Nigel Clough optimistic after seeing work-rate of his Mansfield Town players

Nigel Clough is optimistic for the future after watching his Mansfield Town players give him everything they can.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 2:17 pm
James Tilley scored in stoppage time to sink Mansfield at Crawley. Picture by Jamie Evans

Mansfield have produced a mixed bag of results in recent weeks after being hampered by costly errors and conceding late goals.

But the Stags gaffer believes they are mental aspects of play that can be worked on and not down to a lack of fitness or effort.

“The effort is what we are looking at, that is why we are feeling positive,” he said.

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“We saw the players come off devastated having conceded another late goal (against Grimsby). It is demoralising, it is frustrating, but I tell you what, they could hardly stand up after the game, they are giving that much effort.

“That's always been the bottom line with us. We can work on the other things, but it's very difficult to start instilling that effort and commitment at this stage of the season.

“I think that we have got that in place and that is what is giving us the optimism despite the frustration of the late goals.

“They are killing us in terms of our points total and league position.

“We would be safe without the late goals. We are contributing to our own downfall though.

“We have had deflections and things that we can’t do anything about, but we are being punished for every mistake we are making.

And Clough believes that the next pre-season campaign could be the key to developing a ruthless streak for his side.

It has been a familiar story for the club over the last three games, with far too many late goals see points go begging.

“It is definitely a mental and not a physical issue and it has been happening all season,” he added. “It is amazing how it affeccts the players when it has happened for six months.

"Having got the lead for a second time against Grimsby, we should have hung on to it.

"It is pre-season mainly where you work on it (not conceding late goals) and the attitude.

“If you can get through the first half dozen games of the season without conceding late goals, and even get one or two yourself, all of a sudden the players’ mentality changes around and they start to think they are going to score late and not concede.”

“You need a few characters in the team and building to instil that belief and we will hopefully get that in the summer.

“It is quite deep rooted (conceding late goals over the last three season) if everyone thinks like that.

“Even fans coming back into the ground are frightened late on that we will concede because it's happened before and we have to change that mentality.”