Manager Nigel Clough was encouraged by Mansfield’s defensive resilience to pick up a second consecutive clean sheet at home to ‘difficult opponents’ Sutton United.
The Stags were frustrated in front of goal in a hard-fought 0-0 contest at One Call Stadium. However, Mansfield remained resolute at the back to shut out their opposition for the second time in as many games.
Nigel spoke to iFollow Stags after the match and said: “[It was] a bit frustrating again, similar to Wednesday night [at home to Grimsby].
“It‘s a good clean sheet but we wanted to win one of our home games this week.
“I thought we played all right today [against] very difficult opposition. The way that they [Sutton] play, they’re very disruptive, a lot of fouls in the game which means you get a lot of set plays but that’s their strength. [It was] a difficult afternoon but I thought we tried to get it down and play as much as we could today.
“I think if we’d gone 1-0 down at any time against Sutton, it’d be very difficult to get back in the game.
“We dealt with all their throws and the corners. I think they had one free-kick that the lad headed over at the far post. Apart from that, Christy [Pym] didn’t have too much to do.
“We’re desperate for a break in front of goal. [The ball] seems to be ricocheting [off target].
“The one that Kieran Wallace volleyed from the edge of the box, the lad’s absolutely adamant it’s going in and he’s hit Alfie Kilgour with it, which is the way it seems to be going in front of goal.
“We’d like [to have had more chances in front of goal] but against this opposition it’s very difficult. They keep their clean sheets intact, they stay in their shape and it’s very difficult to break them down.”
The gaffer handed a league debut to 21-year-old striker James Gale and said: “I thought he was very good, he got hold of it [the ball] for us.
“That’s his first game for some time, he’s been out injured. So 65 [minutes] was about as much as he could do. Thirty minutes was about as much as Rhys Oates could do so it was ideal to swap them over.
“I thought he did very well. He showed a lot of good touches and he was nuisance.”
Stags suffered a blow in the first half when defender Riley Harbottle had to be withdrawn on 20 minutes following a collision with Coby Rowe.
“He’s [Harbottle] up and around but he’s gone to hospital to be checked out,” Nigel said.
“[It’s] not ideal losing another player - Riley Harbottle - in the first half.
“We had Elliott Hewitt playing with a broken nose, that he suffered in the second half.
“Perchy [James Perch], to play three games in a week [was a tough ask]. He was feeling it yesterday. Rhys [Oates] certainly was too, that was his first full game for about two months the other night.
“Stephen Quinn [will be back for next week]. Louis Reed was on the bench just so he could do the warm up, we couldn’t put him on. We’ll see how Reedy is if he trains this week.
“It’s nice to stay the three games unbeaten. We’ve got to try and get three points next against Crawley. I’m glad we’ve got a clear week, no midweek game. Then we might get two or three back for the Easter games.”