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

16th February 2023 22:12

Boss on ‘pivotal’ ten-day period
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 13 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says the next three matches, beginning with tomorrow night’s clash at Carlisle, will be ‘absolutely pivotal’ for Stags’ season.

A trio of fixtures against the Cumbrians, Tranmere Rovers and Salford City complete Mansfield’s February schedule.

The club currently sit sixth in Sky Bet League Two and whilst the gaffer feels the upcoming matches won’t ‘decide our season’ he adds that they are likely to have a sizeable impact in Stags’ hunt for a top seven finish.

Speaking in a news conference at RH Academy this afternoon, Nigel said: “[They’ll be] Absolutely pivotal. It [the sequence of the next three games] won’t decide our season but it can have a pretty big say.

“The next three, especially against teams in and around us, two away from home and then Salford at home in ten days’ time so nine very important points up for grabs.”


Saturday’s 2-0 victory at home to Gillingham made it four league matches unbeaten. Forward Lucas Akins, who has two in his last two home matches, impressed again at One Call Stadium.

“We think that [striker] is his [Akins’] best position,” said the boss.

“With him being so versatile if we need him in a wider position, as we saw at Bradford in the second-half playing wing-back, that is what we’ll do.”

The manager provided the latest on the injury front ahead of the trip to Cumbria.

“Nobody is coming back in time for Carlisle. They’re all coming on as expected.

“Callum Johnson is probably a little bit further ahead than where we thought he’d be - not as serious.

“We’ll see how he is. We’ll be looking more towards Salford [at home on 25 February] for him.

“Pym is not yet at 100%. His finger is still in a splint. We’ll make a decision on how he is after training today and then see if he’s fit to come back in.

“Until he’s 100%, we won’t risk him.”

When asked about Carlisle’s recent fine form, the boss said: “It comes from being solid defensively, that’s the platform.

“They break from there. We saw how dangerous they were at our place a few months ago.

“They get back in [to their defensive shape] and then the second they win it, they’re very affective in the way they play.

“They have three or four very good threats - very big threats as well.”


Nigel Clough told Radio Nottingham on Wallace and Bowery filling in for McLaughlin:
"I think very good indeed. I think Kieran was very good on Saturday. He puts so much in, he hasn't played many full games this season, so he doesn't tend to last 90 minutes. Which is fine.
"And then Jordan comes on for the last 20 minutes, kicked it, headed it, and was as good as he's been all season.
"So I'll think that will be the case until Macca gets fit, it's them two filling in and sharing the load."


Pivotal fortnight for Mansfield Town starts with crucial clash at rivals Carlisle United
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Mon 13 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town begin a spell of three games in 12 days against promotion rivals with the long trip to third-placed Carlisle United tomorrow (Tuesday) and boss Nigel Clough said: “The next two weeks are absolutely pivotal for us.

“They won't decide our season but it can have a pretty big say, the next three especially against teams in and around us with two away from home and Salford at home in 10 days time.

“There are nine very important points up for grabs.

“Carlisle's success up front comes from being very solid defensively. That is their platform and they break from there.


“We saw how dangerous they were at our place a few months ago.

“They get back in there and the second they win it, they hit on the break.

“They do press you a bit more at home but it is still very effective the way they play.

“They have three or four very good threats up top - that is another of their strengths. And Callum Guy, ex-Derby, is one of the steadiest and confident midfielders in the league.”

Stags, in sixth, are six points adrift of Carlisle, but with a game in hand.

On Saturday Clough's men then head for Tranmere Rovers, who are 11th but only five points behind Mansfield, before hosting fifth-placed Salford City, only two points ahead of Stags, a week on Saturday.

“We have two very long journeys on the spin this week and that is part of what you have to contend with, going up to Carlisle on a Tuesday night and being ready to compete,” said Clough.

“Carlisle had a very long journey coming back from Wimbledon on Saturday, but they earned a very good point and a clean sheet, so I am sure they will relish playing us tomorrow.

“You could see it coming at the end of last season when Paul Simpson came in. “They improved and have had a great run in the last two or three months and are now just ahead of Northampton in that third spot.

“But they are not too far ahead of us and we are chasing that third spot too.”

He added: “It has levelled out a little bit up there. Leyton Orient and Stevenage may be a bit too far ahead, despite their defeat on Saturday. But that third spot is there.

“Right down to halfway there are only a few points in it to the play-offs. So it's going to be close and it's an exciting league.

“I would rather be a few points clear, but it is good for the competition when there are so many teams involved. It's what the play-offs were brought in for, to keep so many teams involved in the last third of the season.

Stags will check on keeper Christy Pym's finger injury, but Scott Flinders will keep the shirt if Pym has not fully recovered.

“Christy still has his finger in a splint and we will see how he is after training,” said Clough.

“But every game we can get by without him, Scott is performing so well there is no point in risking Christy until he is 100 per cent.

“But Christy is still our No.1 and when fit will probably come back in.

“Scott is a great lad to have around and he is not just a back up. He challenges Christy every day. He knows Christy is No.1 but is there if we need him.

“Callum Johnson is probably a little bit further ahead than where we thought he would be and the injury not as serious as first thought.

“He is out doing some running so he could be back for the Salford game if he can train next week.”

Stags head to Carlisle in good heart after Saturday's 2-0 home win over in-form Gillingham and Clough said: “Saturday's win was just what we needed - a good, solid home performance and a clean sheet. Everybody did their jobs and we made no mistakes.

“A lot of managers will tell you that it's now not about performances at this stage of the season - and they are spot on. It's about results.

“At the start of the season you're looking for patterns and good signs going forward for the next eight/nine months.

“When you reach the last 18 games, you're looking for the wins and the determination and desire and all the things you need to get in the top seven.”


Tranmere Rovers tester for in-form Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Mon 13 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town aim to home in on the top three automatic promotion places at Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

The Stags will hope to avoid a repeat of the late nightmare they suffered at Prenton Park last season when they levelled at 2-2 in stoppage time only to concede on 90+7 and lose.

“It was one of those where we went for it and we got back to 2-2 late on, thought we could go and nick it and ended up losing it, which happens sometimes,” said boss Nigel Clough.

“I think the supporters behind that goal were with us as always as we tried to get that winner. Then all of a sudden we conceded down the other end.

“But we should have defended better. We still should be able to go for it and try to win without giving the game away. It was poor defending, not getting a foot in.”

He added: “The three or four games we have had with Tranmere recently have all been very good games.

“I expected them to be higher than they currently are this season but I think there is still time for them to do that.

“I saw them at Doncaster last week and they played well and were a bit unlucky.

“Their two midfielders are very strong, as are their wide men, and Kane Hemmings is always a threat.”


Stags can become even better - Perch
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 13 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town defender James Perch says there is even more to come from the Stags in the remainder of the 2022/23 campaign.

The 37-year-old, who joined Mansfield in the summer of 2020, has started in the last seven consecutive games.

In total, the defender has appeared on 27 occasions so far this term including in Stags’ most recent outing, a 2-0 win at home to Gillingham, which stretches the squad’s unbeaten run to four matches.

Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference at RH Academy this afternoon, the veteran defender said: “I think without playing unbelievably well like we have in the last couple of seasons under the gaffer, I think we could play better, definitely, but looking at that and saying we’re not playing at our best, I think there is more to come [from the lads this season].”

Ollie Clarke and Lucas Akins fired Stags to the victory on Saturday and assessing the win, he said: “I thought it was a good all-round performance [both] attacking and defensively.

“I think we needed that defensively, that's for sure. The goals we scored were good and the way we kept them out was good so it was a well-deserved win.


“We haven’t had many [clean sheets] this season. I think we’ve deserved [getting] a couple more than we have done.

“I think the gaffer (Nigel Clough) said a few weeks ago [there’s been] Doncaster and another couple of games where we’ve come out second-half and conceded. On Saturday they didn’t look like scoring really.”

Defender Alfie Kilgour joined the squad following his move from Bristol Rovers on 13 January for an undisclosed fee and has since scored two goals, his first in amber and blue against Doncaster Rovers and a stoppage time equaliser against Bradford City 10 days ago.

“He’s come in and done really well,” said Perch. “It’s just what we needed. It’s a smart piece of business by the club and he’s come in and scored two important goals for us. I think he’s going to be a good signing for us.”


We can play better still says Mansfield Town veteran James Perch ahead of crucial trip to rivals Carlisle United
chad.co.uk, by John Lomas, Mon 13 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town veteran James Perch believes the Stags can still go up another gear as they aim for promotion glory.

Stags remain in the thick of the chase ahead of tonight’s tough trip to promotion rivals Carlisle United but, despite good results, Perch wants to see the quality of football improve.

“I think we are in a good place without playing unbelievably well, which we have done in the last couple of seasons under the gaffer,” he said.

“We could definitely play better. So to not have played our best and be where we are, I think there is more to come.

“We are still getting results, which is key, and hopefully we can go one step further than last season this time around.


“But I think the fans can expect it to be a bit more pleasing on the eye.

“I am being a bit of a football purist. I know all fans want is to win games. But I am football mad and I want us to play a bit better - and I am sure the gaffer does.

“I know at this stage of the season results are all that matter. But it's always more enjoyable to play the game when you have more control of the ball and you're passing it around.”

He added: “Desire is massive. If you want to win you need to have the will to win and put your head in where it hurts. That is what will get us over the line. We know we have the quality. It's just about keeping the back door shut like we did on Saturday.

“Teams come out second half and put us under pressure, but we dealt with it.

“This squad has plenty of desire. We just need to show it more consistently.

“We have an experienced side with a few young lads that are learning.

“We train as good as I have done anywhere - the lads are on it and the gaffer is on it. They're a good set of lads and it's good to be a part of it.

“I am still enjoying it and long may it continue.”

In Saturday's 2-0 win over Gillingham, Perch found himself alongside young Forest loanee Riley Harbottle and new signing Alfie Kilgour in a back three.

“They are both good players. It's just about talking and me, as the older person, keeping the back four or five intact and keeping that communication going,” he said.

“Alfie has just come in and done really well. He is just what we needed and is a smart bit of business from the club. He has scored two important goals for us and I think he is going to be a good signing.”

Perch said he had spent the season so far playing catch-up on fitness after missing part of pre-season with injury.

“First few games I was not happy with my performances which went along with the results we were getting. I wasn't playing well and the team were losing,” he said.

“Now I have finally got properly fit and I think I am playing better - and it's no surprise we are winning now, because as a centre half you can't have an off game. I was having too many off games.

“I missed the majority of pre-season as I injured my calf, so I didn't play pre-season many games. And I know from all the years I have been playing football that if you miss pre-season it affects the season going forward.

“I knew I would struggle from when I got injured pre-season. Luckily I am fit now and can see the difference in my performances, though I think you are always behind when you miss pre-season.

“You can do all the work you want with fitness coaches but you have to complete pre-season, and this is what I say to young lads - get through it no matter how tough it is as you will have a successful season injury-wise.”

On Saturday Perch helped Stags secure a rare clean sheet and shut out towering former team mate Oli Hawkins, who only moved to Gillingham last month.

“I thought it was a good all-round performance, attacking and defensively and I think we've needed it defensively that's for sure. The goals we scored were good and the way we kept them was good,” he said.

“We have not had many clean sheets this season though I think we've deserved a couple more than we've had.

“In one or two games like Doncaster we have come out for the second half, conceded, and it's put us on the back foot.

“On Saturday Gillingham never really looked like scoring.

“We had to be switched on as they are both good players. We know what Hawks is about - heading it and long balls - and Tom Nichols was just buzzing around and getting flick-ons.

“I thought we dealt with them quite well for the majority of the game.

“I know Hawks is awkward and dangerous in the air and he caught me a couple of times with elbows and I said to him - what are you doing? I am your mate! But he was still elbowing me!”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​



Latest | February 2023