FANTASTIC STAGS HELD BY LUTON IN THRILLER
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 1 - 1 Luton Town
Green 27. Antwi 78.
Att: 2592 (437 from Luton)
Martin Shaw at Field Mill
In one of the best games of football involving a Mansfield Town side for a long time, much-fancied Luton Town escaped from Field Mill with a draw and left the Stags frustrated yet again at failure to win a game that they deserved to win. The Stags made a positive start to the game, but Luton had a good spell during which Alan Marriott made a great save from Amari Morgan-Smith. Then on 27 minutes Matt Green put the Stags ahead with a brilliant goal, firing into the top right corner of the net from the edge of box. The Stags played some superb football for the rest of the match, missing a host of good chances, but were pegged back on 78 minutes, when Will Antwi headed home from a free-kick. So the Stags have only three points from the opening four games, but fans went home tonight knowing that this side is capable of having a good season and hugely encouraged seeing the players starting to gel as a team. There were many good performances throughout the team with Green particularly impressing, the central midfield looking strong with Murray and Howell, Briscoe showing touches of his best form, and the defence looking solid. The work rate of the side was notable, and the soft under-belly that Paul Cox talked about after the Gateshead game, has gone, on this showing.
Man of the match: Matt Green
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Matt Appleby reports from Field Mill, mansfieldtown.net
Gutsy Stags were held to a 1-1 draw by Luton Town despite a spirited display from Paul Cox's men at Field Mill.
In an enthralling encounter in which Mansfield were desperately unlucky not to gain maximum points, Matt Green opened the scoring in the 27th minute for the men in amber, curling a fantastic effort into the top corner, with the goalkeeper helpless.
Stags pushed for a second to settle the nerves and were unlucky to hit the post from a strike by influential striker Green and the Hatters subsequently drew level in the 78th minute through Will Antwi.
Paul Cox pushed his players forward in search of a winner, but it never came and despite the result, the players left to a standing ovation after an encouraging performance.
Cox partnered Matt Green with Ross Dyer in attack, while Ben Futcher was included in the backline and Lindon Meikle was deployed on the left wing.
Stags exerted some early pressure on the visitors, causing some nervy moments for the opposition defence, but it was Luton who had the first attempt at goal.
In the tenth minute, Aaron O'Connor worked his way into the Stags penalty area and after losing possession, he picked up the ball again and his left-footed effort was blocked by Murray.
Stags were under pressure again a minute later, O'Connor broke free of the Stags defence to go one-on-one with Alan Marriott and his shot aimed for the bottom corner was pushed behind by the Stags goalkeeper.
In the 13th minute, Meikle cut inside from the left wing and mishit a curling shot well wide of goal, before the Stags went close to an opening goal four minutes later, Louis Briscoe picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and the winger beat Ed Asafu-Adjaye and dragged an effort narrowly past the post.
Luton winger Amari Morgan-Smith was booked a minute later, before Watkins drilled a low effort into the waiting arms of Marriott when the Hatters midfielder found himself in unmarked outside the box.
The best chance of the early exchanges fell to the visitors in the 23rd minute, Morgan-Smith's deflected cross was headed over by James Dance with the goal gaping.
And the visitors were made to pay for their missed chances in the 27th minute when Matt Green fired in a wonderful opener for the Stags.
Green received the ball from Lindon Meikle just inside the penalty area and the striker curled the ball delightfully into the corner, past the helpless Mark Tyler.
Luton went close to an immediate response in the 31st minute, a contentious free-kick was curled a yard wide of Marriott's post by the heavily-involved Morgan-Smith.
Stags went agonisingly close to extending their lead in the 39th minute, Joe Kendrick's corner was met by Martin Riley, whose header was blocked by O'Connor and from the follow-up, Louis Briscoe's drilled ball across goal was turned over the bar by Ross Dyer.
Danny Crow picked up a yellow card for a late challenge as the first half drew to a close, with Luton reclaiming some of the ascendancy.
Stags made a fast start to the second half, Joe Kendrick's free-kick within a minute of the restart was whipped across goal and centre-back Ben Futcher looked set to double the lead, only to miscue his header wide of goal.
Luton brought on Dan Gleeson in place of Asafu-Adjaye in the 56th minute, while Stags threatened once more through Louis Briscoe, who nutmegged a defender, before putting in a dangerous low cross, which was intercepted by Tyler.
Luton responded in the 59th minute when Watkins fired a fierce left-footed drive towards goal, which was tipped over by Marriott.
Dan Walker was introduced in place of O'Connor in the 61st minute for Luton, before Curtis Osano was booked for a foul on Briscoe, after the winger had danced his way past two Luton defenders.
From the resulting free-kick, Kendrick's left-footed drive was deflected behind for a corner, which Futcher headed harmlessly over from another of Kendrick's inviting deliveries.
Stags continued to mount pressure on the Luton goal and rued their luck in the 65th minute, when Green ran onto Kendrick's pass and fired a shot against the post.
The visitors livened up after their latest scare, Osano drilling an effort into the side-netting, before Green was shown a yellow card after a collision with Dean Beckwith.
The striker was involved again in the 70th minute, flicking Kendrick's free-kick towards goal, which was safely caught by Tyler in the Luton goal.
Luton found themselves in a dangerous position outside the box in the 74th minute, but Marriott was equal to a free-kick from Jake Howells, which the Stags keeper tipped behind to safety.
Louis Briscoe was booked for a dive, before the visitors then levelled the game in the 78th minute, Jake Howells whipped in a dangerous inswinging free-kick, which was met by Will Antwi, whose header evaded Marriott and dipped into the top corner.
Stags looked to regain their advantage in the 80th minute, Green worked some space for himself and whipped a ferocious strike over the bar and moments later there were penalty appeals for the Stags waved away by referee Sebastian Stockbridge after Meikle was knocked over in the area by Osano.
Joe Kendrick's set pieces had been threatening the Luton defence all night and his 87th minute free-kick tested Tyler, who just held onto the ball, with Stags players waiting to pounce.
Stags striker Green once again troubled the Luton defence, twisting inside the defender, before rocketing a strike at goal, which was palmed away by Tyler.
Into four minutes of added time and Kendrick's free-kick was met by Futcher, who headed disappointingly wide of goal, which proved to be the last chance of the match and the crowd responded with a standing ovation to praise their players hard work.
Attendance: 2,592 (437)
Sponsor's man of the match: Matt Green
Mansfield Town 1 Luton Town 1, Tuesday 23rd August
FRUSTRATED Stags were once again made to pay for their failure to take their chances as they surrendered the lead to draw 1-1 against Luton on Tuesday night, reports Stephen Thirkill.
It was the second time in two games that Mansfield were unable to turn a highly impressive performance into a three-point haul.
Stags, who were the better side for large periods of the game, took the lead in the 26th minute after the lively Matt Green unleashed a screamer into the top corner.
But, despite waves of second half pressure Paul Cox's determined side were unable to find a decisive second against one of the pre-season promotion favourites.
Defender Ben Futcher missed a golden opportunity two minutes into the second half to double Stags' lead when he failed to get enough on a header.
Joe Kendrick also went close with a deflected free-kick in the 65th minute, while Stags registered further strikes on Tyler's goal with Green at the heart of the danger.
But, as with the Braintree game, Stags were unable to find the breakthrough.
And it proved to be just as costly as on Saturday when Will Antwi found space to get on the end of Jake Howells free-kick and place the perfect header past the despairing dive of Marriott.
It was an undeserved equaliser for Luton, who had largely been outfought by a passionate Mansfield side, epitomised by the battling qualities of the tireless Adam Murray.
Stags, who will look to pick up their first win of the campaign against Kettering Town on Saturday, were rightly given a standing ovation by the Field Mill faithful, who knew their team had deserved much better.
See this week's Chad, on sale Wednesday, for full match report
Antwi strike earns Hatters a late draw
dunstabletoday.co.uk, Tuesday 23 August 2011
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 1 (1) Luton Town 1 (0)
CAPTAIN for the night Will Antwi snatched a deserved point for bare bones Hatters as they came from behind to draw 1-1 at Field Mill last night, writes Mark Wood.
Mansfield had taken the lead with a Matt Green cracker but Antwi's late header was no more than Luton deserved for a dogged performance.
Town made three changes from the team that hammered Southport 5-1 on Saturday as out went the injured trio of Robbie Willmott, Keith Keane and Alex Lawless and into the starting line-upI came Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Amari Morgan-Smith and Danny Crow.
Brabin, meanwhile, handed the captain's armband for the first time to Antwi, while the Stags were skippered by former Hatters midfielder Adam Murray.
Mansfield made a lively start against a depleted Luton side who defended resolutely before James Dance and Aaron O'Connor launched a quicksilver break, with the latter's deflected effort drifting just over the bar.
A tame Adam Watkins daisycutter was easily fielded by Alan Marriott before Town should have broken the deadlock when Watkins' clever pass sent Morgan-Smith clean through but his shot was just too close to Marriott who turned the ball round the post.
Lindon Meikle's wayward effort sailed miles wide of Mark Tyler's goal before Louis Briscoe skinned Asafu-Adjaye but dragged his shot across goal and wide.
Morgan-Smith was farcically booked for handball before he raced down the left and teed up Dance, who warmed Marriott's gloves from range.
Town were shading the encounter, but Crow could only hook Dance's deflected cross wide when well placed and Morgan-Smith overran a clever Crow pass when he should have at least tested the keeper.
Hatters created another great chance midway through the half when Curtis Osano's cross was allowed to run to the back post where Morgan-Smith teased it to the far post, but Dance could only send his header inches over.
The Stags grabbed the lead out of the blue on 26 minutes when Green was allowed too much time and space outside the box and thundered home an unstoppable drive from 25 yards.
Morgan-Smith fired a long-range free-kick wide but although bossing possession, Town couldn't find an equaliser as they trailed by a single goal at the break.
Mansfield almost doubled their lead just two minutes into the second half when a dangerous free-kick into Town's six-yard box found a host of Stags queuing up but Ben Futcher could only glance wastefully wide.
Asafu-Adjaye, who had struggled with his passing, was replaced by the fit-again Dan Gleeson for his first appearance of the season and, after Briscoe had threatened, Crow sent an opportunistic dink straight at Marriott.
Too many passes were going astray for the visitors, but a purposeful Watkins run ended in a left-foot rocket that forced Marriott to tip over the bar on the hour.
Brabin further shuffled his pack by introducing the flying Dan Walker for the largely frustrated O'Connor, but Luton needed the woodwork to come to their rescue on 66 minutes when Joe Kendrick slipped Green through and his cracker from an acute angle clipped a post.
A low Osano effort found the side netting before controversy reigned when Green reacted to a Dean Beckwith challenge and left the centre-half on the deck, but only a yellow card was shown.
Green almost gained immediate retribution as his flick header was straight into Tyler's midriff.
A curling Howells free-kick was touched over the bar by Marriott as the seconds slipped away, but Luton grabbed a deserved equaliser with 12 minutes to go.
Morgan-Smith won a free-kick on the right and Howells' dangerous delivery was met by a sweet Antwi header that nestled in the bottom right-hand corner.
The referee started to brandish cards like confetti, while a Green effort dipped just over as the game became stretched with both sides searching for a winner.
With Luton at sixes and sevens Green was allowed space in the box but Tyler beat away his blast while Futcher headed wide as Town held on for a valuable point.
Stags: (4-4-2): Alan Marriott, Joe Kendrick, Martin Riley, Louis Briscoe, Matt Green, Adam Murray (C), Ross Dyer, Luke O'Neill, Anthony Howell, Lindon Meikle, Ben Futcher.
Subs not used: Shane Redmond, Jon Worthington, Lee Stevenson, Paul Connor, Nick Wood.
Hatters: (4-4-2) Mark Tyler, Dean Beckwith, Amari Morgan-Smith, Danny Crow, Aaron O'Connor (Dan Walker 62), Jake Howells, Ed Asafu-Adjaye (Dan Gleeson 57), Will Antwi (C), Curtis Osano, James Dance, Adam Watkins.
Subs not used: Kevin Pilkington, Matthew Barnes-Homer, Godfrey Poku.
Bookings: Morgan-Smith 18; Crow 41; Osano 63; Green 69; Kendrick 78; Briscoe 79; Dyer 83.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge.
Assistants Referees: Andrew Miller and Geoffrey Liddle.
Fourth Official: Craig Grundy.
Attendance: 2,592 (Luton 437).
Star Hatter: Jake Howells. The youngster is truly coming of age
Antwi earns point at Field of bad dreams
BY JAMES CUNLIFFE
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 LUTON TOWN 1
Blue Square Bet Premier
Field Mill, Tuesday, August 23, 2011, 7.45pm
What have Harold Wightman, Bill Harvey, Alec Stock, Harry Haslam, Joe Kinnear, Richard Money and Gary Brabin all got in common? They are all Luton Town managers who have taken sides to Mansfield Town's Field Mill home and failed to secure maximum league points.
Last night's 1-1 draw stretched the unfortunate league run to 12 games and almost 80 years without a win at the Nottinghamshire stadium, but it was a game they should have won.
You have to go back to 1989 and a League Cup tie to find the Hatters' solitary triumph at the second oldest football ground in the country after Hallam FC's Sandyground Road home.
On the brightside, when Will Antwi, handed the captain's armband, netted his second goal in as many games with 13 minutes remaining it ended another fledgling hoodoo, that of a Hatters goalless streak which was threatening to edge into four straight games at Conference level.
In his programme notes, Mansfield manager Paul Cox remarked how opponents had been finding his side's net with every chance they created. But despite dominating for large parts of the first half Luton couldn't convert any of theirs, further strengthening the search for a scorer of “scruffy” goals, as Brabin has put it.
Mansfield's opener was anything but that as Matt Green lashed into the top corner against the run of play. It's the sort of punishment that is often dished out to wasteful sides in the Premier League, not the Blue Square Bet Premier, but after Luton had failed to take their opportunities, it was a familiar dénouement – one that has been a factor of so many a frustrating non-league encounter.
Afterwards Brabin said: “We are not overly disappointed, coming away to Mansfield. It's a tough place to come and these were one of the early favourites. We've been a little bit blighted before the game with injuries and before the game we'd probably have taken a point, but I thought we deserved more.”
Injuries forced three big changes with Keith Keane, Alex Lawless and Robbie Willmott all omitted from the squad after Saturday's 5-1 win over Southport. In came Danny Crow, Amari Morgan-Smith and Ed Asafu-Adjaye, while teenager Adam Watkins was given his second start.
They persisted with a 4-3-3 formation however but started fairly nervously with a number of unforced errors putting them on the back foot.
Save for a series of corners, the hosts couldn't capitalise but it still took until the tenth minute for Luton to find any penetration. Crow flicked on to Aaron O'Connor who stole a march down the wing but saw former Hatter Adam Murray and Martin Riley twice throw their bodies in the way of his shots.
They should have gone ahead moments later when Watkins fed in Morgan-Smith who showed a clean pair of heels to Luke O'Neill, only to be denied by Stags stopper Alan Marriott.
Asafu-Adjaye, who'd been the source of the early nervousness, was then beaten by Louis Briscoe, but the winger – whose late goal dumped the Hatters out of the FA Trophy last term – could only drag wide.
Luton were threatening with more regularity but against the run of play in the 27th minute Green fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 18 yards.
After that, Hatters failed to find their pre-goal verve while the hosts should have netted either side of the break through Ross Dyer and Ben Futcher.
On the hour a Watkins drive needed Marriott to tip over while a Dance volley from the resulting corner was destined for the net had the penalty box been so crowded.
With Luton restricted to shots from range Brabin introduced young striker Dan Walker for his first appearance of the season in place of the out of sorts O'Connor.
But it was Mansfield who still looked the more likely to grab the game's second goal, and only Mark Tyler's upright prevented Green from doubling his tally.
The goalscorer was then cautioned in a moment of controversy after Dean Beckwith hit the deck clutching his head.
The Luton centre back's partner then popped up to steer Jake Howells' free-kick inside Marriott's post.
Tyler had to beat away a Green blast as both sides went hell for leather for the winner.
But a share of the spoils it was and if things go to plan for Luton and not the Stags this term, the two clubs will be in different divisions this time next year and the Bedfordshire outfit will have be glad to wait even longer for their chance to end this Field Mill jinx. In the meantime, preserving their unbeaten record is a decent compromise.
LUTON: Tyler, Beckwith, Morgan-Smith, Crow, O'Connor (Walker, 62), Howells, Asafu-Adjaye (Gleeson, 57), Antwi, Osano, Dance, Watkins
Unused subs: K.Pilkington, Barnes-Homer, Poku,
REFEREE: Sebastian Stockbridge (Gateshead)
ATTENDANCE: 2,592 (437)
Latest | August 2011