Manager Nigel Clough has called on his players to replicate the ‘defensive determination and resilience’ shown against Leyton Orient in this weekend’s home match against Barrow.
The Stags host the Bluebirds for a 3pm kick-off at One Call Stadium on Saturday, following a first clean sheet of the season in E10 over the weekend.
As well as a commitment to preserving a second successive clean sheet, the boss also wants to see his players ‘play their football’ on top of a similar defensive performance.
“We’re looking for that [same] sort of defensive determination and resilience [as seen against Leyton Orient], then [to] go and play our football on top,” the manager explained.
“When we lost the four games, we stripped everything back and said ‘right, we can’t lose.’ We got a great point on Saturday and now we have to take it on.
“It [Orient point] has laid the platform for us and now we have to get some wins.”
Looking ahead to the next challenge in Sky Bet League Two, the boss added: “We’ve seen them [Barrow] two or three times recently, and I think it [Mark Cooper’s influence] is starting to show through.
“He [Mark Cooper] has only been there [Barrow, as manager] for only two or three months, so give him some time and it will really shine through.
“I thought it was a brilliant appointment for them and it’s going to be an unbelievably tough game.
“They play a similar sort of shape to how Rochdale played. They drop into little pockets and holes and cause you problems.
“We want to win our home games, but in the circumstances [against Rochdale], to get a point was good. We followed that up with one on the road and a clean sheet, so we want three points and a clean sheet on Saturday if we can.”
Reflecting further on that first clean sheet of the season against high-flying Orient, Nigel Clough says his men ‘deserved’ to leave the Breyer Group Stadium having not conceded a goal.
“It was our first clean sheet and the one thing that stuck out was how hard they had to work for their chances, which hasn’t been the case in every game this season,” he said.
“Orient had a couple of situations on Saturday, but we defended them brilliantly and we deserved our clean sheet. That’s the sort of attitude that we need to have going into games.
“We want to keep that clean sheet, then we know we can play our football on top.
“They [Orient] have threats all over the pitch and they score a lot of goals on the break. We were conscious of that, and in open play, they didn’t carve us open. I thought we were well organised.”
Amidst a raft of current injuries and absentees, the boss provided the latest on George Maris, Oliver Hawkins, Ollie Clarke, Kellan Gordon and Ryan Stirk.
“He [Maris] has trained okay, which is a relief. It [injury] was just around his eye, it was closing up and impairing his vision. But it’s nothing serious, so he’s trained.
“A couple [of players] didn’t train, Oli Hawkins because his back was stiff, and Ollie Clarke, who got a whack on the nose. He’s gone to see somebody as he might have a break in there that may need resetting.
“They should be okay for Saturday. He [Hawkins] should be fine, it’s just a precaution that he didn’t train.
“We’ve had slightly differing diagnoses [for Ryan Stirk]. Hopefully it’s three or four weeks, but we’ve had a more pessimistic one [diagnosis] for longer than that. He’s back in Birmingham having treatment, and we hope it’s the lower end of the [time] scale.
“Kellan [Gordon] has seen a specialist this morning. We’ll know a bit more after that, but his knee just flared up after the Rochdale game. We’ll know more later in the week.”
Following his update on Stags’ absentees, the boss discussed the possibility of dipping into the free transfer market: “There are one or two names that are under discussion at the moment.
“It depends on the news we get about Kellan and Ryan Stirk, and how long they’re going to be out for.”
iFollow Stags subscribers can watch the manager’s interview in full by logging into mansfieldtown.net/ifollow later today.
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