26 April 2022

Nigel Clough admits Mansfield looked nervy during win over Stevenage

26 April 2022

Nigel Clough admitted Mansfield were “a bit nervous and a bit jittery” during the 2-0 win over battling Stevenage that kept the Stags in the hunt for automatic promotion in League Two.

Second-half goals from George Lapslie and Matty Longstaff finally saw off the visitors to leave the fifth-placed Stags one point off the top three.

Clough said: “The most important aspect was getting in at half-time at 0-0 as Stevenage started the game well. We were a bit nervous and a bit jittery.

“I told the lads well done at half-time for coming in 0-0 and told them to relax and start playing how we can play.

“It was hugely unjust we didn’t get at least a point at Carlisle, let alone the three which would have put our fate in our hands.

“But these two wins have set us up for the last two games and it’s so tight we’re still not even sure if we’re going to be in the play-offs let alone challenging for the third spot.

“We now have to go to Salford and win. Do that it will guarantee us a play-off spot and we’d be going into the last day with a chance of automatic.”

Stevenage defended stubbornly in the first half and created the best chance as Luke Norris robbed Stephen McLaughlin on the right and forced Nathan Bishop to tip away his low finish at full stretch.

But, in the 51st minute, Lapslie forced the ball home from six yards from a short corner.

And with Stevenage down to 10 men near the end after losing Terence Vancooten to injury after making all three substitutions, the Stags added a second in stoppage time as Longstaff’s low 10-yard finish completed a fine string of passing.

Stevenage boss Steve Evans quit Mansfield in 2018 with the team flying high and he was booed all night by the home fans.

“This club has great owners and you could see tonight they like you or don’t like you,” he said.

“But when you leave them with one defeat in 23 or something you understand what you might get when you come back.

“I think Mansfield would have been in League One if I had stayed.

“I am a Glasgow Celtic supporter and if their manager left us after only one defeat in 23 and looking like we were sailing towards promotion I’d probably boo him when he came back as well.

“I desperately hope they go up to League One. The fans deserve it and more importantly the Radford family deserve promotion.”

On the game, he added: “We were frighteningly ahead in the first half – possession, chances and two clear penalties for handball not given.

“But second half we didn’t come out and it was a poor performance. We gave the ball away too easily.”

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