LOMAS ON STAGS: Can Mansfield end a fantastic 2022 on a high this week?

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Mansfield Town will hope to end a fantastic 2022 on a high in their final two games of the year at home to Northampton Town on Monday and away at Hartlepool United on Thursday.

But, whatever happens, and even though no promotion has been achieved, no one can take it away from the Stags that the year has represented a huge step forward.

Nigel Clough’s men sit proudly in seventh place for most points accumulated by any of the 92 clubs in 2022 – an incredibly impressive statistic.

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From needing to drag the club away from the wrong end of the table when he first came in, Clough took them to the brink of promotion last season when only that off day at Wembley saw them beaten in the play-off final.

It was heartbreak for Stags at Wembley in May's play-off final against Port Vale.It was heartbreak for Stags at Wembley in May's play-off final against Port Vale.
It was heartbreak for Stags at Wembley in May's play-off final against Port Vale.

Had Stags given their best that day and lost, it would have been easier to take. But the side that had thrilled us for so many months simply did not turn up on the day and no one could put a finger on why that was.

Home form was amazing all year with only two recent defeats tarnishing it at all.

Now Clough needs to perfect his promotion jigsaw in the January window with the promise of two or three in and out to freshen things up.

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A solid, no-nonsense centre half is top of his shopping list which could see JJ O’Toole or even fellow veteran James Perch surplus to requirements, given their current situations out of the regular XI.

It is nice to hear that Jimmy Knowles is going to have his contract extended until the end of the season to show what he can do after his serious knee injury. At one stage he looked a really hot young prospect. Football can be a cruel game and the time he has had away and the severity of his injury may now be against him.

But he could also be an unexpected bonus should he suddenly show he can do a job for the club at first team level.

To all Stags fans - have a fantastic Christmas and a prosperous and healthy New Year in which Mansfield Town get to play League One football once more.

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Stags sit fifth and 10 points adrift of second-placed Stevenage, with the top two already looking a real challenge to catch. But Northampton are third, only five points ahead of Stags which underlines how big the Boxing Day game is.