Gamble pays off for Nigel Clough but concerns grown over depleted Mansfield Town fielding a side at Harrogate Town on Wednesday

Nigel Clough admitted his gamble of making sure today's thrilling home win against Harlepool United went ahead had paid off.

By John Lomas
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 6:54 pm
George Maris battles through midfield for depleted Stags this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media
George Maris battles through midfield for depleted Stags this afternoon. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

But he cast big doubts over Wednesday's trip to Harrogate Town with more players looking likely to fall to Covid on a day when the virus saw so many games called off elsewhere.

Missing eight players, Stags came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 for a 10th win in 11 games, despite losing George Lapslie, Stephen Quinn, Harry Charsley and Richard Nartey to positive tests.

“It was a bit of a gamble getting the game on today after losing players, but we thought we had enough with the starting XI to get a result and we needed a game after two weeks without one,” he said.

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“We lost three players at lunchtime, and I think if we'd told one or two half truths we'd have got the game off. “But we wanted to put a game on for the spectators – it's Boxing Day.

“We believe all four have had positive tests as well as having four out with injury.”

He continued: “We have a few more now who have symptoms and are coughing and we will test them in the morning and see where we go.

“We only have 14 fit outfielders and none of the injuries will be back in time for Wednesday.

“We will do everything we can to get a team out on Wednesday but, as much as we want to play, if we can't make the required number we will fall victim like an awful lot of teams have today.

“With it spreading so fast I think it's inevitable there will be two or three more.”

On the game overall, he said: “I thought right from the first five minutes it was a brilliant game and I am not quite sure how we got to be 1-0 down, giving away two sloppy goals.

“They didn't go into our penalty area too many times in the game and we should have been ahead before they scored.

“I said at half-time there was nothing wrong with the general performance, but we'd missed three very good chances in the six yard box and conceded a poor goal.

“But we've gone behind in a couple of games here in recent weeks and managed to turn it around as we did today.

“John-Joe's (O'Toole) goal gave us the spark and I thought he was excellent today. He deserved man of the match. He anchored central midfield brilliantly.”

“To come back from 2-0 down gives everyone a lot of confidence.”

Hartlepool thought they had levelled in added time but were denied by an offside flag and Clough added: “We maybe got a little fortunate in the last minute.

“I have not seen it back - the flag went up quite late. But we were not getting those breaks a couple of months back.”