LOMAS ON STAGS: Blank week perfect for Mansfield Town after gruelling but successful week took its toll

Having a clear week this week has been the perfect tonic for in-form Mansfield Town after their superhuman efforts over the past week.

By John Lomas
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 2:47 pm
Stags boss Nigel Clough speaks with Salford manager Gary Bowyer before Mansfield's 2-1 win on Saturday.
Stags boss Nigel Clough speaks with Salford manager Gary Bowyer before Mansfield's 2-1 win on Saturday.

Despite more injuries to key players, they followed up their glorious FA Cup win at League One Doncaster Rovers with two hard-earned home victories over Carlisle United and Salford City to edge to within four points of the play-off spots.

It is an incredible transformation in the club's fortunes to go from 14 games without victory to winning nine out of the next 10.

And, on the back of the physical exertion of that win at Doncaster, you could see the players' legs draining of energy in both games that followed.

Defending an early 1-0 lead against a desperate Carlisle and then going behind against a quality Salford side, who were fresh after no midweek game, were both recipes for disaster a few weeks ago.

But on both occasions the players stuck solidly to their tasks and the home fans more than played their part in getting the Stags over the line with some fantastic, noisy encouragement.

You could see what that backing meant to the players at the end of both games.

Stags would definitely have lost both those games a few weeks before when confidence was low and injury numbers were high.

Three players who deserve special mentions are Stephen McLaughlin, Jordan Bowery and Rhys Oates.

McLaughlin is on a rich vein of form and his goal and assist on Saturday, following his midweek winner against Carlisle, sealed six vital points.

Bowery, who has not been fully fit all season, is starting to hit the heights of last season and, even decamped at right wing back and then right midfield on Saturday, he was magnificent.

Oates, as a lone striker, will run all day and gave Salford's defenders no peace all afternoon.

But those three games have taken their toll. So to have no midweek game this week has been perfect for Nigel Clough.

He has been able to work on tactics for the weekend as well as rest up players who desperately needed it.

Suddenly, after being in the drop zone, Stags are being talked about as possible play-off contenders.

The ultimate examination of those credentials will come this Saturday at league leaders Forest Green Rovers, who fought out an incredible 5-5 draw at struggling Oldham last weekend.

When you get a few minutes, please check out my weekly podcast on the Chad web site where I give news and views on the past and forthcoming week's happenings at the One Call Stadium.