Nigel Clough wants Mansfield Town to relax against Sunderland in FA Cup
Nigel Clough wants Stags to go out and relax when they face Sunderland in the FA Cup on Saturday.
It will be the second successive season Mansfield have contested an FA Cup first round clash at the Stadium of Light.
And while Clough would love to see a repeat of last year’s 1-0 win, he knows Sunderland will be a tougher nut to crack this time out.
“It was an eerie Stadium of Light with no fans and no noise last year,” said Clough, who watched from the stands after being installed as manager days before.
“I saw an honest Mansfield give everything and deservedly get the win.
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“It lifted everyone, people were low and the result lifted things.
“We are encountering a different Sunderland, they have improved tremendously over the last 12 months.
“They have a much better squad, as shown by them beating QPR to get to the Carabao Cup quarter-finals despite resting players.
“The league remains their priority and they will pick a team that reflects that. I’m sure they would like to win but not at the price of risking players.”
Clough is now keen to see his players relax and show what they can do.
And he hopes they will feel the pressure has been lifted after snapping their long win-less run last time out.
“I hope we can relax and play on the back of the win over Tranmere and three good performances in our last three games,” he said.
“We want to just continue to play well and relax and hopefully some pressure has been lifted going forward.
“We want to keep that up and hopefully we will see performances improve as players come back.
“Ryan Stirk is the next one that we need back. We are getting defenders fit now and that helped us get the clean sheet on Saturday.
“George Lapslie is back from suspension so we are getting there and you see that reflected in the performances.”