Stags’ manager Nigel Clough felt his side’s strength in depth was highlighted as Mansfield ‘professionally’ overcame in-form Gillingham 2-0 at One Call Stadium.
Despite missing several key players, Nigel’s men convincingly dispatched a Gillingham side unbeaten in their last four.
And the boss was pleased with the way his side controlled the game after taking a 21st minute lead.
“[I’m] very pleased,” he said. “I thought it was a good, solid professional performance.
“I thought we played very well first half.
“We looked after our lead second half and late on [we] could’ve extended it.
“It was about protecting that two-goal lead, which apart from that great save that Scott Flinders made in the second half, I thought we did very well.
“I think [Gillingham have had] three wins and a draw in their last four games. Since January they’ve brought some good players in, two of them from us, so we know all about their threat.
“I think losing the players we did through injury, makes it [today’s win] especially important and also highlights the quality of the squad.”
Captain Ollie Clarke opened the scoring at One Call Stadium, powering a driven effort past Glen Morris at his near post with his left foot.
Nigel told iFollow Stags after the game: “[It was] a wonderful strike from our captain, on his wrong foot as well. It just took a little deflection in off the post, then I thought from that point on in the first half we looked in control.
“He [Clarke] gets a lot of shots off with his wrong foot, and very powerful shots as well.”
Fourteen minutes later, striker Lucas Akins coolly converted from the penalty spot to put Mansfield clear by two. The forward had initially won the spot-kick after being bundled over inside the box.
“I’m going to have a look back at it,” Nigel said. “Lucas [Akins] said he [the defender] had got hold of him. All I’ll say is the referee was very close to it and instantly gave it.
“I didn’t look [when he took it], I just waited for the crowd’s reaction.
“He’s a very good professional and he works for the team. When we had him at Burton [Albion] he played in every position but goalkeeper for us, but at the moment he’s our number one centre forward.”
Nigel believes Mansfield’s strong squad will hold them in good stead during the second half of the 2022/23 season.
“That’s what we try and achieve at the start of the season,” he said. “In 19-20 outfield [players] any one of them at any time we are happy to start.
“We’ve got John-Joe O’Toole. He’s not been in the [matchday] 18 for the past few weeks and he came on and played an important role in the last ten minutes today. Everybody is going to have a role to play between now and the end of the season.
“All you can do is win, whatever anyone else does [is out of our control].
“We’ve got a big week, two away games now at Carlisle then Tranmere.”