Five things we learned from Mansfield Town’s win at Barrow

Mansfield Town comfortably overcame a testing trip to Barrow on Saturday with a fine 3-1 win, despite playing over half of it with 10 men, that keeps Stags in the play-off spots. Here are five things we learned from the successful trip to Cumbria.

Monday, 24th January 2022, 1:52 pm
Mansfield Town forward Jordan Bowery celebrates his goal with the Stags fans. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

1: Mansfield Town are at last dangerous from set pieces.

Over recent seasons Stags have been poor with set pieces in both boxes and rarely scored a goal from one of their own.

But it would seem Nigel Clough has finally got the issue ironed out with long hours on the training pitch and on Saturday all three Mansfield goal stemmed from set pieces – two corners and a free kick.

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Celebrations from Rhys Oates after scoring an early header. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

2: This Stags side are on the verge of being record breakers

If Mansfield Town can beat visiting Leyton Orient at the One Call Stadium this Saturday they will set a new club record of eight successive Football League victories.

Saturday's win at Barrow made it seven in a row – equalling the total set in 1962 and matched in 1991.

It would be a wonderful first major achievement for this squad, which is then capable of much bigger success this season.

Mansfield Town fans at Barrow. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

They can next set their sights on the club's overall best winning sequence which was 12 games in 1924/25 when they won the Midland Counties League and then matched by Paul Cox's men in 2012/13 on the way to the Blue Square Bet Premier League title.

3: Attack is always the best form of defence

Barrow is a tough old place to go and some sides would head there and try to soak up an early pressure and quieten down the home fans.

But Nigel Clough's philosophy home or away is to take the game to the opposition and start the game on the front foot.

Jordan Bowery celebrates his second half goal with George Maris. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

They certainly did that on Saturday with the energy ball that is Rhys Oates forcing a save inside eight seconds and then scoring on 25 seconds with many fans barely in place.

4: Lucas Akins is a magnificent signing

Clough said he only wanted players in the transfer window that would complement what he already had.

And in signing Lucas Akins on Thursday, he did just that.

Mansfield Town defender Farrend Rawson receives a yellow card on Saturday - worse was to come. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

Akins came on for his debut as a sub on Saturday and, although he was only on for the last 15 minutes he looked big, strong and confident and held the ball up well.

He is definitely a different type of forward to the rest and will certainly keep League Two defenders occupied.

The great bonus is that he can play almost anywhere on the pitch if needed to and Clough knows his versatility and strengths inside out from having worked with him at Burton Albion.

5: Farrend Rawson needs to see out 90 minutes when Stags play Barrow

Having been sent off late in the home defeat by Barrow, Farrend Rawson made life very tough for Stags on Saturday by this time getting dismissed as early as the 39th minute for two yellow cards inside four minutes with Stags sitting pretty at 2-1 up.

The first caution was highly debatable but the second a silly challenge by Rawson at a time when he knew the referee had begun to dish out the yellows willy nilly.

The team celebrate Rhys Oates' early goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger

But Rawson's team mates dug in deep, kept their shape, took whatever Barrow had to offer and then delivered the killer blow through a third goal by Jordan Bowery.

Stags were certainly on the end of some very strange decisions on the day and how Ollie Banks was not sent off is a mystery.

He was given a final warning for a bad tackle that clearly warranted a yellow card, then got himself booked and then, after another bookable challenge was given another warning instead of a red card.

It will now be interesting to see if Clough again pulls back striker Oli Hawkins to cover Rawson's absence on Saturday or gives fit-again Richard Nartey a chance to show what he can do.

Oli Hawkins was also booked – yet again – and one more will see Stags lose a hugely important player for two games.

Jordan Bowery celebrates his goal with Stephen McLaughlin. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger
The team celebrates Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin's first half goal. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger