Nigel Clough believes beleaguered Mansfield Town deserved something from Exeter City defeat

Nigel Clough felt beleagured Mansfield Town deserved something out of today's 2-1 defeat at Exeter City.

Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 5:41 pm
Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough - list of unavailable players grows.

Depleted Stags took the lead and should have been 2-0 up before high-flying Exeter hit back with two goals to leave Clough's men without a win in 14 games.

“I though we did enough to get at least a point out of the game, with seven defenders missing against a team that has only lost once all season,” said the manager.

“Having gone 1-0 up just after half-time I thought we defended well enough at that period.

“It's just the one ricochet into our box where both our centre halves have ended up on the floor and they've chipped it back in and got the equaliser.

“The longer it goes at 1-0 the more the game opens up and we didn't feel under great pressure at that point. Nathan Bishop had had few saves to make in that period of the game.

“It's tough to take.

“The winner unfortunately comes from the two young full backs. One cross from the left and James Clarke has gone under it at the other end and it's actually gone under Nathan Bishop. He's said it almost ran down his shins, so there's an element of misfortune about that one.

“We couldn't quite see it out.”

Oli Hawkins gave Stags the lead with a superb header from Stephen Quinn's free kick.

“It was just what we'd been asking for – put the ball in the right area and attack it in a goalscoring position. We did both things and got the goal,” said Clough.

“You're then looking for that to energise everyone and say come on we have 5-40 minutes, let's give it everything we can. Some players did that, some players didn't.

“Forget the last five-10 minutes when we were pushing forward, over the 90 minutes they didn't cause us too many problems.”

The turning point was when Jordan Bowery had clear sight of goal to double the lead at 1-0 and didn't get a shot away.

“We just need people to get up to speed a bit more,” said Clough.

“We had to bring Jordan Bowery off as he looked absolutely shattered.

“He missed a couple of pre-season, so he really needs to do some physical work so he's in good enough shape to be able to play Saturday/Tuesday at the level required in League Two, which he didn't look to be able to do today.

“When you get sent half clear, as he was, and end up with no shot of any kind it's very frustrating.

“He didn't try to get a shot away which is the disappointing thing.

“When you are in that position, whatever you do whether you take a touch or take him on, you get your shot off – that is the rule in the penalty area.

“It was good to get George Maris back on but he didn't look right and we need to get both our first choice full backs back to be able to compete.

“They are two young lads and we had to play them but I think if we'd had our two first choice full backs out there today, we'd have got a result.”

Stags' injury misery continues with Elliott Hewitt and Stephen McLaughlin both missing today.

“They both got injured the other night. We are hoping they will both be okay for next week,” said Clough.

“But I don't think we'll be getting anyone else back and George Lapslie will be suspended as I think that was his fifth booking.

“When you're on four bookings the last thing you do is stop a quick free kick being taken and now we've lost a very important player. That is a lack of thought and clarity as a player. It was a poor decision.”

However, new signing John-Joe O'Toole could figure next weekend.

“He has played a couple of games and been training the last eight weeks at Walsall and then with Stevenage so he is relatively up to speed,” said Clough.

“That was why he was in the 18 today and we will see how he goes this week.

“We will get a win when we get our senior players back. We've been very close to it in the last four or five days. The two go hand in hand.”