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Boss: Stags in buoyant mood ahead of Wembley

24 May 2022

Manager Nigel Clough says his squad is in a ‘buoyant’ mood ahead of Saturday’s showdown with Port Vale in the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final.

The Stags have enjoyed a fantastic campaign so far, finishing seventh in the division, and defeated fourth placed Northampton Town in the play-off semi-final to book a place at Wembley.

Saturday’s opponents, Port Vale, booked their place in the final in dramatic fashion with a 6-5 penalty shoot-out victory over Swindon Town.

The two sides are now set to meet in the capital this weekend with a place in League One the prize for the victors.

And Mansfield boss Nigel Clough insists his squad are focussing solely on winning.

“It's been a long 10 months to work towards this, so we just want to perform somewhere near our best on Saturday,” said the manager.

“I haven't seen too much of them [the players], but I think it's buoyant [the mood] and when you get a victory in the semi-final, then you can't wait for Saturday.

“It’s going to be a good day if we get a result. We're not going there for anything other than that.

“You have to separate yourself from people going down for a weekend and having a great day out. We're going to Wembley for work, nothing else, just work.”

The former England international insisted that the whole squad will need to be ready.

“It's going to be a difficult team to pick and to try to get the balance right. But whatever the starting 11 is, subs will come on at Wembley as it is such an energy-sapping arena, so we'll need everybody.”

Speaking about Saturday’s opponents he said: “We haven't beaten them, that’s one thing. We played incredibly well against them at home, got a 1-1 draw, however, really dominated the game, missed a penalty, and couldn't get that winning goal, and then made a couple of errors in the game away from home.

“I think they have very similar tools and they've done incredibly well to get to Wembley.”

Despite many highs, the season has had its lows. In October, Mansfield sat second from bottom and the boss praised the unity of the club to turn the season around.

“Keeping everybody together and everybody sticking together in that run, from the owners all the way down through the supporters [was a reason in the upturn in results].

“I think it would have been very easy for them  [the squad] to turn on each other, and that didn’t happen.”

When asked about the magnitude of this game, the Stags’ chief reiterated the significance of the encounter.

“It's more than just another game, it has to be.

“We have one opportunity to try and achieve our ambition that we set out to do at the start of the season.

“Once you get to this point, all you want to do is win that last game.”

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