Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough has hailed his side’s ‘outstanding effort’ in recent matches as Stags prepare for an eagerly-anticipated battle with Sky Bet League Two champions Leyton Orient tomorrow night.
The O’s visit One Call Stadium after wrapping up the league title on Saturday with a 2-0 win at home to Crewe.
Nigel Clough’s Stags are in electric form also, extending an unbeaten run to nine matches at the weekend by beating fellow promotion-hopefuls Stevenage 1-0 at One Call Stadium.
Speaking in a news conference at RH Academy this afternoon, the boss said: “[Saturday was an] Outstanding effort by the players.
“It wasn’t the silkiest game of football but against Stevenage you have to stand up and be counted and deal with the aerial balls; I thought we did that brilliantly on Saturday.
“I think [away] at Newport in the last fifteen to twenty minutes got us into that mode as well. [It was] similar in what we had to deal with there.
“Teams put a lot of balls in your box when they’re chasing the game, so we knew what was coming but I thought the two centre-halves especially (James Perch and Alfie Kilgour) [were excellent] – the whole back five [were] – but the two centre-halves were outstanding.”
The gaffer has called for an equally impressive performance against Leyton Orient tomorrow evening.
“We need the same again,” he said.
“There are only three games to go, that’s the incentive for them.
“[There are] Only three matches [left] where we need the same effort and the same sort of qualities that we’ve shown in the last couple of games to get something because we’re playing against the league champions.
“They are the best team in the league by far. They’ve won it [the league] with two or three games to go – deservedly so.
“When we played them early season we played really well down there [and] missed a penalty after a minute. It could’ve gone differently, there’s results like that in your season that can really help your confidence and consistency.”
The boss went on to provide an injury update.
“He [James Gale] was a little bit groggy over the weekend,” said the gaffer.
“He’s probably doubtful for the game against Orient, he did get a whack on the side of his head.
“With these situations we won’t take any chances at all.
“He [Jordan Bowery] came off at Newport with a tight hamstring and it was just too sore for him to go on the bench, but he’ll do a little bit this morning (Monday) and we’ll see how he is.
“He’s [Stephen McLaughlin] had scans and stuff, he got quite a nasty whack on his knee, this time, when he came on against Newport last week. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him again this season.
“He’s [Ollie Clarke] coming on [well], it was an impact injury on his knee but he’s coming on and is outside today doing a little bit of work on his own. He’s not too far away.
“Anthony Hartigan has just got to pass all the tests now on the strength of his shoulder. He’s been working relentlessly on the grass, no contact stuff obviously, but he’s not too far away.
“Will Swan has just come back from Forest, and they want us, rightly so, to be cautious with him which we will be.
“George Maris did ten minutes, something like that, [on Saturday] that was probably his maximum.
“Louis Reed hasn’t actually joined in training yet, so we’ve got to be careful with him as well.”
With three regular season fixtures remaining, Nigel hopes the Stags will remain in contention for a top seven finish before the final game of the campaign at Colchester United on Monday 08 May.
“I hope we’re still in with a chance come the last game.
“[We have] Two big home games this week then an eight or nine-day break [before Colchester].
“We’ve got a nice little unbeaten run going and it would be nice to stay unbeaten until the end of the season and if we do that [then] we’re pretty much going to be in with a shout.”