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23rd November 2020 23:31

First league win has lifted spirits, says boss
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 19th November 2020

Manager Nigel Clough says his players have brought an ‘added buzz’ to training this week, following Saturday’s first league win of the season away at Forest Green Rovers.

For the first time since his arrival, the boss has enjoyed a week of training with no midweek fixture, as the Stags prepare for Friday night’s home match against Colchester.

Nigel Clough says that he has noticed a ‘huge lift’ in training, after Mansfield earned three points in Gloucestershire at the weekend.

“Everything has lifted this week and everyone has come in with a smile on their face,” he told iFollow Stags. “When you win matches at a football club, the players come in for training with that added buzz.

“It’s wonderful to see. It was great to see them after the [Forest Green] game on Saturday - normally we would go in straight away, but we left them for a few minutes to enjoy that feeling, which was important.

“They’ve been close to it [league win] in the last few weeks, but to get there away from home at Forest Green, it’s given everybody a huge lift.

“We had a couple of days off as the lads were shattered after the game. We’ve had a couple of good training sessions this week - we’re trying to slowly instil in the players what we want from them.


“You can’t bombard them with too much information too soon. You have to drip feed it in and that’s why it takes time to get your ideas over to them.”

The manager says he wants to see more of the ‘positivity’ displayed by his charges in the first-half of Saturday’s game, during which the Stags raced into a two-goal lead.

“We saw the positivity that we are looking for in the first-half at Forest Green,” he added. “It was nice to go and get those two goals, which meant when we had to defend in the second-half, we were defending a two-goal lead.

“We want to see more of what we saw in the first-half at Forest Green. We want to take the game to teams when we can and play with a bit more freedom.

“That’s the most difficult aspect when you’re down there, to play with that freedom. That’s why if we can get ourselves to a position of relative safety, the players can really relax and play a bit more.

“It’s going to be a battle. It doesn’t matter how you get the results - if you come under the cosh and end up getting the three points, that’s all that matters at the moment.”

After Thursday’s announcement that EFL clubs are now able to make five substitutions per match, the boss shared his thoughts on the rule change.

“It [new rule] just gives you more options once the game is in play. It means that if you make two together early on in the game and want to make a third, you’ve still got more options up your sleeve.

“I think for some of the teams that have the luxury of going ahead by two or three goals, it gives them an opportunity to blood some youngsters, which is always a good thing.”

Nigel Clough also looked ahead to Friday evening’s contest against Colchester in Sky Bet League Two. He said: “We will try to approach the game and be as positive as we can - home and away.

“If we can, we want to be positive and go forward, as we were in the first-half at Forest Green. If we can get a goal or two ahead, it’s much easier defending a lead, rather than chasing one.

“They [Colchester] are an extremely good team and they are another team, like Forest Green, who have settled into a pattern of play.

“They are one of those teams that are more than capable of being up there around the top six or seven.”

There was also an update on midfielder George Maris, who was substituted during the first-half of Saturday’s win due to a rib injury.

“He [Maris] has not done anything [in training] so far. His ribs are sore - he’s had an x-ray and they’re not fractured or cracked, which is good news.

“It’s very much a comfort thing. Anyone that has had a rib injury will tell you that it can be very uncomfortable for quite some time.

“Sleeping is the most difficult thing as every time you turn over, you just get pain. Until he feels right, I think he’ll be unlikely to be involved.

“It’s just Joe [Riley who remains injured]. Everyone else has come through training this week and we’ll have pretty much the same squad [for Colchester].”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Nigel Clough’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


“It gives you more options!” Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough welcomes five substitutes rule
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 19th November 2020

Stags and Colchester United to become first EFL teams allowed to make additional changes this season...

Nigel Clough has welcomed the option of using up to as many as five substitutes in a league match.

Mansfield Town and Colchester United will be the first clubs allowed to do just that this season when they meet at One Call Stadium tomorrow (KO 7pm).

Yesterday the EFL announced the rule change, allowing teams to make two additional substitutions, which comes into effect from noon tomorrow.


"It gives you more options on the day," Clough said.

"I think it will be a bit of a luxury and probably suit the teams who are 2-0 or 3-0 up with 10-15 minutes to go. They can use that as a chance to rest players.

"I'm not sure we'll have that luxury too many times."

However, Clough does believe that the new ruling will also allow managers to throw a little more caution to the wind.

"When you've made your three substitutions after 70-75 minutes and somebody gets injured, you now have that spare one or two that really helps," he added.

"Normally if you make two subs you're a little bit reluctant to make that third one in case you get an injury.

"It seems to make sense and probably should have been in place from the start of the season."

The rule change does not allow managers to run down the clock by making five substitutions on separate occasions as those changes must be condensed into up to three different substitutions.

However, there's nothing to stop the dug-out making sweeping changes if things aren't going to plan.

"I think a few managers, probably including myself, would like to change five or six at half time sometimes, you can now," Clough said with a smile. "It'll be interesting to see if anybody does that.

"If there's a particular department in the team that isn't performing at half time you have the opportunity to replace them all."


"I wish there was some fans coming in now!" Nigel Clough welcomes plans for Mansfield Town supporters to return
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 19th November 2020

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has welcomed plans to get fans back into elite sport.

The Stags - like all clubs from the Premier League down to the National League North and South - have been playing behind closed doors so far this campaign due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

However, it has been reported that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have submitted proposals to the Government to allow some supporters back into stadiums as early as next month.


To enforce social distancing rules, the number of people allowed to attend games would be limited.

But Clough - who noted Northern Ireland used a disinfecting pod to allow 1,060 supporters into the national stadium to watch their Euro play-off against Slovakia last week - would love to have fans back in the One Call Stadium stands.

"It'd be great," he said. "I think it'd be on a percentage basis - there won't be full houses or anything - but to get some crowds back in would be great."I think it was 1,000 in Northern Ireland. Just anybody in the stadium at all will certainly help."

The power to influence a game of football from the stands can be immense, but until supporters can return Clough says the impetus is on his squad to set the tone.

"It is very unusual. It's got a pre-season feel about it," the manager said about playing in eerily silent stadiums.

"The onus is on the players to try and generate some sort of atmosphere within the game.

"You can't generate crowd atmosphere but you can generate that sort of competitiveness within the game, which is absolutely necessary."

Clough will take charge of his first home game as Stags boss tomorrow night as Colchester United are the visitors to One Call Stadium (KO 7pm).

His only previous memory of the ground was masterminding a 2-1 victory with Burton Albion on their way to winning the Conference title in 2009.

But the noise around the place made a lasting impression on the new boss.

"I remember there being a great atmosphere," Clough added.

"And that's the only regret, I wish there was some fans coming in now.

"It's difficult (as an away team at Mansfield). It's a partisan atmosphere, and you know in the home crowd get behind the team.

"A few good few thousand of them, it can be quite an intimidating place as well."


Nigel Clough wants to mark first home game with three points - but Mansfield Town will have to battle for them against Colchester United
chad.co.uk, By Duncan Browne, Thursday 19th November 2020

The Stags host Colchester United this evening (KO 7pm) on the back of a three-game winning run, but Clough still expects a tough test against the side currently seventh in League Two.

The U's have only lost twice from their 11 league games, narrow away defeats at Carlisle United (3-2) and Newport County (2-1).


"I think they've got a very strong home record and they're a very good team," Clough said, looking to build upon Saturday's opening league victory, a 2-1 win at Forest Green Rovers.

"They'll be similar to Forest Green in the way they get it down knock it about.

"Like all League Two games we're going to have to battle to get anything at all."

Clough hopes his side will go into the match buoyed by that win at the the New Lawn.

"Seeing the players' faces afterwards, the delight of finally getting the three points and the monkey off their back," he added.

"It was absolutely evident for everybody to see. Hopefully we can take it into the next few games."

Following wins on the road against Sunderland in the FA Cup, Scunthorpe United in the EFL Trophy and Forest Green, Clough hopes that form can now translate to a home contest.

Having watched their last came at One Call Stadium, the 1-1 draw with Walsall, Clough is confident the squad have the ability to perform at home, where their last victory came in a 1-0 victory over Newport County in February.

He added: "I saw the game at home to Walsall where the players were unlucky not to win.

"It'd be nice to get that first home win. I wish there was a crowd there, like everybody in football.

"That would be nice. We always like night games as well under the floodlights. Even with no supporters, I think it's still a better atmosphere."


Goalkeeper describes training under new boss
mansfieldtown.net, Thursday 19th November 2020

After the first full week of training under Nigel Clough, goalkeeper Marek Stech has discussed the ‘very competitive’ sessions staged by the new boss.

The former Luton Town shot-stopper was named as man of the match in the amber and blue’s most recent outing, a hard-earned 2-1 win away at Forest Green Rovers.

Stech, speaking in Thursday morning’s news conference at The RH Academy, says that the appointment of Nigel Clough has ‘changed the mood’ in the Mansfield camp.

“The new gaffer coming in has changed the mood,” he told iFollow Stags. “Everyone is coming in to training with a smile on their face and is happy.

“Everyone knows their jobs and it’s really important for the team. We’ve been in the season for two or three months now and everyone has settled in.

“It’s been a massive change for us in the last few games. Training is very competitive - you have to fight.


“It’s almost like a game, as you have to fight for your place every time you go to train. The sessions are very difficult and hard, but they’re really enjoyable.

“All of the boys enjoy it and it’s really good.”

The Czech goalkeeper reflected on Saturday’s ‘important’ first league win of the campaign.

“I think the [Forest Green] game was so important for us,” he said. “It was a really tough game in very tough conditions.

“I would have to say that it was one of the best games I’ve had since I joined this club. The boys were brilliant and we were really solid throughout the game.

“They scored late on but we were very solid for the final minutes, which was really important for the team and me individually.

“It was really difficult because of the conditions, but we dealt with it well and finally got our first [league] win. Everyone wanted it and it was one we needed.

“The season has been up and down, but for the last few games, we’ve been really solid. We’ve been working really hard and the new gaffer [Nigel Clough] has helped us massively.”

The 30-year-old also spoke of the recent change of formation, which has seen the Stags line up with a four-man defence, rather than a back-five.

“When you play three-at-the-back, there can be gaps on both sides. Having a back-four is a bit more solid and you can stop the crosses more often.

“There have been a few players changing their positions - Perchy [James Perch] has stepped in as a centre-back, which I think has worked really well.

“He [Perch] brings experience - he’s played at the highest level. He talks on the pitch and is very demanding.

“He knows where to be at the right time - he drives us and we communicate well together, which is important for us at the back.

“I feel as we’re not as open as we were before. We defend much better [with a back-four] and we want to keep it that way.”

Stech then previewed Friday night’s league match at home to Colchester United, adding: “It will be a really difficult game as they [Colchester] are a decent team. They were obviously in the play-offs last year.

“They’re seventh in the table, so obviously it’s going to be a difficult game.

“We need to stick to our game plan and stick to our formation, and stick to the way we played in the last four or five games. We need to win the game.”

iFollow Stags subscribers can watch Marek’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.


Steve Ball preparing for tough test at Mansfield

Colchester United will travel to a resurgent Mansfield side knowing that they could go third with a win.

The U's moved themselves into the play-off places for the first time this season after a 2-1 home win against Leyton Orient last weekend, with all the results going the way of Steve Ball's side.

And they could push themselves even higher this weekend, albeit just for Friday night.

But it will be a tough test against a Mansfield side who have been in good shape since appointing Nigel Clough as their manager three weeks ago. Prior to his arrival, they hadn't won a game of any description all season, but three games into his tenure, they have won all three.

Despite the position that Mansfield sit in the table, Steve Ball is still wary of the threats that Friday night's opponents will present to his team.

"They're a really strong side. They have invested heavily, and Nigel has gone in and picked that up and got them winning straight away." -Steve Ball

"They're a good side with a good sqaud, with a competitive budget. I'm sure they'll be up there this season, I know they are down there at the moment but as we all know in this league, a string of wins can get you up there straight away."

Speaking about his own side, Ball has said he wants his players to take the opportunities when they come with Friday night being the perfect example.

"We have a chance to go third. Last week I said we had a chance to get in the play-offs if we beat Orient, we did that and results went our way. If it can happen again to go third, let's take that chance."

"I'd much rather be in it than chasing it, I think there is a different psyche in that. I think it brings a little bit more pressure to be chasing rather than being in. If we want to go up this year, and have that ambition to go up, let's get in there as soon as we can."