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Boss has mixed feelings after Saddlers’ loss

1 January 2023

Manager Nigel Clough was left with ‘mixed feelings’ following Mansfield’s 2-1 defeat away to Walsall as the Stags were made to rue missed chances.

The amber and blue controlled possession and recorded 18 shots but only found the back of the net once through Rhys Oates in the 82nd minute, which wasn’t enough to overturn Walsall’s notches either side of half-time.

Stags were without numerous first team players in the West Midlands due to injury. 

Mansfield began the game brightly and tested the Walsall defence from the off.

“We had three or four [good chances] in the first fifteen minutes and the game could’ve been over from that point,” said Clough. 

“When you miss them it gives the home team the opportunity to have the one shot they had at the end of the half. Then we go in [at half-time] 1-0 down and we’re scratching our heads as to why.”

Summing up the match, he said: “It’s a little bit of mixed feelings. The players have had a go, we’ve created chances, we know we should finish better, but it’s very tough to score goals. 

“We come off proud that we’ve had a go with seven or eight players missing and on another day we could’ve won the game in the first fifteen minutes.” 

The gaffer felt that his side performed the stronger of the two teams. 

“I think if you look at the whole course of the game, for 60/70 percent of it I thought we were on top,” he said. 

“I thought the team and the formation worked very well. When we are like that we need someone to get us a goal, it was just one of those days where whoever the chances were presented to, [they] couldn’t take them. 

“I think [it was down to] a lack of composure. We played well enough to get something out of the game today, we attacked from the first minute until the last. I can’t ask any more in terms of effort.” 

Mansfield were dealt a further injury blow in the 33rd minute when midfielder Anthony Hartigan was forced off with a recurrence of a shoulder injury. 

On Hartigan, Clough said: “I think [his shoulder has] popped out again. [It was] very innocuous. The lad I don’t think even knew he’d done it. The referee did very well to stop the game immediately and get him treatment.” 

“He’s distraught in there [and] quite distressed. I think he’s in quite a lot of pain and also the realisation that it’s [his shoulder] gone for the second time. We’ll have to see what the specialists think the best way forward is. 

“No idea [how long he will be side-lined]. He got back quite quickly last time and played with a protective sling and didn’t take throw ins, but we’ll wait and see what the specialist thinks.” 

On Elliott Hewitt’s illness, the manager said: “I got a call around ten-ish last night. I thought it was the physio saying ‘happy New Year’ but instead he said ‘Elliott Hewitt’s ill’ which on the back of [Riley] Harbottle, [Kieran] Wallace, [Lucas] Akins, [Ollie] Clarke, and [George] Maris wasn’t good enough to start after the tackle the other night at Hartlepool… means we’re seven or eight [players] down.” 

On whether any will return for the match against Barrow on Saturday, Clough said: “Ollie Clarke has no chance. Lucas’ ankle is very sore, as is Kieran Wallace’s. We’ll just have to wait and see on the others. Elliott should be okay.”  


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