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Archived News from February 2023

22nd February 2023 20:07

Boss lauds ‘brilliant’ week
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 18 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough described Stags’ week as ‘as good a week as we’ve had for some time’ after his side recorded a third victory in seven days away at Tranmere this afternoon.

After a sequence of wins in matches against Gillingham, Carlisle and Tranmere, Stags sit fifth in Sky Bet League Two - three points off the automatic promotion places with a game in hand.

Goals from Riley Harbottle and Davis Keillor-Dunn at Prenton Park helped stretch Mansfield’s run of unbeaten matches to six.

Speaking to iFollow Stags post-match, Nigel said: “[It's been] A brilliant week.

“It’s been as good a week as we’ve had for some time.


“[We’ve had a] Tough week with the travelling and the injuries [but] to keep three clean sheets in the week, [get] nine points and [score] eight goals is as good as any other victory this season.

“I don’t think we were sparkling football wise, but it wasn’t about that today.

“It was just about the desire to get a result, the players showed that in abundance.”

On this afternoon’s performance, the boss added: “We looked as though we were still on the coach a little bit in the first ten, fifteen minutes but then we settled down and created three very good chances.

“Riley Harbottle pops up with a goal and that settled us down a little bit.

“You know that Tranmere are going to come out [with intensity] at the start of the second-half.

“It’s a sort of dual problem. You’ve got to deal with it, and you’ve got to get a second goal yourself and we did both of those things.”

Davis Keillor-Dunn impressed again and netted his first goal for the club on 54 minutes.

“Ollie Clarke did brilliantly for it,” the boss said.

“It was only the goalkeeper making a brilliant save tipping it onto the bar that [ensured] he got the rebound for it.

“He’s [Keillor-Dunn] there and he just about got enough on it, it trickled into the net.

“It was lovely for him to get his first goal.

“He’s not played an awful lot in the last two or three months so playing three games in a week, you could tell he felt it late on.”

The squad has had several injuries in recent weeks and the manager provided the latest on the fitness of some of his absentees.

“When you have nine players missing with the quality that we have and we can still get the results that we have done, I think [it shows] they have belief in each other,” he said.

“He [John-Joe O’Toole] felt his foot again.

“He got a whack on it again on Tuesday at Carlisle when he came on. He had an X-ray and he’s got a stress fracture of the metatarsal so he’s in a [protective] boot for four weeks.

“He [Will Swan] was chasing back [in training yesterday] and stood on Hiram Boateng and twisted his ankle.

“He also left the training ground in a boot yesterday, we’re not sure how long he’ll be [out for].

“George Maris came along to see if he could give it a go in the warm-up but he couldn’t.

“We’re hoping in another week he might be in contention.”

Academy trio Taylor Anderson, Darien Wauchope and McKeal Abdullah all made the Mansfield bench this afternoon.

“It was good in some ways to have the three Academy lads on the bench and if we had got the third goal, we might’ve got them on but [it’s still] a great experience for them being here.

“It’s great for Coops [Richard Cooper] and the Academy that they’re stepping up.

“It’s a really long-term thing when you’re bringing your players through as young as eight or nine and we think they’re doing very well.

“They’re improving as well hopefully as the first team is improving. It goes hand-in-hand.”

After a positive week of results, the boss said: “We’d only had back-to-back clean sheets once this season so to have three on the spin with a home game coming up is brilliant.

“Fifteen to go. We keep telling them [the players].

“We’ve put ourselves in a reasonable position to keep going. We’ll see where we end up.”


Mansfield Town win again, but injury crisis worsens
chad.co.uk, Sat 18 Feb 2023

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough paid tribute to his threadbare side's third win in eight days - a 2-0 success at Tranmere Rovers - as their best of the week but revealed their injury crisis had worsened.

Riley Harbottle and Davis Keillor-Dunn saw Stags home with plenty to spare at Prenton Park for a third clean sheet in a row.

But Clough now has nine men on the treatment table with John-Joe O'Toole out for the season and Will Swan and George Maris under treatment.

Stags beat Gillingham at home last Saturday before hammering rivals Carlisle away on Tuesday.


But after today's win, Clough said: “It was the hardest out of the lot of them as we looked a little bit leggy today, which is understandable after the efforts that have gone in earlier in the week and the travelling as well.

“But we got through and deserved the victory and it was a very important win - as good as we've had all season because of the circumstances.

“There wasn't a lot of choice in team selection when you've got nine players missing.

“George Maris pulled up in the warm-up and couldn't even make the bench.

“So we had the same lads doing it for the third time this week.

“It would have been nice to get some fresh legs on there but, after Tuesday it picked itself.”

O'Toole and Swan were missing from the bench and Clough said: “John-Joe O'Toole has been playing with a very sore foot and he got another bash on it at Carlisle the other night. He had an X-ray and a scan and his foot is now in a protective boot.

“I think it's a stress fracture of his metatarsal and he will be in the boot for four weeks and then another four to six weeks after that which pretty much rules him out for the season.

“Will Swan had 12 minutes training in a little seven v seven games yesterday - which is all we had - and somehow managed to run into Hiram Boateng when the ball was nowhere near, twisted his ankle, and left the training ground in a boot as well.”

On the win at Tranmere he added: “We weren't sparkling at times but we did play well in spells and got goals at good times again.

“Lucas Akins and Davis Keillor-Dunn were a handful today. Davis is just getting up to speed, he's not played a lot of football in the last couple of months - and certainly not three in a week for some time.

“He looked a bit tired, but he got his goal. He was looking for it today and got his rewards for his efforts.

“Lucas was unselfish and worked his socks off again.

“They put us under a lot of pressure after half-time. We had told the players to survive until the hour mark if they could. But if we could get a second goal it would kill it off - which it almost did.

“We got some great blocks in again today and Pymy (Christy Pym) has not had a serious shot to save.

“We stopped crosses and shots and Jordan Bowery has been as good as anyone at left wing back. It looks a solid five at the moment.”


Resilient performance pleases Harbottle
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 18 Feb 2023

Defender Riley Harbottle credited Mansfield’s steely defensive performance after Stags beat Tranmere 2-0 at Prenton Park.

The 22-year-old nodded Nigel Clough’s side ahead on 34 minutes to open the scoring and claim his fourth league goal of the season.

January signing Davis Keillor-Dunn netted for the first time in Stags’ colours to kill off the contest in the 54th minute.

Mansfield have now won their last three league matches, recording three consecutive clean sheets in the process.

And the Nottingham Forest loanee was delighted after the match and said to iFollow Stags: “It was a brilliant victory, a great win, a great clean sheet and three more points on the table.


“I don’t think [the result was ever in doubt]. You look [back] at other games this season where we’ve been two [goals] up and lost the game. We’re confident enough [now] to know that when we get that lead we’re going to defend it.

“I think with the experience we’ve got in the group, they’re always going to drag the lads through [to the finish line]. It was tough on the legs at the end but we dug in and it was a great performance.

“I can’t name a man of the match, I thought every single person was brilliant.”

Mansfield currently sit fifth in the League Two table, six games unbeaten in which they have conceded only twice. Harbottle believes Stags’ blend of experience and fresh faces in defence has encouraged the team’s prolific form of recent weeks.

“The gaffer has been big on it [keeping clean sheets] especially after the Christmas period,” he said.

“Alfie [Kilgour] has come in and given a big lift to the group, he’s a great lad.

“Alfie offers something a bit different [to former Stags’ defender Oli Hawkins], he’s played there [in central defence] all his life. As a defender sometimes it is hard to come in [to a new team]. Alfie has been brilliant and he’s a pleasure to have in the changing room.

“I think the most important [member of Stags’ defence] is Perchy [James Perch]. His experience and his performances in the last few games have really dug us out of situations, and he’s been the catalyst to [Stags’ strong defensive] performances.”

“Perchy is a calm head and he keeps everyone focussed. We had tough patches today where they [Tranmere] were on top and we just needed to be composed and hold out for the win.”

Harbottle also contributed for Mansfield in the attacking third, rising to head home Stephen Quinn’s guided left-sided cross and snatch the lead before the break.

“I didn’t really see it until late,” he said. “We’ll have to watch it back but I think it might have been a shoulder or head onto the shoulder, but it goes in [so] I’ll take it.

“[It is] two [goals] in two [games] against Tranmere so I’m happy.”

Harbottle summed up Stags’ week, saying: “Yes [it has been the perfect week], nine points out of nine, but we’ve got 16 [important games] left.

“We’re not really focusing on the table at the moment, just focusing on us and not anybody else. If we keep doing what we’re doing and playing how we’re playing, I don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about.”


Third clean sheet of the week the most important thing says Mansfield Town goalscorer Riley Harbottle
chad.co.uk, Sat 18 Feb 2023

Young Forest loanee defender Riley Harbottle bagged his second goal of the season against Tranmere Rovers but said the clean sheet in today's 2-0 win at Prenton Park was the most important thing.

It was a third win and third clean sheet in eight days for Stags with Harbottle playing alongside new signing Alfie Kilgour and veteran James Perch at the heart of a watertight defence with Elliott Hewitt and Jordan Bowery causing chaos from the wing back positions either side of them.

“The win and clean sheet were the most important things today,” smiled Harbottle.

“Too many times earlier in the season we didn't keep a clean sheet.


“Alfie coming in has been a big lift to the group, but the main factor I think has been Perchy who has led the lads really well. He is the older head and gives advice in training.

“I think Elliott and Jordan have been outstanding as well. I don't think Jordan lost a tackle or a header today.

“The gaffer is big on our defending. We all put our bodies on the line and he loves to see it.

“When you're out there it is really encouraging.”

On his 34th minute goal from Stephen Quinn's cross, he said: “It wasn't the cleanest of headers but I'll take it - it's another goal.”

Stags had to withstand some pressure after the break before Davis Keillor-Dunn scored a decisive second on 54 minutes.

“We have had too many games this season where we've been leading at half-time, come out and we've ended up losing. So it was really important we came out the blocks again and worked hard with every man behind the ball,” said Harbottle.

“Also, earlier in the season every chance the opposition had was going in, which was really frustrating. Teams were not having many chances against us but they were all going in.

“Now I think we're getting a bit more of the rub of the green.”

Harbottle is back in the side after a knee injury and said: “I feel really good at the minute. I did a lot of work with the physio, who has been brilliant.

“I had a lot of niggly injuries earlier in the season and I don't think I got back to my best. Then the knee injury came. Hopefully I can keep kicking on and doing my best for Mansfield. I still think I have more to give to the team.

“Working under the gaffer and playing with the likes of Perchy, it's brilliant here and I can't ask for any more.”

The Stags players celebrated with another large following of away fans at the end and Harbottle said: “It makes you feel proud to play for the club when you see how many fans we're bringing to every game, especially Carlisle on a Tuesday night the other day. They are a credit to the club and we can't thank them enough.”


'P***ed off' Mellon calls for more aggression from weak Rovers

TRANMERE Rovers boss Micky Mellon could hardly contain his anger after his side’s 2-0 home defeat to Mansfield Town.

Goals from Riley Harbottle and Davis Keillor-Dunn ensured the Stags picked up their eighth away win of the season in impressive style.


This latest defeat leaves Rovers 15th in the table with just four wins from their last 20 league games.

Mellon said: “I can understand why the fans are p***ed off because I’m p***ed off and it’s hard to explain how you feel when you see the goals that you give away impact what it is you’re trying to do.

“We all work very hard on our defensive play and I’ve seen some stuff there today that just isn’t good enough at this level.

“We lost so many battles across the pitch and I just don’t know why we’re not aggressive enough when we need to be.

“The last however many games we’ve given away goals that disappoint you because we work so hard and know so much about what we want to see - it’s just so poor.

“I have to take responsibility for this as that’s my job and that’s what you do as a manager and whether that’s right or wrong that’s the way it rolls.”

“At the end of the day, I’m crystal clear on what it takes to be a good footballer and a good team,” added Mellon. “This team and myself get on fantastically well so there’s no relationship problems - what has got to happen is they’ve got to understand what to do in order to win games.

“I’ll keep supporting them and keep backing them and they know what they need to be better at and we’ll just have to keep going.”


‘Players suffering’ admits midfielder Hawkes as poor form continues

TRANMERE midfielder Josh Hawkes admitted Rovers had “no answers” when confronted with a determined Mansfield Town on Saturday.

The Stags’ 2-0 win at Prenton Park was the latest poor result for Hawkes and his team-mates who are seeing their play-off hopes rapidly fading after a dreadful run of form.

“They had a really good shape and it was hard for us to break them down,” said Hawkes. “They went direct, scored a goal just before half-time and it was very tough.

“It was very frustrating - they defended very well and in the end we had no answers.”


“It’s a collective thing,” he said. “As a group we need to be better at keeping the ball out of the net. At the moment, we are giving away too many cheap goals and it’s making it really hard for us.

“I don’t think we’ll ever give up - as a professional you never really think that way.

“Hopefully we can have a turning point and we can put a few results together.

“I’ve been here a while now and I do try and encourage the lads and keep us going - no-one wants to lose games and at home we’ve been pretty good. When we’re not, it’s a kick in the teeth and we’re suffering.”



Latest | February 2023