As Mansfield Town prepare to face Luton Town tomorrow, looking to bounce back from the late 2-1 defeat at Accrington last weekend – my mind is cast back to bye-gone years where there’s always been a so called ‘fear’ of facing Luton.
I’ve never understood why really and it bugs me that silly things like that linger in the air for far longer than is welcome. Luton Town are nothing special, if they we’re they wouldn’t be playing lower-league football would they?
On paper they have some class players, but so have we – the only thing that matters, is who wants victory more, and after last week – it HAS to be us, we have to send those extra supporters home with their mouths watering and with the pulsating urge to come back week upon week.
The biggest lesson I’ve ever learned about desire in football came back in 2011. Mansfield had waded through very murky water, but through it all had made it through to the FA Trophy Semi-Final to face “the mighty” Luton Town, who many said would crush miniscule Mansfield like a paper cup.
The sheer arrogance riled me, over-confidence and under estimation is the greatest downfall of anyone – and we proved that, as Danny Mitchley’s first half goal proved the difference and put Mansfield on the brink of Wembley.
Prior to kick-off tomorrow, the memory of Duncan Russell will be honoured with a minutes applause – Russ’ finest hour as Stags boss came in delivering that message that Mansfield we’re back off the ropes and ready to fight again, in fact if you look at the chain of events that victory triggered – you could argue that it was the birth of who and what we are now. Tomorrow, I hope every single supporter in that stadium remembers the lesson Russ and his team delivered that day and that the squad of today – provides the result to accompany said message.
We’ve questioned the strength in attack over recent weeks, but the additional of Kane Hemmings on loan from Oxford should hopefully release some pressure on that front, where as at the back – defender Krystain Pearce says he knows Luton, who finished in the play-offs last season, will be tough – but accepts the challenge ““I think all the boys are looking forward to it. Training’s been good; everyone’s looking lively in training so it should be a good performance from the lads.”
“They’re probably one of the biggest clubs in the league and they’re probably going to be up there come the end of the season – but hopefully we’ll be above them! I think every game is going to be tough but Luton have got a very good strike force, but if I’m selected I’ll be trying my best to nullify them.”
“It’s going to be a tough fixture. We’re trying to put [last] Saturday right and trying to get another three points on the board.”
The Stags must learn lessons from the season’s final day last term, as striker James Collins had the beating of the back four in what was a thrilling chase to end – Collins made the switch from Crawley to Luton in the close season and I believe was on Steve Evans’ list of targets.
With a 4,000+ crowd expected, the players must step up to the plate and be on the front foot – silly mistakes from set-pieces will be punished, and as the season looks to pick up momentum and enter September’s fixtures – there is no room for error.
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