LOMAS ON STAGS: Tranmere Rovers setback won’t stop Mansfield Town being on the front foot away from home

Nigel Clough has defiantly vowed to stick to his guns and take the game to sides away from home.

Tuesday, 15th March 2022, 3:20 pm

And that is music to the ears of the Mansfield Town fans who have followed the team on the road this season.

Is something isn’t broken then why fix it?

Friday’s 3-2 defeat at Tranmere Rovers could have gone either way on the night and, whatever happens at Port Vale tonight, it won’t change the fact that Stags have largely been superb away from home.

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Jamie Murphy pushes through the Tranmere defence during Friday's match at Prenton Park. Photo by Chris Holloway/The Bigger Picture.media

It was a thrilling but sickening way for the 14-game unbeaten run to be halted on Friday and Mansfield were certainly not at their slick, flowing best.

But the fact is Tranmere are also among the promotion front runners and deserve credit of their own for finally halting Clough’s magical run.

There is no shame in losing at Prenton Park at any time – they now boast the division’s best home record – and the fact Stags pushed them so close on their own turf spoke volumes for the guts shown by Mansfield on the night.

For once the Stags midfield were not dominant and twice the visitors found themselves behind and backs to the wall.

But Matty Longstaff’s third goal in as many games – a superb team goal – levelled the game the first time just before the break.

And when Oli Hawkins made it 2-2 in stoppage time at the end it seemed Stags had secured a vital and hard-earned point.

Soon after Hawkins saw another effort saved. Had that gone in Mansfield would have finished the night back in the top three automatic promotion places.

But football can be so cruel and Tranmere broke back downfield in the fifth added minute to steal a late, late winner and by tea time the following day Clough’s men had slid down to ninth in what is becoming a fascinating, wide-open promotion battle.

All eyes will now be on Saturday when Stags can set a new club record of 11 successive home league wins – having already equalled the club record of 10 from 1949. But visiting Stevenage are fighting for their EFL lives once again and nothing can be taken for granted.

Then there is barely time to catch your breath before a Tuesday trip to Rochdale.