Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his squad have reason to be full of ‘confidence’ ahead of tomorrow evening’s clash away at Port Vale.
The Stags conceded a 95th minute winner away at promotion rivals Tranmere on Friday night but the boss still believes his players should be in high spirits following a fine sequence of 14 league matches unbeaten prior to the game at Prenton Park.
Speaking in his news conference ahead of the game at Port Vale, the boss said: “We should still be [full of confidence] because of the run we’ve had.
“I said before the Exeter game that the next three games will sort it out [how the end of the season will play out] one way or another.
“We won one and lost one and I think this will go a long way in deciding how we fare in the last 12 [matches].”
Friday night’s narrow loss at Tranmere provided frustration for the Stags’ chief.
“To be four minutes away from maintaining the unbeaten run makes it even worse,” he said.
“We’ll try and learn from it and analyse what we did [wrong] on the evening.
“I thought Tranmere were very good on the day. You have to match them physically and then play from there, I don’t think we did either.
“Having got back to 2-2 in the 91st minute, we should be getting at least a point from the game.
“With six or seven minutes to go, do we leave big Oli Hawkins up front and try and get a winner?
“We’ve been positive all season, trying to play and go for the wins – should we have put him back [in defence] and tried to shut-up-shop?
“Because we lost the game, the answer will be that we made the wrong decision.
“We look at the performance as a separate entity to the result.
“We weren’t brilliant on the night.”
The manager did take pride, however, in his team’s opening goal.
“I thought we scored a superb goal, the first goal we scored, another team goal which will be up there as a contender for Goal of the Season.
“Then we get back into it, irrespective of whether we’re trying to get back into the game or not we still shouldn’t be conceding that [late] goal.
“We’ll have a good chat today about it. Everybody will gather their own thoughts and we’ll discuss it.
“There are 13 games to go, that’s all. We’ve got less than a third of the season left to go.
“I think we’ve thrown away three points in the last few weeks, the two at Newport and one at Tranmere the other night. I think everything else is as it should’ve been.
“It’s been an incredible run.”
Defender James Perch came off the bench against Rovers. The gaffer felt the 36-year-old provided composure to the Stags’ backline.
“I thought he used calmness and even though we did concede late on, he wasn’t involved in that at all.
“It was nice to get him on the pitch and he’s in contention like everybody else for Port Vale.
“He’s ready to start at any time.”
The gaffer provided an update on three of the squad’s injuries from the Tranmere game.
“When you pick up the three injuries that we did, it certainly didn’t help our cause on Friday night,” said Nigel.
“Losing Lucas Akins early on in the game and Quinn and Rawson, they’re all doubts for Port Vale.
“Lucas Akins [has a] tight hamstring, Faz Rawson [received a] whack in the face and Stephen Quinn [has an] ankle [injury].
“I would think that Lucas would be the most doubtful, the other two have got an outside chance [to play against Port Vale].”
Watch the manager's news conference in full now by clicking here.