Nigel Clough hopes Mansfield win sets benchmark for rest of season
Nigel Clough believes Mansfield’s 1-0 win over Tranmere sets a benchmark for the rest of the season.
Riley Harbottle’s second-half header from Hiram Boateng’s corner proved to be the difference in a game of few clear-cut chances.
Victory saw last season’s beaten play-off finalists get their season up and running following an opening-day defeat at Salford and Clough was delighted with how things went.
“It was a good performance and a win,” said Clough. “It was really important to get the win.
“It was a very good all-round performance and the only thing that was missing was an earlier goal, or a second goal once we got ahead.
“We are trying to put our markers down and set the tone for the season as to how we are going to play, home and away.
“We saw it in too brief of glimpses at Salford but today I thought we controlled the game for long periods and deserved the victory.
“We just need a little more goal threat, which should develop in the next few weeks.
“We really should have gone on and got a second. The subs played a key role today. When you can change half your outfield team it is crucial. The new subs law is going to make a big difference.”
Tranmere had early penalty shouts waved away when Elliott Nevitt went down under pressure while Rovers almost took the lead on the half-hour after Kane Hemmings latched on to a poor backpass by Jordan Bowery.
Mansfield defender John-Joe O’Toole had an attempt cleared off the line before the hosts broke the deadlock when Harbottle headed home following Boateng’s 60th-minute corner.
Rhys Oates and Jordan Bowery had opportunities to extend Mansfield’s lead before Christy Pym made a good finger-tip save to keep out Ethan Bristow’s header and then denying Paul Lewis in the closing stages.
Clough added: “Hiram Boateng was outstanding today and he will be a fans favourite, he can make things happen and there’s a lot more to come.
“Christy Pym did his job with two good saves and kept us a clean sheet. Two chances conceded in 97 minutes, we will take that.
“It was a good goalkeeping display, he is steady and calm and has been good ever since he came in.”
Tranmere boss Micky Mellon admitted he felt gutted that his side’s effort had not been rewarded.
“I can’t fault the lads for their effort and running power,” he said.
“We had a good go and were competitive. There were moments when we can still do better with the ball and we are nowhere near where we want to get to.
“We can do better but there are plenty more positives to take this week.
“I’m gutted for the players, I think we started the second half as the better team, we had a 15-minute spell where we couldn’t quite convert but then we didn’t really create anything.
“To lose another goal to a set-piece is not good enough, we can’t be losing goals from set-pieces. To lose the goal how we did was a sore one.
“We kicked on and huffed and puffed and got behind them
“If we had had a bit more quality or fortune it could have gone our way. The players kept going and we have to keep our heads up and keep banging away at it.
“There were a lot of decent performances but we understand that we have to keep improving and we will work hard to keep improving.”
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