Opposition view: Clough saw nothing wrong with Mansfield's decisive goal in second leg against Cobblers

‘We still have a job to do at Wembley but it's an incredible achievement.’

By James Heneghan
Thursday, 19th May 2022, 4:10 pm
Nigel Clough.
Nigel Clough.

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough hailed the ‘incredible achievement’ of reaching Wembley and the League Two play-off final after his side beat Northampton 3-1 over two legs.

Stephen McLaughlin’s 31st-minute goal combined with some superb defending at Sixfields was enough to take Mansfield to within 90 minutes of winning promotion to League One.

There was more than a hint of controversy to McLaughlin’s strike, though, after an offside Stephen Quinn made a move towards the ball before leaving it to Elliott Hewitt who set up the goal.

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Clough felt it was the correct decision to allow the goal to stand, saying: "That's the rule now. I know a few of their supporters and players were upset about it but you see those goals given every week now because the fourth has said Quinny had no impact on the play.

On the game itself, Clough added: "Northampton were a kick away from automatic promotion and they are a very good side so it's an incredible effort to win both legs."

"It took a lot of hard work but I thought it was an incredible effort from the players over the two legs and over the last eight or nine months."I thought we were very, very good this evening in denying the opposition too many opportunities - it was properly one of our best defensive performances all season, certainly to keep a clean sheet."It all started at the front and I thought Jordan (Bowery) and Lucas (Akins) did their defensive duties and the team was outstanding in all areas."We were at our lowest ebb when we came here (Sixfields) earlier in the season and we were down and out but we put in a good performance in the next game and then everything picked up from there."When you are down at the bottom after a third of the season and then you go and reach Wembley, the players and staff deserve a huge amount of credit to turn it around."We still have a job to do at Wembley but it's an incredible achievement."