LOMAS ON STAGS: Oldham Athletic tonking whets Mansfield Town fans appetite for next season

Mansfield Town's sparkling final home game of the campaign did much to whet the appetite for next season.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:12 am
Keith Curle is all smiles with Nigel Clough pre-match on Saturday, but those smiles were long gone after seeing his side torn apart by his old club.

Saturday's 4-1 tonking of Keith Curle's Oldham Athletic was a joy to watch, apart from the car crash moment that allowed the Latics a glimmer of hope they didn't deserve.

When Ryan Sweeney, under pressure from Zak Dearnley, realised Aidan Stone wasn't coming out as he tried to shepherd the ball back to him, he should have put a boot through it while Stone, having decided at the last minute to drop on the ball at Sweeney's feet, should have held it at all costs.

But, that aside, the game was far more memorable for Stags going forward and looking like they might hit double figures, such were the number of chances created.

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They are chances that require someone to finish and players of that ilk will be top of Nigel Clough's summer shopping list while developing those already under the roof.

So badly were Oldham torn apart that ex-Stags boss Curle kept his players behind for a 45-minute dressing room lock-in and was visibly upset when he eventually came out to meet the press.

Keaton Ward made a confident full debut in midfield. The youngster was neat, tidy and accurate with his passing and kept everything simple.

George Lapslie is almost back to his best, having struggled to regain his form following injury, and his two goals reminded everyone how significant he could be next season while George Maris was involved in everything and man of the match.

Up front Tyrese Sinclair and Jamie Reid both notched but could have had hat-tricks.

Stags now head for a hugely tough test at Port Vale on Saturday to complete the strangest of campaigns.

They will face a Vale side, massively lifted by the arrival ex-Stags star Darrell Clarke as manager, who could be a force next season. Clarke and played Tom Conlon have been shortlisted for the League Two manager and player of the month awards for April.

Clarke guided his side to five wins and a draw with five clean sheets from their six games in the month, part of an unbeaten nine-game run that was finally ended with Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at doomed Grimsby.