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5th November 2023 22:03

Gaffer on Carabao Cup exit
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 31 Oct 2023

Manager Nigel Clough says he is ‘incredibly proud’ of his players after Mansfield’s incredible 19-game unbeaten run came to an end following their narrow 1-0 home defeat to Port Vale in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

Stags were edged out by a 50th minute Alfie Devine strike to decide the Carabao Cup fourth round encounter.

Nigel acknowledged the team’s efforts and achievements so far this season, speaking to iFollow Stags after the encounter: “It feels a bit raw at the moment. We haven’t experienced this feeling since the end of last season, losing a game.

“We wanted to break it [the club’s record unbeaten run] and that’s what hurts as much as anything. We couldn’t quite do it but it’s unbelievable to be here on the 31st of October and say that’s the first game we’ve lost this season in all competitions. I’m incredibly proud.

“[We’ll] lick our wounds and put it behind us. That’s the most important thing now, we don’t dwell on it and we get ready for Wrexham on Saturday.”


Despite Mansfield’s achievements, Nigel felt his side could have reached a much higher gear in the first half of the cup clash.

“We didn’t get into our stride at all in the first half,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the occasion. We went too long too early and panicked on the ball.

“You saw the extra bit of quality and composure from League One players as opposed to League Two players. But, it’s a brilliant experience as that’s where we are hoping to play our football.

“I thought we started well in the second half. Their goal came from their first shot in that period, from distance as well. [I was] a bit disappointed by the way it went in but I thought after that, the crowd got behind us and we had a real go at them.”

Nigel highlighted the performance of 22-year-old Lewis Brunt who put in a strong performance at centre-half up against experienced opposition striker Uche Ikpeazu in the match. He was also highly encouraged by the return of Rhys Oates to the side.

“It was brilliant to get him [Oates] back on the pitch and Stephen McLaughlin too,” he said.

“That was the main plus from today, and I thought the form of young Lewis Brunt as well. It was a difficult one with him and Baily [Cargill] again, it always is, but I thought the way he played belied his age and I thought he put in a very mature performance.”


Nigel Clough on Lucas Akins, Tues 31 Oct 2023:
"He's got a small fracture just below his eye. We're hoping he'll have an operation and may just miss Saturday and Salford if all goes well."


Bitter disappointment as run ends, but Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said it was important to quickly put tonight’s defeat behind them
CHAD.CO.UK, By John Lomas, Tues 31 Oct 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough said it was important his players quickly put tonight's Carabao Cup exit behind them as they tasted defeat for the first time in 19 games this season.

Visiting League One side Port Vale were 1-0 winners in the Mansfield fog to deny Stags a place in the quarter-finals and it also ended hopes of beating the club's all-time 20-game unbeaten record which they equalled on Saturday taking last season's last day win into account too.

“It feels a bit raw as we have not experienced this feeling since the end of last season, losing a game,” said Clough.

“We wanted to break the club record tonight which hurts as much as anything as well as getting into the last eight.

“But to be here on the 31st October and say that's the first game we've lost all season in all competitions I am incredibly proud.


“The most important thing now is to quickly out this behind us. We mustn't dwell on it. We need to get ready for Wrexham on Saturday now and do everything we can to get through in the FA Cup.

“I didn't think we did ourselves anywhere near justice in that first half.”

He continued: “Ironically I thought we started well in the second half and the goal came from their first shot in that period - and from distance as well. I was a bit disappointed the way it went in.

“After that I thought the crowd got behind us and we had a real go at them, especially when the subs came on.

“We didn't get into our stride at all in the first half. I don't know if it was the occasion. We went too long too early and looked a bit panicked on the ball.

“But give the opposition credit with the way they closed down and you saw the extra bit of quality and composure from League One players.

“It was a brilliant experience as that is where we are aiming to try to play our football.

“They probably had the strongest side they have had out for a few weeks.”


Mansfield Town aiming to bounce back from first defeat to see off Wrexham in FA Cup showdown
CHAD.CO.UK, By John Lomas, Tues 31 Oct 2023

Smarting from seeing their 19 game unbeaten start to the season halted, Mansfield Town must quickly go again on Saturday as they welcome promotion rivals Wrexham to the One Call Stadium for a live televised evening kick-off in the FA Cup first round (7.45).

Stags tasted defeat for the first time on Tuesday as Port Vale beat them 1-0 in the Carabao Cup fourth round.

It meant they had at least equalled a club record of 20 games unbeaten when added to the win in last season's final game.

Wrexham drew 0-0 with Stags at the One Call a month ago and have been unbeaten since then and sit one place and one point above Mansfield, who have a game in hand.


“I am expecting a good game between two of the top sides in League Two,” said boss Nigel Clough.

“Wrexham will be rested after the full seven days or whatever and I am sure they will have loved the endeavour we put in on Tuesday night.

“For us, it would be nice to not lose back to back games, so we will give it a good go and get ready for it.

“I hope the magnitude of the game on Saturday night will lift the players after Tuesday. It's what the FA Cup can bring if you can get through a couple of rounds and we'd like to stay in it if we can.

“It is one of those occasions where you wish you had drawn someone about four leagues below you at home. It would be a slightly easier draw than one of the best teams, but it is what it is.

“We are out of one cup, let's not go out of both. We still have the EFL Trophy too on Tuesday, but the league still remains our priority.”

Stags missed striker Lucas Akins on Tuesday as he was ruled out following a bang to the head at the weekend.

But the Vale game did see two Stags returning from injury make appearances off the bench in striker Rhys Oates and left back Stephen McLaughlin.

“When you lose someone of Lucas Akins' influence and ability from the team it is very important we have Rhys Oates coming back. Thirty minutes was about as much as he could do on Tuesday night,” said Clough.

“But we were delighted to get him back involved and you could see the threat he poses as soon as he on.

“Oatesy was inches away from getting us an equaliser on Tuesday. He just tried to dink it over the goalkeeper, but his touch took him half a yard too far.

“But we have been missing that threat at times so hopefully he can stay fit for the next few months.

“Stephen McLaughlin is just working his way back too and it's next Tuesday against Everton U21 in the EFL Trophy when they will start. But it's great having them back involved.”

He continued: “Now we want another cup run if we can.

“It is difficult to challenge on all fronts as we have been doing for the last 19 games in all competitions - and we are incredibly proud of that.

“So we will now give it a go in the FA Cup and the EFL Trophy - they are the two that are left.

“We will play players when we need to and give players a breather when we need to.

“Ideally you'd like a clear week leading up to the FA Cup first round as it is such an important tie. We didn't get that, but hopefully getting these players back will give us a couple more options.

“It was a great atmosphere under the lights against Port Vale and our crowd really got behind us second half. We are going to need that again Saturday night.”


Mansfield manager Nigel Clough told BBC Radio Nottingham:

"I didn't think we were too good in the first half. That's probably the worst we've played in quite some time, we did well to get in 0-0 at half-time - it was a relief.

"They were a yard sharper, they are League One players not League Two players and it looked like it at times, the calmness on the ball.

"We never really got to grips with them in the first half - though we had three or four situations, but we couldn't score.

"I thought the second half was much more even - we started the second half well and the goal came a little against the run of play. We thought we could have a go at them in the second half and we did."


Port Vale boss Andy Crosby told BBC Radio Five Live:

"It's a great achievement for the whole club. From the owners, who have invested so much time and effort into the club to try and drag it from where it was, because it was in a really bad place when they took over.

"It's also a great reward for a group of players who are learning as we're going along. Tonight's performance was probably as well as we have played - I thought we were really incisive with the ball.

"We knew it was a massive challenge, we came in not full of confidence, they were full of confidence. The rewards were huge, for both teams, for one of us to get to the last eight and create history was immense.

"We've been saying since we beat Fleetwood in round one that the potential reward is to get one of the big boys. I think it would be remiss of me as a League One manager to say who I'd want to play out of six Premier League teams. We'll see what the draw gives us - it's a game for us to look forward to."


Port Vale boss Andy Crosby proud as his ‘underdogs’ clinch first ever Carabao Cup quarter-final with win at Mansfield Town
CHAD.CO.UK, By John Lomas, Tues 31 Oct 2023

A beaming Andy Crosby said his League One Port Vale side had come to Mansfield Town as underdogs but did him proud as the club booked their first ever Carabao Cup quarter-final with a 1-0 win.

Alfie Devine's 50th minute strike won the tie for a side who have lost five and drawn one of their last six League One games and Crosby said: “It feels incredible to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in the club's 147 year history. It is an amazing achievement and well deserved.

“We were the better team. We came here as underdogs as our level of performances and results recently have been poor.

“We were poor on Saturday and there was a lot of frustration from all of us. But the only place you can respond is not with words but out on the pitch where it matters and every single player that represented us tonight was immense and the performance was really good.


“It is a reward for everyone connected with the football club from the owners, who has developed and grown the club on and off the pitch, to everyone who works at the club and a group of players and staff who have made history.”

He added: “We are trying to play in a way that is going to take time. Will we always win? Unfortunately not. But I am going to be consistent with it.

“We had to go right to the end. We've been here before where we've played well in the first half and not taken our opportunities.

“We had to put our foot on the gas and go again and it was an outstanding goal by Alfie Devine. It was well executed and a great finish.

“My first season as a manager has been a rollercoaster. But I will be consistent and I want us to try to develop a style, play through teams and dominate the ball and stick together through the tough times.”


Alfie Devine: Port Vale's Carabao Cup match-winner relives his knockout moment

Port Vale match-winner Alfie Devine says his knockout moment at Mansfield was reward for his previously out-of-form side's best display of the season.

The pre-match prospects for League One side Vale against the high-flying Stags did not look good after a poor run.

It was even considered an upset that the men from Burslem had won.

But on-loan Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Devine will not forget the moment he fired Vale to a first-ever EFL Cup quarter-final.

"The gap sort of opened up for me," he told BBC Radio Stoke. "And I just thought 'why not?'"


Devine's 50th-minute winner was Vale's just desserts for the growing confidence they took from their first-half performance at Field Mill, having picked up just one point from their previous six league games.

Andy Crosby's side had slipped to 16th in the table, and were away from home against Nigel Clough's big, strong Mansfield side who had not lost in 19 games this season - the only unbeaten record in the country.

The Stags sit fourth in League Two and had been averaging close to 20 shots per game throughout October.

But England Under-20 international Devine, who had also scored in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Cheltenham, said: "The way we moved the ball in the first half was the best I've seen us all season."

"The second half was then more about 'how much do we want it?' and the grit and the determination.

"Everyone knows the run we've been on and, in some games, we've been unlucky and very hard done by, especially the Stevenage game.

"But we were absolutely brilliant. And the Vale fans were superb from the first minute. Even in the warm-up. They gave us our 12th man - and we showed what we can do."

Devine has started more league games for Vale from the bench since his late August deadline arrival from Spurs, but he was deployed by boss Crosby in a revamped three-man midfield alongside fellow Premier League loan man Oliver Arblaster and experienced Belgian Funso Ojo.

"It was the first time we've played together as a three," he said. "When I came I was made to feel comfortable by the lads but maybe it was always going to take time.

"It was about showing what I can do and the last two games I've shown a bit of what I'm about."

Vale and Tuesday's other victors Middlesbrough will know who they play in the quarter-finals after the other six fourth-round ties on Wednesday - but there are 10 Premier League sides left in, including Fulham, who beat Devine's parent club Spurs on penalties in round two.

Alfie Devine was talking to BBC Radio Stoke's Phil Bowers.