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Colchester win gives us confidence - Gaffer

3 December 2022

Club News

Colchester win gives us confidence - Gaffer

3 December 2022

Manager Nigel Clough says Lucas Akins’ dramatic stoppage time winner handed Mansfield a morale-boosting victory at home to Colchester United.

Akins was brought off the bench in the 91st minute before converting his third league goal of the season a minute later to fire Stags back into the Sky Bet League Two play-off places.  

The visitors had taken an early lead after Alex Newby excellently converted a 25-yard free-kick on ten minutes. That was before Nottingham Forest loanee Will Swan nodded Mansfield level 24 minutes later. 

 A fifth league win at One Call Stadium of the season moves the Stags into seventh, just a point behind Barrow in fourth and the Mansfield boss felt it was an important one.  

“We needed it,” he said. “After the performance last week which was so good at Sheffield Wednesday, to not come away with anything and get knocked out the cup affected us a little bit. It’s been a rough week. 

“I think it was [a deserved victory]. I think we [created] some good chances. Christy [Pym] made one great save in the second-half where he tipped it around the post. Apart from that I thought we had enough to win it.” 

The visitors were pegged back as Swan rose highest to convert his seventh league goal of the season. The manager was delighted with the striker’s endeavour to connect with Elliott Hewitt’s hanging right-sided cross.  

“I didn’t think he [Swan] was going to get anywhere near it,” he told iFollow Stags. 

“When the ball was in the air you’re thinking ‘can he get anything on it at all?’ And then he just seemed to leap that extra few inches and direct it into the top corner. 

“I think it probably took the goalie by surprise that he did manage to reach it. 

“[It was a] brilliant cross and a brilliant header.”  

The boss made a tactical switch mid-way through the second half which helped to affirm Mansfield’s foothold in the attacking third during the closing stages.  

“We started with the 4-3-3 because we wanted Oatesy [Rhys Oates] wide and [cutting] in with his pace. He got into that area twice and made chances,” he said. 

“After an hour, we went to a back three to get [players] up the middle and see if that changed anything. I think we got a little bit more pressure. 

“It’s difficult to tell whether it was our formation change or theirs that was the tipping point [in the match].”  

Extra bodies in and around the Colchester penalty area finally came to fruition for Stags as Akins slotted home a late winner. 

“[It was a] great cross,” said the gaffer. 

“We said to the players at half-time ‘it was about perseverance and just doing the right things’. 

“We got Macca on the ball and he puts a wonderful cross in and there was Lucas to finish it. I’m glad he scored.” 

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