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Nigel Clough: 'It's still been a successful season'

28 May 2022

Mansfield boss Nigel Clough wants his side to feel like they have achieved this season, despite Saturday's Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final 3-0 loss to Port Vale.

The Stags were given a mountain to climb after only 35 minutes at Wembley, finding themselves two goals and a man down, after Oliver Hawkins received a second yellow card.

Mal Benning's second-half strike against his former Club finished off the tie, but Clough's disappointment was offset by his side's ability to have reached the Play-Offs after a 12-game winless run in the first half of the season.

"It’s still been a successful season," he said. "It’s not been the ultimate success we wanted, but to get to this stage has to be seen as successful to a certain degree and we have to build on this for next season.

"All you can do is completely put it behind you.

"You have to get away for a couple of weeks. I’ll be back at work on Monday trying to work on a few contracts and then get a couple of weeks’ break.

"The players have put in an incredible amount of effort, so we’ll have a break and come back for the new season. It’s the first time we’ve lost on a Saturday since October, it’s remarkable – we just couldn’t get over that final hurdle."

Clough, who was denied his second EFL promotion as a manager, having taken Burton Albion to the Championship in 2016, described the defeat as one of the worst if his career.

"It’s pretty low down. Football’s a horrible game sometimes and I have to say this is a horrible place sometimes," he said.

"We conceded two goals and went down to 10 men – that’s it. It’s fine margins, we missed a good chance early on and could’ve gone one up, then they have a deflected cross and it goes straight to the lad. They punished us and the sending off is the icing on the cake for the first half.

"I don't think we did ourseves justice today. That’s the most frustrating part of it."

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