18 March 2023

Nigel Clough believes Mansfield merited late equaliser at Stockport

18 March 2023

Relieved Mansfield boss Nigel Clough felt his side deserved their late equaliser as their crunch clash at play-off chasing rivals Stockport ended 1-1.

Lucas Akins headed home in the third minute of added time to earn the Stags a potentially priceless point at the home of one of their chief rivals for a top-seven spot in Sky Bet League Two.

Clough said: “I think we just about deserve that.

“It’s difficult to work out how to play at the home of a very good team like Stockport.

“We’ve had a couple of really tough away games in the last week now, and we’ve not really had a break in either of them.

“We definitely didn’t want to end up with back-to-back defeats, so I was delighted for Lucas to get his late goal.

“In those situations, you’re just hoping for one half-chance.

“Sometimes you have to make three or four good decisions in the run-up to that chance too.

“That’s how it’s worked out today – it was a great cross in from Elliott (Hewitt) and a lovely header from Lucas.

“We’ve got three straight home games to go at now. I definitely didn’t want to go into them on the back of consecutive defeats, as I say.

“Our home form is going to dictate where we end up at the end of the season, so they’re all crucial.”

It was a cracking first half as Edgeley Park was packed once again.

Stags captain Ollie Clarke saw a shot clip the top of the crossbar, before Stockport skipper Paddy Madden broke the deadlock – he was perfectly placed to glance home a header from Akil Wright’s cross.

Both sides continued to impress in an equally end-to-end second period but it was not until deep into added time when the Stags got their leveller, Akins heading home Hewitt’s superb cross right in front of the delighted travelling fans.

Stockport boss Dave Challinor reflected on what was an ‘horrific’ late equaliser his team conceded, although his team did move up to fifth in the table.

Challinor said: “It was always going to be a tight game, but you can’t leave yourselves open like we did in that situation right at the end of the game.

“Regardless of the actual time the goal went in, it was a horrific goal for us to concede.

“Our organisation was all wrong, and we just didn’t show enough desire to clear the ball when it came into our box and to keep the ball out of our net.

“We created quite a few decent opportunities throughout the game but sometimes there can be that tendency to be safe at times.

“The message was always for us to go out and get that second goal but it just didn’t happen in the second half.

“Mindset-wise, there’s no way we could have gone gung-ho, but it was important we stayed on the front foot.

“We had some huge opportunities, as I say, but it wasn’t enough against a side who defended for their lives at times.”

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