Manager Nigel Clough said ‘poor decision making’ proved to be Mansfield’s undoing as Barrow came from behind to win 3-2 at One Call Stadium.
Stags had taken an early lead after Stephen McLaughlin’s powerful ninth minute free-kick broke through the defensive wall to nestle into the right side of goal. Fellow Irishman Stephen Quinn doubled the hosts’ lead 16 minutes later with a smart finish.
However, a misplaced pass by George Maris in stoppage time allowed Billy Waters to half the deficit before Josh Gordon drew level four minutes after the break. An Oli Hawkins own goal completed the Barrow comeback on 77 minutes.
The gaffer felt his side were on course for victory before Waters’ goal at a decisive stage of the game completely altered the contest.
“The whole game changed in that one moment, you could see the way they [Barrow] went off for the half-time break,” he told iFollow Stags.
“At 2-0 you come in at half-time [and] they [Barrow] then have a mountain to climb, but 2-1 and the timing of the goal gives them such a lift. We went 1-0 [down] at Hartlepool and got a goal within a few minutes and then our tails were up. It’s exactly the same [situation]. Then, at 2-2 it’s anyone’s game from there on in.
“We knew they were going to come out with renewed energy having got that lifeline. Then you have to see that through and get to the hour mark, then press yourself and try and get a goal.
“It’s my responsibility. What we can do is keep telling the players when you’re a minute before half-time and 2-0 up, ‘I’m not particularly interested in us playing nice football, I’m interested in us winning the game’.”
The Stags’ chief provided an update on midfielder George Lapslie’s contract situation: “He was offered a new deal the week before Christmas. His representative didn’t acknowledge the deal for in excess of a week on an improved offer. [They] then came back and said, ‘no interest at the level’. It was one of those where [they] didn’t suggest further negotiations so I would think it’s one of those where we’re open to offers [for him] in January.”
“He’s available [to play] for us, that wasn’t the reason he didn’t start today.
The manager finished by providing an update on Stags’ injury list.
“Lucas Akins and Kieran Wallace have got a good chance [of returning to action at home to Crewe next week] which is good news,” he said.
“I think Ollie Clarke and Riley Harbottle will be [back at] the end of the month.
“Anthony Hartigan saw the specialist this morning. [He] needs an operation, so [we’re] pretty much ruling him out for the rest of the season.”