Sky Bet League Two, Saturday 11th December 2021
There’s a saying in football that once the players step over the white line, there’s little managers can do to change things – but that’s not always the case. It could be a key substitution, a bit of information on a player or, in yesterday’s case a change in system midway through a game to nullify the opposition.
The Stags had started with the back three, but with John-Joe O’Toole (illness) and Will Forrester (ankle) both missing, Clough had to change the back three with Hawkins and Rawson coming in and Hewitt going to left side centre half.
Without sounding harsh on Hewitt, he was having a torrid time and after Salford took the lead on nine minutes, it was clear that the Stags needed to change things up and to Clough’s credit, sent the message out for Hewitt to go to right back in a flat back four – from then on, he improved and so did the Stags.
The fluid football began to return and the Stags racked up a number of chances before Rhys Oates turned home McLaughlin’s free kick to level the game, he was then heavily involved in winning another set play, which McLaughlin then bent home to put the Stags back in front.
In the second half the Stags were OK and put enough pressure on and defended well enough to see the game through, although it’s clear Clough needs another striker, or Danny Johnson to be fit enough to return, because after an hour – the lads had given it everything and were really struggling for pace up front.
Mansfield are on a brilliantly remarkable run and still have players to come back, a week of rest will be needed ahead of the trip to Forest Green Rovers, where an immoveable object, meets an unstoppable force!
COME ON YOU STAGS!
STAGS: Bishop, Rawson, Hawkins ©, Hewitt, Bowery, Stirk, Maris, McLaughlin, Quinn (Charsley 87), Lapslie, Oates (Sinclair 81) UNUSED SUBS: Shelvey [GK], Burke, Law, Gale, Nartey
Attendance: 4,113 (73)
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