Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side played ‘exceptionally well tonight’ in the 2-2 draw away at Hartlepool, bar a ‘mad five minutes’.
The Stags have now taken seven points from a possible nine in three matches on the road in a week at Rochdale, Oldham and now Hartlepool.
Despite conceding two disappointing goals in quick succession having gone 2-0 ahead, the boss was pleased with his side’s performance.
“Apart from the start of the game and the five minutes before half-time, I thought we played exceptionally well tonight,” he said.
“The mad five minutes before half-time has obviously cost us, but also the amount of chances we created in the second half, we failed to finish one.
“They [Hartlepool] had two or three shots in the whole game.
“We had that many situations in the second half, I thought we played some very, very good stuff generally.”
Mansfield went 2-0 up after half an hour courtesy of two fine goals from George Lapslie and then James Perch.
“I thought they were two very good team goals tonight that we scored,” said Nigel.
“[It was] lovely for Laps to get on the scoresheet again and it was a good little move, the build-up and everything.
“Then Perchy has ghosted in at the far post, it was a great cross from Laps as well.
“It evaded everybody, but Perchy meant it, not many players at this level would’ve done what he did with that chance.
“Some people think it’s a bit of fluke but it’s not, he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Despite the strong start, the home side fought back, much to the frustration of the gaffer.
“We got caught just one long ball over the top between young Jason Law and Perchy, that happens and what you then do is don’t concede again.
“You get the experience of Oli Hawkins who gives the ball away and all of a sudden, they’re back in it 2-2 om absolutely nowhere.
“We’ve only ourselves to blame, the ball should be put in the corner for Lucas [Akins] to chase, and then you get in at half-time disappointed at 2-1.
“It’s a lack of game management from our experienced players.”
A number of players were absent from the starting XI and matchday squad. The boss provided the latest on the injury front.
“Keiran [Wallace] got a knock on Saturday so he couldn’t start tonight,” the manager said.
“Stephen McLaughlin has had a calf problem for several weeks now, he had to miss one sooner or later.
“Matty Longstaff [has a] foot injury.”
“Rhys Oates; he’s just carrying knocks.
“We didn’t want to start Jamie Murphy tonight; we were very close to not doing so but he said he felt okay.
“His hamstring has tightened up; we’ve got to be very careful. We’ve lost a player for Saturday in Jamie Murphy tonight.”
As Mansfield approach the business end of the season, the boss said: “I just said to them [the players] before the game, ‘all you have to do now is look at ten games’, nine now.
“We’ll do a little bit of training here and there, but it’ll be minimal, literally just preparing for the games, getting your rest in, getting your recovery and getting back out on Saturday and having a go at Northampton, then going to Forest Green and doing the same.”
“It’s [a] mental [challenge] as much as physical, you’ve got to get ready for these last nine games.”
Next up for the Stags is Northampton at home this Saturday. Victory for Mansfield would see them achieve a club record of 11 successive home league victories in the Football League.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said the boss.
“To think that we’ve got two more away [fixtures] next week [after Northampton] which will be seven out of eight away games [on the road].
“I don’t think any team’s done that in recent history in football at any level.
“We’re looking forward to the home game and we’re going into on the back of seven points out of nine on the road.
“It’s been a brilliant return.”