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Archived News from January 2012

IMPRESSIVE STAGS HELD AT LUTON
29th January 2012 22:14


Blue Square Bet Premier
Luton Town 0 - 0 Mansfield Town
Att: 5261 (111 from Mansfield)

Date: 25 January 2012

Martin Shaw, Jeff Barnes and Simon Chamberlain at Kenilworth Road

Mansfield Town produced a solid display for much of this game at Kenilworth Road before dominating the later stages, and in the end being denied the 3 points by a controversial goal-line clearance, and earlier being denied a stonewall penalty. Recent league encounters between the sides at Kenilworth Road have been horrible niggling affairs with sendings off galore. But this was a quieter game as the Stags becalmed the home crowd with fine defending and solidity in midfield. In the first half, Adam Smith had an excellent effort acrobatically cleared off the line by Luton centre-half George Pilkington. Luton's best chance came when Kovacs struck the bar with a shot from 6 yards following a corner. Mansfield were denied what, from TV replays, was a stonewall penalty when George Pilkington controlled the ball with his arm in the box, following Luke O'Neill's chip into the area. The second half started fairly evenly, but the Stags came on strong towards the end and were the only side going to win the game in the last 15 minutes. The Stags were denied a winner on 84 minutes when Luke O'Neill's free kick was headed down by Ross Dyer and Matt Green flicked the ball goalwards. George Pilkington got back to hook the ball away, but my immediate reaction was that it had crossed the line. TV replays later proved inconclusive, as there was no camera along the line.

Mansfield made two changes from the side that beat Hayes & Yeading, with Martin Riley coming in for Joe Kendrick, with Sutton moving to right back and O'Neill to left back. And Ben Hutchinson came in for his first start after his impressive 25 minutes on Saturday, in place of Meikle, with Dyer moving to right midfield. Luton included former Stags Kevin Pilkington in goal, and Aaron O'Connor in midfield.

A comedy moment in the press box, as my lights were very nearly turned out by a ball blasted towards my nose from 5 yards inside the touchline by Adam Murray, listen http://www.stagsnet.net/interviews/LutonA_ballintopressbox_RadioNottm_DaveB+Martin_25Jan12.mp3">here .

Man of the match: Gary Roberts

Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre

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Luton Town 0 Mansfield Town 0, Wednesday 25th January
Late Stags' 'winner' wrongly disallowed
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas

MANSFIELD Town earned their first BSBP point at Kenilworth Road since the sides dropped out of the League with a gutsy showing in tonight's televised clash with in-form high-flyers Luton Town.

http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-fc/luton_town_0_mansfield_town_0_wednesday_25th_january_late_stags_winner_wrongly_disallowed_1_4179353

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Luton Town 0 Mansfield Town 0, Wednesday 25th January
Late Stags' 'winner' wrongly disallowed
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas

MANSFIELD Town earned their first BSBP point at Kenilworth Road since the sides dropped out of the League with a gutsy showing in tonight's televised clash with in-form high-flyers Luton Town.

http://www.chad.co.uk/sport/football/mansfield-town-fc/luton_town_0_mansfield_town_0_wednesday_25th_january_late_stags_winner_wrongly_disallowed_1_4179353

And those Premier TV cameras also suggested a late effort from Matt Green had actually crossed the Luton line before home skipper George Pilkington hooked it clear.

Goal chances were few and far between for the watching TV audience as Paul Cox's 4-2-1-3 formation worked a treat against a quality home side.

Luton's towering centre half Janos Kovacs did rattle the Stags crossbar in the first half and Alan Marriott was the busier of the two keepers with some good saves.

But Luton were endebted to skipper George Pilkington for the two goal line clearances that saved their bacon and stopped Stags taking all three points.

Once again the midfield duo of Gary Roberts and Adam Murray caught the eye and one of the most pleasing aspects of the performance was how it was Mansfield who threw everything forward near the end in search of a winner instead of sitting back and drawing Luton onto them for a grandstand finish.

That is now five games unbeaten for Mansfield and the play-off gap is back to seven points with a game in hand.

Hutchinson was handed a full debut, playing just behind the forwards with Gary Roberts and Adam Murray behind him in midfield and showed a few neat touches without ever looking like he would score.

Making way for him was Lindon Meikle, relegated to the bench, but Meikle and Louis Briscoe both made energetic late cameos.

At the back Joe Kendrick was dropped from left back, O'Neill moving across to cover, Sutton going across to right back and Riley coming into the centre of the defence.

The Hatters included ex-Stags stars Kevin Pilkington and Aaron O'Connor.

Luton had the first sight of goal as Morgan-Smith turned onto Gleeson's forward ball and fired straight at Marriott from 20 yards, the keeper holding on at the second attempt.

Then Sutton did well on a Luton break to judge the cross right and head calmly back to his keeper with Morgan-Smith ready to pounce behind him.

But Smith almost scored an audacious opener for Mansfield on 10 minutes.

Kevin Pilkington came right to the edge of his box on the right to challenge Green, leaving his goal untended.

Green laid the ball to Smith who curled it superbly on target from 20 yards but George Pilkington had got back to head off the goal line.

Sutton then did well to head away a dangerous O'Connor cross after he had reached the right by-line.

Watkins tested Marriott from 25 yards on 17 minutes but once more the Stags keeper held on to the ball at the second attempt.

Luton won the game's first corner on 21 minutes and, when Stags failed to get it away first time, Kovacs toepoked a rising shot against the bar.

Still the ball was not clear and it was put sent over to the far post where, despite being pulled back, Kovacs still managed to get his head on it and nod over the angle.

Riley put Mansfield in trouble on 26 minutes when he gave the ball to Howells with a sloppy pass, retrieving the situation by bringing him down to earn a booking.

Luton quickly broke from Stags' first corner of the evening only to see the move end with Howells dragging a poor shot well wide.

Good work from Lawless and O'Connor saw the ex-Stags man get to the ball into the near post where Crow's goalwards flick deflected for a corner which O'Neill kicked clear.

On 39 minutes Watkins tricked his way into the box where he went down under O'Neill's challenge and was furious not to be given a penalty.

Kovacs headed a long free kick straight at Marriott as Luton continued to press.

But Stags did have half a chance as Dyer rose to head a long Smith cross over on 40 minutes.

A clever ball over the top from Hutchinson looked to have put Green clean through, only to be flagged offside.

A low deflected shot from O'Connor produced Luton's third corner which ended up cleared to Morgan-Smith who curled the ball straight at Marriott.

O'Connor then got on the end of a low pass with a flicked attempt which the advancing Marriott blocked with his body.

The Hatters won a corner in stoppage time which aw Marriott come for it but fail to gather as Kovacs met it with a header that sailed just over the bar as the half ended scoreless.

Within 18 seconds of the restart Smith was far too high as he tried to lift the ball over Pilkington from 25 yards.

On 52 minutes Marriott had his first save of the half to pull off as he got down low to his right to keep out Taylor's finish after the full back had overlapped Watkins' burst into the left of the box.

Two minutes later, from a short Mansfield corner, Murray fed Smith for a low shot that deflected narrowly wide for another.

Luton struggled to clear and eventually Roberts attempt, from a tight angle on the left, struck a defender which took the sting out of it for Pilkington in goal.

Luton made a change up front on 57 minutes as Fleetwood replaced Morgan-Smith.

Hutchinson's sights were well off with a 20 yard snapshot.

Then Roberts entered the referee's notebook on the hour for a late tackle on Lawless.

Watkins pulled back an inviting corner for Lawless to meet on the volley, but he was unable to get the ball on target.

On 66 minutes Howell's superb through ball put Crow in on goal, Marriott standing big to make a crucial block. It was Crow's final touch as he made way for the home debut of McAllister.

Sub Fleetwood wasn't too far wide with a low 25 yard effort as we entered the last 20 minutes.

A promising Stags break down the right ended with a poor ball to no one from Dyer with Green and Hutchinson offering him good support.

Meikle took over from Smith for the final 14 minutes for the visitors and was booed by the home fans for ambling off slowly.

Hutchinson was straight at Pilkington with a shot on the turn for Stags while McAllister put a low chance across Marriott and wide of the far post as both sides looked for a late winner.

Briscoe came on for Hutchinson on 82 minutes.

Two minutes later Dyer helped a far post cross towards Green who beat Kevin Pilkington to the ball only to see George Pilkington produce his second goal line clearance of the night with Green screaming it had already gone over the line. TV replays later suggested he had a good case too.

It was still anyone's game and Gleeson sent a tired low shot at Marriott while Roberts was well wide from distance as Luton cleared a poor O'Neill corner.

On 88 minutes Briscoe crashed a bobbling shot at Pilkington as Mansfield finished the game the strongest.

Three extra minutes were added at the end but Mansfield comfortably held out for a share of the spoils with boos from the home fans for their side at the end.

LUTON: K. Pilkington, Gleeson, Taylor, G. Pilkington, Lawless, Morgan-Smith (Fleetwood 57), Crow (McAllister 67), O'Connor, Howells, Watkins, Kovacs. Subs not used: Tyler, Dance, Poku.

STAGS: Marriott; Sutton, Dempster, Riley, O'Neill; Murray, Hutchinson (Briscoe 82), Roberts; Dyer, Green, Smith (Meikle 76). Subs not used: Worthington, Howell, Redmond.

REFEREE: Mr Michael Bull of Essex.

ATTENDANCE: 5, 261 (111 away).

CAUTIONS: Luton – Taylor 64. Stags – Riley 26, Roberts 60.

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Gary Roberts

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Luton Town 0 Mansfield Town 0
Nottingham Post post report by Matt Halfpenny

IT was hardly the spectacle the television viewers wanted – but Mansfield Town will not give a jot about that.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/story-15038295-detail/story.html

Going to Luton is always a tough assignment for any side at this level. The Hatters rarely lose at Kenilworth Road.

Indeed, the Stags had lost both their previous encounters in Bedfordshire in the Blue Square Premier while barely having a kick.

So while they might not have come out with a victory, a relatively uneventful goalless draw was always going to be a satisfying outcome for the Stags, if not for those watching on pay-per-view channel Premier Sports.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, they defended stoutly and finished the match on the front foot.

Manager Paul Cox has often bemoaned his side's habit of ending all square with opponents – this being the 13th time in the league they have done so this season – but this was not one of those occasions.

The result stretches Mansfield's unbeaten run to five matches and leaves them in a confident frame of mind ahead of Saturday's trip to Ebbsfleet United.

Ben Hutchinson was handed his debut for the Stags as the most advanced of a three-man midfield in a 4-3-3 formation, with Lindon Meikle given a well-deserved rest on the bench.

The only other change saw Luke O'Neill switched across to left-back, Ritchie Sutton moved to right back and Martin Riley recalled in the middle, Joe Kendrick making way.

Luton threatened first when Amari Morgan-Smith latched onto a smart pass from Dan Gleeson and let fly with a 20-yard shot that Alan Marriott gathered at the second attempt.

Mansfield almost took the lead in the tenth minute when Matt Green beat former Mansfield keeper Kevin Pilkington to O'Neill's through ball and laid off to Adam Smith.

The winger went for goal from wide on the touchline and 25 yards out with a spectacular effort, only for George Pilkington to race back and head off the line.

The hosts were mighty close to going in front as the game approached the midway point of the first half, Janos Kovacs firing against the crossbar from inside the box after Mansfield failed to clear a corner.

An excellent throw from Kevin Pilkington set Watkins racing away and he ran unopposed to within shooting distance, only to drag wide.

The visitors broke forward when Smith centred from the left for Ross Dyer, who headed over the top at full stretch.

Marriott was called into action on the stroke of half-time when he smothered at the feet of Aaron O'Connor as he latched onto an angled through-ball.

Kovacs went close again in first-half stoppage time when he beat Marriott to a corner but headed inches too high.

Seconds after the restart, Smith tried his luck with a chip but was well off target.

But Luton were always looking to attack and Marriott had to be alert to save from Greg Taylor after he was teed up by Watkins following a swift counter.

A short corner worked by Gary Roberts and Adam Murray allowed Smith to get in another shot that was this time deflected past the left-hand post.

Luton won a flag kick of their own that saw Alex Lawless blast wide from Watkins' delivery.

Jake Howells unlocked the Mansfield backline when he found substitute Stuart Fleetwood in the area but Marriott came to the visitors' rescue by blocking the striker's attempted lob.

Dyer wasted a good opportunity when he was released by Hutchinson, only to errantly pass in the direction of Green when he might have been better advised going it alone.

A patient build-up from Mansfield with ten minutes to go culminated in a shot from Hutchinson that Kevin Pilkington held onto well.

Luton quickly broke but substitute Craig McAllister's low drive failed to trouble Marriott.

Mansfield nearly snatched the points but George Pilkington again came to Luton's aid, clearing off the line as Green beat Kevin Pilkington to Dyer's flick and his header was dribbling towards goal.

At the finish, though, a share of the spoils was no more than Mansfield deserved.

Luton: K. Pilkington, Gleeson, G. Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor, Lawless, Howells, Watkins, Morgan-Smith (Fleetwood 57), Crow (McAllister 67). Subs not used: Tyler, Dance, Poku.

Mansfield: Marriott, Sutton, Riley, Dempster, O'Neill, Murray, Roberts, Hutchinson (Briscoe 82), Dyer, Green. Smith (Meikle 76). Subs not used: Worthington, Howell, Redmond.

Referee: Michael Bull (Essex).

Attendance: 5,261 (111 visitors).

Mansfield's man of the match: Gary Roberts

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Town's title tilt stutters in Stags stalemate
BY JAMES CUNLIFFE
http://www.bedfordshire-news.co.uk/Sport/Luton-Town-FC/Towns-title-tilt-stutters-in-Stags-stalemate-25012012.htm

LUTON TOWN 0 MANSFIELD TOWN 0
Blue Square Bet Premier, Kenilworth Road
Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 7.30pm

Luton wasted a chance to claw back some ground on second-placed Wrexham, who lost the previous night, and with the infrequency in which the Racecourse outfit have offered up opportunities this term it is starting to feel like the play-offs beckon for the Hatters again.

It was Town's opponents in this televised clash Mansfield that the Welsh high-fliers last lost to in the Conference – and that was back in September – so form would suggest Gary Brabin's side have to, not only capitalise when they have a hiccup, but take maximum points from their remaining games with a ruthlessness that doesn't seem to be there on the evidence of this frustrating stalemate.

Luton had their chances and most of them fell to Janos Kovacs. The Hungarian defender was magnificent in defence but hitting the woodwork in the first half was as close as he and his team-mates came to registering.

Were it not for his defensive partner George Pilkington twice clearing off the line, a stubborn Stags side would have performed the archetypal away day smash-and-grab. Instead, it was another page in the story of Luton's season – too many draws, which simply is not title-winning form.

One change was made from the last league game – a 3-3 draw at Southport – with Amari Morgan-Smith returning to the starting line-up in place of John Paul Kissock, who didn't even make the bench. James Dance instead took his place as a substitute while former Hatter Adam Murray lined up for the Stags and took the captain's arm band.

The hosts started brightly and greedily held onto the ball in the opening stages before Morgan-Smith got his sights in early with a long range effort that keeper Alan Marriott gathered at the second attempt.

But opposite number Kevin Pilkington almost gifted Mansfield the lead after straying off his line to chase down Matthew Green. The forward laid off to Adam Smith, leaving the keeper in no man's land, and his namesake had to scramble back to head the winger's lobbed effort off the line.

It dampened the attacking spirit of the hosts until Adam Watkins fired in a long range effort that again made Marriott fumble what should have been a routine take.

Then, Kovacs had two chances in quick succession. The centre back was first unlucky to hit the crossbar as the ball bounced in the penalty area but he should have done better, moments later, than head over from eight yards out.

But by then the visitors were enjoying a fair share of the possession and it took the sting out of the contest – a development which weighed in the favour of the Nottinghamshire club.

And when space did open up for Luton's Jake Howells he couldn't find the finish to match a 50-yard burst from his own half to the edge of the 18-yard box. It sparked a collective sigh from the crowd though the noise levels soon rose, but not in the circumstances they would have liked.

Watkins dribbled his way through three defenders right on the edge of the area before Luke O'Neill upended him for what could easily have been a penalty but should at least have been a free kick. Referee Michael Bull astonishingly waved the appeals away only to award a softer foul committed on Aaron O'Connor seconds later. From the resulting free kick, Kovacs steered a header into Marriott's grasp before Morgan-Smith and O'Connor both tried their luck from 20-yards.

It wasn't a vintage half but the Stags stopper had been the busier keeper and he was off his line quickly on the stroke of half time to deny Morgan-Smith after Alex Lawless had slipped him in. Kovacs then beat Marriott to the resulting corner but saw another header inch just over the woodwork.

The second half began with the Hatters trying to utilise the channels more and that's where Morgan-Smith and Watkins opened up Mansfield's midfield. The latter played in Greg Taylor but the full back's finish was disappointingly timid and Marriott dived low to block.

There was nothing hesitant about a Smith strike soon after and only a deflection off a Luton leg saw the ball zip wide of the upright.

For the hosts, the endeavour was there – with Howells and Watkins earning applause for their work rate – but the final ball was lacking until the 67th minute when the Wales Under-21 midfielder dinked over the Mansfield defence for Danny Crow to chase. Marriott, however, was wise to the move and, not for the first time, burst off his line to block.

The Hatters needed a change of impetus and Morgan-Smith departed before the hour with Stuart Fleetwood replacing him, while loan striker Craig McAllister was introduced for his debut in place of Crow.

The former Crawley man, who scored a winner for the Red Devils in his last match at Kenilworth Road, made his first meaningful piece of action for his new employers a drilled effort, which concerned Mansfield's goalie but skimmed wide.

There was little coming back from the visitors until Green almost stole all three points five minutes from time when he out-jumped Kevin Pilkington, beating him to a high ball. His header trickled towards the goal line and once more the keeper's skipper rescued him with a clearance, and despite celebrations from Stags stars the linesman kept his flag by his side after a long, hard look .

There would be no final push from the Hatters though and, in fact, they were hanging on at the end for a draw that felt like a defeat - a result which makes it increasingly optimistic to suggest they can catch the division's top two.

LUTON: K.Pilkington, Gleeson, Taylor, G.Pilkington, Lawless, Morgan-Smith (Fleetwood, 57), Crow (McAllister, 67), O'Connor, Howells, Watkins, Kovacs

Unused subs: Tyler, Dance, Poku

MANSFIELD: Marriott, Riley, Green, Murray, Dyer, O'Neill, Sutton, Smith (Meikle 76), Hutchinson (Briscoe, 82), Dempster, Roberts

Unused subs: Worthington, Howell, Redmond,

REFEREE: Michael Bull (Essex)

ATTENDANCE: 5,261 (111)

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Luton held in Stag-nant stalemate
http://www.bedfordtoday.co.uk/sport/football/luton-town-fc/luton_held_in_stag_nant_stalemate_1_3454763

Luton Town 0 (0) Mansfield Town 0 (0)

LABORIOUS Hatters were thankful to skipper George Pilkington for two last-ditch goal-line clearances as they were held to a bore draw by Mansfield this evening, writes Mike Simmonds.

The skipper was on hand to save Town's bacon in both halves, but the result all but ends Luton's chances of mounting a meaningful title challenge yet again, with leaders Fleetwood now 10 points ahead, with a game in hand.

Boss Gary Brabin made one change from Saturday's 3-3 draw with Southport as John Paul Kissock missed out completely after his touchline row with the manager, allowing fit-again Amari Morgan-Smith to take his place.

On a desperately dull evening, Town had the first effort in anger with Morgan-Smith showing good feet to fire straight at Alan Marriott.

The Hatters had an amazing let-off on 10 minutes as Kevin Pilkington needlessly dashed from his line to try and intercept a ball over the top, leaving himself in no man's land when Matthew Green teed up Adam Smith.

The Stags midfielder must have thought he'd scored after curling a first-time shot goalwards only to see skipper George Pilkington scamper back and twist his body marvellously to head clear from under his own bar.

Town were playing all their football in front of the visiting defence as Adam Watkins embarked on mazy run before shooting straight at Marriott.

Danny Crow tried his best to link the attacking momentum with some neat interchanges, but too often Town, who lacked width all evening, found themselves reduced to going sideways as they were far too obvious and predictable in their intentions.

Kovacs spanked a volley against the bar, before heading wide of the mark and Jake Howells dragged horribly off target.

On one of the only occasions Luton worked it wide, thanks to neat play by Alex Lawless and Crow, Aaron O'Connor reached the byline and his pull-back saw Crow's effort deflected behind.

Town had huge shouts for a penalty on 38 minutes when Watkins tricked his way past former Hatter Adam Murray and appeared to be tripped right on the edge of the box by Luke O'Neill, but his pleas were waved away.

Lawless started to gain possession more as the half wore on, doing his best to run the show, and from one incisive burst, he slid in O'Connor, who was denied by Marriott's legs.

Most of Luton's best chances were falling to Kovacs though and from one wickedly curling Howells corner, his header was inches over the bar.

The second half was, in a word, woeful, as bar Marriott's smart stop from Greg Taylor early on, Luton never looked like breaking the deadlock.

Mansfield on the other hand grew in confidence, with Smith firing narrowly past the post.

Worryingly, with Town waiting to bring Morgan-Smith off, the top scorer appeared to injure himself in stretching to play a pass and was forced to hobble down the tunnel with Stuart Fleetwood taking the field. Lawless volleyed a Paul Scholes-esque effort from a corner well wide but the hosts finally engineered a genuine chance when Howells dinked a lovely ball for Crow, who couldn't lift his chip over the onrushing Marriott.

New signing Craig McAllister made his debut with 20 minutes to go, but couldn't get his Luton career off to the perfect start, angling an effort wide.

George Pilkington came to the rescue once more on 84 minutes as Green beat Kevin Pilkington to a header across goal. With the ball about to bounce in, the captain used his left boot this time to belt clear, as the Stags players looked to the linesman in the hope it had crossed the line, but his flag stayed down.

From then on, it became a war of attrition, as Luton eventually trudged off knowing full well that a third stab at the play-offs looks the only realistic way they are going to retake their place in the Football League once more.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dan Gleeson, Greg Taylor, George Pilkington, Alex Lawless, Amari Morgan-Smith (Stuart Fleetwood 57), Danny Crow (Craig McAllister 67), Aaron O'Connor, Jake Howells, Adam Watkins, Janos Kovacs. Substitutes not used: Mark Tyler, James Dance, Godfrey Poku.

Stags: Alan Marriott, Martin Riley, Matthew Green, Adam Murray, Ross Dyer, Luke O'Neill, Ritchie Sutton, Adam Smith (Lindon Meikle 76), Ben Hutchinson (Louis Briscoe 82), John Dempster, Gary Roberts. Substitutes not used: Jonathan Worthington, Anthony Howell, Shane Redmond.

Referee: M Bull.

Assistant referees: D Richardson, T Ramsey.

Fourth Official: A Quelch.

Booked: Riley 26, Roberts 60, Taylor 64.

Attendance: 5,261 (111 away)

Star Hatter: Janos Kovacs – solid at the back

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