CLOUGH, OLLIE CLARKE, NEIL HARRIS REACTION
Stags’ boss pleased with ‘professional’ performance
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 11 Feb 2023
Stags’ manager Nigel Clough felt his side’s strength in depth was highlighted as Mansfield ‘professionally’ overcame in-form Gillingham 2-0 at One Call Stadium.
Despite missing several key players, Nigel’s men convincingly dispatched a Gillingham side unbeaten in their last four.
And the boss was pleased with the way his side controlled the game after taking a 21st minute lead.
“[I’m] very pleased,” he said. “I thought it was a good, solid professional performance.
“I thought we played very well first half.
“We looked after our lead second half and late on [we] could’ve extended it.
“It was about protecting that two-goal lead, which apart from that great save that Scott Flinders made in the second half, I thought we did very well.
“I think [Gillingham have had] three wins and a draw in their last four games. Since January they’ve brought some good players in, two of them from us, so we know all about their threat.
“I think losing the players we did through injury, makes it [today’s win] especially important and also highlights the quality of the squad.”
Captain Ollie Clarke opened the scoring at One Call Stadium, powering a driven effort past Glen Morris at his near post with his left foot.
Nigel told iFollow Stags after the game: “[It was] a wonderful strike from our captain, on his wrong foot as well. It just took a little deflection in off the post, then I thought from that point on in the first half we looked in control.
“He [Clarke] gets a lot of shots off with his wrong foot, and very powerful shots as well.”
Fourteen minutes later, striker Lucas Akins coolly converted from the penalty spot to put Mansfield clear by two. The forward had initially won the spot-kick after being bundled over inside the box.
“I’m going to have a look back at it,” Nigel said. “Lucas [Akins] said he [the defender] had got hold of him. All I’ll say is the referee was very close to it and instantly gave it.
"They go on about persistant holding, not just a quick tug of the shirt. If they are consistently holding it for a length of time, then they are entitled to give it.
“I didn’t look [when he took the penalty], I just waited for the crowd’s reaction.
“He’s a very good professional and he works for the team. When we had him at Burton [Albion] he played in every position but goalkeeper for us, but at the moment he’s our number one centre forward.”
Nigel believes Mansfield’s strong squad will hold them in good stead during the second half of the 2022/23 season.
“That’s what we try and achieve at the start of the season,” he said. “In 19-20 outfield [players] any one of them at any time we are happy to start.
“We’ve got John-Joe O’Toole. He’s not been in the [matchday] 18 for the past few weeks and he came on and played an important role in the last ten minutes today. Everybody is going to have a role to play between now and the end of the season.
“All you can do is win, whatever anyone else does [is out of our control].
“We’ve got a big week, two away games now at Carlisle then Tranmere.”
Nigel Clough told iFollow Stags:
"Pleased with the clean sheet, about time we had one. We deserved it for the whole team defending."
"(The foundations of the victory was) no mistakes. We made Gillingham work for anything that they were going to create, and we didn't do anything daft in the game.
"We lost a couple of headers against Hawks, but we know you're going to do that and it's about reacting for the second ball."
(On Keillor-Dunn on his first start): "yes he's lively. He should have got a shot off once or twice but I thought he was good. Including linking up with Lucas for the first time."
"I thought Lucas held the ball up brilliantly today. Davis was buzzing around off him, and they looked a threat."
Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"I thought we had probably as good a shout (for a penalty as the one given) when Davis Keillor-Dunn got caught by the goalkeeper. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.
"A good 70 minutes for Davis. It's his first start for a couple of months, so he isn't 100% up to speed because he hasn't played much.
"George Maris was a bit tired, that's why he came off. And Kieran Wallace the same."
Pym returned to the bench. Nigel Clough told me after the game he is not 100% recovered from his injury, hence not returning to the starting XI.
That was a professional display said Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough after win over in-form Gillingham
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 11 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough was very happy with his side's professional display in today's potential banana skin game against in-form strugglers Gillingham which Mansfield won 2-0 in some comfort.
Ollie Clarke and a Lucas Akins penalty had them in charge at half-time against a side with 10 points from their last four games, and Stags then saw out the second half with few problems.
“I thought it was a good, solid, professional performance and I was very pleased,” said Clough.
“I thought we played very well first half and looked after our lead second half. Late on we could have extended it.
“But it was about protecting that lead and, apart from one great save from Scott Flinders in the second half, I thought we did that very well.”
He added: “Our first goal was a wonderful strike from our captain - with his wrong foot - and it took a deflection and went in off the post. From then on we were in control.
“Lucas said he had got hold of him for the penalty and the referee was very close to it and instantly gave it.
“We had probably as good a shout for one in the second half when Davis Keillor-Dunn just got caught by the goalkeeper. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't.
“Lucas was confident to take it. I didn't look. I just waited for the crowd's reaction and the subs' reaction.
“All we can do is win and we have two big games now this week at Carlisle and Tranmere.”
Mansfield ‘magnificent’ in Gills’ win - skipper
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 11 Feb 2023
Goalscoring skipper Ollie Clarke described Mansfield as ‘magnificent’ as Stags beat Gillingham 2-0 at One Call Stadium.
Clarke made his first start of the new year at One Call Stadium after an injury he sustained at The Suit Direct Stadium against Hartlepool United.
The midfielder broke the deadlock on 21 minutes as he drove a left-footed effort into the back of Glenn Morris’ net.
And Mansfield were given the opportunity to double their advantage on 35 minutes when the referee pointed to the spot from which Lucas Akins fired home.
Speaking on his team’s superb performance at home, Ollie said: “The lads were magnificent today, I think it was about doing a professional job.
“Once we got the two goal advantage we knew that things were probably going to change at the start of the second-half and we managed to stick to our jobs and stop them creating many opportunities.
“I thought Scottie [Flinders] was magnificent again today. The defence was outstanding and credit to everyone really, we dug in really well and reduced them to [creating] very little [chances].
“I think today we did really well at nullifying their strengths.”
Speaking on his left-footed strike, the captain said: “I keep working away at it and it's nice to see it when it goes in. It took a little deflection but at the end of the day it’s about winning games and I’m glad we’ve done that again today.
“It’s not about me individually, it's about the team putting points on the board and effectively getting to where we want to be come the end of the season.”
Referee Thomas Kirk pointed to the spot on 35 minutes following a foul by Gills’ defender Max Ehmer on Stags’ forward Lucas Akins.
Speaking on the penalty decision, Ollie said: “It’s one of those, he’s grabbed his (Lucas Akins) shirt. The referee would probably pull it back anywhere else on the pitch and rightly so he’s given a penalty. I thought we should have probably had one in the second-half for the foul on Davis [Keillor-Dunn].
“Davis was eager to get off the mark as you would when you’re at a new club but Lucas [Akins] has taken a few for us and his performances recently have probably warranted him taking it so fair play to him he’s stuck it away [into the back of the net].
“He’s hit it sweet and that’s it at 2-0, we knew the job was almost done and we could get ready for the second-half and prepare for what [attacking threat] they were going to bring.”
Mansfield Town skipper Ollie Clarke nets scorcher with ‘wrong foot’ as Stags see off Gillingham
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 11 Feb 2023
Mansfield Town skipper Ollie Clarke put Stags on the road to today's 2-0 victory over Gillingham with a superb left-footed finish that surprised himself and his team mates.
“I keep working on shooting with my left foot and today it was nice to see it go in. I think it took a little deflection,” he smiled.
“That's three for me now this season, but it's not about me it's about the team putting points on the board.
“At the end of the day it's about winning games.
“I thought in the first half we could have had three or four - it was a bit of an onslaught.
“We knew things would change in the second half and we had to adapt and make sure we didn't give away any sloppy goals.”
He continued: “The lads were magnificent. It was about doing a professional job.
“We stuck to our jobs and stopped them creating many opportunities. We have dug in really well and reduced them to very little.
“We know what they are capable of and today we have done well in nullifying their strengths.
“We now have a big week on the road.”
Mansfield Town are top three material believes Gillingham boss Neil Harris after defeat
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 11 Feb 2023
Gillingham manager Neil Harris had high praise for Mansfield Town after today's 2-0 defeat at the One Call Stadium - and believes Stags are definitely top three material.
He also believes his side were badly done to on penalty decisions on the day.
Stags saw off his in-form Gills with first half goals by Ollie Clarke and Lucas Akins and Harris said: “I thought Mansfield were excellent. “They are a team pushing for the top three where we want to be.
“We have come up against a top three squad today and probably a top three team, having now seen everyone and some of them twice.
“They play in the way that we want to play. They're a good footballing team who can pass the ball but they also play it forward and run forward.
“Over the course of the 90 minutes they were slightly better than us today.
“Second half we were better. But first half we made some poor decisions and were not good enough in both boxes.”
Stags' second goal came from the spot and Harris said: “It was also a cheap penalty that was given against us. It was given for pulling the shirt. The referee agreed it was a bit of a soft penalty to give but at the time he thought it was a foul so he should give it.
“Our players thought it was six of one and half a dozen of the other.
“But the one at the other end on George, I agree if it was given it would have been a bit soft. But you can't make the rules up as you go along. I thought we came out on the wrong side of those decisions.”
He added: “I was disappointed with the performance, but the group have been fantastic over the last four weeks and taken 10 points from four games before today.
“So I will be careful what I say about my squad as they have been excellent before today.
“For us to keep getting better we need to be better than we were in that first half.
“Mansfield handled us well and were better than us at both ends of the pitch in the first half which is where we've fallen short today.
“We have recruited really well in the window, but all we are trying to do is compete with these sides that have spent money year after year.
“Even to be competitive in this league you have to invest wisely in your group.
“We have been to one of the hardest places to go in this division and come up a little bit short.”
Mansfield 2 Gillingham 0: Reaction from Gills manager Neil Harris after League 2 defeat
kentonline.co.uk, by Luke Cawdell, 11 February 2023
Gillingham boss Neil Harris admitted they were second best to Mansfield on Saturday - a team they aspire to be just like.
Harris’ side remain in the League 2 drop-zone after the weekend loss - their first in five - while the victors sit sixth in the table and not too far off the automatic promotion places.
“Mansfield were excellent,” said the Gills boss. “They are a team that are pushing for the top three, where we want to be, playing the way we want to play.
“They are a good football team that can pass the ball but can also play forward and run forward, and I thought over the course of 90 minutes they were slightly better than us.
“On my own team, second half much better, first half I thought we made poor decisions on the ball. League 2 is a lot about the boxes and in the first half we weren’t good enough in both boxes.”
The Gills conceded to a deflected Ollie Clarke opener on 21 minutes and a second from the penalty spot when Max Ehmer’s tug at the shirt of Lucas Akins was penalised.
“It was a really cheap penalty,” Harris said. “I spoke to the referee, he has given it against Max for pulling the shirt. He agreed that maybe it was a soft one to give but he thought at the time it was a foul so he should give it. Max thought, as did their player and as do I, it was six of one and half a dozen of the other, but he has given it.”
Gills had shouts for one of their own as George Lapslie went to ground in the box but nothing was given.
Harris said: “Had he given it that might have been a bit soft but you can’t make the rules up as you go along on what is soft and what is not and we came out on the wrong side of those two decisions.”
It wasn’t the deciding factor in the game, however, as the Gills came up short in the first half. From 2-0 down they struggled to come back, even with an improved second 45 and a flurry of subs.
“I am disappointed with the performance, I have to be honest,” Harris said. “But the group has been fantastic for four weeks, we have had 10 points from four games before this one, I am careful what I say about my squad because until now they have been excellent and for us the key to us being better, we have to be better than we were in that first half.
“I thought about changing it at half-time, 2-0 down away from home, we hadn’t played great and we didn’t look as fluid as we had been in the last four or five, I felt that maybe we needed to change, but I went with a little respect to the group, the lads have been brilliant for me.
“George (Lapslie) and Aiden (O’Brien) are getting up to speed, minutes wise as well and I just thought, let’s have a platform for the next 10 minutes to try and build off, get on the front foot with our approach and then add the fresh energy and legs. We didn’t quite have the chances to create until I made the subs and I thought the three lads who came on, with a triple change, did really well.”
Gillingham striker Tom Nichols reacts to Mansfield defeat
kentonline.co.uk, by Luke Cawdell, 11 February 2023
Confidence remains high in the Gillingham camp despite their weekend loss at Mansfield.
The promotion-chasing Stags were too good for the Gills on the day but striker Tom Nichols insists the changing room vibes remain in good shape having picked up plenty of points in the past few weeks.
Gillingham are back in action tomorrow (Tuesday) at home to Grimsby Town.
Nichols said: “We will be going into it with a load of confidence even though we haven’t had the right result on Saturday, confidence is still high in the camp.
“It is really nice to have a home game and I am sure there will be a good atmosphere. We just have to play as we have been, we can’t let the (defeat to Mansfield) effect us too much, we have to get back on the horse and put in the performances that we have done and I am sure we will keep getting results.
“We have been on a really good run lately. We are never going to win every single game and stay undefeated until the end of the season, we have a big game Tuesday to put it right, we are not too disappointed.
“We weren’t a million miles away (from Mansfield). They got to Wembley last year and they are a very good side in this division, we had some good spells in the game and it’s the fine margins, we came out on the wrong end of those fine margins. 2-0 was a disappointing scoreline but it wasn’t a terrible performance at all.
“The first (goal) was a deflection, he struck it alright but it deflected in off the post, not anything the goalkeeper could do. It was one of those things after we had started really well.
“It was a soft penalty (for 2-0) and it swings the game in their favour. Second half we did pretty well, they obviously had chances on the break towards the end.
“We won’t brush it aside, there are always ways you can improve, but they are a good side and we came out on the wrong side of it. Key moments in the game swung the game in their favour and we couldn’t get back into it.
“If we scored one it probably would have been a completely different game.”
Nichols picked up a groin injury last week which led to him missing training and doubts of him making the trip to Mansfield but he ended up playing every minute. He’s well up for playing on Tuesday too.
“I was fine,” he said. “I was always going to make that game.”
It’s been a super start to life at the Gills for Nichols, with goals in each of his first three games for the club, earning him the nomination for League 2 player-of-the-month by the EFL and the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“It has been a good start, a positive start,” said the former Crawley striker.
“I have really enjoyed it so far, but lots more to do, I am not resting on my laurels.”
Proper Saturday. great win for the boys
reply by tomnichols_10
Left peg has still got a bit (fire emoji)
Davis Keillor-Dunn @davisjames10
Place was bouncing. Buzzing with my first start for the club! Onto Tuesday now
John Radford @JRadfordMTFC
Delighted with today’s victory; a thoroughly professional performance from start to end and great support from our fans.
Well done to Nigel and the boys.
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