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23rd November 2022 10:33

Boss on disappointing Harrogate loss
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 19 Nov 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has had his say on this afternoon’s 3-0 loss away at Harrogate Town.

The Stags conceded all three goals inside the first-half at EnviroVent Stadium.

The result sees the gaffer’s side move to eighth in Sky Bet League Two.

Speaking to iFollow Stags post-match, Nigel said: “After three minutes we conceded on the break.

“We’ve been emphasising to the players all week [that] one of Harrogate’s main strengths and threats is on the break.


“We have a free-kick in a good position ourselves, looking to get a goal, and less than ten seconds later the ball’s in the back of our net.

“We got players back, but it doesn’t matter how many we leave back if they don’t defend properly.

“I think that was the cause of our problems this afternoon; poor defensively for the three goals in the first-half.”

When asked if the scoreline reflected the match, the boss said: “In no way [did the scoreline reflect the game].

“We had enough situations in the game ourselves, probably as many as Harrogate.”

The boss switched the Stags’ formation at the break.

“We went to a back four second-half and toyed with it all week [starting with a back four],” he said.

“Having kept the clean sheet at Rochdale last week, the only problem was the same personnel weren’t available to us.

“That should’ve maybe dictated a different side.

“Elliott Hewitt I didn’t think was fit enough to start.

“Obviously, Laps [George Lapslie] wasn’t.

“Lewis Page wasn’t. So we sort of stuck with a back three.

“I don’t think it was anything really to do with the formation.

“If we don’t defend well enough individually or collectively as we did today then you’ll concede goals.

“They were very very clinical [and] I think they had three meaningful attacks in the first-half and scored three goals.”

Nigel added: “I’d have loved to have started Elliot Hewitt.

“He wasn’t fit enough to start. I would love to have had Stephen McLaughlin available today, not just for his pace but for his quality and everything.

“We played the players that we had available.”

A positive from the encounter was forward Rhys Oates making his return from the bench after rupturing his pectoral muscle in August.

“[It’s] Very good [to see Oates back],” Nigel said.

“There’s always positives in any game, but getting Rhys back on the pitch [was great].

“He’ll play some part in the match against Notts County on Tuesday night and we’ll see how he’s looking for Saturday.

“We were pleased to get Lewis Page on and I thought there were some good individual performances today as well.

“George Maris and Stephen Quinn I thought they played well today. I thought Hiram Boateng, that midfield, I thought they knocked it about well and we created chances well but we’ve got to put it in the back of the net.

"The more worrying thing for us is the other end, we need to do more defensively.”

"When you come up against pacey attackers, you try to put pace at the back, but when they're not available there's not much you can do. Kel could have played today but he's more of a forward thinking player.

"The back three were not the quickest, but certainly enough experience to deal with what we had to today.


Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough slams poor defending as Stags are swept aside​​​​​​​ by bogey side Harrogate Town​​​​​​​
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough slammed his side's poor defending which proved so costly in today's 3-0 defeat at struggling Harrogate Town.

Clough felt his side otherwise performed well at times, but the lapses at the back saw their poor record of never having beaten the Yorkshire club extended.

He also believes he picked the wrong team and formation with hindsight.

“They were three incredibly poor goals to concede in the first half,” he said.


“In terms of overall play in that first half, I actually didn't think we played too badly on the ball. But the nature of the goals we conceded meant it was over at half-time.

“Their first came from our own free kick. We said all week their strength was on the break. We had a back four today all aged over 30 yet still they don't take it on board.

“It’s touch and go whether it was a foul on Lucas for the second goal. I’ve seen them given many times.”

“I think I picked the wrong team today and possibly the wrong formation, so that needs to be looked it. Down the right hand side we were incredibly poor.”

Stags did hit the bar and see the home keeper make three good saves while missing other good openings and Clough said: “It was that kind of day.

“First half their keeper made two outstanding saves. It's no excuse for the three we conceded - we are not glossing over that - and Hawkins should have scored with a header.

“You talk about the word clinical. I think they had three real attacks in the first half and scored three goals.

“In the second half Lucas Akins' backheel hits the goalkeeper and Will Swan hit the bar. It wasn't going to go in for us today.

“But it doesn't deserve to when you concede three goals. It enabled Harrogate to sit there and not go anywhere in the second half. It was a luxurious position for them to be in.

“It was unfortunate Elliott Hewitt wasn't fit enough to start, George Lapslie wasn't fit enough to start, nor were Will Swan or Rhys Oates, so they dictated the team to a certain degree. Maybe I should have taken a chance with them?”

At least Stags saw goal hero Oates back on the park for the last 20 minutes after three months out with injury and he will play another 45 minutes in Tuesday's Notts FA Senior Cup clash away at Notts County.

“Straight away you see Rhys gives us a bit of something different, that was the only plus point to come out of today,” said Clough.

“It was very difficult with Oatesy as the game was almost over and you think, with 20 minutes to go you don't want any setbacks - but just to get him back on the pitch was good.

“The same with Lewis Page and he will also play on Tuesday, then we will have a count up for Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday.

“There were actually a few good individual performances - I thought George Maris was very good today and I thought Stephen Quinn played well.

“Our general football wasn't too bad today and we have created more than enough chances to get something, but it was purely how poor we were defensively, especially down the right hand side.”

He added: “We have to separate the two things - the performance and the result. When we look back performance wise that won't be as bad as people think. But the result, the 3-0, overshadows everything.

“But we have to look beyond that. We know why we lost the game - the defending for the three goals was incredibly poor - that's it. Otherwise we weren't too bad today.

“At the moment it seems we either get a clean sheet where we are battling away and defend fantastic or we concede three goals - or five against Swindon - there is nothing in between at the moment.

“We are either all or nothing. Once that first one goes in the mentality side of it has to be much better in not conceding that second or third.

“You can see the way we try to play. We created six or seven very good chances today. We don't want to sacrifice that.

“But we have to do that with a better degree of defensive solidity so that when we do have a free kick and we're trying to score a goal, five or six seconds later it shouldn't be in the back of our net.”


Harrogate Town 3 Mansfield Town 0: Simon Weaver 'overjoyed' for his players as 'deserved' win arrives at last
harrogateadvertiser.co.uk, By Rhys Howell

Simon Weaver said he was “overjoyed” for his Harrogate Town side after they finally managed to convert a good performance into a “deserved” three points.

The Sulphurites put visiting Mansfield to the sword at a wet Wetherby Road on Saturday afternoon, netting three times before half-time as they registered just their second League Two win in 15 attempts.

Weaver’s men have produced some eye-catching football in recent weeks, but taken just two points from the previous 15 on offer.

Everything would however come together on this occasion, with Alex Pattison and Luke Armstrong (2) finishing clinically to lift their side three points clear of the drop zone.


“I can definitely enjoy that performance and result and I am just overjoyed for the players,” the Town boss told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“They’ve all kept their heads up and although we are aware that this is just one win and three points, it is a really good win against very good opposition, and the lads deserved the 3-0 scoreline.

“I think it’s been coming, this win. You are almost aching for the players for today to be the day that they go on to get a scoreline which reflects their level of performance - and today was that day.

"So, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief because, as good as we’ve been playing, you are judged on your results and players are aware that we needed a win.

"I’ve seen teams play a lot worse than we’ve been playing and win, but it just hasn’t been going for us and you don’t want that to continue because eventually it does undermine confidence. So this is something to build on now, it hopefully breeds even more belief in this system and how we want to play.”


Harrogate Town's refusal to sit back and improved set-piece defending key to victory over Mansfield Town
harrogateadvertiser.co.uk, By Rhys Howell

Simon Weaver believes that marked improvements in two key aspects of Harrogate Town's game proved to be hugely significant during Saturday's resounding 3-0 win over Mansfield.

The Sulphurites romped to their first League Two victory in six attempts courtesy of Alex Pattison's cultured early strike and a couple of clinical first-half finishes from Luke Armstrong.

But, as "slick" as they looked going forwards, it was his team's approach having gone 3-0 up and their defensive resolve which really thrilled the Town boss.

Recent games against AFC Wimbledon, Carlisle and Leyton Orient have seen Harrogate leak goals and look particularly frail when defending set-pieces and crosses into their box, while in two of those matches they’ve been punished late on for going into protective mode after getting their noses in front.


Thus, the focus in training over the last week has been very much on learning from the mistakes which have undermined a series of improved recent performances.

On his players continuing to play on the front foot in the second half rather than looking to protect what they had, Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser: "It was great coming in at 3-0 at half-time, but we still felt that we could cause Mansfield more problems in the second half if we kept playing.

"It was crucial that the lads kept believing in their ability to get on the ball and didn't go protective and I told them at half-time that there were more goals in the game for us.

"Obviously we had to expect a reaction. The first 10 minutes of the second half had to come and go without any drama, without anyone giving daft free-kicks away or leaving the referee with a decision to make. We didn't want to get their crowd up because they had a big following behind the goal.

"And we did keep the ball well in possession and keep probing. The focus at half-time wasn't on keeping a clean-sheet, it was on continuing to be creative and carrying on playing because that is what we are better at. That's the best side to our game at the moment.

"We are just a better team when we keep it on the deck."

Having conceded another goal directly from a corner during last weekend's 2-0 loss to Orient, it was imperative that Town improved their defending at set-pieces.

And, while there were a couple of worrying moments for the hosts as Oliver Hawkins and Lucas Akins came close to scoring from dead-ball deliveries, they did cope better on the whole when it came to dealing with balls into their penalty area.

"We had to improve key elements, namely defending our box properly as a team, and I think we did that today," Weaver added.

"Mansfield were big, physically. We looked at their line-up and he [Nigel Clough] picked their biggest line-up on purpose, probably because we've conceded from a couple of set-plays recently.

"But we have worked all week on that, and analysed the opposition, looking at ways of defending them [set-pieces] better, everyone playing their role. We've asked for a buy-in on that because the rest of our game is good enough to do well at this level, in my opinion.

"Apart from a couple of corners where there was a bit of mayhem, which you would expect against such a big team, I thought we defended well.

"So it should give the lads confidence moving forwards because they had a height advantage and we defended the set-pieces and long throw-ins well."

Saturday's victory over the Stags lifts Town one place to 20th in the League Two standings where they now sit three points clear of the relegation zone.