Boss Nigel Clough has challenged his side to ‘finish the season well,’ with just six games remaining in the 2020/21 Sky Bet League Two campaign.
The Stags’ boss says that, as well as ‘getting safe,’ a strong end to the season is ‘psychologically’ important heading into the next term.
Speaking in Thursday morning’s news conference, the manager previewed Friday’s clash with Newport County at One Call Stadium, as well as placing importance on Stags’ ‘home form’ in the season’s run-in.
“All the teams that are up there have adapted and adjusted, and have the capabilities of playing different ways with whatever’s needed,” he began.
“Newport have been building for a few seasons and I think they’re at this stage now where they have a very good chance of going up. They just keep building and knocking on the door.
“I think when we’ve scrapped it out with teams at the bottom, for example Grimsby was a battle, we’re maybe not that sort of team. That’s where we have to be more adaptable, to deal with those sorts of teams.
“But I want us to play and have an identity of our own. Even though we haven’t won in the last few weeks, the pattern of play and the shape, you can see what we’re trying to do.
“We just need someone to grab us a goal and [for the team to make] no daft mistakes. We’ve lost two out of the last eight and they [losses] are both self-inflicted.
“We turn a few of those draws into wins [as well] and we’ll find ourselves at the other end of the table.
“We have played well at home, and I think it’s important to go into the summer playing well at home.
“If you finish the season well, you can’t wait to start the season again on 07 August. It’s important psychologically as well as getting safe.
“We just need to get that win and two draws or whatever might be needed. These draws, as frustrating as they are when we’re trying to win the games, they just keep those points ticking over.”
Looking back on Monday’s encouraging draw away at play-off hopefuls Exeter City, the manager discussed the strike partnership of Jordan Bowery and Tyrese Sinclair, the first time the pair have led the line for Mansfield this season.
“We just needed to make a few changes to try and solidify things and get that clean sheet, but without sacrificing going forward. I thought we did that.
“We didn’t want to be negative or invite Exeter on. We dealt with their direct play and we looked a threat going forward ourselves.
“I thought they [Jordan Bowery and Tyrese Sinclair] did very well. It was probably Jordan’s best game for a few weeks, as he really put himself about and won his headers.
“He [Bowery] upset the centre-halves, which is something he should do more of with his pace and his strength.
“The contrast with Ty, playing in little pockets as well as running beyond, it was a good partnership.
“He got two yellow cards [given] to defenders for fouls against him. He looked a threat and I thought he had a very, very strong shout for a penalty.”
On Wednesday, it was announced that season ticket holders for the current campaign will receive a free, complimentary 2021/22 third shirt, as a token of thanks for their unwavering support in an unprecedented season.
The boss offered his thoughts on the gesture from owners John and Carolyn Radford, adding: “I think it [third shirt gesture] is brilliant. It’s a fitting thank you to the supporters who did buy season tickets in these circumstances.
“It’s great that every season ticket holder is going to have their name on it – it’s something they can keep and look back on.
“It also hopefully hails the start of happier times.”
There was also an injury update from the boss ahead of Friday’s clash with Newport, as well as an update on defender Joe Riley, who has been sidelined since pre-season with an ACL injury.
“Just Oli Sarkic [is unavailable]. Everyone else should be fit, so it’s a fully fit squad apart from that. Everyone seems to have come through the Easter games unscathed.
“He [Riley] has had a little clean out operation of his knee. That’s cleared up with a simple op and hopefully he’s back on schedule for pre-season, which he’ll be invited back to do.
“But it’s important he gets it right. Whenever we come back in early July, that’s a target for him, but that’s all it is. He has to make sure he gets it right before he starts training.”
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