MANSFIELD Town manager Nigel Clough admits his side handed Colchester United a ‘lifeline’ after conceding a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at the One Call Stadium.

The in-form Stags looked set to take all three points from the League Two encounter, following Nicky Maynard’s spectacular 67th-minute strike.

But a ‘misjudgement’ from Mansfield goalkeeper Marek Stech with five minutes of normal time remaining allowed substitute Luke Norris to equalise and salvage a point for the U’s.

Clough told iFollow Stags: “We could have had the three points tonight.

“I thought we were comfortable and restricted them to so few opportunities.

“It’s one misjudgement from Marek [Stech] with ten minutes to go, and all of a sudden, they have a lifeline.

“I thought we looked the more likely to get the second goal, and we had a few situations tonight where we could have had that.

“We didn’t quite manage it and I’m very, very disappointed not to get the three points.

“I thought Nicky’s goal was a brilliant strike. He’s just turned and hit it instinctively, in off the bar, it’s a brilliant finish.

“It was another good performance – we’ve just played two top six sides and we’ve got four points, which could have been six. I thought there were a lot of good things out there again tonight.”

Colchester enjoyed 57 per cent of possession overall – but boss Clough insisted the visitors did not make too many inroads against his side.

“Colchester had a lot of the ball in their own half, and didn’t hurt us too much,” added the former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool midfielder.

“We responded well late on – I’ve seen teams crumble in those situations and lose the game 2-1.

“We didn’t do that – we went pressing to see if we could go on and get the winner.

“It’s a six-game unbeaten run [that we’re on]. When a team has hardly won a game [this season], I think that is extremely encouraging.

“We still have to get better on the ball, so we’re still working on being better and more comfortable on the ball.

“We were set up to attack – we wanted Stephen [McLaughlin] to get crosses in and our full-backs to join in.

“I think that worked okay. I thought we created enough tonight. Jordan [Bowery] should’ve taken one [shot] instead of crossing it, and Nicky could’ve made a better decision in the second-half to play Jordan in.

“I thought we had very good situations, we just have to make more of them.”