Stevenage visit now most important game of the season so far says boss Nigel Clough

Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough said tomorrow night's crucial home clash with Stevenage was now the club's most important game of the season so far.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 3:51 pm

Stags remain in with a shout of both automatic promotion and the play-offs with three games to go, so know how crucial it is to win this massive game in hand.

“The performance and result against Crawley on Saturday were just what we needed after the two defeats,” he said.

“We needed to get back on track and the manner we did it against a good side was as important as the result.

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Mansfield manager Nigel Clough - biggest game of the season so far looming.

“Other teams don't keep winning and we certainly don't keep losing and there was quite a big swing on Saturday.

“It puts a little bit more pressure on for Tuesday night as it now becomes our biggest game of the season.

“When you get down to the last six or seven games then each one does get a bit more important if you stay in the mix. If you drop out the mix then it doesn't really matter.

“With us being right in there with three to go then this is the most important one.”

If Stags win tomorrow they will hope second-placed Exeter City can do them a couple of favours over the last two games to take points off chief automatic promotion rivals Northampton Town and Port Vale.

“Northampton play Exeter next week, which is a big game, and we have still got Salford and Forest Green to play,” said Clough.

“Forest Green have secured promotion now but will want to win the league no doubt.

“So 10 days to go and I think there are still a lot of twists and turns to go yet.

“When you get down to 10th and 11th and still in with a chance of the play-offs it suggest this is a seriously competitive league.

“We have to get the three points on Tuesday night and see how the table looks then. It can change in one game.

“We were so unlucky to lose a couple of games last weekend and all of a sudden we were outside the top seven.

“We have our sights set on the top three, but drop outside the top seven and you're struggling just to get back in.

“Now we are back in it with three games to go we have to stay in it. The play-offs would be a brilliant achievement.”

Clough will run the rule over Rhys Oates, Stephen Quinn and Stephen McLaughlin after Saturday's win before naming his side.

“Even with a few games to go, we have to look if anyone is going to do any further damage. We don't know if we have got another three games left or possibly six.

“But we have got to put out the best team we can from those who are fit.

“Oatesy was a little bit of a gamble on Saturday. He got through 80 minutes and we will see how he is.

“We have one or two others carrying knocks, but you just have to get them out there with very little training in between, wrap them up in cotton wool as the saying goes, and just concentrate on games.

“Oatesy was 50/50 then he improved slightly and did a little bit of training.

“But with these sorts of injuries it's always a risk. We are just pleased he got through it.

“We were trying to get him off as soon as we could. That's why the second goal was important.

“But, even then, Crawley are such a dangerous side, having scored in 17 consecutive away games before coming to us, we knew they could get a goal out of nothing. Even with 10 men, all of a sudden it was still game on.

“It was more important to win the game and then we looked after the three lads as soon as we could.

“We have one or two carrying knocks, but we hope nothing too serious.

“Stephen Quinn got a whack on his hip and Stephen McLaughlin got a couple of whacks as well on his hand as well as his head which led to the sending-off, which I think did warrant a second yellow card.”

Oli Hawkins will also return after missing Saturday.

“It was a personal thing,” said Clough. “They had a second child on Thursday night, so emotions were all over the shop, but he is back in the squad tomorrow.”

The Stevenage game is all-ticket and none are available on the night.