Stags’ boss Nigel Clough singled out Jordan Bowery for special praise as the 32-year-old produced a virtuoso performance to help Mansfield to a 1-1 draw at Grimsby today.
The Nottingham-born player started at right-back and at half-time had to be moved to the centre of defence following an injury to Baily Cargill. And amidst a commanding performance alongside Aden Flint, Bowery assisted Stags’ equaliser just shy of the hour with a lovely-weighted ball over the top for Rhys Oates to latch onto and finish.
And speaking post match. manager Nigel Clough spoke highly of Bowery’s display, saying: “He was our best player by a country mile, going in a different position and out of his normal position, from right-back to centre-half and I thought he was brilliant in both.
“We had to make changes again and reshuffle [at half-time]. Jordan again helped us out. He went to centre-half and Lucas Akins to full-back and I thought they were both excellent.”
Summing up the draw at Blundell Park, Nigel said: “It’s a good point in the circumstances but it’s another game we should have won.
“I thought we were a bit slow starting. Their goal set us back, another goal of the season contender against us. Christy’s had one other shot to save in 96 minutes. We’ve hit the post, hit the bar, one-on-one, scored a good goal and had enough situations to win the game.
“In the first half we had enough chances [to score]. Davis Keillor-Dunn hit the bar and we’re talking about an inch or two from getting an equaliser, but I don’t think the front three were very good in the first half.”
At the break, his charges responded to the manager’s emphasis on attacking Grimsby.
“We wanted to have a bit more of a go and we did,” he said.
“Rhys Oates has hardly trained in the last ten days or so with a sore hip. It would have been a gamble had we started him but he came on at half-time and made an impact, running beyond and scoring a very good goal.
“Davis should have tied it up before and if he did I thought we would have gone on to win.”
Speaking about Rhys Oates’ leveller, he said: “It’s a good throughball over the top, and Rhys does what he does well. We missed that running beyond in the first half. He just got there before the goalkeeper and held the ball up and tapped it into an empty net.”
On the injury front, the manager confirmed that defender Alfie Kilgour - who will miss the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon - underwent an operation today.
Meanwhile, confirmation was given that Callum Johnson (hamstring strain), Aaron Lewis (calf strain) and Hiram Boateng (groin) are likely to be sidelined for up to six weeks.
Baily Cargill (tight hamstring) and Stephen Quinn, who took a whack on the knee, were both withdrawn at half-time.
“All levels of football seem to be suffering from quite a few injuries at the moment, and [they are] muscle injuries,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s the added time or whatever, I’m not sure what it is.
“We’re doing everything possible to prevent them, with our prehab and stretching. We’re actually on a training schedule more like March and April to try and avoid injuries.
“You’re looking for patterns and there aren’t any. It’s completely random. Calum Johnson [for example] hooking a ball forward at Doncaster and felt his hamstring. Hiram [was injured by] passing one out to Quinny. It’s football.”
The manager also confirmed that defender John-Joe O’Toole and forward James Gale have returned to a running phase of training.
Meanwhile, a prospective incoming defensive loan will be pursued this week.