CLOUGH ON EFL PODCAST
Nigel Clough expresses pride at Mansfield Town's unbeaten streak
efl.com, 19 Oct 2023
Mansfield Town remain the only unbeaten side in all competitions across the top four tiers of English football at present and it’s a run Stags boss Nigel Clough is relishing, made even sweeter on the back of an emphatic victory in a local derby last time out.
The Sky Bet League Two side breezed past high-flying Notts County last weekend in a 4-1 victory which extended their undefeated run to 17 games across the league, the Carabao Cup - a competition in which Clough’s side are through to Round Four - and the EFL Trophy
But, in spite of the result which boosted Mansfield up to third in the table, continuing the Stags’ impressive streak was the most important thing for the manager.
“That’s the thing we’re most proud of,” Clough says, speaking on the Official EFL Podcast. “The result on Saturday was wonderful but it was a one-off game. To start a season in all competitions with a 17-game unbeaten run - albeit with more than a few draws in there - that’s something we’re extremely proud of.
“Even when there are some draws in there, it keeps the momentum going. If we’d have lost one of those games the week previously which we could’ve done, then I don’t think we get the result at Notts that we got.”
The Stags fell a goal behind within the opening minutes at Meadow Lane last Saturday, but quickly recovered before turning it around in the second half with goals from Louis Reed, Baily Cargill, Aden Flint and Lucas Akins, and Clough was a happy man on the touchline as the full time whistle sounded.
“After the first 10 minutes, I thought we regained our composure,” he reflects. “The atmosphere and the occasion possibly got to us and Notts started incredibly well and got the early goal. It was difficult to come back from it.
“We talk to the players a lot and if you do concede, don’t concede that second goal and stay in the game and we worked out way back into it and got a hold of the game especially after half time.
“It was unusual for us because it’s the lowest possession we’ve had in any game this season and we said to the players, ‘it’s not always the amount sometimes but it’s what you do with that possession.’ I thought with the 34% we had, we were a danger and a threat all afternoon.”
Last season, the Club narrowly missed out on reaching the Play-Offs - having made it all the way to Wembley for the Final the year previous during the 2021/22 campaign - with the second half of the 2022/23 campaign being blighted by injury woes.
This term, not surprisingly, they’re gearing up towards another promotion push and they have all the right ingredients of a successful side.
Clough adds: “We said to the players in the summer, ‘this is it now.’ We were hoping not to have another injury-hit season. We’re better equipped all over and the experiences of the last two seasons will definitely stand us in good stead for this season.
“We’re mid-October and there are no prizes or medals in mid-October, but we’ve had a good start and we’re not going to get carried away with that victory over Notts or otherwise. We’ve got six or seven months of hard work to do to be able to maintain the position we’re in, in the league.”
Mansfield have a hectic fixture schedule coming up for the remainder of the year. Clough’s side - the lowest ranked team still standing in the Carabao Cup - have a home tie against Port Vale on the horizon with a place in the Quarter-Final at stake.
First and foremost, they welcome Forest Green Rovers to the One Call Stadium this weekend and it’s a fixture which sums up just how competitive League Two is shaping up to be this season for Clough.
“We’ve got Forest Green on Saturday and every report we’ve had, even though they’re second or third from bottom, is that they’re a good team,” he continues. “It’s the strength of the league which has put them where they are at the moment, not necessarily on merit. It’s an incredible league and that’s why it’s so tight; everybody beats everybody.”
And Clough’s side will be looking to extend their unbeaten run on home soil and hold on to their crown for a little while longer.
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