Mansfield Town boss says cup win atones for past as they beat Sheffield Wednesday to break 44-year duck
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A bit of late quality from Rhys Oates capped off an excellent team goal and offered the League Two side the chance to knock the Owls out on penalties, a chance they took with former Owls Aden Flint netting their final spot-kick.
Wednesday were dominant for much of the match but failed to build on Anthony Musaba’s first goal for the club, paying the price in the 85th minute.
Clough, a former Wednesday loanee in his playing days that went on to manage Sheffield United, suggested his side got a reward for running the Hillsborough club close in last year’s FA Cup, when a late Michael Smith double saw the Owls set up a famous third round tie with Newcastle United.
“We came last year and we were unlucky to lose in the FA Cup,” Clough said post-match. “So unlucky. So it goes some way to making up for it. I didn’t know it had been 44 years since we’d been in the third round. Brilliant.”
Stags keeper Christy Pym was an undoubted man of the match, making seven saves on the night to help put his side into the hat for the third round for the first time since 1979.
“I thought he played very well,” Clough continued. “You have to, you’re going to a Championship club with almost a full side out. Your goalkeeper and your defenders are going to have to play well and Christy made some crucial saves.
“There was a little bit of difference in the subs available tonight. They’re bringing on Lee Gregory, Will Vaulks, Liam Palmer, big Smith up front. We were looking around at the babies on the bench and we couldn’t do much.
“We said to them at half-time to stay in it and see what happens. We talked yesterday in the meeting about Newcastle v Liverpool. Liverpool stayed in it at 1-0 and ended up winning it 2-1. That’s what you do, you stay in those sorts of games. If you concede the second, the game is over.”
Mansfield came into the game in the second half and were the beneficiaries of generous Wednesday defending.
Clough said: “I thought in the second half we were absolutely outstanding and it was just whether we could get the goal or not. And what it goal it was in the end, 32 passes leading up to it, magnificent and a great finish.
“I don’t think we took advantage of the positions we got ourselves into in the first half against the better players and better defenders we were obviously up against. We just needed that one piece of brilliance.”