Time to avenge Wembley defeat says Mansfield Town ace Ollie Clarke in Port Vale rematch

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Mansfield Town midfield ace Ollie Clarke said Stags owe Port Vale one tomorrow night after Stags' tame Wembley play-off final surrender two years ago.

League One Vale come to the One Call Stadium for what should be a thrilling Carabao Cup fourth round tie with a likely quarter-final tie against a Premier League club for the winners.

And, after 19 games unbeaten in all competitions this season, Clarke believes Mansfield will prove a very different proposition for the Valiants.

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“You don't get to compete at this stage of the competition very often at this level,” he said.

Stags skipper Ollie Clarke - time for revenge tomorrow.Stags skipper Ollie Clarke - time for revenge tomorrow.
Stags skipper Ollie Clarke - time for revenge tomorrow.

“To potentially get to the quarter-finals of the League Cup and play a big team is what we want and what everyone is here for. Everyone will be desperate to play.

“We owe Port Vale one as well so I am sure we will be right up for that.

“We didn't quite get going that day for whatever reason. It's gone now. But a lot has changed since that day in terms of us. We are a lot better as a team and the squad as a whole has improved.

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“The day passed us by without us showing people what we were about, which was a shame. We know we were capable of much better and didn't show it on the day.

“We didn't lose by that scoreline all season until Wembley. Sometimes the occasion gets to you or some days you just don't turn up and put up a fight – we rolled over a bit when they got the goals.

“We have already beaten teams from the league above us this season so let's see if we can do it again tomorrow.”

He added: “I think the top half of League Two and bottom half of League One is a similar playing field without too much of a gap and every team is there for the taking.

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“Peterborough are one of the bigger hitters in League One but we matched them and went toe to toe with them and came out on top in the end.

“This team is built to play at a higher level and we need to prove that tomorrow. We know what we are capable of when we get the ball down and play.

“The mood in the camp is brilliant and we are all desperate to get out there and play games. If you are not on it you know there are players on the bench who will come in and take your place.”

Stags had to fight hard for Saturday's 2-1 win over Walsall and Clarke said: “It was a massive win for us and a real morale-booster.

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“They are a hard-working, honest side we so we knew we'd have to be right at it. And with the run we have been on we know every team is going to want to come and stop us.

“We are showing character and determination to grind wins out when we are not quite at it. That is testament to everyone involved.

“We reacted well to the setback of their equaliser and did well to see it out.

“Everything has come together at the right time. We have had a bit of luck in that period and we have put teams to bed when we've needed to – and we have fought out draws which in previous seasons we may not have.

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“We are showing resilience to not lose games and putting some sides to the sword. It's been enjoyable to be a part of.”

He added: “It has been hard to get going at the start as I missed the majority of pre-season but the manager has built up my minutes and now the games are coming thick and fast I feel fit and ready to play my part.”

Although the players are picking up the plaudits for the run, Clarke said: “The manager deserves a lot of the credit – he is the one who is motivating us and the one who is picking the team.

“He sees when things need to be changed. We have injuries throughout the course of the season and he has picked the right person to step in and cover when needed.

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“It says a lot about him as a manager. He has seen it and done it all through his career and is experienced enough to know when lads need to come out if they look tired or it needs a little reshuffle. He has managed to do that really well this season.

“He is a great manager and very simplistic. We keep everything pretty simple in terms of training and analysis whereas a lot of managers nowadays would probably have you in a classroom looking at other teams a lot.

“Our focus is mainly on ourselves and what we can do.

“For me personally he as probably matured me as a player. I think I was 27 when I first came here but I didn't really know my position as much as I do now.

“Now I understand the game better and which positions to pick up. He has really helped me in the last couple of years.

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“When he came in we knew it was a massive appointment. We'd heard good things about him – he is a very well known manager.

“We bought straight into his methods and we have built well over the last couple of years.

“He should be managing at a higher level but he is here at the moment and we are very lucky to have him.”