{ the news }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Archived News from January 2023

3rd January 2023 21:02

Gaffer pleased with Pools fightback
mansfieldtown.net, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Manager Nigel Clough was pleased with his side’s ‘battling’ performance as Stags came from behind to defeat Hartlepool United 2-1 at The Suit Direct Stadium.

Striker Rhys Oates scored for the first time since his pectoral injury earlier in the season to level the game against his former club on 47 minutes.

Oli Hawkins completed the comeback on the hour after moving from centre-back to striker at half-time.


Mansfield have now closed the gap on third place to just five points.

“[In the first-half] our general play was okay, we controlled the game we just couldn’t find a way to create chances,” Clough told iFollow Stags.

“We shuffled things around [at half-time].

“I didn’t think we were too bad [first-half] we just needed a little bit more impetus up top, so we thought we’d have a go at it and get Hawks [Oli Hawkins] along with [Will] Swan and [Rhys] Oates and see if anything dropped [for us].

“I thought we’d throw Hawks up top, we’d been toying with the idea for a few weeks now and Oatesy’s popped up with the equaliser and Hawks has got the winner.

“To come away from home, we restricted them to virtually nothing. I thought our battling qualities [showed] all game.”

Mansfield’s battling performance came at a price as multiple Stags limped off with injury during the contest.

On Ollie Clarke the gaffer said: “[It’s a] Calf strain. I’m not sure the extent of that but he’s certainly no good for New Year’s Day but definitely a calf strain.”

On George Maris’ injury: “I thought there was a foul in the tackle on him and he’s been caught. I think he’s got an ankle/foot problem.

“Kieran Wallace was injured again, he got a tackle just before half-time. He’s got a cut on his ankle which was quite sore. Lucas [Akins] has twisted his ankle late on, so all four we’ll have to keep an eye on for Sunday.”

On Riley Harbottle the manager said: “He’s opened his knee ligaments. We’re hoping [he’s back in] three weeks or something like that. It all depends on how it improves in the next week or so.”

Summing up recent form, the gaffer added: “We were all bitterly disappointed on Boxing Day, it felt almost like a loss. It’s very important [to be] four games unbeaten, eight points out of 12. We know we’ve got a lot more to come in the second half of the season.”


Mansfield Town win at Hartlepool United comes at a price as quartet go off injured
chad.co.uk, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Mansfield Town's fine 2-1 comeback win at Hartlepool United tonight came at a price as four players limped off and are doubtful for Sunday's trip to Walsall.

Ollie Clarke, Keiran Wallace, George Maris and Lucas Akins had to go off as Stags hit back from a goal down at the struggling North-East side to win.

“In the conditions it was very hard to get the ball down and carve people open,” said boss Nigel Clough.

“The pitch was a bit lively and bobbly, but we showed great battling qualities which has come at a price with more injuries.


“Ollie has a calf strain. I am not sure of the extent of it but it's certainly no good for New Year's Day.

“I thought George Maris was fouled when he was hurt and he has an ankle and foot problem.

“Keiran Wallace has a cut on his ankle bone. It was still bleeding through his sock an hour after his shower. Late on then Lucas twisted his ankle. So we will have to keep a eye on all four for Sunday.

“Riley Harbottle opened his knee ligaments out on Boxing Day. We're hoping he will be three weeks - something like that.

“Jason Law is ill and James Gale is going to be out four to six weeks with shin splint problems.

“We do have three or four transfer targets in January. But it looks like it's going to be all hands to the pumps on Sunday. We just need to get through the next week or two, it's nothing long term.”

On tonight's win, he said: “We didn't play badly tonight, but we have played better at times and lost this season. But we battled and scrapped and protected Christy Pym.

“We shuffled things round at half-time. I didn't think we were too bad at the break - all we did wrong was to fail to defend one set piece properly. Apart from that, in the 99 minutes Christy Pym hasn't had a single shot to save.

“But I just thought we needed a bit more impetus up top. So we thought we'd have a go for it for 10-15 minutes or whatever it took and get Hawks (Oli Hawkins) up top and see if anything dropped.

“Our general play was okay - we controlled the game. Coming away from from home we restricted them to next to nothing and had a few situations ourselves.”

Clough's changes worked as Rhys Oates quickly levelled before Hawkins bagged a winner.

“You just put your head down and smash it sometimes - and that's exactly what Oatesy did with the sort of power he possesses. He nearly broke the back of the net,” said Clough.

“The winner was a very controlled finish from a big man. We have always said what a great touch Hawks has got for a big lad and he just tucked it away on the half volley.

“Also, George Lapslie has come on and made both goals and having that sort of quality on the bench is important.”

Stags then saw the game out well through the rest of the half and seven added minutes.

“We have conceded far too many late goals and I think that's the main reason why we are not where we want to be in the league at this moment. But can't do anything about that now,” said Clough.

“We are now at the halfway point with 38 points and we're looking to double that and more in the second half of the season.

“We hope there is a lot more to come from the players as they get fit and improve.”


Delighted Rhys Oates back among the goals for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Mansfield Town ace Rhys Oates was delighted to score against his old club in tonight's 2-1 win at Hartlepool United.

Oates, now back in the side after three months out injured, is finally starting to regain his match sharpness and his 47th minute equaliser put Stags back into the game before Oli Hawkins bagged the winner on the hour.

“It's good to get a goal and it's my first one since my injury. To take the three points as well tops off a good night,” he said.


“Laps (George Lapslie) got on the half turn and saw I had pulled off, so he slid it in to me. I had a good first touch and just thought I would hit it as hard as I could and there was a good chance it would go in.

“Our fans were class all night. You could hear them from minute one. They were amazing, so to score in front of them was good.”

He added: “We knew it was going to be a tough game from the start. Hartlepool are where they are in the table, but they will battle until the end.

“We knew we could create more chance if we just upped our game in the second half and I think we did that.

“Hawks showed how many different positions he can play going up there from centre half straight up front for the second half. His got in front of his man and I think he wanted Laps to put it in the air for him to head it, but it was on the floor and it was a great finish.

“All of us - the starting XI and the subs - then dug in until the end.

“When you see the seven added minutes go up you know it's going to be a battle and they're going to lump it in the box with their centre halves going up there. But we saw it out and it is a massive three points.”


Goal was the icing on the cake - Oates
mansfieldtown.net, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Mansfield Town striker Rhys Oates says his goal in last night’s 2-1 win over former side Hartlepool United ‘topped off’ a fine evening at The Suit Direct Stadium.

The forward’s first goal in the league since rupturing his pectoral muscle against AFC Wimbledon in August drew Stags level after trailing to the Pools at the break.


Another from Oli Hawkins on 60 minutes ensured Stags ended 2022 with all three points.

Speaking to iFollow Stags post-match the frontman said: “It’s good to get a goal.

“It’s my first league goal since my injury so it’s good to get back on the scoresheet and to take the three points just tops it off.

“I think Laps [George Lapslie] got on the half turn and saw that I’d pulled off [from my marker] so I slid it [the ball] in.

“I got a good first touch and then hit is hard as hard as I could.”

The hosts made Stags work for their chances in the opening 45 minutes and took the lead through Jack Hamilton.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game from the start,” said Oates.

“They’ll [Hartlepool] battle until the end and I think it showed today.

“In the first-half we didn’t create many chances, but we knew that we could if we upped our game in the second-half and I think we did that.

“All of us dug in until the end. When you see seven [additional] minutes go up you know it’s going to be a battle and they’re going to lump it in, but everyone dug it out and it’s a massive three points.”

When asked what boss Nigel Clough said at half-time to the players, Oates added: “He said ‘just keep doing the same things but be more technical, just keep getting George [Maris] on the ball, me and Swany [Will Swan] keep making runs and it’ll [goals] come, as soon as we get one I think we’ll get another one. Keep at them’.”

Attacking an electric Stags’ away end, Mansfield scored twice. The forward praised the travelling support.

“They’ve been class all night,” he said.

“They’ve been singing all night and they’ve been amazing, so it was good to score in front of them.”


Hartlepool United youngster to remain at the Suit Direct Stadium in the interim
hartlepoolmail.co.uk, By Joe Ramage, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Keith Curle explains tactical decision involving ex-Salford City midfielder as Hartlepool United fell to defeat against Mansfield Town

Keith Curle has explained his second half tactical decision after Hartlepool United surrendered a 1-0 lead at half-time against Mansfield Town.

Despite starting with a back three which included Rollin Menayese, midfielder Mark Shelton and full-back David Ferguson, Curle’s Hartlepool held the lead at the break against play-off hopefuls Mansfield thanks to Jack Hamilton’s header.

Hamilton met Callum Cooke’s corner as Pools went in search of what would have been a third straight win in the league.

And Pools were largely untroubled in the first half with Shelton, in particular, doing the job he was tasked with in defence by making a number of clearances.


But things changed immediately from the restart as Rhys Oates fired Mansfield level with Curle reverting to a back four in the second half when moving Shelton into midfield.

The change coincided with Nigel Clough’s switch to move Ollie Hawkins into attack from centre-back and it would be Hawkins who would grab the winner on the hour when beating Ben Killip from George Lapslie’s cross.

And having been largely untroubled in the first half with Shelton forming part of a back three - alongside wing-backs Jamie Sterry and Reghan Tumilty - it was a tactical move which appeared to backfire for Curle.

“It was just to go back to a back four and have more contact,” Curle told The Mail on his tactical switch.

“You’re thinking then if you put Rollin up against Hawkins it was more of a physical match-up. Go back to a back four and then you’ve got four people playing in their natural positions, as in full-backs playing at full-back.

“Fergie has been playing left-sided centre-back long enough now and it was about trying to take away that indecision and make it more simple for them.

“Ideally then you’re trying to say they’ve got a 6ft 5in centre-forward on and we’ve got a 6ft 4in midfield player. If I’m playing, it’s one of those where I get him to be a front screen, I’ll drop off, let him win the header and I’ll go and deal with the second ones. It sounds quite simple.”

Despite the tweak in system, Curle would then make a change just before the hour with Shelton being the one brought off for winger Wes McDonald before Pools would then fall behind.

“I think it was his first time [playing at centre-back] and I think in the first half, for the quality they’ve got in their team, I don’t think they caused us many problems,” Curle said of starting Shelton in defence.

“I think Ben had one shot to save. Second half was nothing to do with Mark Shelton, our distances in front of him were wrong.”

Pools were dealt yet another defensive injury blow in the defeat to Mansfield as Jamie Sterry was forced off which led to Christopher Missilou finishing the game in defence.

And with Euan Murray still a doubt after missing through illness it leaves Curle with yet more selection headaches ahead of the visit of Harrogate Town on New Year’s Day.


Hartlepool United to assess Jamie Sterry ahead of Harrogate Town clash after ex-Newcastle United defender went off injured against Mansfield Town
hartlepoolmail.co.uk, By Joe Ramage, Thur 29 Dec 2022

Jamie Sterry will be assessed ahead of Hartlepool United’s crunch League Two clash with Harrogate Town after being forced off in the defeat against Mansfield Town.

Sterry went down soon after Mansfield’s Ollie Hawkins had put the Stags in front to cancel out Hartlepool’s first half lead handed to them by Jack Hamilton.

Hawkins converted low from George Lapslie’s cross shortly after Rhys Oates had scored on his return to the Suit Direct Stadium to level the scores early in the second half with Sterry forced exit adding to Keith Curle’s woes.

Sterry made his return from a lengthy lay-off in the 2-0 win over Crawley Town before completing consecutive 90 minutes for the first time since August against Rochdale on Boxing Day.


“We’ll find out tomorrow. He came off with a groin problem and a sore back so we’ll assess it,” Curle told The Mail.

“Jamie has come back, he’s played two 90’s, ideally we were looking for a 60 and an 80 but he’s given us two 90’s. It might have been a game too much but Jamie understands his body so we’ll listen to Jamie and we’ll assess it tomorrow.”

And asked whether there was a temptation to leave Sterry out ahead of the clash with Harrogate, given his recent return from injury, Curle highlighted the meeting with Mansfield as just as good an opportunity to gain three points for his side.

“We thought there was an opportunity for us to gain points tonight and his first half showing I thought he did very well. Both wing-backs did well in the first half, their distances were better and they operated higher up the pitch,” said Curle.

“We’re playing against a team fifth or sixth in the league and they didn’t cause us a lot of problems. We needed a little bit more quality but they didn’t cause us a lot of problems.

“Second half they got on the front foot too quickly. We had an opportunity right from the kick-off to get on the front foot but we didn't.”


John Radford on social media
An impressive fightback and a good way to end the calendar year.
Happy New Year, Stags’ fans!



Latest | January 2023