Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough believes his side have already shown they have the character needed to complete play-offs mission

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough believes his side have already shown they have the character needed to get the job done on Wednesday as they head to Northampton Town with a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 4:53 pm

He also said that if the tie went against them the club was in a far better place than a year ago and it would not be the end of the world.

“We will need character on Wednesday,” said Clough. “But one of the main reasons we are here is character.

“To recover from the position we were in in October to actually get to this stage is down to that.

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Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough.

“I don't think we were ever going to get relegated but I think a lot of teams in our situation would have ended up halfway, a bottom half finish.

“I think everyone would have expected that a third of the way through the season.

“Whatever happens on Wednesday night we are in good shape as a club.

“If the worst comes to the worst and we get knocked out, we get knocked out.

“But from where we've come as a club we're in a good position at the moment compared to where we were 12 months ago.”

He added: “Some people forget that and if we do get knocked out, even on penalties, it's the end of the world.

“But it's not. We've got a good squad intact going forward.

“Someone said if we'd started the season in October we'd have won the league. Whatever happens we're in a good place.

“It's taken Forest Green and Exeter five or six years to get up while Bristol Rovers and Northampton came down but they are strong and have a lot of League One players.”

Clough is delighted to be going into the game with a lead and believes his side can play better than they did in Saturday's first leg.

“I think we're pretty relaxed at the moment. We've tried to keep it that way for the past 10 days,” he said.

“It was a good result on Saturday though not so good a performance. I think the goals masked that a little bit. We scored two excellent goals, though I understand the first one was just offside.

“We didn't get it down and play as well as we can. We can play better than that.

“We would have liked to have kept a clean sheet. And we'd like to have kept the two-goal lead. But at the start of the night we'd have taken a lead of any sort. Now we know exactly what we have to do.

“It was quite similar to the Swindon v Port Vale game. Swindon were 2-0 ahead but good teams are always going to come back into it.

“You are not going to dominate the 90 minutes and they are going to have chances.

“I thought we were a little bit unlucky as we were very close to getting a block in with the goal we conceded, but it was probably a fair result on the evening.”He continued: “I thought first 10-15 minutes we started the second half well, searching for that third goal. But then their goal changed everything about the hour mark.

“It gave them some impetus and they put us under pressure. I thought our two centre halves especially stood up to it and defended extremely well to enable us to have this lead.”