Mansfield Town kept up their hopes of reaching the play-offs again last night and Forest defender Riley Harbottle played 45 minutes. The Stags defeated Newport County 2-1 on their travels and remain in the top seven of League Two.
The young Forest man has spent the season on loan with Nigel Clough’s promotion-chasing outfit. Last night, he was introduced as a substitute at half-time with James Perch being replaced.
Harbottle has grown as a player under the wing of Clough. He’s learned how to play in a back three and also continued to adapt his skills when playing as part of a back four.
The 22-year-old has been a very useful addition to the Stags squad. As soon as Forest secured a Premier League promotion it was always likely that Harbottle would head out on loan.
Last season he made two appearances for the club that he is a fan of. He was handed two starts and they both came in the Carabao Cup against Bradford and Wolves.
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Last night, the centre-back was in fine form. Goals from Hiram Boateng and James Gale gave Mansfield a huge three points but in the second half, they had plenty of defending to do.
Harbottle was instrumental. In just 45 minutes on the field, he won all seven of the aerial challenges that he contested and struck up a wonderful partnership with Alfie Kilgour (Who Scored).
Harbottle played 45 minutes for Mansfield last night and was amazing
Some defenders don’t win seven aerial challenges in 90 minutes, let alone 45 minutes of action. Harbottle flexed his credentials to be starting games by producing a dominant display.
Harbottle is certainly offering Forest some food for thought. He has a year to run on his existing City Ground contract in the summer and he might get a chance to shine.
If Forest are relegated there is a genuine possibility that Steve Cooper will take a proper look at him. He’s certainly been doing okay for the Stags and perhaps there is a chance he will convince him to play him.
If not, the future looks bright for the defender. He’s more than good enough to be playing regularly in League Two and perhaps next year he will earn a loan move to a club higher up the pyramid if Forest decide not to keep him.