We're getting ever closer to the Final of the Sky Bet League Two Play-Offs. Here's a look at our opponents Mansfield Town
In the Dugout
Nigel Clough had his first managerial role at Burton Albion in 1998 as a 32-year-old player-manager in the Southern Football League Premier Division. He spent 11 years at Burton before moving to Derby and later Sheffield United. Clough would return to Burton in 2015 spending a further five years at the club but resigned as manager in 2020 before moving to Mansfield later in the year.
Clough had this to say before Saturday’s game “Darrell’s (Clarke) a Mansfield lad I know, and David (Flitcroft) was here as manager not so long ago. I think like us they’ll just want to do it for their own club, they’ll want to get into League One for Port Vale’s sake more than anything else.”
Man with the Armband
Mansfield skipper Ollie Clarke joined the club in July 2020 and was appointed captain for the upcoming season. He started at Bristol Rovers in 2009 and remained there for 11 years making 235 appearances. He went on loan early in his Rovers career to Gloucester City, Mangotsfield United and Clevedon Town.
This season Clarke has made 32 appearances in all competitions scoring four times and assisting twice. He’s picked up five yellows and one red card this season. The midfielder’s last goal was the clincher in a 2-0 home win over Leyton Orient in late January. He has had a spell on the side-lines and has only played six minutes since we played the Stags in March, that being the last six minutes against Northampton Town in the second leg.
22-year-old Matty Longstaff has been at Newcastle United his entire career. He made his professional debut in August 2019 against Leicester City in the EFL Cup. On his Premier League debut, he scored in a 1-0 home win against Manchester United which was voted as Premier League goal of the month.
At the start of this season, he went out on loan to Aberdeen but from August through to December he only featured five times. The midfielder was recalled and a month later signed on loan at the Stags. The midfielder has made 17 appearances scoring six goals and grabbing two assists. The Newcastle loanee had made 10 consecutive appearances but was dropped to the bench for the second leg tie against Northampton Town.
Summer signing from Hartlepool United Rhys Oates is the Stags’ top scorer with 12 goals in all competitions. His last goal came at home to Northampton Town in the first leg of the Play-Offs where the Stags won by two goals to one.
Last time out and recent form
Mansfield have won three and drawn two of their last five games. They were victorious over Stevenage at home before drawing against Salford City and Forest Green Rovers. The Stags then began their Play-Off campaign against Northampton Town and won the first leg 2-1 at home. With a lead, they then travelled to Sixfields to clinch a place at Wembley.
It was Mansfield who took the lead in the first half thanks to Stephen McLaughlin which gave the Stags a two-goal lead on aggregate. The Cobblers were unable to break Mansfield’s defence down as they hung on to reach the home of English football.