Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 15th January 2022
There were some concerns that after exiting the FA Cup in the 94th minute, Mansfield Town may begin to implode and undo all their hard work – however, a 3-2 victory over Swindon Town in midweek, followed by yesterday’s 2-0 victory over Walsall – Nigel Clough’s men have made a clean cut, and have jumped into the Sky Bet League Two play-offs.
Nigel Clough’s men have this togetherness and resolve which seems to have grown and grown – they look determined to go out and win every game and play teams off of the park, the results aren’t just showing on the league table, but in the stands as fans flock in and raise the noise level.
It’s hard to really pick fault when you’re winning games, Tuesday you could talk about the way we let two goals in, and yesterday you could argue that we should have had ten, but it’s picky and what matters most is the end result and so long as we’re getting them, there’s nothing more to say!
The next week is going to be the biggest challenge so far for me, we’ve had six home games and enjoyed home comforts backed by big numbers – but those will be reduced significantly considering the amount of miles we’ve got to travel.
On Tuesday we go to the league leaders although there’s little to fear there for me, it’ll still prove a tough test, whilst on Saturday it’s a Barrow side who will want to put more distance between them and the bottom sides.
Add into the mix the outcome of the John-Joe O’Toole contract situation, news due on Monday, that could have one of two impacts – he goes, it’s a BIG blow to how we play and the squad, he stays, it’s a bounce of togetherness and let’s finish the job. Here’s hoping it’s the latter and Mr O’Toole remains a Stag.
Forget ifs and buts, forget looking ahead to finishing here or there, let’s continue to enjoy the moment, it’s much better that way!
COME ON YOU STAGS!
STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, Rawson, Hawkins (Gale 90’), McLaughlin, O’Toole, Clarke (C) (Charsley 46’), Maris, Quinn, Oates (Johnson 90’), Bowery UNUSUED SUBS: Stech, Nartey, Law, Sinclair,
Attendance: 5,728 (884)
FA Cup Third Round, Saturday 8th January 2022
With two in form teams coming head to head, it was never going to be a dull encounter – and even at 2-0 down following two goals highlighting the difference in levels between the two sides, the Stags refused to lie down and take it.
Yet again Clough’s men fought back to make a real game of it and after shaking off the cobwebs following another two postponements, really clicked around twenty minutes or so and started to open up the Championship side.
With a bumper crowd eager to see a cup upset, you sensed that if Mansfield could get a goal, the roof would come off and the Stags WOULD draw level. It may have taken a while but when Oli Hawkins swooped in to head home Quinn’s inch perfect cross, you knew there was more to come and with five minutes to go, Jason Law’s splitting pass sent Rhys Oates through to do the rest.
Seven minutes of added time were added on and I honestly think, had tiredness (Hawkins out paced) not set it and the unfortunate own goal from the diving bodies of O’Toole and Hewitt, we’d have won it in extra time.
BUT, if you’re going to go out of a cup competition, that’s the way to do it – we gave it everything, we left our fans leaving bursting with pride and importantly, hungry for more.
That can only bode well for the remainder of the season, starting again on Tuesday evening as Swindon come to One Call Stadium – where should the Stags bounce back with a win, could pull themselves into the playoffs.
We’ve seen in previous seasons how much a good cup run can impact you, let’s hope the confidence of taking out two league one clubs and pushing a championship promotion chaser to the absolute brink, is enough to repeat memories of 2013!
COME ON YOU STAGS!
STAGS: Bishop, Hewitt, O'Toole, Hawkins, McLaughlin (Lapslie 60), Maris, Clarke © (Johnson 60), Stirk (Law 71), Bowery, Quinn, Oates Unused Subs: Stech, Turner, Nartey, Charsley, Burke, Ward
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