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Home treble will be ‘telling’ in season run-in - gaffer

21 March 2023

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough says Stags’ next three fixtures, all at One Call Stadium, ‘will go a long way to telling’ where the club will finish this campaign – starting with tomorrow night’s visit of Grimsby Town.

The boss’ side rescued a stoppage time point at Stockport County on Saturday, a welcome confidence boost heading into an important trio of matches on home soil.

Stags sit eighth in Sky Bet League Two with games in hand on those currently occupying the top seven positions.

Speaking at a news conference this morning at RH Academy, Nigel said: “[We’ve got] 21 points [from home games] left available, starting with the next three.

“I think the next three will go a long way to telling us [where the club will finish this season].

“We’ve got to hang on in there and still be in with a chance with eight games to go, starting with Grimsby tomorrow.”

On his side’s home record this season, the gaffer added: “I think it hasn’t been as strong as last season but we’ve been better on the road.

“Conceding five twice against Swindon and against Salford [respectively, shows] we’ve just conceded too many goals [at home] in general.

“If we were to win a game in hand or so, then there’s going to be a little gap that will appear, and it looks almost like it’s the top sort of eight [battling it out].

“You never rule anybody out putting a run together from halfway, but as the games run out it becomes more difficult.”

The manager says Stags will take encouragement from the manner in which they got a result at the weekend at Edgeley Park.

“It [the result] puts us in a better frame of mind going into home games now,” he said.

“On Saturday, we didn’t do a lot wrong. They [Stockport] certainly had the better of the first-half because they’re a good team – especially at home – but we hung on in there and kept going, kept battling and kept fighting.
“That [the squad’s desire] is going to be the key at times in the last 11 games.

“Never give in, go right until the end and keep doing the right things; that was the lesson on Saturday.”

Nigel went on to provide the injury latest.

“He’s [Rhys Oates] got another knock. I’m not sure how he’ll be for tomorrow night,” he said.

“He had a tussle with their lad on the floor when he was trying to break and he was man-handled to the floor. We’ve got to be careful with his shoulder.

“They’re all going to be not too far away but I’m not sure any of them will be ready [this week].

“Ollie Clarke has got a knock from Saturday as well. He’s not training today.

“He’s about 50/50 [for Grimsby] I would say, it might just be a case where we have to put him out there.

“He could’ve done with a clear week really.

“He’s [Louis Reed] started a little bit of light ball work. It’s just that final striking and you can’t really replicate a block tackle which is how he did the injury in the first place.

“He’s not far off but I don’t think he’ll be right for this week.

“It’s settled down, his [Stephen McLaughlin’s] ankle, after the kick last week at Northampton but it’s just how it feels and how comfortable he is.

“There’s going to be discomfort before the end of the season with whatever he does. It won’t heal until the summer.”

Tomorrow night’s opponents were the Sky Bet League Two side who went the furthest in this year’s Emirates FA Cup. The Mariners were eventually eliminated at the quarter-final stage after a 5-0 loss at in-form Premier League club Brighton on Sunday.

“It’s difficult to say it [Grimsby’s Emirates FA Cup quarter-final at Brighton at the weekend] will have any bearing on the game tomorrow night,” said the boss.

“It’s a different approach when you go to a Premier League side away from home than it is coming to us.

“I thought they were very solid and they were a bit unlucky with a couple of the goals. I thought the five [goals to nil] didn’t do them justice.”

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