Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side were missing a ‘clinical’ edge during this afternoon’s 2-2 draw away at Salford City.
The result means only a victory against Forest Green on Saturday, and other results going the Stags’ way, would see Mansfield finish in the automatic places.
A point in the final match of the regular season guarantees that the Stags record a first play-off position finish since 2019.
Speaking to the local media post-match, the boss said: “I thought both teams had to go for it [the win].
“[I am] Unbelievably disappointed with the goals we conceded today.
“[They’re] Two headers from the middle of the goal unchallenged and ultimately that’s what has cost us the game.
“I thought our lack of being clinical in the final third [was disappointing].
“We had enough situations [to score more] throughout the game.
“We had enough chances to go and win three, or four, two.
“They’d got to win.
“They’d got to go for it to have any chance at all [of making the play-offs] so they were leaving spaces but unfortunately our front three or four didn’t exploit it.”
The manager felt several his players didn’t perform to their usual standard in the televised encounter.
“I think four or five didn’t perform to their abilities, so they’ll be disappointed in that,” he said.
“But it’s a first big game for a few of them as well, of this stature.
“We’ve just got to relax and play our stuff and we did after 20 minutes - it was excellent [but] we didn’t do that enough today.”
Full-back Stephen McLaughlin netted a brace for Mansfield this afternoon. The Irishman’s first, from a free-kick, came as no surprise to his manager.
“As soon as we got it [the free-kick] I fancied him,” said the gaffer.
“He’s got the ability to go over the wall or put it in the open side.
“He’s as good as anybody from those situations.”
Saturday’s hosting of title-chasers Forest Green Rovers is a game that has added incentive for both teams.
“They [Forest Green] need to win to have a chance of winning the league,” the Stags’ chief says.
“They’ve been up now for a week or two, I’m not really interested too much about them, it’s about us [and] what we do.
“The players are disappointed in there [the dressing room] because they know realistically, we haven’t got a chance of making the automatics.
“That’s [today’s match] finished, that’s gone. You’ve got three or four days to get over it, clear your heads and get ready for Saturday.”
The boss provided an update on midfielder Stephen Quinn’s hip injury.
“We’ll see [if he’ll feature against Forest Green]. He tried to train yesterday, and he was still pretty sore.
“It’s just [a case of] how it [Quinn’s hip] heals and how he feels in the next few days.
We certainly missed his composure today at times on the ball.
“It was all a bit frantic, but we have to avoid that because I don’t think it suits our style.”
Nigel was full of praise for the Mansfield supporters ahead of Saturday’s regular season finale.
“We’re still in with a chance [of promotion] going into the last day and that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“They’ve backed us all season.
“They’ve seen their team have a go today and create enough chances to win the game.
“From where we’ve come from, second from bottom a few months ago; to be in with a shout on the last day is brilliant.”