Ollie Clarke: Strong finish to the season is important
Skipper Ollie Clarke says there is a strong desire in the Mansfield Town squad to finish the season on a high and give fans optimism for the next campaign.
Stags head to Manchester on Saturday to face a Salford City side still every bit in play-off contention, sitting in ninth place in SkyBet League Two and just three points behind seventh-placed Newport County.
Gary Bowyer’s men have lost just once in their last five games and Clarke believes that now Stags’ safety is secured, he and his team-mates can go out and enjoy the remaining games.
He said: “The pressure is off now and we can go and enjoy the last three games.
"We want to finish the season on a high so that the fans come back with a bit of optimism for next season because we’ve got a very good squad here and I think that for various reasons we haven’t come together and performed as a whole on the pitch, but the times that we have done you can see that there is something in there to be built on with a few additions.
"You want to see the season out strongly and given we’ve picked up some good form we almost wouldn’t want to stop playing, so we want to keep performances going and be able to hit the ground running next season.”
Clarke also praised the impact of manager Nigel Clough since he arrived to replace Graham Coughlan.
He said: “It’s down to his training and the way he is – particularly his hard-working mentality. What we do in training is pretty simple stuff in that he doesn’t complicate anything, but you have to put your hard work in and then you get your rest days.
"We don’t look into too much of the other teams’ details, we just worry about ourselves and work on ourselves and if we show teams what we’re trying to do then we’ll probably come out better off.”
Regarding Tuesday’s fine win over Scunthorpe, Clarke, like his team-mates, was over the moon as the Stags confirmed their safety in League Two.
He said: “Everyone came together over the last few games and we performed quite well in terms of a decent away performance and clean sheet and then we brought that home against Scunthorpe when we were very solid and played some nice football, which is what we need to continue doing.”
Like Mansfield, Salford were winners in midweek after overcoming hosts Walsall 2-0 with goals from veteran striker Ian Henderson – his 15th goal of the season – and Jordan Turnbull.