Bennett 23, Angol 70. Spencer missed pen 95.
Collins 85, Hylton 89.
Attendance: 4665 (987 from Luton)
Date: 26 August 2017
GUTTED STAGS CONCEDE LATE GOALS THEN MISS PENALTY TO DRAW WITH LUTON
Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
An extraordinary and pulsating game saw Mansfield somehow held to a 2-2 draw by Luton. It was terrific entertainment but the Stags were left wondering how on earth they did not win the game. A magnificent first half performance from Mansfield, as good as anything we’ve seen for a very long time, saw the Stags lead 1-0 with a Rhys Bennett goal on his first league start of the season, but Mansfield could have easily been further ahead. The Stags continued to be well on top in the second half and finally made it 2-0 with a fine finish 1-on-1 from Lee Angol. The Stags still led 2-0 with just 5 minutes left, but then collapsed defensively as Luton’s deadly strikers James Collins and Danny Hylton, neither of whom had had a sniff before that, pulled them level. Unbelievably Mansfield still had a chance to win it with a penalty on 90+5 minutes, but substitute Jimmy Spencer took a horrendous penalty, low and almost down the middle, which the keeper saved and Danny Rose knocked the rebound over. Stags players and fans were left stunned that Mansfield had somehow not won the game. When the dust settles, this was a tremendous performance from Mansfield through most of the game. But Mansfield have to get out of the habit quickly of conceding late goals. Top teams score late goals, rather than conceding them, and it has cost Mansfield again today. Angol and Mellis were Mansfield’s outstanding players today in an excellent all round team performance until that late collapse allowed Luton back into the game. If Mansfield continue to put in performances like this against weaker teams than title favourites Luton, they should win many more games than they lose.
Mansfield made five changes from the side that lost at Accrington.
There was a start for new signing Kane Hemmings, signed on loan for the season from Oxford, though he can be recalled by Oxford in January if they want to. In case you missed my trivia fact of the day earlier in the week: Kane Hemmings' dad, Tony Hemmings, was an unused sub against the Stags in 2000 (see report here). The signing of Hemmings, albeit only on loan, was the end of a long road and well done to Steve Evans and John and Carolyn Radford for their tireless efforts in trying to sign a goalscorer with a proven scoring record, after previously trying to sign Danny Hylton, James Collins, John Marquis, Tom Hopper, James Hanson, and perhaps others that I can’t be sure about.
Hemmings came in for Danny Rose. There were two changes in midfield. Jacob Mellis started after surprisingly not starting at Accrington when he had already fully recovered from a virus two weeks earlier. Mellis should be the first name on the team sheet in my opinion to provide that much-needed creativity. Joel Byrom also returned. Out went CJ Hamilton and Paul Digby. I had noted last week that Hamilton’s final product wasn’t good enough at Accrington and Digby fell below his usual standards. Two changes at the back as well. Zander Diamond missed out with a strain. Hayden White also missed out with Steve Evans saying pre-match that he didn’t impress in the last game. I had noted at Accrington that White was not at his best. In came David Mirfin, and Rhys Bennett in for his first league start. Alex MacDonald was on the bench for the first time since his injury.
Luton included marquee signing James Collins but yesterday’s signing Luke Berry was on the bench. Steve Evans said during the week that Mansfield were in the mix trying to sign Collins but he got too expensive for us and “it shows you the type of resources available at Luton”. He scored a hat-trick on his debut. And Luton added to that by signing arguably the best attacking midfielder in League Two in Berry.
Before the game, there was a minute’s applause for former manager Duncan Russell, who passed away a week ago after a short battle with cancer. Russell had led the Stags to the FA Trophy final at Wembley in 2011. He was genuinely a lovely bloke. Deepest condolences to his family. RIP Russ.
A lovely sunny day in Mansfield with most of the pitch bathed in sunshine.
A great atmosphere. But the attendance was very disappointing. Indeed there were fewer home fans than against Forest Green Rovers (3678 today, 3679 against Forest Green). Luton brought just under 1000 fans, their highest following at Mansfield in the last 10 years.
Mansfield were off to a flying start. Inside 2 minutes, Angol played the ball against a defender, got the ball back, and fed Hemmings, who had a shooting chance but ending going a bit too wide on the right and fired over the angle of bar and post.
On 3 minutes, another chance. Hemmings laid off to Angol, who found Bennett on the right. Bennett played the ball in, Angol was unable to turn it in from close range as it came off the keeper, and Anderson fired the rebound over the bar.
The Stags had started superbly, and a great passing move on 7 minutes, ended with a disappointing cross from Bennett too close to the keeper.
Good defending by Byrom on 8 minutes on the edge of his own box, and he won a free kick.
On 9 minutes, Angol played forward to Hemmings, who for a split second had a chance of a shot, but a defender put the ball behind for a corner.
On 13 minutes, Byrom’s corner from the right to the far post when Bennett got up well, and headed back across goal, but no-one got on the end of it and it ran out for a goal kick.
A great move from the Stags on 15 minutes, Atkinson to Bennett who won a corner. The corner came out to Anderson who fired wide of the right post.
A wonderful start from Mansfield but it needed a goal while they were so much on top.
On 18 minutes, Atkinson gave the ball away, to Pelly Ruddock, 25 yards out, who fired wide of the left post. Pelly Ruddock was Luton’s outstanding player on the day.
The Stags deservedly took the lead on 23 minutes. Great play from Angol on the right, who got past left back Potts. Potts brought him down and was booked. Byrom took the resulting free kick from the right touchline, 40 yards from goal, into the area and it found Bennett unmarked at the far post, who tapped in from close range. A goal for Bennett, Mr Dependable last season, on his first league start of the season here.
A couple of great pieces of defending by Mirfin in the area on 30 minutes.
On 32 minutes, Benning played a 1-2 with Mellis, and won a free kick on the edge of the area on the left. Angol took the resulting free kick and made a decent connection straight into the keeper’s arms.
A yellow card for McCormack and Mellis on 33 minutes for something off the ball. We were both following the line of the ball so didn’t see it. From the pitchside video, McCormack pushed Mellis off the ball, Mellis got up and pushed McCormack back.
On 39 minutes, Sheehan brought Angol down 20 yards out, to the left of centre. Angol took the resulting free kick, into the wall, it came back to him, and he fired it into the wall again. Both efforts on target.
On 45 minutes, a good tackle by Atkinson, then a blatant handball by a Luton player which went unpunished. Evans was going barmy on the touchline.
On 45+2 minutes, Shinnie fired in a low shot, which was comfortably saved by Logan. It was just Luton’s second effort, and their first on target.
A magnificent first half from Mansfield, as good as anything we’ve seen for a very long time. The Stags led 1-0 but could have easily been further ahead. Everyone in the Stags team had played well, going forward and at the back. There was plenty of needle in the game, and it was played with a high tempo from Mansfield especially. The Stags had been pressing very well. We did comment at half time, could the Stags keep this pressing up for 90 minutes or would they run out of steam?
Half time 1-0
On 46 minutes, the best moment for Luton so far. Great play from Hylton to get past Benning on the byline on the right, he played a great ball in, and Collins volleyed over.
The Stags went close on 47 minutes, Angol found Mellis, how pushed forward and fired a great shot from 25 yards which forced into an equally good save, pushing it away. At the other end, a half chance for Luton as Stacey crossed in, Ruddock chested down, but Mansfield were able to clear.
On 50 minutes, Angol was brought down by Cuthbert, 22 yards out, to the right of centre. Byrom took the resulting free kick to the far post where Pearce headed it back across but it was cleared.
A good header away by Bennett on 52 minutes.
Then a rare chance for Luton on 52 minutes as Shinnie fired in a powerful cross-shot which Logan pushed away for a corner. From the resulting corner, Potts headed over.
Another good chance for the Stags on 54 minutes. Mellis played the ball forward to Angol, who got the ball onto his left foot on the edge of the area but fired well wide and over.
On 57 minutes, a great run from Mellis, and he was deliberately brought down by Sheehan. A yellow card for Sheehan. Benning took the resulting free kick from 28 yards out in a central position, it deflected off the wall and lost speed allowing the keeper to make an easy save.
Luton switched to 3 at the back with 2 wingbacks on 58 minutes as they brought on marquee signing Luke Berry and Rea.
Luton should have been down to 10 men on 63 minutes when Sheehan tripped Bennett. Sheehan put his head in his hands expecting a red card but was let off by the referee. So lucky.
On 66 minutes, Luton won a free kick 25 yards out just to the right of centre. Sheehan took it and fired straight at Logan.
Benning was booked for a deliberate foul on Hylton on 67 minutes as the referee tried to play on but then brought play back.
The Stags went agonisingly close to extending the lead on 70 minutes. A great move, Anderson, to Benning on the left, he pushed forward into the area and his low cross-shot was just wide of the right post, with Hemmings coming in but not quick enough to get there. A really good chance.
The Stags finally did make it 2-0 on 70 minutes. A lovely low ball forward from Byrom put Angol away, he forced his way into the area and fired a low left footed shot under the keeper from 12 yards. Initially it looked Angol could square the ball to Hemmings, but he took the right option and finished expertly.
It was totally deserved by Mansfield.
Byrom was booked on 73 minutes for a sliding tackle.
On 74 minutes, Angol rose, and the ball fell for Hemmings 25 yards out, but he fired a left footed shot just wide of the right post.
Digby replaced Mellis on 75 minutes. Mellis had been outstanding. We would have kept him on.
On 81 minutes, a good tackle by Mirfin.
Angol was booked for a late challenge on Cuthbert on 82 minutes.
Rose replaced Hemmings on 82 minutes. Hemmings had a decent debut, though lacked a real match sharpness, which should come. On Tuesday in the Checkatrade Trophy, we would give Hemmings more game time, but rest Angol.
A warning shot from Luton on 84 minutes. Sub Harry Cornick took a throw-in, got the ball back, cut inside and fired over from the left.
Luton pulled a goal back on 85 minutes. Cornick and Stacey were given far too much room on the Luton right, Stacey crossed from the byline, and Collins was in the right place to tap in from 3 yards. Collins demonstrating his goalscoring instincts by being in the right place to convert after previously having a poor game including putting in a couple of terrible crosses. Digby was outpaced by Stacey in the build-up to the goal, and Benning allowed too much space in the build up.
On 89 minutes, Luton were level. Potts dinked into a little cross from the left on the byline, and Hylton headed home from close range getting there ahead of Benning. Logan was slightly out of position beyond the near post and was in no position to deal with the cross.
The Stags had collapsed defensively in a 5 minutes spell allowing Luton back into a game that should have been out of sight. Collins and Hylton showing that you can do nothing for 85 minutes but then pop up with goals which is why they command the big money, and why Steve Evans wanted to sign both.
Spencer replaced Angol following the equaliser on 89 minutes. We would have left Angol on.
Into stoppage time, a long free kick forward from Logan, Pearce headed down, but wide of the right post.
Luton could have won the game on 90+2 minutes on the break as Ruddock fired wide of the right post.
Mirfin then made a great clearance.
Drama on 90+5 minutes as the Stags were handed a penalty. Atkinson put in a good cross from the right, Cuthbert and Anderson rose at the far post, and Cuthbert inexplicably handled the ball. It was a clear penalty. Who would take the resulting penalty. We did not see any natural penalty takers left on the pitch. After the game, Steve Evans said that his two nominated penalty takers had both been subbed, so two out of Hemmings, Angol and Mellis. Up stepped Jimmy Spencer, only on the pitch 5 minutes. His penalty was low and too close to the keeper, who saved, the ball rebounded out and Danny Rose knocked the rebound over the bar. Absolute agony for Mansfield, but a horrendous penalty from Spencer.
Still time for Bennett to be booked for a foul on 90+7 minutes.
Full time and Stags players and fans were left stunned that Mansfield had somehow not won the game.
When the dust settles, this was a tremendous performance from Mansfield through most of the game. But Mansfield have to get out of the habit quickly of conceding late goals. Top teams score late goals, rather than conceding them, and it has cost Mansfield again today.
Angol and Mellis were Mansfield’s outstanding players today in an excellent all round performance until that late collapse allowed Luton back into the game.
Man of the match: Angol/Mellis
Report by: Martin Shaw and Simon Chamberlain at the One Call Stadium, Field Mill
Logan 6 Had no chance with the first goal, but was slightly out of position beyond the near post and was in no position to deal with the cross for the 2nd goal. A couple of fairly easy saves from Shinnie cross-shots, otherwise little to do.
Bennett 8 Good game, and scored on his first league start of the season.
Pearce 7.5 Good game in central defence.
Mirfin 8.5 Very good with several great pieces of defending.
Benning 6 Allowed Luton too much space in the build up to the first goal, and allowed Hylton to get in his header for the second goal. Played well before the Luton goals.
Atkinson 7 Put in the cross for the penalty. Some good pieces of play, also gifted Ruddock a chance.
Byrom 8 Assists for both the Stags goals. And some other good set pieces. But some poor moments as well.
Mellis 9 Some great play going forward. Looked high quality.
Anderson 7.5 Good game, involved in some good moves.
Hemmings 7.5 Had a decent debut, though lacked a real match sharpness, which should come.
Angol 9 Such a handful for the Luton defence, big and strong, and took his goal expertly.
Sub Line Up:
Digby (for Mellis, 75 mins) - Outpaced by Stacey in the build-up to the first goal.
Rose (for Hemmings, 82 mins) - Missed chance from the rebound from the penalty.
Spencer (for Angol, 89 mins) - Could have been the hero, but wasted the penalty with a terrible effort.
Subs not used: Olejnik, Taft, MacDonald, Sterling-James.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-1-3-2): Stech; Stacey, Cuthbert, Sheehan, Potts; McCormack (Rea 58); Ruddock, O.Lee (Cornick 75), Shinnie (Berry 58); Hylton, Collins. Subs: Justin, Gambin, Shea (GK), E.Lee.
Ross Joyce 6 Got the penalty right. Should have sent Sheehan off. Difficult game to referee with so much needle.