Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough believes his side has ‘improved as a team’ as he reflects on two years managing the Stags ahead of Tuesday night's encounter with Bradford City.
After progressing to the second round of the FA Cup on Saturday, thanks to a goal from Oli Hawkins at Holker Street. Nigel Clough marked two years as manager of Mansfield Town on Sunday.
The Bantams visit One Call Stadium tomorrow evening as the Stags look to return to winning ways in Sky Bet League Two.
Speaking about his time at the helm to iFollow Stags at a news conference this morning, Nigel said: “It’s gone quickly.
“I hope we’ve made progress. That's what you want to do over a period [of time]. I think we’ve improved as a team.
“I think we were [in the] bottom six when we came in. Despite dipping back down there briefly last season we’ve been in and around the top six. I think that's been the main achievement as well as the re-engagement from the supporters.
“[We had] record season ticket [sales] in the summer. The home record has been outstanding, apart from last week against Swindon.”
When asked about his favourite moment so far, he said: “It’s difficult to have one stand out moment. We’ve won five out of seven in the FA Cup, winning at Sunderland twice [and] the way we played at Doncaster. And even the defeat against Middlesbrough in the third round. The cup has provided some highlights.
“We are trying to achieve consistency now to stay in the top six and challenge for automatic promotion. If we can do that, that would be the best.”
After a hard fought battle, the Stags made it to the second round of the FA Cup following a 1-0 win at Barrow on Saturday thanks to a first-half goal from Oli Hawkins.
“[We were] brilliant, in very tough conditions. It’s as difficult as it could have been, the draw, [against Barrow in the first round of the FA Cup].
“I think we’ve won three times up there in the calendar year which is good going. It took quite a lot out of us because of the conditions and everything.
“The physical side of the game and the amount of balls they put into the box in the last five [to] ten minutes I thought we defended heroically.
“[With] all five subs used with ten minutes to go, if we had another sub or two to use we would’ve put them on [the pitch].”
Nigel provided an injury update ahead of our next game against Bradford City.
“First of all we’ll find out how the lads are feeling [after the Barrow game].
“[We’ll see if there are] any injuries, knocks and things like that. We do have a few players available fresh.
“Will Swan didn't feature [against Barrow]. Hiram Boateng is back from suspension. Ollie Clarke only played 45 [minutes]. Anthony Hartigan the same [as he only played 45 minutes]. They shouldn't be too badly affected.
“It's the ones who were out there for the [full] 98 minutes or whatever, we’ll check on them.
“Training becomes very light in between the two games. I think there will probably be enforced changes [on Tuesday night] because of injury. We’ll count up and see.
“Stephen Quinn came off, Stephen McLaughlin came off both injured. We’ll see how the others are that come off as well.”
“We’re not far off now [from a full squad]
“With Jason Law and James Gale on the bench we managed to fill the bench with the extra subs on Saturday.
“[There’s] only Rhys Oates who isn't too far away [from returning from injury]. Jimmy Knowles is back on the pitch which is great. He may feature in the Papa Johns [Trophy] or the Notts Senior Cup against Notts County. [It will] be nice to have them all available.”
Mansfield take on the Bantams tomorrow night at One Call Stadium as they look to bounce back from the last league outing against Swindon Town.
Nigel was asked what we could expect to see from Mark Hughes’ men.
“Good quality,” he replied. “When you look at their squad they’ve probably got two and a bit teams they can put out there. [They’re] not absolutely flying at the moment.
“I think the biggest danger tomorrow is their reaction from losing in the cup on Saturday.”