Boss Nigel Clough delighted with dominant Mansfield Town’s display, despite being held at Hartlepool United

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough was delighted with his side's dominant showing, despite being held to a 2-2 away draw at Hartlepool United tonight.

Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 10:27 pm

Stags swept into a 2-0 lead through George Lapslie on 21 minutes and James Perch on 25 minutes.

But two defensive lapses in as many minutes just before the break allowed Hartlepool to undeservedly go in level and Stags then failed to finish any one of numerous chances in a one-sided second half.

“Apart from the start of the game and the five minutes before half-time I thought we played exceptionally well tonight,” said Clough.

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Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough - pleased with performance in draw.

“We had to make a few changes. But generally the system worked again and we looked a threat.

“Once we settled down after the first five-10 minutes we looked very accomplished.

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“The mad five minutes before half-time has obviously cost us, but also the amount of chances we created in the second half and failed to finish one.

“I think they have had two or three shots in the whole game and scored a couple of goals. We must have close to 20 tonight and only scored the two.

“The scene was set for Rhys (Oates) to come on back at his old club, but he couldn't quite manage to get a goal.

“We had that many situations in the second half tonight and I thought we played some very good stuff generally throughout the game.”

On the two Hartlepool goals, Clough said: “We got caught by one long ball over the top between young Jason Law and Perchy first of all – and that happens. But, at 43 minutes, you don't then concede again.

“But you have the experienced Oli Hawkins, who then gives the ball away in a ridiculous area two minutes before half-time and all of a sudden they are back in at at 2-2 from absolutely nowhere.

“We only have ourselves to blame. The ball should have been put in a corner for Lucas (Akins) to chase. It was a lack of game management from one of our more experienced players.

“They were two very good team goals that we scored tonight and the moves that created the other chances were the same.

“All that was missing was the finish. We found one in the 95th minute on Saturday but couldn't find one today.

“Credit to Hartlepool. They got a lot of good blocks in.”

Pools scorer Luke Molyneux had to be carried off injured after being caught by a fair James Perch tackle after half-time which left the home fans booing Perch for the rest of the game.

“Perchy has been to see him,” said Clough. “It was just one of those tackles in football where he has played the ball and just caught the lad - absolutely no intent whatsoever.

“It is a physical game and part of football. It's very different to when someone goes in maliciously with an intent to try to hurt someone.”

Stags have their own injury problems with Kieran Wallace ruled out and Rhys Oates, Stephen McLaughlin and Matty Longstaff all on the bench but carrying knocks.

Jamie Murphy was another with a hamstring issue and had to come off.

“We didn't want to start Jamie Murphy tonight,” said Clough.

“We were very close to not doing, but he said he felt all right, then his hamstring tightened and that's exactly what you get. If it goes then he misses the remaining nine games of the season.”

After five games on the road, Stags return to the One Call Stadium on Saturday to face promotion rivals Northampton Town.

“We are looking forward to being at home again,” said Clough.

“We will need directions to get there but apart from that, to think we have two more away next week to make it seven out of eight away, I don't think any team has done that in recent history at any level.

“But we are looking forward to playing Northampton and we go into it on the back of seven points out of nine on the road, which I think is a brilliant return. I thought we deserved a win tonight more than we did on Saturday.”