CLOUGH AND OLLIE CLARKE PREVIEW PORT VALE
Boss ‘extremely proud’ of unbeaten run with Stags set for Vale cup clash
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 30 Oct 2023
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says he’s ‘extremely proud’ of his side’s unbeaten record, with Stags targeting a club record 21st match without defeat and a place in the last eight of the Carabao Cup when Port Vale visit One Call Stadium tomorrow.
Stags - unbeaten in 19 matches this season - equalled their record for games without a loss [20, including a 2-0 win at Colchester last season] with a 2-1 victory at home to Walsall on Saturday.
Sky Bet League One outfit Port Vale will look to prevent Mansfield’s run continuing tomorrow with Stags aiming for a first quarter-final in the League Cup since 1975.
Speaking to iFollow Stags at a news conference today, Nigel said: “I thought we could have had a couple more points because we should have won some of the games we’ve drawn in that period, but to do 19 games in all competitions unbeaten - you don’t expect that sort of run.
“We’re extremely proud of it and we want to keep it going.
“I think the next two [Port Vale and Wrexham] will be as big a test of that as any time in the last 19.”
The prospect of two sides in the third and fourth tiers of English football competing for a place in the last eight of a cup competition is one the boss is looking forward to.
“When you’ve got a League One and a League Two side [in the last 16 it’s a mouth-watering prospect], one of them is going through to the last eight,” he added.
“That’s a great incentive for both sides.
“They’ll be a formidable opponent tomorrow night - without a doubt.
“They play football and they’ve got some good players and good threats.”
Nigel went on to provide the injury latest.
“He’s [McLaughlin] just building up his fitness. He may well be on the bench against Port Vale because we get the extra two substitutions,” he said.
“Apart from that, he’s down to play a week tomorrow against Everton [in the EFL Trophy].
“Nothing has changed with him and Rhys Oates.
“He’s [Akins] okay. He got checked out in the hospital on Saturday.
“He feels a lot better. We’ll see how he is for tomorrow night.
“We’re not ruling him out one way or another yet.”
Mansfield’s current run gives the gaffer pride ahead of a big week at One Call Stadium.
“We want to go one step further.
“It’s all rolled into one really; the preserving of the unbeaten run and getting to the last eight and then trying to get through in the FA Cup on Saturday.
“There’s a lot to play for but we go into it in good heart and good spirits.”
Lucas Akins a big doubt for Mansfield Town ahead of big Port Vale Carabao Cup showdown
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Mon 30 Oct 2023
Mansfield Town striker Lucas Akins is a major doubt for tomorrow night's massive Carabao Cup fourth round home clash with League One Port Vale.
Stags lost the hard-working Akins after a bang to the head during the first half of Saturday's record-equalling 2-1 home win over Walsall.
It was a 19th game unbeaten in all competitions to start the season and, coupled with Stags' final day win last season, makes it 20 league and cup games unbeaten to equal the club record set in 1976.
On Akins, boss Nigel Clough said: “He is okay. He got checked out at the hospital on Saturday. He was in there with Tom (Whittamore) the physio until just before midnight.
“He feels a lot better now and we will just have to see how he is for tomorrow night.
“Lucas was involved in the goal and I think their lad just back-headed him or caught him just below the eye.
“When he came over first time he said he was all right and just give him five minutes.
“We don't like taking chances and with hindsight we probably should have taken him off straight away. But he was adamant he felt okay.
“Then within five minutes he said he couldn't quite judge distances with the ball and everything so we just got him straight off.
“I would think he is 50-50 for tomorrow. He will give himself every opportunity, but because of the nature of the injury we certainly won't take a chance.”
Clough admitted the game is an exciting prospect with the reward it carries, Stags having only ever reached the quarter-finals once back in 1975.
“It is great to be in the last 16 as a League One or League Two side. One of us is going through to the last eight which is a great incentive for both sides,” he said.
“It is exciting as this is a major cup competition. When you think of all the teams that started out in it, to have a chance of getting into the last eight is an achievement in itself. Now we are here and at home, let's do it.
“Port Vale have had a rough two or three weeks. I saw them at home to Burton a few weeks ago and, if they had won that, I think they would have gone top of the league.
“But Burton won 3-2 and they have had a bit of a downward turn in fortunes since then.
“They still have some more than capable players. They have had some injuries and one or two things go against them, but they will be formidable opponents tomorrow night without doubt.
“They play football and have some good threats within the team.”
Stags will want to gain some revenge on Vale too after losing 3-0 to them in the Wembley play-off final two seasons back.
“Memories of Wembley are always there - unfortunately they won't go away,” said Clough.
“So those who were around will be using it as an incentive. But it's a small one as the greater incentive is getting into the last eight where you are almost guaranteed a Premier League club. That would be an incredible achievement.
“Rather than the club that beat us at Wembley I think it was more about the manner in which we lost on the day with everything going against us. Nothing will put that right but it would be nice to get a little back back in the other column tomorrow.
“We will need everything tomorrow night - certainly the crowd behind us, which they will be. And we need to be clinical. We might not get as many chances as we have created in the last three games. So when they do come along we have to take them.”
Clough knows how hard playing League One opposition will be, but Stags have already seen off Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough on penalties in previous rounds.
“In the last round Peterborough were so good on the ball at times that we had to change our formation - the only time I think we have done that this season - just to hang on in there and stay in the game,” he said.
“We were 2-1 down but got the late penalty and then won on penalties. That is another eventuality we have to prepare for as well. We have won a couple of rounds on penalties and the next three games could all go to penalties so we will certainly be practising them.
“We want to go one step further in this competition and it's all rolled into one really, wanting to preserve the unbeaten run and getting into the last eight then wanting to progress in the FA Cup on Saturday. There is a lot to play for and we go into it in good heart and good spirit.
“It is a bit frustrating being just a week or two away from having Stephen McLaughlin and Rhys Oates back and Stephen Quinn not far behind them.
“But if we can get through this week they may be involved in these competitions later on.”
Clough was proud to equal to club unbeaten record on Saturday saying: “I think we could have had a couple more points than we have as we should have won some of the games we have drawn in that period.
“But to do 19 games unbeaten in all competitions. You don't expect that sort of run and we are extremely proud of it.
“Every game we say let's keep it going - and I think the next two will be as big a test of that as any of the last 19.
“We have shown resilience. We've earned a lot of points coming from behind.”
Midfielder: Stags eager for Carabao Cup tie
mansfieldtown.net, Mon 30 Oct 2023
Midfielder Ollie Clarke says ‘everyone in the squad is itching to play’ in tonight’s Carabao Cup fourth round tie at home to League One Port Vale.
Stags have beaten Grimsby, Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough to reach the last 16 of the competition.
The 31-year-old previewed the encounter in a news conference at RH Academy yesterday afternoon.
“Everyone will be desperate to play and itching to get out there,” Clarke said. “You can see the bond we have as a squad at the moment.
“Whoever’s playing are being supported by the lads on the bench, the lads out of the squad. Everyone is wishing each other well and we want to win together. That’s a good sign for a group and the prospects for the season.”
Stags have equalled a club record 20 games unbeaten - stretching back to last season, and Clarke assessed the exceptional run, saying: “Everything has sort of come together at the right time.
“We’ve had a bit of luck in that period, we’ve put teams to bed when we needed to. We’ve fought out draws, when in previous years we might not have. We’re showing resilience to not lose games and to come back from goals down.
“We’ve been killing teams off and it’s been enjoyable to be a part of.
“It’s one of those, you don’t get to compete in this stage of the competition very often. To get to the quarter-final of the League Cup and potentially play big teams is what we want and what everyone is here for.
“You know, playing against a team in a higher division, that they’ll probably be better on the ball. They might have different movement and play a different way to what we’re used to. But we know we’re capable of playing above our level, we’ve shown that twice this season. It’ll be good for us tomorrow, a real good contest and I think we’ll put on a good performance for the fans.”
Stags last faced Port Vale at Wembley in May 2022, losing 3-0 in the League Two play-off final.
“We owe them one as well so I’m sure we’ll be right up for that,” said Clarke. “We’ve beaten teams in leagues above us this season so we can do it again tomorrow. You have to turn up and put a performance on.
“Everyone knows what happened that day. We didn’t quite get going for whatever reason, but it’s gone now. We know a lot has changed since then. In terms of us, we’re a lot better as a team. The squad as a whole has improved. We know what we’re capable of. We know how to win games.”
Time to avenge Wembley defeat says Mansfield Town ace Ollie Clarke in Port Vale rematch
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Mon 30 Oct 2023
Mansfield Town midfield ace Ollie Clarke said Stags owe Port Vale one tomorrow night after Stags' tame Wembley play-off final surrender two years ago.
League One Vale come to the One Call Stadium for what should be a thrilling Carabao Cup fourth round tie with a likely quarter-final tie against a Premier League club for the winners.
And, after 19 games unbeaten in all competitions this season, Clarke believes Mansfield will prove a very different proposition for the Valiants.
“You don't get to compete at this stage of the competition very often at this level,” he said.
“To potentially get to the quarter-finals of the League Cup and play a big team is what we want and what everyone is here for. Everyone will be desperate to play.
“We owe Port Vale one as well so I am sure we will be right up for that.
“We didn't quite get going that day for whatever reason. It's gone now. But a lot has changed since that day in terms of us. We are a lot better as a team and the squad as a whole has improved.
“The day passed us by without us showing people what we were about, which was a shame. We know we were capable of much better and didn't show it on the day.
“We didn't lose by that scoreline all season until Wembley. Sometimes the occasion gets to you or some days you just don't turn up and put up a fight - we rolled over a bit when they got the goals.
“We have already beaten teams from the league above us this season so let's see if we can do it again tomorrow.”
He added: “I think the top half of League Two and bottom half of League One is a similar playing field without too much of a gap and every team is there for the taking.
“Peterborough are one of the bigger hitters in League One but we matched them and went toe to toe with them and came out on top in the end.
“This team is built to play at a higher level and we need to prove that tomorrow. We know what we are capable of when we get the ball down and play.
“The mood in the camp is brilliant and we are all desperate to get out there and play games. If you are not on it you know there are players on the bench who will come in and take your place.”
Stags had to fight hard for Saturday's 2-1 win over Walsall and Clarke said: “It was a massive win for us and a real morale-booster.
“They are a hard-working, honest side we so we knew we'd have to be right at it. And with the run we have been on we know every team is going to want to come and stop us.
“We are showing character and determination to grind wins out when we are not quite at it. That is testament to everyone involved.
“We reacted well to the setback of their equaliser and did well to see it out.
“Everything has come together at the right time. We have had a bit of luck in that period and we have put teams to bed when we've needed to - and we have fought out draws which in previous seasons we may not have.
“We are showing resilience to not lose games and putting some sides to the sword. It's been enjoyable to be a part of.”
He added: “It has been hard to get going at the start as I missed the majority of pre-season but the manager has built up my minutes and now the games are coming thick and fast I feel fit and ready to play my part.”
Although the players are picking up the plaudits for the run, Clarke said: “The manager deserves a lot of the credit - he is the one who is motivating us and the one who is picking the team.
“He sees when things need to be changed. We have injuries throughout the course of the season and he has picked the right person to step in and cover when needed.
“It says a lot about him as a manager. He has seen it and done it all through his career and is experienced enough to know when lads need to come out if they look tired or it needs a little reshuffle. He has managed to do that really well this season.
“He is a great manager and very simplistic. We keep everything pretty simple in terms of training and analysis whereas a lot of managers nowadays would probably have you in a classroom looking at other teams a lot.
“Our focus is mainly on ourselves and what we can do.
“For me personally he as probably matured me as a player. I think I was 27 when I first came here but I didn't really know my position as much as I do now.
“Now I understand the game better and which positions to pick up. He has really helped me in the last couple of years.
“When he came in we knew it was a massive appointment. We'd heard good things about him - he is a very well known manager.
“We bought straight into his methods and we have built well over the last couple of years.
“He should be managing at a higher level but he is here at the moment and we are very lucky to have him.”
Exclusive: Boss Reveals Port Vale “Probably Underdogs” In Cup Clash
October 30, 2023 by Gary H
Port Vale boss Andy Crosby believes his side are ‘probably’ underdogs for their Carabao Cup clash this week, as they visit high-flying League Two side Mansfield Town.
In an exclusive chat with The Real EFL’s Adam Scully, Crosby revealed that the Stags’ super form in the league means they’ll be considered by many as the favourites in the clash, which will lead to a quarter-final spot for one of the two teams.
The last time Port Vale were at this stage, in 06/07, they took Spurs to extra time before Tom Huddlestone and Jermain Defoe broke their hearts. This time, they’ll be hoping to go one further but will have to do what no club has done since April 29th - beat the Stags.
“It’s a chance for us to make some history as a group,” said Crosby, speaking to us as part of a full podcast to be released later this week. “We go into the game on a really difficult run of results over the last month or so in League One fixtures.
“We’re looking forward to the game against a Mansfield team full of confidence at this moment in time, unbeaten in League Two with a really experienced manager. It’s a game we’re really looking forward to.”
Mansfield have reached the quarter-finals once before, back in 1975/76. On that occasion, Manchester City defeated them in the last eight before going on to win the competition. Pep Guardiola’s team are not left in the current season’s Carabao Cup, but Man Utd, Newcastle, West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal are. That’s a tantalising prize for the victor in tomorrow’s tie.
“We know that the reward is massive,” added Crosby. “We’ve been saying since round two about the potential for getting one of the big boys in the cup, home or away, and now we find ourselves in the last 16 playing against Mansfield away from home. We’ve got recent history with them; what a great day Wembley was for us a couple of years ago.
“We probably go there as underdogs because of our current form and Mansfield’s current form. It’s important we remember we’re a League One football team, and we’ve got League One players, and we have to go there and perform to the best of our abilities.”
The Valiants are without a win in seven matches, their last victory coming in this competition against Sutton United. They’ve also beaten Fleetwood (3-2) and Crewe on penalties to get to this stage.
This will be the first time the Valiants and Stags have come together in the League Cup, having previously met in the FA Cup (1985) and twice in the Football League Trophy (2016, 2019).