Wembley final is an incredible achievement says Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough said his side booking a Wembley final tonight was an incredible achievement.

Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 10:34 pm

A 1-0 win in the League Two play-off semi-final second leg tonight sealed a 3-1 aggregate win and capped a rise from second bottom in the table when Stags were last at Sixfields.

“Last time we were at Northampton we were absolutely down and out,” said Clough.

“We then put an incredible performance in on the Tuesday against Port Vale and picked up from there.

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Stags boss Nigel Clough.

“To turn it round over seven or eight months and to be going to Wembley, I think the players and staff deserve a huge amount of credit.

“When you are joint bottom of the league after a third of the season, then to reach Wembley – and we still have a job to do there – is just an incredible achievement.

“Players kept the faith, kept believing, kept playing and it has culminated in tonight.”

He added: “It was hard work but it was an incredible effort by the players over the two legs – and the last eight months.

“Tonight we were very, very good in denying the opposition a lot of opportunities. The blocks and the tackles were a feature of the game.

“The defending started at the front. I thought Quinny and Oatesy started that off and Jordan and Lucas doing their defensive duties were outstanding tonight.”

Clough made three changes from the first leg and said: “We picked a team to win the game and do the job – and they did it.

“We thought that was the right team. We didn't think it was going to be a particular night for our players like Matty Longstaff, Ryan Stirk and Jamie Murphy – so we couldn't get them on.”

On loan keeper Nathan Bishop had a superb evening and Clough said: “His most important save was after about 30 seconds of the game. If they get a goal then it's a whole different ball game tonight.

“I thought his positioning, his handling, his kicking, everything was good tonight. He's played over 50 games for the first time in his life and it's been a brilliant experience for him.”

Stephen McLaughlin scored the match-winning goal and Clough smiled: “I am not sure what Stephen McLaughlin was doing up there. We thought Jordan Bowery had scored at first!

“But it was Macca – and with his right foot as well – he has got some very important goals for us this season.

“We are now all going out for a beer tomorrow afternoon, then the hard work begins again.”