Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough hailed the character of his depleted squad as Stags rallied to beat Hartlepool United in a thrilling Boxing Day contest.
An inspired comeback ensured the Stags extended their excellent run of form to ten victories from eleven games.
Speaking to iFollow Stags after a gripping Boxing Day encounter – played in thick fog - the boss expressed his pride at his players’ attitude and psyche during the contest, as Stags came from 2-0 down to earn maximum points.
“It was a bit of a gamble getting the game on today [with us] losing players,” he said, referring to positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp.
“But we thought we had enough with the starting XI [available] to get us a result.
“I thought we were ready for the game, having not played for a couple of weeks [due to positive Covid cases in Forest Green’s squad].
“To comeback from 2-0 down gives everybody a lot of confidence.
“We kept going forward and forward, that’s how we try and play.”
Summing up the match, he said: “It was a brilliant game. I’m not quite sure how we got to be 2-0 down. They didn’t go into our penalty area too many times during the game.
“We’ve gone behind in a couple of games recently here and we’ve managed to turn it around and get the three points like we did today.
“Once you get one goal it changes a game. [It doesn’t matter if it’s] Two or three nil, one goal changes the game.”
The manager’s side performed an inspired comeback, with the first Mansfield goal coming courtesy of star performer John-Joe O’Toole.
“I thought he [O’Toole] was excellent today. I though they [the sponsors] were spot on today [in voting him Man of the Match].
“I thought he was very good. We moved him into the centre of midfield [from centre-back] and he anchored it [the midfield] brilliantly.
“He ends up with a very important goal. I think that’s three he’s got since he’s been with us. Very, very important goals,” said the boss.
George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn, Richard Nartey and Harry Charsley missed the game due to positive Covid tests.
“Stephen Quinn’s is confirmed and we are waiting for the other three to be confirmed,” said the manager.
“[We have] Four injuries and four out with the virus.
“We’ll test [the other members of the squad] in the morning and see where we go [from there].
“We only have 14 fit outfield players and none of the injuries will be back in time for Wednesday night.
“We did everything we can to get the game on today. We lost three this morning and over lunch time. We’ll do what we can to get a team out on Wednesday. “
The gaffer was keen to highlight the importance of the supporters in helping turn around a two-goal deficit as the Stags recorded their sixth-straight home win.
“I think they can see that we’re playing well. The two goals [conceded] were against the run of play and then once we got that very important first goal back [we had the momentum].
“Nearly 6,000 in today. Having so many Hartlepool fans made a good atmosphere as well.
“The supporters play a big part in that [picking up successive victories at home].
“We wanted to play. We wanted to put a game on for the spectators. It’s Boxing Day.”
Watch the manager’s interview in full at mansfieldtown.net/ifollow.