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Boss lauds ‘outstanding’ second-half in shootout win

30 August 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says his side were ‘outstanding’ in the second-half against Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, defeating the Owls on penalties last night to advance to round three of the Carabao Cup.

Stags faced a full-strength Wednesday at Hillsborough Stadium, and trailed at half-time, but fought back into the contest before an excellent equaliser from Rhys Oates sent the game to spot-kicks.

Goalkeeper Chrity Pym proved the hero after full-time as Stags’ number one saved twice to give Mansfield a 5-4 shootout victory.

Speaking to iFollow Stags post-match, Nigel said: “I thought our second-half performance was outstanding.

“The way we kept the ball, we created situations and chances and didn’t concede too many.

“Christy [Pym] made a couple of saves – over the 90 [minutes] he made some important saves – but not too many in the second-half.

“I thought we controlled it [the game in the second-half] which is a nice sign when you come to a full strength Championship side and control the game at times.”

Rhys Oates’ goal included 32 passes before the forward curled home from 20 yards. The move highlighted the brilliant football from Stags on the night, and so far this season.

“We’re going to try and keep playing the same way because when we do and we do it well, teams at our level especially will struggle to cope with it,” said the gaffer.

“It’s another step in that belief and confidence that we can keep doing it.

“We kept the ball for long spells in the second-half and I think this one was over 30 passes, that’s a lot of passes for a League Two side to have.

“Then [it’s about Oates’] explosive run and what a magnificent finish.

“He wasn’t fit to start tonight unfortunately. It was him and Lucas [Akins] sharing the [work] load. We thought about 45 [minutes] each but Lucas said he could do another 15 minutes.”

When asked if he gave the players any advice before penalties, the boss added: “The individual players do what they want to do.

“That’s why they practice them, getting into a routine and habit and saying ‘this is where I’m going to put it’.”

The manager went on to praise his goalkeeper, Christy Pym.

“I thought for the whole game, his distribution, his handling, the saves he made - which included the important ones in the penalty shootout [were excellent].

“I thought largely he kept us in the game at times.

“He’s a good goalkeeper. He’s a very steady experienced goalkeeper.”

Over 1,775 Stags’ fans travelled to watch a special cup victory in Sheffield.

“It’s absolutely brilliant, it makes up a little bit for last season because we were so unlucky in the FA Cup,” said the boss.

“They can go home happy. 

“I think the last two games; Saturday coming back against Stockport in the manner we did and then another [fine] second-half here, I hope they enjoyed it.”

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