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Boss reflects on ‘disappointing’ evening

11 March 2022

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says the manner in which his side lost at Tranmere tonight was ‘very disappointing.’

The narrow 3-2 loss ends a run of 14 Sky Bet League Two matches without defeat.

The Stags’ chief was unhappy at the way in which his side conceded late on after scoring an injury-time equaliser just moments before.

“[I’m] Very [disappointed] in the manner in which we lost at the end having got [the score] back level twice against a very good side,” he said.

“To lose in the 95th minute [was] very disappointing.

“We’re looking back, and I know the game is tight but, the [last] two [Tranmere] goals are offside.

“I thought having conceded those goals, the only thing that disappointed me most tonight was that we didn’t pick up one yellow card [to prevent Tranmere attacks].”

The manager believes his players were uncharacteristically sloppy in defending the Mansfield goal.

“We went back [to the goalkeeper] twice,” said Nigel.

“Elliott Hewitt had the ball; he went back to Faz Rawson and he went back to the goalkeeper.

“[It is] Something that we don’t try to do.

“His [Bishop’s] kick wasn’t very good and then they win a corner, and we lose two headers in our box.

“You deserve to lose a goal when those things are taken into account.”

Matty Longstaff levelled the contest before half-time. The January loan addition has three goals in as many games for the Stags.

“We came back into it and scored a good goal just before half-time,” the boss said.

“At the end of the first-half we played well once we’d settled down.

“We got in 1-1 at half-time and we wanted to take it [the game] on in [further] the second-half.

“Unfortunately, they came out the blocks a bit quicker. I thought they deserved to retake the lead.”

On what more was needed from his team’s performance, the gaffer said: “Tackling. You don’t need aggression to tackle.

“You just need desire to try and win the ball.

“Stirk, Maris [they] didn’t do that tonight.

“We need to change the team sometimes to put in different sorts of players in games like tonight.

“We thought the pitch was lovely.

“It rained all afternoon, perfect.

“We didn’t play with our usual fluency at times.

“[We had] A few [good] moves and everything, the goal being one of them before half-time but not enough of it.

“Tranmere did very, very well in stopping us playing, as well as playing themselves.”

Defender Farrend Rawson was withdrawn due to a head injury. The manager was surprised at not being able to make a concussion substitution in the second-half due to its severity.

“It was strange because he came off and he was walking like a bit of a zombie along here [the touchline] and we were deemed not to be able to make a concussion sub,” he said.

“That seemed a little bit strange because he could barely walk and could barely open his eye because he got a nasty whack.

“We’ll keep an eye on him over the weekend and I’d have thought he’d be a doubt for Tuesday.”

Versatile performer, Lucas Akins was substituted in the opening 45 minutes due to injury.

“He [Akins] had a tight hamstring.

That changes your game plan straight away,” the boss said.

“It was a strange game because they had a couple or three injuries and we did [too].

“[It is] not deal, but not an excuse for not getting a point.”

Mansfield head to Port Vale on Tuesday night, the manager is hoping for a positive response from his players.

“Those who will be fortunate enough to play, be ready to tackle, close down and stop the opposition playing and we’ll see what comes from that.”

Watch the manager's interview in full by clicking here.

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