Craig Priest writes...
Fixture: Mansfield Town V Luton Town
Competition: Blue Square Bet Premier – Game #19
Venue: The One Call Stadium
Date & Time: Sunday 18th November 2012 – 1pm
Match Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 2619 (522)
Well I can honestly say that after yesterday’s game with Luton, I feel there’s no reason what so ever to be negative. The two goals we conceded were mistakes, individually and collectively I’ll give you that, but I don’t think you can question the football we played and the fighting spirit we had to go and grab a late leveller – substitute Matt Green grabbing his first goal in roughly 720 minutes of football, what better time to score!
The match itself was an entraining one and a draw was just about right, we are now unbeaten in five matches with one defeat in nine – our form has changed, it’s just a matter of time now before the wins flow, although it will be tough with practically a different defence tomorrow at Macclesfield, more on that in the preview later.
Paul Cox made just the one enforced change to the line up, John Dempster began the first of a three game ban which saw Ritchie Sutton revert to centre back with John Thompson the man given the nod at right back, Exodus Geohaghon donned the captains armband, the fifth player to captain Mansfield this term.
Line Up [4-4-1-1]: Shane Redmond, John Thompson, Exodus Geohaghon (C), Ritchie Sutton, Lee Beevers, Lindon Meikle, Chris Clements, Anthony Howell, Louis Briscoe, Ben Hutchinson, Nick Wright
Substitutes: Jake Speight, Matt Green, Matt Rhead, Adam Murray, Junior Daniel
The visitors Luton had never beaten Mansfield at the One Call Stadium in a league encounter but began brightly as they looked to grab an early lead. Anthony Howell was the guilty one for Stags as his poor cross park pass was cut out by Alex Lawless. A neat reverse pass then saw the dangerous Andre Gray break into the box, his shot however was easy for Redmond in the Stags goal.
Three minutes later flowing football saw Mansfield grab a throw on the right hand side, Exodus Geohaghon led by example as he launched in a fast throw to set up the opening goal for his side, Ben Hutchinson rose well and glanced a back header up and over the stretched Mark Tyler, his second goal in as many league outings – another pound to his movember fund!
It was ever so nearly de-ja-vox for Stags two minutes from the restart as Geohaghon again launched in a throw, Hutchinson this time saw his flick headed away – Chris Clements was expertly positioned on the edge of the box to win the second ball, a thunderous half volley deflecting away for the first of two corners.
Clements then put in an excellent block on 17 minutes, his pass into the path of Wright saw the front man flagged offside, a minute later both were involved again with Clements combining with Howell, Thompson and then Redmond before Wright flicked Redmond’s long ball into the path of Briscoe. In typical Briscoe fashion he drove forward and opted for a pot-shot, the ball going wide of the target.
Nick Wright was next to register an effort for Stags on 24 minutes as Mansfield pilled pressure on from a Geohaghon throw. The initial ball was cut out but as ever, it’s the second ball you have to watch, Geohaghon clipped the ball back into middle before Wright turned agonisingly wide from close range.
His miss was guilt edge too as from the resulting goal kick, Luton pulled level. Exodus Geohaghon miss judged the flight of the ball and allowed Andre Gray to pounce. Gray getting ahead of Beevers but being driven into a narrow angle by Sutton, however this was n problem from the accomplished front man, drilling in from the tightest of angles to level the game.
Minutes later Luton should have been ahead with a flowing move down the right hand side, Shane Redmond holding on well to Scott Rendell’s header following skipper Ron Henry’s cross.
Anthony Howell had the best Stags chance to nod Mansfield ahead once more with ten minutes of the first half to go, he, Clements and Meikle were involved down the left hand side, Meikle’s cross in search of Hutchinson sat up for Howell whose header was claimed by Tyler.
Five minutes later Andre Gray was guilty of missing a sitter, he somehow deflected Jake Howells’ ferocious cross wide from half a yard following a corner – the sides heading into the break on level terms.
HALF TIME: Stags 1-1 Luton
Mansfield began the second half with fire and were awarded a free kick after 42 seconds when Hutchinson was felled. The kick led to another two corners, the second of which saw Hutchinson again head over Tyler and into the empty net, Hutchinson’s delight cut short by the offside flag.
Six minutes later Howell hooked over from a Geohaghon throw before Alex Lawless was twice blocked for the visitors as the hour mark approached. Mansfield had certainly been put under the cosh and were once more on 66 as they twice failed to deal with Luton clearances, Shane Redmond’s kick back down the stags throat and latched onto by Andre Gray, linking up with Howells Gray found space in the area and slotted through the legs of Redmond to give Luton a 2-1 lead.
Jake Speight then replaced goal scorer Ben Hutchinson to partner Matt Green in attack, Green replacing Wright four minutes before Luton’s goal. With 15 left to go Matt Rhead completed the changes as he replaced Meikle, Mansfield fighting to level with numerous chances although they did have Redmond to thank on 78 minutes as he palmed away a goal bound Jake Howells effort when Luton broke with intensity.
With six minutes remaining the Stags finally did break the barrier, John Thompson and Chris Clements working a free kick quickly with the latter clipping in a deep cross. Rhead nodded back across the six yard box where Matt Green stretched out a leg to poke the ball home a level the game. A nice gesture from Hutchinson too as the players moved back to the half way line, the front man calling Green’s name and applauding his finish.
In the final minute of four added on, Chris Clements made a tremendous block from an Andre Gray driven cross, the resulting corner headed away by Geohaghon to the sound of the full time whistle.
FULL TIME: Stags 2-2 Luton << Audio Highlights
Photos: Dan Westwell
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