Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough was proud of his side’s performance last night despite the Stags’ 2-1 Carabao Cup first round loss to Derby County at One Call Stadium.
A first goal of the season from Oli Hawkins wasn’t enough to keep Mansfield in the competition, but the boss was impressed by several good opportunities in the second-half created by his team against League One opposition.
The boss made five changes to the side that beat Tranmere 1-0 at the weekend and was left pleased by his side’s endeavours.
Speaking to iFollow Stags after the game, the gaffer said: “It was certainly [a good performance] in the second-half.
“We never really got going [in the first-half], although we hit the underside of the bar.
“[At] The start of the second-half, right from the kick-off, Kellan Gordon sprints forward, gets a cross in and we have a goal disallowed for offside.
“[I’m] Not sure if it was.
“It set the tone really, we got the equaliser, and it was all us.
“[I’m] Very, very pleased with the second-half performance, it’s exactly how we want to play here at the One Call.”
The manager explained his decision at half-time to swap Hawkins and Jordan Bowery around, with the former Portsmouth man starting the game at centre-back and Bowery as striker.
“I thought it worked for most of the time [the switch],” he said.
“We wanted a bit more of a presence up there, which Oli Hawkins gives us.
“I think Jordan is better equipped to deal with the sort of striker they had tonight, with the pace and everything, he reads it well and he’s quick, so that was a dual purpose really.”
The gaffer also thought that Bowery was slightly unfortunate with his sending off on 81 minutes, saying: “I think he’s a bit unlucky, he misjudges the bounce of the ball first of all.
“We’re going to have a look at it back on the video, [I’m] not sure if he got a touch on the ball or not.
“He is last man, it’s just whether he got any of the ball or not.
“If not, we miss him for one game on Saturday.”
Anthony Hartigan made his first start for the club and the boss was impressed with the new recruit’s performance despite three months without competitive football.
“He [Hartigan] has had a couple of training sessions with us, that’s all, so no real competitive football,” said the boss.
“Any player will tell you, when you're training on your own it’s not the same, so he felt it but I thought he showed some good touches.
“He was comfortable on the ball, so [I’m] very pleased with his 45 minutes. “
Lucas Akins was named to start tonight’s game but was replaced by Bowery in the starting lineup come kick-off. The manager said Akins felt a slight groin injury near the end of the warm up.
“He just felt his groin at the end of the warm up, so you can change players right up to kick-off time, (we) just (had to) let the referee and the opposition know.
“George Maris got a whack at the end [of the match] I think [too].
“Hiram Boateng couldn’t come on [due to] ankle and hamstring [problems].
“Hopefully he’ll be alright for Saturday.
“Oatesy [Rhys Oates] with his ankle [played] just 20 minutes tonight.”
The Stags’ focus now returns to Sky Bet League Two with a fixture away at Leyton Orient on Saturday. The manager is well aware of the challenge Mansfield face at Brisbane Road.
“I think they are one of the teams that will be there or thereabouts [come the end of the season].
“I think at the end of last season they started improving significantly, and I think they are one of the teams that will be up there.
“They have had a good start, two wins, so it will be a good test for us.”