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Stags’ chief predicts exciting run-in

25 April 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough predicts there will still be ‘twists and turns’ in Sky Bet League Two as the race for promotion intensifies.

Stags have three final games remaining in the 46-game regular league campaign with Stevenage up next at the One Call Stadium tomorrow evening (7:45pm kick-off).

The amber and blue sit in sixth position in the table, with three more points than eighth-placed Salford City and with a game in hand.

Speaking to the local media at a news conference today, the boss said: “As you get down to the final six to eight games, each one gets a little bit more important as you stay in the mix.

“I think Northampton play Exeter next week which is a big game and we’ve still got Salford and Forest Green to play.

“Forest Green have just secured promotion but will want to win the league now no doubt. With 10 days to go, there are still to be many twists and turns in the league to come.”

The gaffer is expecting an ‘aggressive game’ from Stevenage under the lights at the One Call Stadium tomorrow.

“It will be just as tough as Saturday was against Crawley,” said Nigel.

“We’ve not had any sort of walkovers [this season] and we certainly will not expect that against Stevenage.

“I think they’ll be aggressive in the right way in terms of closing us down and stopping us playing.

“They’ve just beaten a play-off chasing team in Tranmere on Saturday and they’ll be as confident as anyone in the league having secured their league status.”

With final three games of the season to go, the boss said: “We know we’ve got to do everything to get the three points on Tuesday night and see how the league table looks after that.

“Now we are in it [the play-off places] with three games to go, we have to stay in it.”

Stags have no fresh injury concerns ahead of tomorrow’s contest, however, the boss revealed that starting Rhys Oates in the 2-0 win over Crawley was a ‘gamble’.

“He’d improved slightly [on his injury] and did a little bit of training. With these sorts of injuries, it is always a risk, but we were just pleased that he got through it.

“We don’t know whether we have another three games to go or another six.

“We’ve got to put a team out the best we can.”

Midfielder George Maris won the fans’ Man of the Match accolade from Saturday’s win after starting for the first time in two months and the gaffer said: “He played well [against Crawley]. He’s been injured and he’s been ill, that’s why he has not been in the team [previously].

“The odd time he did come in, his form had dipped. He is coming back at the right time and we’ll see how he recovers because that was his first game for a long time.”

Meanwhile it was revealed that defender/striker Oli Hawkins had missed Saturday’s game following the birth of his second child. The club sends its congratulations to Oli and his partner.

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