Magnificent midfield whets the appetite for next season
Mansfield Town's midfield gave us another glimpse of how influential they could be next season as Stags signed off with a superb 3-0 win at Port Vale on Saturday.
They completely dominated the show against a Vale side that had enjoyed a run of great results in recent weeks and, once again, with finishing better the score could have been even more emphatic.
Nigel Clough has already said he is not looking for new midfield players in the summer and he certainly has a wealth right now – the best quality the club has had for some time.
It was a meaningless end of season game in many ways but Mansfield looked by far the more determined to go into summer on a high and it was a delight to watch for the remote Stags faithful on iFollow.
Yet again, the only disappointment was how they did not score more goals and with the quality of the strikers Clough is hoping to bring in it simply whets the appetite for what lays ahead this Autumn.
Jordan Bowery is magnificent at holding up the ball to bring others into play and dragging defenders around, but his finishing can let him down and he should have had a hat-trick at Vale Park.
The added competition at the club next season should help push him to higher standards.
Thankfully there was no sign of the recent costly errors at the back as Stags cruised to another clean sheet.
Young Wolves loanee keeper Jamie Pardington had little to do on his full debut as his defence protected him well so it's hard to assess how good he may be. His kicking looked suspect early on but he grew in confidence and made some decisive catches from high balls in.
It sounds like Clough is hoping to keep him on loan again next season if Wolves are agreeable so he has obviously seen something he can work with.
There were no real surprises on the retained list on Monday as we already knew Clough was in the market for goalkeepers and had sent Andy Cook and Nicky Maynard out on loan, despite not having too many strikers at the club at that time.
It will be interesting to see if Ryan Sweeney can develop into his full potential elsewhere as his progress at Stags did seem to have halted and his decision for a fresh challenge looks the right one for both parties.