Manager Nigel Clough has offered his reflections on the campaign after the curtain closed on 2022/23 with a 2-0 win at Colchester.
The boss described the season as ending in ‘devastating’ fashion - with Stags missing out on the play-offs by a goal - but admits he ‘can’t wait’ to get going ahead of 2023/24.
Mansfield’s season came to end in Essex as the Stags ran out deserved 2-0 winners over Colchester thanks to goals from Riley Harbottle and James Gale.
Nigel felt that missing out on the play-offs was incredibly hard to take, but believes the players can learn from experiences this season.
“[It’s] devastating in lots of ways,” he said. “You can look back over the course of the season. The two that got me were [the] Crawley and Swindon [games]. [We were] four-nil up at home to Crawley in complete control and we conceded a needless goal. Then at Swindon, [we were] four-one up and conceded again. Those two goals have proved to be vital now.
“It’s a good lesson going forward. I don’t like those sorts of lessons but it’s a good lesson. Every minute of every game [and] every goal counts. I don’t care if you’re five, six nil up, you keep it and [remain] professional. You stay professional and you do it right all the way through.
“Seventy-five points has been enough to get you in the play-offs almost every year in the last ten years. [We’re] a couple of points shy [of our total] last year but with what we’ve had to deal with injury-wise I think to even get this close is an achievement. To get within one goal is heartbreaking.”
When asked about his contract and personal priorities, Nigel said: “[My contract] is going to get sorted in the next few days. It’s been a time issue with me and David [Sharpe, CEO] having the time to sit down. I think we’re about done. As long as the chairman and the board want us to stay then we are very happy to finish the job next season.
“We know what we need for next season. We need to keep most of these lads together [and] improve defensively. We’re already without two defenders for the start of next season with Macca [Stephen McLaughlin] and Elliott Hewitt [picking up injuries]. So we need to bring two or three [defenders] in and we’ll go with what we’ve got.
“It was probably the strongest bench we’ve had [all season today] but it was the last game of the season. That’s what you need all throughout the season.
“[Let’s] get everybody fit, get two or three defenders in and we’ll be ready on the fifth of August. I can’t wait for it.”
The gaffer ended by crediting Mansfield’s incredible support home and away this term.
“The support on the road and at home [has been special], he said. “We’re unbelievably appreciative. They know how close we were today and they’ll be devastated just as we are.”