We are down but, from where we’ve come, we should be proud says Mansfield Town’s Stephen McLaughlin after draw at Salford City

Experienced Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin said, amid the disappointment of seeing automatic promotion hopes all but die in the 2-2 draw at Salford, the players and fans should be proud their side can still make the play-offs at the end of a rollercoaster season.

Monday, 2nd May 2022, 3:41 pm

Stags have dragged themselves up the table from second bottom to have a chance of the play-offs if they can at least hold title-chasing Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.

“It is a huge game ahead, but from where we have come it is unbelievable and an absolute credit to the whole lot of us – and the fans as well, as through that bad run they stuck with us home and away,” said McLaughin, who netted a free kick and a penalty at Salford.

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Mansfield Town defender Stephen McLaughlin - two goals at Salford. Photo by Chris Holloway / The Bigger Picture.media

“We have come a long, long way. We are a bit down now as we knew with a win today and another on Saturday we could have done it.

“But if anyone had said we'd reach the play-offs after we played Northampton away, people would have laughed at us - second from bottom.

“Now look at where we are, trying to get promoted and it's a good place to be.

“We are down. But there are worst things happening in the world and this is a game of football.

“Forest Green have slipped up but want to win the championship, so it's going to be a great game.

“We know at home we can beat anybody any time, so we are really looking forward to it.

“Our fans were brilliant today, they out-sung the home fans. They are a credit to themselves and I can't wait for Saturday.”

Stags conceded in the second minute today, fought back to lead, then allowed Salford a second free header to level up.

“First five or 10 minutes of the first half we were sloppy and conceded from a set piece,” said McLaughlin.

“We were told before the game don't give away silly free kicks - and we did and got punished.

“After that I thought we were the better team for the rest of the first half. We looked calm, passed the ball and created chances.”

On his goals, he said: “I just put the free kick in the bottom corner.

“To be fair I couldn't even see the keeper as he was stood behind the wall, so I knew I had a good chance. Get it on target with enough power in it.

“I take penalties in training and I am confident. I just took my time and put it up the middle and I was happy it went in.

“The game was a bit hectic. Salford are a good team and they had to win today so it was always going to be tough.

“But if we had seen out that first 10-15 minutes of the second half I think we'd have gone on to win the game comfortably.”