Sky Bet League Two | The One Call Stadium – Tuesday 24th November 2020
Other than defeat, one of the worst feelings in the world is that first morning back at work after a prolonged break – a holiday somewhere hot for example, where the sea breeze lightly brushes your face, the drinks are perfectly ice-cold and the laughter is plenty. Pure Bliss – well Mansfield Town’s refreshed break is now over following defeat at home to Harrogate and now one of two things can happen.
We can either drag ourselves out of the metaphorical bed and spend the next three weeks grumpy and moaning, desperate to get back to the “Happy Place” – OR, use that desire to work that extra bit harder, earn extra rewards and get back to pure bliss city quicker.
Under the former manager, we’d have done the former – take a look at our league position for proof, but under Nigel Clough, I do feel like we can step off the plane with a bounce and start to soar again before we know it.
The 1-0 defeat left us all feeling deflated naturally, especially as we now sit just above the relegation zone on goal difference – but let’s be honest, an average Harrogate side played their game very well, took a lead in what at the time was a balanced game – and then defended well enough to take home all the points. Fair play to them.
I don’t wish to be critical at all, my only feeling is that we lacked freshness – our performance after 15-20 minutes was lethargic and if I’m honest, I was a little miffed at the unchanged starting line-up, BUT to be balanced – the players had been performing well and didn’t really deserve to be taken out for the sake of it.
In the last two games, being back at home, we’ve changed shape slightly going with a flat four in midfield rather than a diamond – for me we become less expressive with that and we lose the talents of the likes of Lapslie and Charsley, plus because we’re not stretching the game as much – other areas of the pitch become exposed and that really showed last night especially at the back.
What was pleasing is that we did respond late on in the second half but we still had that weight of reluctance about us and tried far too often to walk in the ball in, we had one shot on target which says it all – we need to be hungry and expressive, not timid and shy – especially at home.
Essentially on Sunday we have a “free shot” at tinkering as we face Daggenham in the FA Cup. I say “free shot” purely because should we lose, it doesn’t do us any harm in terms of long term LEAGUE projections – yes I’d love a good cup run, but right now given how far we’ve fallen and the mess Nigel Clough has to try and sort out, the League is the only priority.
I would 100% expect a handful of changes – a statement to players, here’s a shirt, here’s a start, here’s a future at this club – go out there and prove to me you deserve it by doing the simple things right and winning a game of football – fail to do so, well January is around the corner, the perfect time to cross that bridge.
Disappointing yes, but sometimes when you’re on a fresh journey – a loss is what you need in order to see the deeper problems, rather than just papering over the cracks.
We go again!
Click HERE to read the clubs official match report.
STAGS: Marek Stech | Kellan Gordon, Farrend Rawson, James Perch ©, Mal Benning | Harry Charsley (Jamie Reid 77), George Lapslie, Ollie Clarke, Stephen McLaughlin (Tyrese Sinclair 89) | Nicky Maynard (Andy Cook68), Jordan Bowery
Unused Subs: Aidan Stone, Ryan Sweeney, Aaron O’Driscoll, Corey O’Keeffe
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