STALEMATE AS STAGS UNABLE TO MAKE UP GROUND
Mansfield Town 0-0 Luton Town
Att 3407 (474 from Luton)
Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Field Mill
Mansfield Town drew 0-0 with Luton at Field Mill this evening. In a game of very few chances, a draw was a fair result but it benefits Luton who remain 6 points ahead of us, and there are now just 12 games left. The Stags competed well all evening but showed little creativity going forward and never really opened up a stubborn Luton defence. While at the back, the Stags were solid with substitute Michael Brough particularly impressive, protecting Marriott who didn't have a serious save to make. The bumper crowd didn't materialise which was very disappointing for the owners, and the Luton following of just 474 was probably half what it might have been made had the game been played on a Saturday as scheduled in January. Indeed the Stags took 70 more to Kenilworth Road on a Tuesday night earlier in the season.
Stagsnet report in the Match Centre
Report: Stags 0 Luton 0
Evening Post report
YOU have to wonder what that wily old fox, Ian Greaves, would have made of it all.
Mansfield revealed yesterday their legendary Freight Rover Trophy-winning manager, who died last year, is to have the West Stand named in his honour.
And he knew better than most what it took to be successful in north Nottinghamshire during a hugely impressive tenure in charge during the 1980s.
Current incumbent of the hot-seat, David Holdsworth, has certainly had his fair share of Field Mill victories to celebrate since taking charge – just two defeats in that time are testament to that.
But on a night he desperately needed three points for his side to gain some ground in the race for the Blue Square Premier play-offs, his troops were unable to deliver.
There was no doubting the effort and commitment of the players as they fought hard for what would have been a crucial breakthrough.
But, just like at Hayes and Yeading at the weekend, a lack of invention, of creative thrust, hampered their progress.
Without doubt a draw suited Luton much more. After all, it maintained their six-point lead over the Stags once Chester's record is expunged, appeal aside, on Friday.
From a Stags point a view, a point would normally have been no disaster against one of the divisions big spenders.
But the trouble is, games are fast running out for them to make up ground and force their way into the top five.
At least Mansfield could point to their first clean sheet in 11 games – their 4-0 win over Chester in January notwithstanding.
They also made it three games unbeaten following four points from their previous two games on the road.
For only Mansfield's third home game in 64 days, there were three changes to the team as they reverted back to 4-4-2.
Ryan Williams and Louis Briscoe returned on the flanks and Luke Jones in central defence as Kyle Nix, Kyle Perry and Scott Garner made way.
Luton had the first serious effort on goal in the ninth minute when Fred Murray tried his luck from 20 yards and was only just wide of the left-hand post with Alan Marriott at full stretch.
Despite some positive attacking play, it took the Stags until the 16th minute to get in their first shot on target, but Mark Tyler easily saved Rob Duffy's header following a long Andy Nicholas throw.
Briscoe had a chance to put his laces through the ball midway through the half but flashed well wide from Duffy's knockdown.
Luton's response was a shot from Asa Hall, after he had tricked his way past Jon Challinor, that Marriott was always behind. A Challinor long throw then caused panic in the Luton box after a deft flick on from Duffy, but no-one had made a far post run to apply the finishing touch.
Mansfield suffered a blow in the 35th minute when Jones was carried off on a stretcher to be replaced by Michael Brough.
Moments later, Hall headed wide when he might have done better from Keith Keane's corner.
The Hatters had the ball in the net as half-time approached, but Jake Howells was flagged offside as he lobbed home from Liam Hatch's header on.
In stoppage time, Duffy flicked on a Nicholas throw for Shaw who was just inches from getting a decisive touch.
Luton began the second period well and Hall was not too far wide with a header from Jake Howells' inswinging right-wing free kick.
At the other end, Brough headed over under pressure from Mansfield's first corner of the game, delivered by Ryan Williams.
Tyler did well to deal with a Gary Mills free-kick drive that bounced up off the turf just in front of him.
Just after the hour mark, Briscoe showed his two sides by brilliantly slipping past his man before blazing over the angle when he would have been better advised crossing into the danger zone.
As time began to run out, Hatch was cautioned as he fouled Challinor in trying to force home a late winner.
But it was Mansfield who pressed hard in the four minutes of stoppage time with a string of free-kicks.
Tyler flapped at one of those in the dying seconds, but skipper Luke Foster could not get to the rebound first and Luton cleared.
As the full-time whistle blew there were one or two boos and only muted applause, perhaps more out of disappointment and frustration than anything else.
Some supporters will now feel the club's play-off chances have gone, others will believe Mansfield can still make it.
Either way, nothing less than a win on Saturday against Salisbury will now do.
Mansfield Town 0 Luton Town 0, Tuesday 2nd March 2010
CHAD.co.uk, 02 March 2010, By John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town missed a great chance to close the expected gap between themselves and play-off rivals Luton Town when the sides fought out a tense scoreless draw last night.
With doomed Chester City's record expected to be expunged from the records soon, Stags know they will find themselves six points rather than two behind the Hatters.
But, after 44 goals in seven thrilling previous encounters between these old rivals, last night both sides drew a blank with Jake Howell's disallowed effort for the visitors, the only time either keeper looked likely to be beaten.
It was at least a third game unbeaten for Stags as they began a run of four home games on the bounce with only third home game in 64 days! But games are runing out and Mansfield urgently need to find their shooting boots against visiting Salisbury City this Saturday.
The Hatters made the first real goal attempt on nine minutes as Murray fired a foot wide with a low shot from 20 yards.
Duffy got a header on target for Mansfield from another Nicholas throw from the left, but it dropped straight into Tyler's hands.
Briscoe lashed well wide from a Duffy nod-down on 23 minutes as the stalemate continued.
Midway through the half Stags lost Jones who, having already been down for treatment 10 minutes earlier, went down again and was stretchered off.
Luton were starting to knock the ball around with real purpose by now with Stags chasing shadows at times.
Three minutes from the break the Hatters thought they had broken through as Hatch nodded the ball to Howells, who lifted it over Marriott from close range only to be ruled offside.
Nicholas conceded an early free kick in the second half on the Stags' left which Howells sent in and Hall headed just wide of the far post.
Soon after Brough was too high with a looping header from Stags' first corner of the contest.
Newton got away with a shove in the box on Duffy which could have been a penalty on another day.
Mansfield created more danger then Duffy laid a far post free kick back through everyone in the box and Briscoe took charge, making space before blasting wide.
After Stags had sent on Perry for Shaw on 77 minutes, Pilkington was wide at the far post with a header for the visitors.
But the game petered out and, even with four minutes of stoppage time, Stags were unable to find a way through Luton's well-organised rearguard.
STAGS: Marriott; Silk, Jones (Brough 36 mins), Elliott, Nicholas; Briscoe, Mills, Challinor, Williams; Shaw, (Perry 77 mins) Duffy. Subs: Nix, Sturrock, Collett.
LUTON: Tyler, Keane, Kovacs, Pilkington, Newton, Hatch, Hall, Howells (Nelthorpe 84 mins), Gnapka (Craddock 78 mins), Murray, Barnes-Homer (Nwokeli 60 mins). Subs: Gore, Cradock, Blackett.
REFEREE: Rob Lewis of Shrewsbury.
ATTENDANCE: 3407 (474 away).
BOOKINGS: Kovacs (foul 58 mins), Newton (88 mins), ,Hatch ( Foul 94 mins)
STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke Foster.
Tenacious Luton share the spoils
02 March 2010
By Mark Wood
Visitors produce a battling effort at Field Mill
Workmanlike Luton put in a tenacious and professional display to claim a point at play-off rivals Mansfield Town last night.
The Hatters may still never have won at Field Mill in the league, but this was a gutsy performance from the Town who with a little more luck - Jake Howells having a goal ruled out for offside - could have even grabbed victory.
Town made four changes to the side that went down 2-1 at Crawley Town on Saturday, as manager Richard Money named an attacking 4-4-2 formation.
Liam Hatch and Matthew Barnes-Homer were partnered in attack, while Claude Gnakpa and Howells also came into Luton's starting XI. Tom Craddock dropped to the bench, while Kevin Nicholls, with a knee injury, Rossi Jarvis and Kevin Gallen missed out on the squad entirely.
The Stags made a bright opening, demonstrating on more than one occasion the threat they posed from long throws on either side of the pitch.
But Town had the first worthwhile effort of the game on nine minutes when Adam Newton's throw was cleared only as far as Freddie Murray on the edge of the box but the left-back dragged his shot just wide.
Both sides were playing a full part in an open and entertaining game and when Howells charged through on 21 minutes he tried to square to Gnakpa rather than shoot and the chance vanished.
Louis Briscoe flashed an effort harmlessly wide three minutes later, while Asa Hall beautifully turned away from Jon Challinor seconds later but fired straight at Alan Marriott.
A Challinor long throw caused more havoc before the referee's whistle curtailed a wonderful chance for the Hatters. Barnes-Homer powerfully challenged Luke Jones on the halfway line and Keith Keane's first-time pass released the big striker, only for the referee to harshly penalise Barnes-Homer as he ran clear of the Stags' defence.
Hall's powerful volley resulted in Young being stretchered from the field on 35 minutes and from the subsequent corner Luton almost broke the deadlock. Keane's delivery was flicked goalwards by Hall but George Pilkington's could only bury his sliding effort at the far post into the side netting.
And another half-chance went begging for Town four minutes before the break. Murray and Howells combined wonderfully on the left but the Irishman's pull-back somehow eluded both Hatch and Gnakpa.
Two minutes later Luton did find the net, only to have it dubiously ruled out by the linesman's flag. Barnes-Homer's deep cross was expertly flicked into the path of Howells in the six yard box and, although the youngster toe-poked home, it counted for nought.
The visitors started the second half as they ended the first and were a whisker away from breaking the deadlock four minutes in when Hall flicked his header from Howells' free-kick just wide.
A half-volley by Howells warmed Marriott's gloves on 57 minutes, while the Stags finally managed their first shot on target two minutes later.
Janos Kovacs, who had been tangling with Rob Duffy all evening was booked for a challenge on the striker and Gary Mills lined-up the free-kick 35 yards out.
His feisty low effort took a vicious bounce in front of Mark Tyler, but the Luton stopper clung on.
Midway through the half and Mansfield finally sprang into life. A deep free-kick found Duffy at the far post and he drove across the face of goal. Briscoe picked up the scraps at the far post but could only blaze wide of the mark.
Substitute Mark Nwokeji teed up Hall on the edge of the box who flashed over, while Pilkington was in imperious form at the other end and did superbly to cut out Briscoe's dangerous cross on 72 minutes.
The Stags upped several gears in the closing stages as the home side looked the more likely to grab a winner.
However, substitute Tom Craddock burst on to a great crossfield ball by Keane with seven minutes left, but Andy Nicholas and Michael Brough put their bodies on the line to block his drive.
Having weathered some heavy Mansfield pressure , Luton almost grabbed a winner in the third minute of stoppage time. Craig Nelthorpe hooked the ball back into the box but Nwokeji was just unable to force the ball home.
Town then defended valiantly to secure a valuable point against their play-off rivals.
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