CLOUGH AND WALSALL ASSISTANT MANAGER REACTION
Boss has mixed feelings after Saddlers’ loss
mansfieldtown.net, Sun 1 Jan 2023
Manager Nigel Clough was left with ‘mixed feelings’ following Mansfield’s 2-1 defeat away to Walsall as the Stags were made to rue missed chances.
The amber and blue controlled possession and recorded 18 shots but only found the back of the net once through Rhys Oates in the 82nd minute, which wasn’t enough to overturn Walsall’s notches either side of half-time.
Stags were without numerous first team players in the West Midlands due to injury.
Mansfield began the game brightly and tested the Walsall defence from the off.
“We had three or four [good chances] in the first fifteen minutes and the game could’ve been over from that point,” said Clough.
“When you miss them it gives the home team the opportunity to have the one shot they had at the end of the half. Then we go in [at half-time] 1-0 down and we’re scratching our heads as to why.”
Summing up the match, he said: “It’s a little bit of mixed feelings. The players have had a go, we’ve created chances, we know we should finish better, but it’s very tough to score goals.
“We come off proud that we’ve had a go with seven or eight players missing and on another day we could’ve won the game in the first fifteen minutes.”
The gaffer felt that his side performed the stronger of the two teams.
“I think if you look at the whole course of the game, for 60/70 percent of it I thought we were on top,” he said.
“I thought the team and the formation worked very well. When we are like that we need someone to get us a goal, it was just one of those days where whoever the chances were presented to, [they] couldn’t take them.
“I think [it was down to] a lack of composure. We played well enough to get something out of the game today, we attacked from the first minute until the last. I can’t ask any more in terms of effort.”
Mansfield were dealt a further injury blow in the 33rd minute when midfielder Anthony Hartigan was forced off with a recurrence of a shoulder injury.
On Hartigan, Clough said: “I think [his shoulder has] popped out again. [It was] very innocuous. The lad I don’t think even knew he’d done it. The referee did very well to stop the game immediately and get him treatment.”
“He’s distraught in there [and] quite distressed. I think he’s in quite a lot of pain and also the realisation that it’s [his shoulder] gone for the second time. We’ll have to see what the specialists think the best way forward is.
“No idea [how long he will be side-lined]. He got back quite quickly last time and played with a protective sling and didn’t take throw ins, but we’ll wait and see what the specialist thinks.”
On Elliott Hewitt’s illness, the manager said: “I got a call around ten-ish last night. I thought it was the physio saying ‘happy New Year’ but instead he said ‘Elliott Hewitt’s ill’ which on the back of [Riley] Harbottle, [Kieran] Wallace, [Lucas] Akins, [Ollie] Clarke, and [George] Maris wasn’t good enough to start after the tackle the other night at Hartlepool… means we’re seven or eight [players] down.”
On whether any will return for the match against Barrow on Saturday, Clough said: “Ollie Clarke has no chance. Lucas’ ankle is very sore, as is Kieran Wallace’s. We’ll just have to wait and see on the others. Elliott should be okay.”
Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham:
on the second goal: "Stephen McLaughlin started it off giving it away from the kick-off and then giving a free kick away. Then from the corner the lad gets free at the far post. We knew we were down on height today, no Harbottle, no Hewitt, but it's still an incredble header that he's put in. We should maybe get someone round on the back line once it's gone right to the far post."
on the finishing: "We put a lot of good balls in the box, it was just the finishing. The free kick that Anthony put in and Oli Hawkins side-footed straight at the keeper. George Lapslie nearly scores. It was just that final touch today that we didn't get. Walsall got some great blocks in. We put too many over the bar as usual. A lot of good shooting positions from outside the area and we didn't hit the target."
"Finishing is still the hardest thing to do in football."
"We want the same sort of effort next week, we want better finishing."
Boss Nigel Clough praises spirited display by injury-ravaged Mansfield Town in narrow defeat at Walsall
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough praised his depleted side's spirited efforts in today's 2-1 defeat at Walsall, despite losing yet another player to injury.
Despite missing seven players, Stags dominated the first half and went behind against the run of play, having lost midfielder Anthony Hartigan, who dislocated his shoulder for a second time this season on 28 minutes.
A second goal on the restart left them a mountain to climb with the Saddlers hanging on, despite a late reply from Rhys Oates.
Now Clough faces a roll call ahead of next weekend's visit of Barrow.
“Anthony is still distraught - his shoulder has gone again. That's the second time in a few months and he can't catch a break at the moment,” said Clough.
“We will get it scanned and see if he needs an operation. It was very innocuous the way it happened and I am delighted the referee stopped it straight away.
“He said he heard the click and a few moans which is why he stopped it.
“So, overall, it was a spirited effort considering that when Anthony went off I think that was eight first teamers out including James Gale. Walsall are going well right now but we we had a real go today.
“We can't ask any more in terms of the effort - just that finishing touch.
“On another day I think we would have won the game. So to not even get a point is a blow on the first day of the New Year.
“But we start again next weekend and we want the same sort of effort but better finishing - just more composure for that finish.
“I am not sure how many of the missing players will be back for the weekend.
“Elliott Hewitt has the best chance as he is just illness. He started last night with a bug and then this morning was no good - that was as big a blow as any as he has been as good as anyone defensively. We knew the others were out.
“He was okay until about 10pm last night then I got a call to say he didn't feel too good and would see how he was overnight.
“When you have seven players missing at kick-off it says a lot about the spirit and character of the squad to play like we did in that first half hour. It was as well as we have played for some weeks, so that was very encouraging. We just needed someone to get us that goal.”
He added: “Their first goal was a bit of misfortune for us and we could easily have gone in 0-0 at half-time. Then it might have been a different game.
“But the timing of their second goal gave them such a lift.
For 15 minutes they were then on top and could have got a third.
“We got away with a couple, then it was all us pressing.
“Ironically Rhys missed a great chance just before he scored when George Maris played him through and it was a bit of an 'air shot'. I think he was so tired from all his running.
“But he then popped up with a header. We had a few scrambles at the end but we just couldn't get the break.”
Ironically it was a misplaced ball from George Maris that set Walsall on their way.
“We thought the game should have been over in the first 15 minutes as we had three or four very good chances and should have been two or three ahead,” said Clough.
“But one shot at the end of the first half that we contributed to - George Maris couldn't have played it any better into his path - the lad's finished it and you go in 1-0 down with us all scratching our heads wondering how?
“For the second goal, Stephen McLaughlin started it off, giving it away from the kick off and then giving a free kick away. It came into the box and the lad gets free at the far post. We know were were down on height today with no Harbottle or Hewitt. With their two big lads that was always going to be a threat. But it was still an incredible header he put it.
“We should maybe have got someone back on the line once it's gone to the far post.
“We said at half-time to the players just don't concede again and work your way back into the game. Keep playing as we were and we'll get something. We certainly deserved it over the course of the game today.
“But poor finishing and lack of composure in the final third were the main reason we didn't.
“We put a lot of good balls in throughout the game but the finishing touch wasn't there until Rhys Oates scored - and if there was a player in the pitch that deserved a goal today it was him.
“Walsall got some great blocks in and we put too many over the bar as usual from a lot of good shooting positions outside the penalty area. It makes it very easy for them when you're not even making them play.”
Matt Sadler: Walsall are strong play-off contenders
expressandstar.com, By Paul Jenkins
First team coach Matt Sadler was delighted with the whole team's performance against a team he considered to be strong play off contenders.
He said: "Mansfield are a very good side they have players who are seasoned at this level and any game against them you are going to have to fight for the victory.
"That said I thought in the early part of the second half we were going to get the third goal and put the game to bed. When you don't do that it is always dangerous against Mansfield who can bring on players like Jordan Bowery, John-Joe O'Toole and George Maris who would get into most team at this level.
"I thought we showed many different sides to us in this game, we showed we could play. we showed we coud be resilient and we showed we could manage our way through to win the game.
"There were lots of pleasing points, I was impressed with our midfield who got to the ball first and prevented many free shots on goal.
Sadler also praised man of the match Oisin McEntee saying: "He has had a difficult time after getting injured shortly after coming to us but I thought he was outstanding today and there is more to come from him."
Walsall defender Donervon Daniels is hailed ‘Mr Consistent’
expressandstar.com, By Paul Jenkins
Walsall coach Mat Sadler has praised captain Donervon Daniels for his consistent performances in central defence which has helped his team in their recent run.
The Saddlers have lost just one game in nine in League Two and Sadler called Daniels ‘Mr Consistent’ after the 2-1 win over Mansfield.
Sadler said any one of four or five players could have been man of the match against Mansfield, but Daniels was one of them and it was typical of his recent performances.
He said: “Donervon has been monumental for us this season, he is a real figure head for the team and a good all round guy to have around the dressing room.
“As I spoke of on Sunday, it was a good all-round performance against Mansfield but there were times we had to defend in depth and Donervon was a large part of that.
“He is a real good influence on the team and the squad and is always there to rally them if we are going through a tough period, or during a game when things aren’t going right.”
Meanwhile Sadler confirmed right back Hayden White had missed the Mansfield game due to a slight strain.
He said: “Hayden will be OK, he had a slight knock and we have played a lot of football recently so he sat this one out but he will be fine.”
Sadler was pleased with Walsall's response
Walsall First Team Coach Mat Sadler was pleased with how the team responded to the set back against Stockport County after picking up a fine victory over Mansfield Town on New Year’s Day.
Douglas James-Taylor and Liam Kinsella scored either side of half-time as the Saddlers climbed up to ninth in the Sky Bet League Two table.
With attention now turning to the Emirates FA Cup, where Michael Flynn’s side will travel to recent opponents Stockport, Sadler was delighted the players can head into a break from league action on the back of a victory and was pleased that the players showed all their qualities to bounce back after a disappointing defeat.
“We spoke about that after Stockport, runs always come to an end at any level, especially in League One and League Two where anyone can beat anyone, so maintaining that consistency is massive,” Sadler said.
“For us to go and perform the way we did in spells was testament to the lads, they showed every single side to them that they’re going to need to show to win football matches and they showed that.
“The lads themselves spoke about being desperate to start a new run or another set of good results so as disappointed as they all were following Thursday night, they’ve put that right and then we go on and look forward to the game on Sunday now, a little bit of a break in the league and they do that on the back of a win so there’s no better way to go into that game.”
Sunday’s victory saw defender Oisin McEntee make his full debut for the Saddlers after spending the majority of the first half of the season on the sidelines with a shoulder injury before making his comeback with a brief cameo off the bench away at Wycombe Wanderers back in November.
The 21-year-old got 90 minutes under his belt on New Year's Day and Sadler was full of praise for the Irishman after his full debut.
“I thought Oisin coming in for his first start, and it’s a tough baptism of fire against Mansfield, so tough game for him, there were some fantastic blocks, some fantastic defensive awareness that he’s capable of and he’s been champing at the bit to get some game time so I’m pleased for him and I think he acquitted himself well,” Sadler commented.
Kinsella delighted to score rare goal
Walsall midfielder Liam Kinsella praised Assistant Head Coach Wayne Hatswell and midfielder Isaac Hutchinson after he scored for the first time in just over three years against Mansfield Town on New Year’s Day.
The 26-year-old headed in Hutchinson’s corner to give the Saddlers a 2-0 lead against the Stags as the team went on to win 2-1.
Kinsella revealed that Hatswell discussed a set piece routine with him at half-time.
He was grateful to the Assistant Head Coach and was delighted to see the set play come off successfully and get himself a rare goal.
“It’s fantastic to get on the scoresheet,” Kinsella said.
“I think everyone was as shocked as I was but we spoke at half time, Hats - I owe it to him, his set piece routine. Hutch put in a fantastic ball and I was there to head it top bins.
“He (Hatswell) works his socks off, he gives us two/three set pieces a game to work on and like I said, at half time he pulled a few of the boys to sort out a set piece and it came off perfectly.
“It was a great ball in by Hutch and if the ball isn’t there, the goal isn’t there. He works his socks off to get the set pieces out to the lads and thankfully it came off.”
Michael Flynn’s side now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup with a trip to Stockport County in Round three.
Kinsella feels all the players have given the Head Coach something to think about with their performances against Mansfield and is excited about this Sunday’s cup match.
“It’s a big FA Cup tie, third round against Stockport,” he commented.
“The lads who came in (on Sunday) were outstanding and it probably gives the gaffer a headache with those performances but that’s what the gaffer would like, headaches.
“We’ve got to go to Stockport on Sunday, put in a performance and try and get through to the fourth round of the FA Cup.”
Latest | January 2023