigel Clough’s Stags are currently one place above them in seventh and have won all their home games.
Hughes said: “They are a good team and we knew this period would be testing physically as well as tactically. We’ve got to be ready for that.
“We were pleased with the result last weekend, although the performance wasn’t quite where we wanted it to be.
“Mansfield have been together as a good strong group at this level for a long time. They’ve got a good manager as well in Nigel Clough who understands the league, so it’s always a big test.
“The consensus is that Mansfield will be one of the teams who will challenge this year and I’m not against that idea. I think it’s probably correct.
“It’s still early days, clearly, but when you come up against good opposition, you can see where you sit.
“I think it will be a great game, a good advert for League Two and we’re going to have a huge following, as we always do and we’re always grateful for.”
Mansfield won 2-0 at Valley Parade in February in City’s first game under Hughes. It was also the first time he had faced Clough as a manager.
“He’s got a great football pedigree, obviously his family line is steeped in football.
“He’s carrying on that legacy and has done really well at every club he’s been at. He’s always had an impact and is very respected at this level.”
Latest | September 2022