Mansfield boss Clough insists out-of-form Stags are on the right track ahead of Cobblers clash
Mansfield Town boss Nigel Clough has been encouraged by his side's recent performances as they look to end their 11-game winless run at Sixfields this weekend.
The Stags, who were among the favourites for promotion before the season, have endured a rotten start to the campaign and languish 21st in Sky Bet League Two.
But despite being without a whole host of players due to injury, Clough believes the last few performances have shown signs of improvement.
“I think the main positive in the last four games is that we’ve stopped shipping goals,” he said. “When we’ve conceded as many as we have, against Walsall, Harrogate and Bradford, it makes it very difficult to win.
“We’ve only conceded two in the last four league games now, and one of those was a disputed penalty. I think we’re getting to be a bit tighter. We just need to start doing more at the other end of the pitch.
“It’s been very difficult to maintain the standards of the first five games with so many players out. I think we’ve had a season’s worth of problems in a month or two.
“It’s hard enough trying to win games when you have everybody available. But when we’re at the stage we are, when we’re low on confidence – especially in front of goal – you see the anxiety and snatching at chances.
“But we keep fighting. What we’ve tried to do over the years is, the more adverse the circumstances, the harder we fight. You get more satisfaction when you get a result in the circumstances than normally, because you know how hard you’ve had to work for it.”
Speaking about facing the Cobblers on Saturday, Clough added: "Northampton are a strong, physical side. I think they’re adapting very well to life back in League Two.
“Of the teams that have come down [from League One], they’ve kept quite a few players, so they have a nucleus of League One players, which gives them a certain amount of quality.
“I think they’ve had some very good results so far this season.”