Stags Slip In Promotion Push

The title race in EFL League Two is certainly a rollercoaster ride this season, and Mansfield Town, despite a recent dip in form, are still in the thick of it all.

Not that long ago Stags boss Nigel Clough and his charges hit top spot ahead of the run-in and all was looking rosy at the One Call Stadium, however, a change in form, and coupled with a heavy defeat at home to fellow promotion rivals, Crawley Town, has changed all that.

Defeat to Crawley, who sit in seventh place, coupled with victories for the three sides above the Stags, was not on the agenda that’s for sure; prior to kick-off and Clough’s side were in second place, four points off the leaders and with a game or two in hand against the sides nestled between.

Two goals in each half from visiting Crawley would consign the Stags to defeat – they’d not conceded more than two in a game all season long – Kellan Gordon and Nicholas Tsaroulla had the visitors two-up inside twenty-five minutes, and within a matter of minutes, ten minutes after the restart, two quickly became four when Danilo Orsi and Klaidi Lolos also netted, Tsaroulla and Lolos doing so with efforts from just inside the eighteen-yard box.

A flurry of changes from the Stags, just after the hour, stemmed the Crawley tide with one of those, Hiram Boateng, on for Stephen Quinn in the 63 minute, grabbing a consolation goal when he tucked home a cross from defender George Williams, with ten minutes remaining.

Mansfield Town – Christy Pym, George Williams, Aden Flint, Elliott Hewitt (Stephen McLaughlin, 62), Jordan Bowery, Ollie Clarke, Louis Reed (George Maris, 62), Stephen Quinn (Hiram Boateng, 63), Davis Keillor-Dunn (Aaron Lewis, 62), Lucas Akins (Tom Nichols, 62), Will Swan

Injuries continue to floor the Stags and manager Clough alluded to that in his post-Crawly assessment, telling iFollow Stags: “Just about everything went wrong (today).

“The only thing that didn’t go wrong was not picking up more injuries.

“We’ve been saying all week how Crawley have started strong in away games.

“We gave them that opportunity in the first five or ten minutes, starting with a poor back-pass from Flinty (Aden Flint), Jordan Bowery not getting tight and it went from there.

“The manner of the goals we conceded (today), and the way we then looked after that was the most concerning.

“We were always going to be a little bit more vulnerable because we lost stalwarts of the back four, in terms of (Lewis) Brunt and (Baily) Cargill – who’ve arguably been two of our best defenders this season – then it’s going to have an impact.”

You can read the full piece with Nigel Clough here

Defeat though, their fourth in the past eight outings over the past five weeks, has proved costly, the Stags having slipped to fourth, on 73 points, seven points behind Stockport County (80pts, who won 3-1 at Sutton United), three off second placed Wrexham (76pts, won 2-1 at Colchester United), and one behind MK Dons, who leapfrogged the Stags into third (73pts, won 2-0 at Forest Green Rovers).

There are a few positives however, the Stags have done enough thus far to both keep themselves within touching distance of the automatic promotion places, and they have a six-point advantage on the recent of the play-off pack, Barrow and Crewe Alexandra (67pts), Crawley Town (65pts), with just a handful of games remaining.

Another positive of late, the return of defender Elliott Hewitt, who’s endured some eleven months on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Returning in late March’s 2-0 defeat at Wrexham, he has been enjoying the view from the sidelines (prior to recent outings that is), and he told BBC Radio Nottingham: “Obviously I wanted to be out there, but the lads have been flying.

“It’s been amazing to watch. We’re right up there with a chance.

“Obviously we had a little blip against Wrexham, and Colchester we weren’t great.

“Hopefully that’s behind us and we can kick on,” you can read more with Elliott Hewitt here

They’ll look to do that on Tuesday, stem a tide which sees the Stags with no wins in their last three, as they host bottom-of-the-table Forest Green Rovers (9 April), ahead of a huge clash this coming Saturday (13 April) when they make the trip south, to the Stadium MK, in a promotion battle with third-placed MK Dons.

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @mansfieldtownfc a poor weekend for Mansfield who now need to bounce back.

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