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Season 14/15 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Luton Town  
3 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Benson 19, Whalley 59, 63.
 
 
Attendance: 8418 (294 from Mansfield)
 
Date: 29 November 2014

STAGS WELL-BEATEN AT LUTON

Martin Shaw at Kenilworth Road

Luton Town picked up their 7th consecutive home win with a comfortable 3-0 win over Mansfield at Kenilworth Road this afternoon. The simple truth is that Luton were better than Mansfield in all areas. Luton created all the running in the first half and were deservedly in front at the break thanks to the softest goal of the season as Paul Benson’s soft shot trickled in after the Stags failed to clear. The Stags only had one half-chance in the first half with Rob Taylor’s shot blocked. The Stags were playing the ball around in the wrong areas, and often creating trouble for themselves at the back, whilst barely getting the ball in the final third at all. New loan signing Junior Brown was brought on at half time and Mansfield had their best spell of the game in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, creating chances and putting Luton under pressure. But a moment of bad luck coupled with poor goalkeeping changed the game as Luton made it 2-0 on 59 minutes. Studer cleared the ball from his area straight to Shaun Whalley, 35 yards from goal with no Stags player near him, Whalley took on Beevers down the right and went past him too easily before firing in a cross which sailed over Studer and into the top left corner of the net. Studer didn’t move as it just went straight above his head. It was such a shame as the Stags had been on top. And it was 3-0 4 minutes later, this time with a brilliant goal from Whalley who again went past Beevers like he wasn’t there, cut inside on to his left foot, and fired a brilliant low shot just inside the left post, giving Studer no chance. No disgrace losing to Luton, who were very good indeed, and up there with Shrewsbury as the best team I’ve seen this season, but Mansfield didn’t help themselves with poor play for the first two goals. The Stags are seven points above the relegation zone and nine points behind the play-offs.

It was Adam Murray’s third game as caretaker manager. It may be his last. If it is, he’s given it an impressive go in my opinion. John Radford said on Thursday that he would be interviewing candidates for the manager position this coming week and hoped to make an appointment by Thursday. At this stage, Murray has not thrown his hat into the ring. The dilemma for Murray is that he wants to carry on playing but has said that he doesn’t think he can fulfil the role of player-manager, so if he was to go for the manager role, he would need to give up playing, at a time when he clearly still has more to give as a player, and you are a long time retired as a player. A further dilemma is that if a new manager is appointed this week, he might not fancy Murray as a player or as an assistant, so Murray might find himself out of the club at the end of his current contract. Murray said that he will take the next 24-48 hours to decide what he wants to do.

Murray reverted to the side that beat Plymouth a week ago. Hence Freeman and Oliver, who weren’t allowed to play in the FA Cup at Concord on Tuesday, returned to the side at the expense of Marsden and Palmer. New loan signing Junior Brown was on the bench. Heslop was playing against his former club Luton. It was the 4-1-2-2-1 formation from last Saturday, with Sendles-White played a holding role in front of the back four, Lambe on the right wing and Taylor on the left wing, and Oliver at centre forward. Youth team striker Dan Fletcher, who scored a hat-trick in the FA Youth cup against Northampton on Tuesday, travelled with the first-team squad to the game, but was not among the subs.

A quiet start to the game with neither side creating any early chances. On 9 minutes, a nice passage of passing football from the Stags but without making any progress forward. On 10 minutes, good play from Freeman on the right to create space for a cross which was just over Oliver’s head. On 11 minutes, good defending by Riley to dispossess Cullen in the box. Moments later, Doyle’s low 30 yard shot was well saved by Studer tipping it away for a corner. On 16 minutes, Freeman chopped down Benson near the corner flag on the left, Drury took the resulting free kick and Benson headed over.

On 17 minutes, Whalley went past Beevers and went down spectacularly in the area. The referee was in a perfect position and booked Whalley for diving.

Luton took the lead after 19 minutes. Cullen crossed low from the left, Benson at the near post flicked goalwards with his right foot, Studer parried, Benson picked up the loose ball and despite having Freeman and other defenders around him who failed to clear, he was able to roll the softest of shots in to the bottom left corner of the net. Such a soft goal.

On 24 minutes, a cross from the right by Doyle and a brilliant challenge by Freeman as Cullen was about to pounce.

A minute later, another Luton cross from the right, Studer came out to claim and was poleaxed by Cullen. The referee gave a free kick and Studer was hurt though able to carry on and the referee took no action. The hostile home crowd chanted at Studer: “It’s a miracle” as he got up followed by incessant “you’re shit and you know you are”. Studer has probably not been on the end of such hostility before in his career.

On 27 minutes, goalscorer Benson went down under an innocuous challenge from Riley, landed awkwardly and immediately signalled that he would have to come off. I noticed that the club doctor made signals suggesting that Benson had broken his leg, and later on Saturday evening, unfortunately, an x-ray confirmed that he had broken his leg. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery.

On 35 minutes, Oliver nodded down to Taylor who rifled in a right footed shot that was on target but blocked. A minute later, at the other end, a poor clearance from Riley to Drury on the edge of the box who turned and chipped just wide of the right post. On 37 minutes, a great ball from the left out to Whalley on the right who cut inside Beevers and his left footed shot was well blocked by Tafazolli for a corner. From the resulting corner, a header was cleared off the line by Freeman. On 42 minutes, there was a remarkable incident as Franks headed the ball forward from fully 40 yards out. It bounced awkwardly for Studer who only just kept it out of the net, claiming it just under his bar.

The Stags had only had one half-chance in the first half with Rob Taylor’s shot blocked. The Stags were playing the ball around in the wrong areas, and often creating trouble for themselves at the back, whilst barely getting the ball in the final third at all. Luton created all the running in the first half and were deservedly in front at the break.

Half time 1-0

Murray made a change at the break bringing on new loan signing Junior Brown for Taylor.

On 47 minutes, a Clements’ free kick from the left was headed back across by Tafazolli, and Lambe acrobatically fired an overhead kick just over the bar. It was a terrific effort from Lambe which would have been goal of the season and possibly the best Stags goal ever, had it gone in.

Luton were unlucky on 49 minutes as Harriman crossed from the right and Cullen had a free header which he sent against the bar with Stags defenders just watching, as time seemed to stand still.

Straight to the other end and Heslop fed Lambe on the right whose cross was put behind for a corner. Following that corner, there was great play from Junior Brown who ghosted past two men but his low cross was cleared.

On 52 minutes, Clements took a corner from the right and Riley headed straight at the keeper. A minute later, Oliver dribbled along the edge of the box and fired in a shot that was blocked by the extremely wide McNulty. On 58 minutes, Lambe squared the ball for Brown who got the ball on to his left foot and sent in a powerful shot that was saved by keeper Tyler. This was so much better going forward from Mansfield.

Luton made it 2-0 on 59 minutes just as the Stags had been getting on top and it was a total fluke, though a personal disaster for Studer. Studer cleared the ball from his area straight to Whalley, 35 yards from goal with no Stags player near him, Whalley took on Beevers down the right and went past him too easily before firing in a cross which sailed over Studer and into the top left corner of the net. Studer didn’t move as it just went straight above his head. A poor clearance from Studer and even though it wasn’t intended as a shot, Studer should made an effort to tip the cross over.

On 61 minutes, Bell replaced Sendles-White to give the Stags more attacking options.

It was 3-0 on 63 minutes and effectively game over. Whalley again went past Beevers like he wasn’t there, cut inside on to his left foot, and fired a brilliant low shot just inside the left post, giving Studer no chance. I have commented before that I don’t think that Beevers is comfortable enough at left back and I would play Freeman at left back with either Beevers or Marsden at right back.

On 66 minutes, a great effort came from the Stags to try to get back into the game as Junior Brown put in a great cross from the left and Clements volleyed goalwards from the right and Tyler tipped it wide. A great effort.

On 68 minutes, Beevers was booked for a foul on Whalley. It had been a battle all afternoon between the two of them, one which Whalley, who was the Luton Man of the Match, won hands down.

On 69 minutes, a Luton free kick and Griffiths headed straight at Studer. A minute later at the other end, Heslop set himself for a shot from 25 yards which was just a foot over the bar. On 75 minutes, there was a decent Stags move involving Bell and Oliver which ended with Lambe’s low cross being claimed by Tyler.

Rhead replaced Lambe on 75 minutes and went up front alongside Oliver.

On 80 minutes, a mistake by Junior Brown allowed Whalley to get the ball forward to Smith whose shot was deflected against the right post. Unlucky for Luton, this was their second effort against the woodwork.

On 82 minutes, a low cross from Heslop on the left somehow went straight through about 4 players and went just wide of the right post.

The Stags had a goal disallowed on 87 minutes as Rhead headed on and Oliver flicked right footed past the keeper into the right corner of the net but the offside flag was up. It was tight. On 88 minutes, Jake Howells’ shot was well blocked by Freeman.

The full time whistle brought a rapturous reception from the vociferous home crowd who were certainly happy with what they saw.

Man of the match: Junior Brown


Report by: Martin Shaw at Kenilworth Road



Line Up:
Studer 5 At fault for the second goal on two counts. Kicking has to be consistently better. One good save.
Freeman 6 Some good challenges and blocks. Had a chance to clear on the first goal and failed to.
Riley 6 Some good defending but also too many chances for Luton. One bad error gifted a chance to Drury.
Tafazolli 6 No obvious errors but Luton had too many chances including headers and shots in the middle.
Beevers 4 Roasted by Whalley, including for the second and third goals.
Sendles-White 5.5 Didn’t really influence the game.
Clements 6.5 A couple of decent set-pieces, and one fine volley which was saved.
Heslop 7 The pick of the Stags players going forward apart from sub Brown. Tried to get the Stags moving.
Lambe 6 Great effort with an overhead kick. One or two good things going forward but not enough.
Taylor 5 Had the Stags only effort of the first half, but anonymous otherwise.
Oliver 6 Won some headers, set up a chance for Taylor and created a shot for himself, as well as having a goal disallowed.
Sub Line Up:
Brown (for Taylor, 46) 7.5 Impressed as second half sub, with some good running, crosses and a decent shot.
Bell (for Sendles-White, 61) - Some good play going forward but the game was over before he was able to influence it.
Rhead (for Lambe, 75) - Interesting brief contest against McNulty. Good header to set up the disallowed goal.
Subs not used: Evtimov, Marsden, Bingham, Palmer.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-4-2) Mark Tyler; Michael Harriman, Steve McNulty, Fraser Franks, Scott Griffiths; Shaun Whalley, Jonathan Smith, Nathan Doyle, Andy Drury; Mark Cullen (Charlie Walker 82), Paul Benson (Jake Howells 27). Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Ricky Miller.
Referee:
Gavin Ward 7 Good game.


Season 14/15 Reports