CLOUGH, CALLUM JOHNSON AND LEE BELL REACTION
Boss encouraged by overall performance
mansfieldtown.net, 14 January 2023
Manager Nigel Clough was encouraged by his side’s overall performance in Stags’ 1-1 draw at home to Crewe Alexandra.
Midfielder George Maris smartly opened the scoring for the hosts after latching onto debutant full-back Callum Johnson’s impressive right-sided cross on 42 minutes.
Crewe equalised from range through Kelvin Mellor ten minutes after the break, who had intercepted a loose Mansfield pass before unleashing a shot past Christy Pym.
Stags were reduced to ten men on 81 minutes for George Maris’ foul on Elliott Nevitt outside the box.
The manager added: “I’ve been very pleased with the general level of performance [over the last three games],” he said.
“[To pick up more points we need] to stop giving the ball away. It’s cost us here against Northampton on Boxing Day, it cost us at Walsall, it cost us against Barrow and it’s cost us again today.
“Players have to realise as much as we want to play football, sometimes you have to clear your lines.
“I was very pleased with the vast majority of the performance. [We] played some good stuff today [and] created chances.
“[We] shot ourselves in the foot again by giving the ball away ten yards outside our penalty area [and] a wickedly swerving shot has ended up in the back of our net. Christy Pym has had one other shot to save in the game. Their goalkeeper’s pulled off two outstanding saves, we had more than enough situation in the first half and throughout the game.”
The boss was pleased with the intent shown by midfielder George Maris to move into an attacking position and take the lead.
“I thought it was a brilliant goal,” he said.
“We played it down the right-hand side, a little one-two, a great cross in and then George Maris - who had a little more [attacking] freedom with Kieran Wallace in the side - is in the six-yard box.”
The Stags’ chief provided an update on the club’s transfer activity: “George Lapslie has been confirmed at Gillingham. We had an offer for Oli [Hawkins] and George [from Gillingham], which the club felt was a good offer bearing in mind that they both had five months left on their contracts.”
“Oli is 31 in April [and] they offered him a fantastic package for two and a half years.
“George Lapslie turned down two improved [contract] offers that we’ve made [him] in the last two weeks, so we accepted the offer for him and he agreed down there.”
On whether Mansfield are likely to make any signings of their own, Clough said: “Hopefully, as we are speaking we’ve got a midfielder coming in [and] putting pen to paper, which will be our third signing [of the window] with one or two more to come.”
Busy weekend for Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough as George Lapslie departure confirmed
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 14 Jan 2023
Mansfield Town have confirmed midfield ace George Lapslie has followed team mate Oli Hawkins in signing for big-spending Gillingham.
But boss Nigel Clough expects to sign a replacement this weekend and add up to two more before the window closes as he strengthens for the final promotion push.
“We have agreed to sign a midflelder and I hope will be putting pen to paper shortly with hopefully one or two more to come,” he said.
The 25-year-old Lapslie - whose contract at One Call Stadium was set to expire at the end of this season - played 104 times for the Stags scoring 23 goals, originally joining on loan in October 2020 before making his stay at the club permanent in January 2021.
Clough was again left lamenting Stags' generosity as they gave Crewe a way back into today's 1-1 draw, having gone ahead through George Maris, who was later red-carded.
“Again I though 90 per cent of what we did today was good,” he said.
“We played well and created chances throughout the game again, only got the one goal and we were pressing when the sending off came.
“That set us back and it was more about securing the point, which we did relatively comfy.
“But once again we gave the ball away on the edge of our penalty area which has cost us the clean sheet.
“Hiram Boateng has seen Stephen McLaughlin do it, then George Maris do it twice in the last two games and today he gave the ball away - it's a different person every week.”
The Crewe equaliser saw Kelvin Mellor net a spectacular 30-yard effort and Clough said: “The ball just moved. Christy Pym said he hit it and it was going down one line then just swerved and gone in the other way.
“The way the balls are these days it just moved and wrong-footed him. But the ball should have been up the pitch with Rhys Oates chasing it.
“Their keeper made two unbelievable saves today, especially the second one. It just would not go in for us in the second half despite some great positions and some good moves.
“Over the course of the game we had more than enough to win as we did last week against Barrow and Walsall the week before.
“But we are contributing to our downfall with giving the ball away.”
On the red card, he said: “George was left in a position where he had to make a decision and I think the red card was 50-50. I'm not sure if the ball was already going through to Christy Pym.
“But I wasn't happy with the ball that got played leading up to it with James Perch trying a 70 yard diagonal ball.”
New signing Callum Johnson managed a good assist and Clough said: “I was very pleased with Callum's debut - it was an absolutely brilliant cross for the goal and I thought he defended well throughout.
“He got a little bit tired towards the end which was probably down to the move and the emotion of the week plus the eight or nine hour journey down from Ross County on Thursday.
“Kellan Gordon puts good crosses in but we just wanted an improvement defensively and a better balance. I think Kel is more of a forward player and we needed better defensive qualities without sacrificing too much going forward - you saw today Callum can do both.”
New signing relishes home debut
mansfieldtown.net, 14 January 2023
Stags' debutant defender Callum Johnson relished the opportunity to play in front of the Mansfield faithful for the first time as Mansfield drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra.
The 26-year-old signed for Mansfield yesterday and superbly assisted George Maris in the 42nd for Stags’ opener.
Johnson was pleased with his attacking contribution, something he has worked into his game.
“Hopefully I showed what I can do with [putting] deliveries into the box,” he said.
“I like to defend first and foremost. [Then] get up and down [the wing] and put some good deliveries into the box and I think I did that.
“If we’d have gotten the 1-0 win, I think it would’ve been the perfect debut. We need to somehow cut out the errors and come away from these games winning 1-0 instead of drawing.
“I like to get the ball wide and put the ball in for the strikers. I keep trying to do my best and I keep practicing my crossing after training. I’ll keep putting them in and I’m sure Oatesy [Rhys Oates] will be [getting] on the end of them.”
The defender came close to grabbing a goal of his own.
“It just came to me and I tried to flick it [towards goal],” he said.
“I thought ‘I’ve got a good contact on that’ and then the keeper’s just flicked it over the crossbar. I thought it was in to be honest, but the keeper’s pulled off a good save.”
The January signing was encouraged by Mansfield’s performance and hopes to turn draws into wins in future matches.
“We showed some good spells in the game, where we had some good possession but there are things we can work on. There are definitely positives to take from it [the game].”
Johnson was spurred on to play in front of 6,149 vocal supporters inside One Call Stadium.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said.
“The fans were unbelievable, they were really good and behind us. When we were on top and had a few chances, I could hear them behind the goal, they were really loud. We need to start to get some wins and repay them.”
Man of the match debut for Callum Johnson in Mansfield Town draw with Crewe Alexandra
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 14 Jan 2023
Mansfield Town debutant Callum Johnson gave a man of the match display at right back in today's home 1-1 draw with Crewe Alexandra and is delighted to be with the Stags.
Johnson signed from Ross County on Friday and put in some great crosses, earning an assist to George Maris' opener.
Maris was later controversially sent off.
“I was happy with my debut, but at the end of the day I want to win games so obviously it was disappointing to draw today as these are games we should be coming away with at least a 1-0 win as a minimum,” he said.
“I did tire a bit towards the end. We had a winter break and I have only played once since. It is now just about getting my fitness back up.
“The sending-off was controversial and their goal was a fluke goal.
“It was a funny goal - I thought it had taken a deflection.
“We created chances but sometimes it's one of those days. We just couldn't put them away.”
On his accurate crossing, he said: “I put one in a bit earlier which I thought someone might have got on the end of.
“It was a good delivery for the goal and I just need to keep working on them and putting them into those areas. I have been doing that for a number of years and I like to keep consistent with it.
“Once the strikers know that when I have the ball I am going to put them in they will gamble and hopefully get on the end of it.”
On his move south, Johnson said: “There has been some interest for a while.
“I was a free agent in the summer. I had four or five offers from League One but I just decided to go to Scotland for a change.
“Ross County finished top six the year before and just missed out on Europe so I felt it was a good opportunity - the manager really wanted me.
“I have played about 20 games this season but it's just not worked out for me. I wanted to move back to England closer to home as I was six or seven hour away up there.
“Mansfield were the first club to show interest again as they have for a couple of seasons.
“I know the club and the manager's pedigree and I wanted to come here, win games and get promoted.”
He added: “The fans were great today. They were behind us all the way today and we need to repay them. I have been here before with Accrington so I know what a tough place it is to come.
“We now just need momentum - it is massive. We were around this place in the table when we won the league at Accrington at this stage of the season.
“We got a clean sheet away at Grimsby and the momentum after that was incredible - it was like a snowball effect. We just ground out 1-0 wins. You just go on a run.
“John Coleman, our manager at Accrington, said it's harder to get on a run than stay a run. Momentum is underrated in football.”
Crewe Alexandra boss Lee Bell delighted with point at former club Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 14 Jan 2023
Former Mansfield Town player Lee Bell was delighted to come away from his old club with a point as Crewe Alexandra manager today.
Crewe came from behind to draw 1-1 with a spectacular 30-yard strike by Kelvin Mellor and finished on the front foot after George Maris was sent off on 81 minutes.
“It was a very good point to come to Mansfield as well as a sense of frustration as we controlled periods of the game,” he said.
“I think my players are having their own goal of the season competition between them. That is two 'worldies' that have now picked us up four points.
“It was a hard-earned point. I thought we showed some good control throughout the game. Mansfield are a good team.
“We felt we could have done a little bit better in the final third.
“But there were absolutely loads of positives.”
Maris was shown a red for bringing down Elliott Nevitt in a wide position well away from goal, controversially adjudged to be the last man, and Bell added: “I am not sure it was a sending off to be honest from where I was. Maybe it could have been an orange card!”
On Nevitt's debut up front, he said: “I thought Elliott was excellent and you can see what he is going to bring to the team. He is a physical presence and holds the ball up well
“We have just got to get bodies closer to him.
“I thought he was going to top the afternoon off and bend one in at the end. I was delighted with his contribution - we have got ourselves a decent player.”
Boss takes the positives from draw on the road
Lee Bell says he will take ‘loads of positives’ from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town.
The Railwaymen grabbed a share of the spoils thanks to Kelvin Mellor’s second-half stunner, which cancelled out George Maris’s opener for Town.
Bell said: “It was hard-earned, and I thought we showed good control through the game.
“Mansfield are a good team but I felt relaxed on the sidelines when they were putting balls in our box, the boys showed great attitude to see those moments out.
“On another day, we’d get three points if we’d done a bit better in the final third. But there were loads of positives to take.
“The lads are having their own goal-of-the-season competition. I’ve said we can’t rely on worldies, but we’ve had two worldies which have earned us four points since the turn of the year.”
New signing Elliott Nevitt made his debut for Crewe, and looked sharp and threatening throughout the 90 minutes.
And keeper Dave Richards made his first league start of the campaign, after loan man Arthur Okonkwo returned to parent club Arsenal.
Bell added: “Dave was excellent, the point-blank saves he made in the second-half were excellent.
“He’s first in at the training ground, and last out, every day. I told him his professionalism would put him in a place to be able to churn out a performance like that, so I’m delighted for him.
“I thought Elliott was excellent, too. You could see what he will bring to the team - a physical presence, he held the ball up well, but we need to get bodies closer to him.
“I’m really delighted with his contribution; we’ve got a decent player.”
Crewe boss Lee Bell talks keeper situation and Mansfield point
By Michael Baggaley, 14 JAN 2023
Crewe Alexandra boss Lee Bell said his side were well worth their point as they earned a 1-1 draw at Mansfield to stretch their unbeaten run to three games.
The Railwaymen had to come from behind after George Maris put the hosts in front three minutes before the break. Kelvin Mellor netted ten minutes into the second half but, although Maris was sent off on 81 minutes, Crewe couldn’t find a winner.
The result keeps Bell’s side 17th but continues their mini-revival having lost four games in a row before following a 1-0 win at home to Tranmere with a goalless draw at home to Wimbledon and this point at Field Mill.
This result was secured with a terrific strike from Mellor, who scored with a swerving, long-range effort, a finish that rivalled Lachlan Brook’s winner from the edge of the area against Tranmere.
Bell said: “They are having their own goal of the season competition between them. I think I said after ‘Lockie’s’ goal that we can’t rely on ‘worldies’, but we have relied on two worldies to pick us up four points in those games.
“It was hard-earned. I thought we showed some good control throughout the game. They are a good team but I felt quite relaxed on the sideline. When balls were pinging around in the box, the boys showed a great attitude to see those moments out and, on another day, we would get the three points.”
Goalkeeper Dave Richards made his first start after Arthur Okonkwo returned to parent club Arsenal to explore other loan options.
Bell added: “I thought Dave was excellent. He made a save from point-blank in the second half that was excellent. He is first in and last out of the training ground. When we found out the news, I said to him that his professionalism would put him in a place to churn out a performance like that. I am delighted for him, he is a great lad.”
As for the three-match unbeaten run, the manager is more interested in looking forward to next Saturday’s home game with Stockport.
He said: “It’s gone now. I keep reminding the players that you can’t go off what happened last week. A point away at Mansfield can be a good point.
“We feel we could have done just a little bit better in the final third. We definitely got in there more, even against eleven, but then players become a bit anxious in those moments to make something happen. They just need to slow down, take a little bit of care and make the right decision. But there are loads of positives to take.”
As for the red-card given against Maris, for bringing down Elliott Nevitt and denying a goalscoring opportunity, Bell said: “I’m not sure it was a sending off if I am honest from where I was.
“But from the sidelines I can’t judge how close he was and who was around when it happened. They then changed formation a couple of times in that short space of time and we just couldn’t get the balls around them enough to get some balls into the box or get Callum Ainley in a position to attack their backline. But, all in all, it was a pleasing performance.”
Latest | January 2023