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Archived News from March 2024

CLOUGH ON SALFORD+NEWPORT, + LEWIS INTERVIEW
3rd March 2024 23:53


Gaffer: Goalscoring entertainment is ‘brilliant’ for supporters
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 27 Feb 2024

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side’s free-scoring results in recent weeks are ‘brilliant’ for the Stags’ supporters to see.

Mansfield are now Sky Bet League Two’s top scorers after a month of 20 goals scored in February, resulting in four wins from five matches.

Stags are top of the division and travel to Newport this Saturday in excellent form.

Speaking to iFollow Stags this morning, the boss said: “Our main focus [at] the end of last season and the start of this season was to concede less, to get a good defensive record, because we thought we scored enough goals.

“We thought with the way that we play, we’ll always create chances.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2024/february/gaffer-goalscoring-entertainment-is-brilliant-for--supporters/

“It’s lovely that we’ve got that many goals.

“I think it’s brilliant for the supporters as well.

“Home and away, we’ve tried to play the same and we’ve tried to attack.”

Stags also boast the best defence in the fourth tier, conceding just 29 times.

“If we’re good, and we’re on it, we know we’re a match for anybody,” Nigel said.

“It’s [about] making sure that we’re in that state.

“We’ve done it for the majority of the last 33 games so it’s making sure that we say to the players: ‘keep doing what you’re doing, if you can work even harder’.

“We should be okay in the next thirteen games [if the players do that].

“If we step off it, then that’s when we have a problem.”

When asked if February has been the month of the season so far, the gaffer replied: “Yeah because of the return of the points and certainly goals [it’s been the month of the season so far].

“I think we’ve been threatening to score the [amounts of] goals for most of the season.

“We’ve had plenty of games where we’ve had twenty-plus shots and not finished enough of them [the opposition] off.

“We’ve had a good month where confidence plays a big part in that, and we’ve got our rewards.”

The manager went on to praise One Call Stadium’s electric atmosphere in his side’s latest victory - a 5-1 rout over Salford last Saturday.

“It was brilliant - probably as good as we’ve known it.

“I think because we got pegged back as well at 1-1 but it was a brilliant goal.

“It was so important to get that [Baily Cargill] goal in added time at the end of the first-half.

“In an ideal world you want your supporters behind both goals.

“It was lovely to see them and a few more than the Harrogate game. When the away team aren’t bringing too many, it’s ideal to get a few of our home fans in there.”

On the injury latest, Nigel said: “Elliott [Hewitt] is back in full training but will need a good couple of weeks and then build-up from there.

“We have a reserve game after the MK Dons game, so he’ll play 45 minutes in that to continue his comeback.

“James Gale is in full training he just needs half a game also.

“It’s good to have them back if we need them.”

The boss finished with his assessment on Saturday’s opponents, Newport County.

“I think they’re quite an unpredictable side,” he said.

“They’re one of those teams that on their day are as good as anybody.

“They certainly can play as we found last season and they put a lot of balls in your penalty area when they’re at home so you have to deal with that but they have a good mix.”

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Table-topping Mansfield Town start possible season-defining run of five games in 15 days
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 27 Feb 2024

New League Two leaders Mansfield Town will hope to follow a fantastic February with a magic March as they begin a possible season-defining run of five games in 15 days.

The hectic spell begins with a trip to Newport County on Saturday followed by a home clash with promotion rivals MK Dons on Tuesday as Stags try to build on a February that saw them score 20 goals in their five games after Saturday's 5-1 drubbing of Salford City.

“This start to March you would think is very much season-defining as after that we'll be down to just eight games,” said boss Nigel Clough.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/table-topping-mansfield-town-start-possible-season-defining-run-of-five-games-in-15-days-4534565

“So those five games in 15 days will go an awful long way to deciding where we're going to be at the end of April.”

Four of the five games are against sides in the bottom half of the table, but Clough said: “We know how tough it is against anybody, and we do have a pretty good record against teams in the top seven or eight, bar Crewe.

“I don't honestly think league position matters too much at this stage of the season. You saw Salford on Saturday just come and play with freedom.

“They can't go up or go down so they just come and play and cause you a lot of problems at time.”

A Davis Keillor-Dunn brace saw off Saturday's opponents Newport at home in November and Clough said: “Without a doubt Newport are now a better side than when we played them earlier in the season.

“I think they are quite an unpredictable side. They are one of those teams that, on their day, are as good as anybody.

“They lost 3-0 at MK Dons on Saturday so we will have to be careful of the reaction from that.

“Newport have a bit of everything. They can certainly play. And they put a lot of balls into the penalty area so you have to deal with that.”

On the big win over Salford, Clough said: “We were obviously thrilled with the victory and the manner of it.

“To score five goals in any game is some going and I am pleased we kept going right to the end and scored the fifth one in added time. There was no reason to let up.

“It was a very open and entertaining game with the way Salford play. So it was a case of trying to restrict them while not sitting back and still creating ourselves.

“Having lost at Walsall we are very aware of how fragile this success can be. Anybody can beat us and we can beat anybody in this league this season. That certainly applies to the last 13 games.

“We have to play MK Dons twice in that time and they are probably the form team at the moment. So we're taking absolutely nothing for granted in any game.

“If we are good and we are on it then we know we're a match for anybody. It's making sure we are in that state.

“We have done it for the majority of the last 33 games, so players must keep doing what they're doing and, if they can, work even harder both defensively and attacking-wise. If they do we should be okay in the next 13 games.

“If we step off it then that's when we have a problem.”

He added: “February was probably our best month so far with the return of points and certainly the number of goals. We'd been threatening to score the goals most of the season.

“We've had plenty of games with 20-plus shots, but not finished them off. We've just had a good month where a lot of what we've hit went in and confidence plays a big part in that.

“The atmosphere on Saturday was probably as good as we have known it.

“It definitely helps having your supporters behind both goals.”

Clough will take a strong squad to Newport which could soon be further bolstered for the run-in.

“Elliott Hewitt and James Gale are back in full training and they will get 45 minutes in a reserves game in a week or so to build their comebacks,” he said.

“It's good to have them back if we need them.”

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Nigel Clough: Mansfield Town will 'work harder' to stay top of League Two
BBC Sport, By Andrew Aloia

Mansfield Town's free-scoring form has sent them top of League Two, but boss Nigel Clough says only an unflinching work ethic will seal promotion.

The Stags are among the most prolific in the fourth tier, and only Arsenal have matched their 25 goals in 2024 so far in England's professional leagues.

They also have League Two's best defence, conceding just 29 goals.

"The only thing we need to do is actually increase everything we do," Clough said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/68418358?xtor=AL-73-%5Bpartner%5D-%5BBBC+England%5D-%5Bheadline%5D-%5Bnews%5D-%5Bbizdev%5D-%5Bisapi%5D&at_campaign=Social_Flow&at_link_origin=BBCNottingham&at_medium=social&at_campaign_type=owned&at_ptr_name=twitter&at_format=link&at_link_type=web_link&at_bbc_team=editorial&at_link_id=C6CE6010-D6F1-11EE-9BE1-1F884B3AC5C4

"We have to work even harder in the next 13 games.

"All these things, being [second] top goalscorers, having the best defensive record, if we have got those and don't achieve our aim at the end of the season, it will be worthless really.

"We have done nothing so far apart from being top after two thirds of the season."

Clough on being 'showmen Stags'
What they did do was hit an incredible 20 goals in February, a month that included a club record-equalling 9-2 demolition of Harrogate.

In that game, Mansfield registered 23 shots - a tally bettered with 28 against Salford in another merciless 5-1 triumph at the weekend.

When asked if being the 'showmen Stags' was a moniker Mansfield would be happy with, Clough laughed as he said: "I don't know about that.

"We are not getting into that and we just want a point or three against Newport on Saturday. Nothing else.

"Supporters seem to be enjoying coming to watch us, we are getting close to full houses. I think there is a good feeling about, but we have to maintain that for the next couple of months."

Apart from one night spent at the top of League Two early in the 2015-16 season, this is the highest Mansfield have been in the football pyramid since their relegation from the third division 21 years ago.

Former Sheffield United, Derby County and Burton Albion boss Clough took charge of Mansfield when they were third from bottom in November 2020, and has had them chasing promotion ever since.

Mansfield were beaten by Port Vale in the 2022 play-off final and last season they fell a goal short of another play-off campaign.

Soon after the near miss, he signed a one-year contract extension knowing the Stags had been "nicely building" as promotion contenders.

The former England, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Manchester City striker says being league leaders - having twice previously missed chances to go to the summit in recent weeks - will inevitably change things for a side that has been in constant pursuit of others in recent years.

"It's a different thing being top compared to when you are chasing," Clough said.

"And it will be for the opposition as well. You are up there to be shot at now.

"It becomes a bigger scalp for a team to beat the one at the top of the league.

"We sensed it a bit at Walsall. We were 1-1 and our fans were singing 'we are top' with Stockport losing, and you sort of sensed the Walsall players and crowd go 'just a minute, let's knock these lot off their perch'.

"But we have made it now and the challenge is to stay there."

And his message to players as they cope with that new pressure is to "work harder and deal with it".

"And the way you deal with it is to actually double down on what we have been doing, and make sure you are prepared for that," Clough continued.

"You know teams are going to put maybe another 10% in."

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Lewis: Competitive squad key to current league position
mansfieldtown.net, Tues 27 Feb 2024

Midfielder Aaron Lewis says Stags’ ‘competitive squad’ is a significant factor in Mansfield’s impressive form ahead of his prospective return to previous club Newport County this Saturday at Rodney Parade.

The versatile performer has enjoyed a bright opening campaign in amber and blue, and highlighted the squad’s quality and competitive nature as one of the reasons for Stags’ current top league position in Sky Bet League Two.

Speaking to iFollow Stags in a news conference today, Aaron said: “It’s great. We have such a competitive squad; we can make changes every game and still put a really good team out there.

“Everyone is on the same page.

https://www.mansfieldtown.net/news/2024/february/lewis-competitive-squad-key-to-current-league-position/

“This season, we’re in a great position in the league.

“The way we’re playing is paying off but we can’t get ahead of ourselves.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground and keep doing what we’ve been doing up until this point.

“Everyone is working really hard in training whether you’re starting or not.

“Everyone wants to come away with three points.

“H [Hiram Boateng] has gone in [and performed well since starting against Harrogate] and has done so well since he’s gone in.

“Everyone is buzzing but everyone knew that he could do that at any moment.

“It’s no surprise to us really.

“You always want competition for places, and I think we have got that in abundance here - keeping each other on it every day.

“You know you have got to perform to be in that team on the weekend.”

On his season so far, he added: “I have enjoyed every minute of it.

“The team is doing really well which helps settle me in.

“We’re in a great position and we are ready to keep on going as well.”

Mansfield won four matches from five games in February, scoring 20 times.

“It’s [February] been fairly good I would say,” said the midfielder.

“I think we scored the most goals that the club have scored for a long time [nine against Harrogate] but nothing has changed from what we’ve been doing all season.

“I think we’re obviously just putting more chances away if you look at the goals and the shots; we’ve been creating all season so we’re just putting them away and it has been coming with the way that we have stuck to our style of play.”

The Welshman went on to assess this weekend’s opponents, and Aaron’s former side, Newport County.

“I always keep an eye on how they’re doing, I think they’ve been on quite a good run.

“At the end of the day, it’s about us.

“Wherever the team is in the table, sometimes it doesn’t reflect how they have been playing or how good they are as a squad.

“I think we’ve just got to try and make sure we’re doing the things that we’re doing.”

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Battle for Mansfield Town starting places is amazing says midfielder Aaron Lewis
chad.co.uk, By John Lomas, Tues 27 Feb 2024

Mansfield Town midfielder Aaron Lewis said the battle for places in the matchday squad is intense as Stags chase the League Two title.

Stags will again have a hugely strong bench as they head for Lewis' former club Newport County on Saturday and he said: “The competition for places is amazing and we just push each other on every day. It is a real working environment, which is great.

“You have to perform well every day in training and every game that comes around to keep your place in the squad.

https://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/battle-for-mansfield-town-starting-places-is-amazing-says-midfielder-aaron-lewis-4534664

“Everyone wants to be starting, but whether you're in or out the team, coming off the bench or not in the squad at all, if the team comes away with three points then that is the main goal. That's what everyone is looking for.

“Everyone is just bouyant. You know you can call on anyone at any point and they are ready to deliver the same as the person who was in before.

“Look at 'H' (Hiram Boateng). He's not played that much this season but he came straight in and has done fantastic.

“We have no bad eggs. Everyone is a great lad on and off the pitch. We have great team morale.”

The 5-1 win over Salford City last weekend saw Mansfield finally reach the top of the table.

But Lewis said: “We have been in and around it the whole season, so going top doesn't really change anything mentally. It's not a crazy jump.

“We just have to keep doing what we've been doing that has got us to that point and not get ahead of ourselves.

“We have to keep performing week in, week out and take it game by game.

“We have a strong, experienced squad and everyone has been around enough to know it's not done until it's done. We still have a long way to go.

“It's definitely a good time to be a Mansfield Town player, but I don't think it's changed since I came in here. It's been a great time to be a Mansfield Town player since I walked through the door and saw the squad we had.

“Everyone made me feel welcome and I think we've stayed exactly the same throughout the season.

“Seeing how Mansfield did the last couple of years, it is a team that wants to push to get promoted.

“So it has definitely delivered what I expected coming here.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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