Mansfield Town can close the small gap between being also-rans and automatic promotion next season believes boss Nigel Clough

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough is confident his players can make up the small gap between being also-rans and sealing automatic promotion next season.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 9:02 am

Clough said their campaign had been wrecked in the end by one poor 15-minute spell in Saturday's play-off final defeat by Port Vale at Wembley.

But he believes his squad will be inspired by their fantastic form over the second half of the season that was matched by few clubs in the land.

“The season has been completely overshadowed by Saturday at the moment. But I think when everyone slightly gets over it they will see it's been a hell of a season,” he said.

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James Wilson heads home Port Vale’s second at Wembley - Picture by Richard Parkes

“The highs and the lows have been out of proportion, even by footballing standards.

“The highs have been since October, only losing six league games and getting to Wembley.

“And it's the manner in which we did it as well, winning 13 or 14 home games out of 16 was absolutely remarkable. We want to build on that. We have to build on it and go again.

“That will be the main message to the players when they come back. Come on, we had a bad 15 minutes you know? Let's make sure we are ready for the season to start on 30th July.”

He added: “What we can take things from is over the course of the season. We fell at the final hurdle in one game – and, even then, only in a 15-minute spell in that one game.

“But we have to take what we've done since October. Only five teams in the country won more games than us in that time.

“We take all the positives from that. We finished seven points from the top of the league – that's all. Seven points from winning the league. And that was with a run when we didn't win for 14 games.

“That's how close that league was – seven points. It wasn't like we were having to make up 15/16 points. We are talking a couple of wins from automatic promotion.

“We know we can achieve that and it's down to everybody, staff especially, to make sure that when the players come back in, that is the message for them.”