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Archived News from May 2023

4th May 2023 18:30

Boss assesses Harrogate loss
mansfieldtown.net, Sat 29 Apr 2023

Manager Nigel Clough has given his assessment of Mansfield's 2-1 loss at home to Harrogate Town.

Harrogate led at the break thanks to two first-half goals, an Alfie Kilgour own goal and a Matty Daly strike.

Stags’ top scorer Will Swan claimed his tenth league goal of the season in the 67th minute to half the deficit.

The gaffer spoke to iFollow Stags after the match at One Call Stadium and said: “[The result] certainly wasn’t down to a lack of effort or trying all throughout the game to get the goals.

“A couple of times we should’ve put the ball in the box more, certainly from my position.


“It sums up the season, too many goals conceded, especially at home, and then not converting a good enough proportion of the chances. It’s not as if we’re having three or four chances a game.

“You need a break, but you need to earn it a bit more than we did today.

“[We] were trying to win the game. [We] just needed a little more conviction in and around the penalty area. We had enough situations in that first fifteen to twenty minutes to get a goal.

“[It was the] same as a lot of times this season. A lot of shots, a lot of possession, a lot of pressure.

“It was no surprise that Will Swan was the one who got the goal. He’s our leading goal scorer and we’ve missed him for three months.”

Nigel said he considered starting recently-injured players such as Ollie Clarke, Will Swan and Jordan Bowery, but opted to stick with players who had previously gone nine games unbeaten.

“We don’t get it right all the time,” he said. “I couldn’t have stopped the first goal with the team selection.

“We put Louis Reed out there for 95 minutes and his knee is extremely sore, so he won’t be involved again this season.

“[I] ‘ummed-and-arred’ all day yesterday whether to make changes [to the starting and] put some fresh legs out there. Even though the lads have hardly trained, [George] Maris, [Ollie] Clarke, [Will] Swan and the likes. Jordan [Bowery’s] just come back a game or two [out] with a hamstring [injury].

“In the end I came down on the side [that has] lost one out of [the last] ten.

“I thought we looked a bit mentally and physically tired. Oatesy [Rhys Oates] was absolutely on his knees. I thought Perchy [James Perch] looked a little bit tired, so we just changed it around [at half-time and] we had a bit more brightness and sharpness about us second half.”

The boss provided a fitness update on the squad ahead of Mansfield’s final league fixture away to Colchester United a week on Monday.

“Stephen McLaughlin will be out until September, so he’ll miss pre-season,” he said.

“Elliott [Hewitt’s] even worse, he’ll be out for the majority of next season.

“It’s too early to tell [exactly when he’ll be back] because it’s nine months from the day of the operation. There’s no scheduled date for the ACL [Anterior Cruciate Ligament] operation because they can’t operate until the swelling goes down. It’s incredibly swollen at the moment, so it could be three to four weeks before the surgeon will go ahead with it.”


Shattering news on Elliott Hewitt caps miserable day for Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 29 Apr 2023

Mansfield Town's day to forget was made even more miserable with news that Player of the Year Elliott Hewitt will miss most of next season with a serious ACL knee injury.

Stags' 2-1 home defeat by Harrogate Town today has almost certainly condemned them to another season in League Two.

They sit three points off the play-offs with one game to go but have a poorer goal difference than rival Salford City and Bradford City, who also have a game in hand.

Hewitt, on crutches, picked up four Player of the Year trophies before kick-off, but Clough revealed: “Elliott will miss the majority of next season.

“It is too early to say when he will be back as it's nine months recovery from the date of the operation and we have no date set yet for it.


“They can't operate until the swelling goes down and it is incredibly swollen at the moment.

“It will be three to four weeks before the surgeon can go ahead with it.

“Also Stephen McLaughlin will be out until September and will miss pre-season.

“We have had nine months of this luck with injuries, one after the other, and we have been missing important players at key points throughout the season. Despite all that we are one victory away from being in the play-offs.”

Clough admitted it was unlikely Stags will now make the play-offs, saying: “We have fallen short in the 45th game and, barring a miracle, not managed to take it to Colchester next week.

“And I thought today's game epitomised the season we've had, certainly here at the One Call.

“It is now highly unlikely we will make it but we will go there to try to win the game, as we do every game, and you never know, we will see what happens. But I am realistic and I don't really believe in miracles.”

Stags were on top against Harrogate but had the wind taken out their sails by an own goal by Alfie Kilgour on 27 minutes.

“It was a desperately unlucky first goal we conceded,” said Clough.

“Everyone was completely flattened by that. We knew then that we were up against it.

“Then they got another one. We were controlling the game and creating chances before that and after that.

“But we missed chances and the ball was not dropping for us throughout the game.

“We just needed a bit more conviction in the box.”

Clough also admitted he wished he had made more changes, though the players coming in have barely trained after injury.

“We don't get it right all the time, though the team selection would not have stopped the first goal,” he said.

“Yesterday we were considering putting some fresh legs out there, even though the lads had hardly trained.

“But in the end we came down on the side of we had only lost one out of 10 and the lads deserved another crack.

“But I thought we looked a bit physically and mentally tired. Rhys Oates was absolutely on his knees at the end.

“We put Louis Reed out there for the full 90-100 minutes and his knee is now extremely sore and he won't be involved again this season.

“So we changed it around and had a bit more brightness and sharpness second half. It gave us a bit more impetus going forward and we did get the goal.

“It was no surprise Will Swan scored it as he is our leading goalscorer and we have missed him for three months.

“Sometimes you need a break and their keeper made an incredible save from the corner. We have not had many breaks.”


Nigel Clough admits Stags need miracle to make play-offs

Nigel Clough admits Mansfield Town need "a miracle" if they are to snatch a League Two play-off place on the final day of the season.

Home defeats by Leyton Orient and Harrogate have left the Stags three points off a play-off spot in eighth.

They must win at Colchester and hope Salford, Carlisle or possibly Bradford lose on the final day, plus overcome at least a four-goal difference deficit.

"I wouldn't think there's much chance now," Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"We've had two home games in four days and needed to get something from those and we haven't."


Bradford, three points ahead in seventh with a better goal difference by four, could make Mansfield's final-day challenge on Monday, 8 May more achievable should they lose their game in hand at Crewe on Wednesday.

But Clough admitted: "It's effectively season over barring a miracle, but we'll go down there [to Colchester] and have a go.

"We have scored goals on the road, we got four at Swindon and Carlisle. We'll try and score some next week and you never know, anything can happen."

Clough blamed Mansfield's likely failure to return to the play-offs on injuries and home form - the only two sides to concede more than their 31 at home are relegated duo Rochdale and Hartlepool.

"It's been an entertaining season," Clough added. "Ultimately we've fallen short, but not by much.

"The sight of (defenders and long-term absentees) Elliot Hewitt and Steven McLaughlin hobbling around on crutches brings it home just what we've been missing this season.

"We've conceded too many goals, we've not been solid enough and not kept enough clean sheets. When you're in the ascendancy and concede, it has given the opposition a massive lift too many times this season."


Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver praises team spirit as fine end of season run continues with win at Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Sat 29 Apr 2023

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver paid tribute to his side's rediscovered spirit that has seen them lose only once in nine games and ensure League Two football again next season.

After today's 2-1 win at Mansfield Town he said: “That spirit we showed second half can't be under-valued.

“Since January we have rediscovered that and what we've been about.

“Going to bigger places than ourselves and fighting for the badge.


“It was an inspired second half rearguard performance. Everyone was up for it.

“We have no sulkers here and everyone wants to be up for the ride next season and be part of it.

“We have been in a dogfight but we've produced top seven, top five form over the last part of the season - the business end when everything is at stake. Reputations and careers are at stake.

“So to come through it like these lads have done speaks volumes for them as characters. They have done it together and we are immensely proud of them.

“Both teams today have been under pressure for some time now and I am so proud of our players that stood up to that as men.

“It's tough when you want to go home and make your family proud.

“We can justifiably go home today knowing we've done that. Even though we confirmed our status in midweek, everyone has dug in. There were so many immense blocks there.”

Stags have not beaten Harrogate in any of their seven meetings and Weaver said: “Mansfield may see us as their bogey team in their eyes. But we just attack each game against them in isolation.

“We have great respect for them as when all is said and done we may have beaten them a couple of times this year but they have finished higher than us. So fair play to them.

“I want to ride this wave of emotion and momentum from when we have really had to dig in. We have done that and no one can take that away from us.

“First half of the season I thought we'd lost what we'd always had and built up over the years.

“That was good lads fighting hard for the badge and sticking together, all bar a miracle, take it to Colchester next week- no individuals thinking they were bigger than the club.

“It was slipping through our fingers but we rediscovered that with an important January window and integrating those lads has been easy thanks to the core of players who have been with us for so many years.”


Harrogate Town's win at Mansfield Town was for their supporters, says Simon Weaver
harrogateadvertiser.co.uk, By Rhys Howell, Sat 29 Apr 2023

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver said that Saturday’s victory over Mansfield was for the club’s supporters

Having secured their Football League status at Newport County in midweek, there wasn’t too much riding on their fixture at Field Mill, while the Stags were in desperate need of three points to keep their play-off push on track.

But it was the Sulphurites who came out on top, triumphing 2-1 courtesy of Alfie Kilgour’s own goal and a classy Matty Daly strike.

And Weaver insisted that it was important that his players demonstrated to the Town fans how much their continued backing during what has been a season of struggle has meant.


“Credit to the players, because there was everything at stake for Mansfield in terms of promotion, whilst the pressure was off us, we wanted to show the fans how much it means for us to keep winning - and it was a great win,” the Harrogate chief said.

"Mansfield are a strong team and the first 15 minutes, you expect them to come at us because they needed to win. They had their crowd right behind them, but we also had a good away following here who we didn't want to let down.

"It was another brilliant performance off the pitch, they rose to it. The singing was great throughout and it doesn't half drive us on and inspire us.

"Some people might say, the handbrake was off today, we had nothing to lose, but those players showed how much they cared with the blocks and the headers and the immense physical effort they put in to make sure we won the game.

"We owed it to the fans, who have stayed true to us throughout the sticky spells this season and the disappointments, because it's great when people do and then see the efforts come to fruition."

Town broke the deadlock with 27 minutes on the clock, Sam Folarin cutting the ball out in the middle of the pitch and driving forward before slipping it left to substitute Matty Daly.

His return pass would have left the former Middlesbrough winger one-on-one with Christy Pym had he been able to control it, but, fortunately for Harrogate, the sliding Alfie Kilgour diverted the ball into his own net as he attempted to intercept.

They then doubled their advantage six minutes before half-time, Daly curling a lovely finish across Pym and into the bottom corner from the left-hand side of the box having been played through on goal by Kazeem Olaigbe.

The second half was a completely different affair, with the Stags dominating both the ball and territory and putting their visitors under some serious pressure, though Will Swan’s 67th-minute strike was ultimately all they had to show for their efforts.

“First half, they came at us early on and we had to get through that sustained spell of pressure, then there was a bit of a lull and we tried to look to benefit from any sloppiness on their part," Weaver added.

"With the set-up, the energy of the front-four we looked to be able to pounce on any mistakes and that is where the first goal came from.

"This defence is able to soak up a bit of pressure now, and then we can spring into attack. It was an incisive bit of play for the second goal, a great bit of skill from Kazeem that released Matty Daly - and what a finish, I felt so confident that he was going to score there.

"There was a lot of pressure in the second half. With what was at stake for them, we expected them to throw everything at us. But it was about staying strong and we did.”

Saturday’s result saw Weaver and his men complete their first league double of the campaign and means they have now won six and drawn one of their seven Football League meetings with the Stags.


'Fantastic' Joe Mattock serves up reminder of his quality during Harrogate Town's victory at Mansfield Town
harrogateadvertiser.co.uk, By Rhys Howell, Sat 29 Apr 2023

Joe Mattock provided Simon Weaver with a reminder of the quality he possesses on his first Harrogate Town start in three months.

The 32-year-old replaced Anthony O’Connor at centre-half and served up a rock-solid performance as the Sulphurites upset promotion-chasing Mansfield at the weekend.

The former England Under-21 defender last kicked a ball in anger at the end of January during a 1-0 home defeat to Sutton United and has had to wait patiently on the sidelines due to the form of winter transfer window arrivals O’Connor and Tom Eastman.

But, Mattock showed no signs of rust, playing a key role as Town’s back-line withstood a serious amount of pressure to leave Field Mill with a 2-1 victory.


"With Joe not playing for quite some time, I just wanted to have a look at him with only a couple of games left,” Weaver explained. “I thought that it was the right time to drop him in and to give Ant a rest.

“He was fantastic, he gave us a nice balance with his left foot, made some vital interventions, won some important headers.

"When his heart is pumping he is hard to beat, isn’t he. He was up for it today.

"With it being a big-game atmosphere we backed him. He’s got ability. It’s been a long time for him waiting patiently in the wings, but what I will say is that he has done extra sessions, worked really hard and so I felt that he was prepared, so full credit to him."

That Town were able to rest O’Connor, who has delivered a string of quality performances since signing from Morecambe in January, owed much to the fact that they secured their League Two status for another season by beating Newport County in midweek.

But, the fact that one of their most influential players was not missed suggests that Harrogate now boast a little bit of strength in depth within their squad.

“I think it’s a good sign,” Weaver added.

"I think we’ve got a bit more depth in certain positions, a lot more depth than at the start of the season when we had injuries and we weren’t quite strong enough anyway.

"I feel that now, you turn around and look at our bench and you think ‘ooh, it’s strong’. It’s a good League Two bench now.

"That’s where we want to head, a strong squad, players who can not just fill in and make a fist of it, but players who can come in and be outstanding, and Joe was today, without a doubt.”



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