STAGS AND LUTON DRAW IN FANTASTIC GAME
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town 2 - 2 Luton Town
Hutchinson 7, Green 85. Gray 25, 67.
Attendance: 2619 (522 from Luton)
Date: 18 November 2012
Martin Shaw at the One Call Stadium
Fierce rivals Mansfield Town and Luton Town drew 2-2 at Field Mill in fabulous advert for the Blue Square Bet Premier league on Sunday lunchtime. Mansfield were ahead early on from a Ben Hutchinson header from an Exodus Geohaghon exocet missile long throw with a low trajectory. The Stags were in total command in the opening 25 minutes and Clements, Briscoe and Wright missed chances to increase the lead. But a bad mistake by Stags keeper Shane Redmond gifted Luton an equaliser. Andre Gray shot from a tight angle on the right as he was only two yards from the byeline, but Redmond fatally left a gap between himself and the right post and allowed the ball into the net. Redmond held his hands up in the changing room after the game apparently. Gray then missed from two yards for Luton. Early in the second half Hutchinson had a goal disallowed as he headed in, and review of the DVD showed he was a fraction offside. A superb game ebbed and flowed, and Mansfield were denied a penalty as Howell appeared to be pushed in the back. But Luton took the lead on 67 minutes as Redmond's clearance only found a Luton player just inside the Mansfield half and the Stags defence was all over the place as Gray fired under Redmond. The Stags were now up against it as Luton had incredibly won every game this season in which that had led at any point (reference http://stats.football365.co.uk/dom/ENG/FC/ptslost.html). Stags substitute Matt Green equalised on 85 minutes from close range after another sub Matt Rhead knocked down a great ball from Chris Clements. So both teams had to settle for a point, but it was cracking entertainment for the 2600 fans.
After the game, Mansfield still have the equal best home record in the league, and Luton still have the best away record.
Exodus Geohaghon, captain for the day, picked up his fifth yellow card of the season (two picked up for Kidderminster) and he is now suspended for one game, away to Macclesfield on Tuesday. Dempster is of course already suspended. Lee Beevers is not suspended for Tuesday after some initial confusion. Beevers has picked up 5 yellow cards this season, but two of those led to his sending off and they do not count in the accumulation. [reference http://www.fiso.co.uk/forum/post708536.html#p708536 Quote: “I've just had a conversation with a nice lady in the FA disciplinary office who has confirmed the logical situation regarding two cards in a match: If a player receives two yellows (the second one meaning they actually get a red), neither counts towards the accumulation. However, if a player receives a yellow and then later in the match receives a straight red, the first card DOES count towards the accumulation.” Further reference http://www.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/suspensions , select Football Conference National, select 'one caution away', and it shows statistics before today's game that Geohaghon and Roberts were on 4 yellows, but NOT Beevers].
Man of the match: Ben Hutchinson
Stagsnet player ratings in the Match Centre
Green equaliser denies Luton
mansfieldtown.net report by Andrew Webb
Matt Green's dramatic late equaliser rescued Mansfield Town a superb point from a pulsating 2-2 draw with Luton Town at One Call Stadium.
Ben Hutchinson guided Exodus Geohaghon's long-throw into the net as Mansfield went ahead early on, before the visitors drew level thanks to a perfectly-angled strike from Andre Gray.
Gray doubled Luton's advantage midway through the second period, though the Hatters were denied all three points thanks to Green's close-range finish five minutes from time.
Mansfield made their intentions perfectly clear from the first whistle and had enjoyed plenty of possession by the time they went ahead on eight minutes.
Geohaghon, skippering the side for the first time, hurled one of his torpedo-like long throws towards the near post and Hutchinson rose highest to nonchalantly guide his header beyond the desperate dive of the flapping Hatters goalkeeper Mark Tyler.
The Stags continued to create several chances against their lacklustre counterparts and after Geohaghon almost caused havoc with another long-throw, Chris Clements saw a vicious 30-yard effort wickedly diverted wide of the woodwork by Luton defender Janos Kovacs.
From the resulting corner, Clements caused pandemonium inside the Luton six-yard box with his superb set-piece delivery, but somehow neither Ritchie Sutton nor Hutchinson were able to flick the ball home, despite both lurking dangerously at the back-post.
Nick Wright could have doubled the advantage when he struck wide from close range following Geohaghon's right-sided cross on 25 minutes, but Mansfield were struck a body-blow only seconds later when Luton grabbed an equaliser completely against the run of play.
Kovacs found Gray with a hopeful long punt over the top, but despite Sutton being able to get goal-side of his marker, the pacey frontman advanced into the area and drilled a low shot goalwards from the acutest of angles, which somehow crept beneath the body of Shane Redmond.
The Hatters soon began to enjoy the momentum and spurned a series of gilt-edge chances as Mansfield were ultimately fortunate to remain on level terms at the half-time interval.
Ron Henry's deep left-sided cross was narrowly headed wide by Jake Howells on the half hour mark, whilst Gray aimlessly blazed wide from just a few yards out after Howells' inch-perfect low pull-back cross from the inside-left channel reached him in the centre.
The best chances that Mansfield managed to conjure up prior to the break were a 20-yard wild effort from Lindon Meikle and a tame header from Anthony Howell, which failed to cause Luton's veteran shot-stopper any serious problems.
However, the Stags looked rejuvenated and re-invigorated as they put their counterparts under lengthy spells of sustained pressure in the early stages of the second period.
Target man Wright was denied what would have been his second goal of the campaign due to an offside flag when he headed Louis Briscoe's right-wing cross into the net, whilst Hutchinson failed to capitalise on a mistake from Tyler, which left him with a clear sight of goal, albeit from 35-yards out.
Howell also came closed when he blazed over from close range, though Mansfield were lucky not to have fallen behind on the hour-mark when Kovacs' point-blank header following a Luton corner was inadvertently blocked on the line by Henry.
Nevertheless, Paul Buckle's men grew in confidence as the half progressed and established a one-goal advantage as Gray struck for a second time on 67 minutes.
Redmond's routine downfield clearance met a Luton head, before a centrally-positioned Jon Smith played a simple pass from to Howells on the left flank.
With the Stags defence at full-stretch, Howells then exploited empty space as he poked a delicate ball towards an unmarked Gray inside the area, and the Hatters' talisman calmly retained his composure by tucking his shot beneath the advancing Redmond.
Green, Jake Speight and Matt Rhead were all introduced to the action in favour of Wright, Hutchinson and Meikle respectively, as Mansfield desperately sought a route back into the game.
But it was the visitors who continued to pose danger, and when they stretchered their opponents defence once more, Scott Rendell was left cursing his own mis-fortune when his stinging left-foot shot was expertly palmed away by Redmond.
The save was the catalyst for a Mansfield comeback and after a frantic period of end-to-end action, Green forced a deserved equaliser with just five minutes remaining as Clements set-piece delivery from the left reached him poaching dangerously, via Rhead's superb flick.
Clements, industrious in midfield throughout, then proved his full value in the last of four added minutes of stoppage time, with a brave block, which prevented Henry from reaching Gray's intended low pass through the six-yard box as the Stags held on to stretch their unbeaten home run to 10 games.
Attendance: 2,619 (522 away supporters).
Mansfield Town 2-2 Luton Town, Sunday 18th November
chad.co.uk report by John Lomas
MATT Green made a timely return to the goals trail with an 85th minute equaliser to earn Mansfield Town a deserved share of the spoils in an absorbing 2-2 home draw with old rivals Luton Town this afternoon.
Green, last year's 30-goal hero, had been dropped recently after his goals dried up, but he came on as a substitute today to grab his first goal since 4th September.
It was nothing less than the Stags deserved, having dominated much of the afternoon against the side with the best away record in the division and gone ahead after only eight minutes through Ben Hutchinson.
But Luton levelled against the run of play on 26 minutes through Andre Gray, from the tightest of angles, and then went ahead through the same player on a 67th minute break.
However, Stags have the best home record in the division and continued to plug away with arguably their best home display of the season and ended up with a point from a showing that will earn them all three more often than not this season if they can reproduce it.
John Thompson returned to the line-up and a fine display won him the man of the match award.
With John Dempster suspended, Ritchie Sutton was moved across the centre half and Thompson was employed at right back.
A Clements free kick was headed clear by the visitors' defence in the tense opening stages.
A loose pass from Howell then set Luton on their way in midfield, but Beevers did well to get a block on Gray's shot, the ball looping tamely to Redmond.
Briscoe drilled in a low ball from the right which passed through everyone as Stags looked hungry.
And they were rewarded on eight minutes with a goal from Hutchinson.
Geohaghon's trademark long throw from the right picked out the leap of Hutchinson who flicked a superb header out of the reach of Tyler.
Clements was not far wide with a low 20 yard effort, then Mansfield forced two successive corners as Luton found themselves on the back foot.
Clements slipped Wright clear on 18 minutes, but his finish was wide and the offside flag was up anyway.
But it was stirring stuff from the Stags and another low Briscoe ball in from the right again eluded everyone in front of goal.
Another Geohaghon throw was cleared back to him and this time he dinked a delightful ball in towards the near post where the right boot of Wright turned the ball just wide.
Luton had spent most of the half desperately defending.
But they suddenly hauled themselves level out of the blue on 26 minutes.
Gray took on Sutton down the right and was marshalled towards the by-line. But somehow he delivered a superb low finish under Sutton's challenge from the tightest of angle and across Redmond to find the net inside the far post.
Redmond had to grab a Henry header from Howells' cross soon after as the visitors finally began to ask questions of the home defence.
Mendy was lucky not to be booked for taking out Howell across the shinpads.
Mansfield forced two more corners, Tyler doing well to punch the first away before Geohaghon's head could reach it, and Meikle too high with his finish from the second.
The Hatters forced their first corner of the game on 40 minutes from which they caused problems, Mendy seeing a shot blocked, then Howells put it back it, Gray poking inches wide from close range.
Gray also headed wide at the far post as Luton finished the half with a flourish.
Stags came back out with the bit between their teeth and quickly forced a corner.
That was cleared out to Briscoe on the right who floated the ball back into the box where Hutchinson again flicked a header over Tyler into the net with just 75 seconds of the half gone.
However, this time his celebrations were quickly ended by the sight of a raised offside flag against him.
On 49 minutes Tyler ran out his box to kick clear ahead of the chasing Wright.
But his kick was poor and he was left out of position with Hutchinson having the chance of a shy at the empty net from 45 yards but was unable to score what would have been an amazing goal, sidefooting wide.
Hutchinson did appear to be tripped as he tricked his way into the box. It seemed the argument would be if it was in or outside the box, but the referee decided against it being a foul.
Another chance presented itself for Mansfield on 53 minutes as Luton failed to clear a Geohaghon throw, the ball allowed to bounce in the box only for Howell to lift a poor finish over from eight yards.
Lawless saw a free kick from the left cleared back to him and his first attempted follow-up shot was blocked while his second from the rebound passed just wide.
Wright turned well to create himself an opening at the other end only to scuff the finish.
Stags had a great penalty shout on 59 minutes when Howell was pushed squarely in the back, but again the referee played on.
Seconds later Meikle saw his cross hit a Luton player in the box with a cry for handball, but again no penalty was forthcoming.
On 63 minutes Luton almost stung Stags again from a left wing corner which found an unmarked Kovacs to power a header on target which hit the sea of legs on the line.
Green replaced Wright up front on 64 minutes as Stags looked for fresh impteus.
Hutchinson sent in a good deep cross from the right two minutes later which was controlled well by Meikle but sent over as he spun to shoot.
However, it was the Hatters who took the lead for the first time on 67 minutes.
They broke well from a Geohaghon throw, Thompson covered to allow Redmond to kick clear.
But he didn't get much distance on the kick and Howells was able to thread a lovely ball back down the centre where Gray poked a low finish between the keepers' legs.
Speight was immediately sent on for Hutchinson in the Mansfield attack.
Soon after Geohaghon was booked for dissent, a fifth booking of the campaign which will see the influential centre half miss Tuesday's trip to Macclesfield.
When Briscoe flicked on a Clements ball to Speight he could have shot or fed Green, free to his right, but in the end did neither and the chance was gone.
Gray thought he won a penalty for Luton on 73 minutes when he thought he had been bundled over in the box. But, despite his remonstrations with the linesman on that side, nothing was given.
Luton piled on the pressure with two more corners while Beevers was booked for a foul that also sees him out of Tuesday's game.
Kovacs was too high from 25 yards as Stags sent on Rhead for Meikle in a final shuffle.
With Stags pushing forward 10 minutes from the end, another Luton break almost sealed it as Gray and Smith set up a shooting chance for Howells which Redmond beat away to his right.
Ainge was cautioned for a foul on Rhead on 81 minutes.
But the subs combined on 85 minutes to grab a richly-deserved equaliser.
Clements put a long ball to the far post where Rhead headed across goal for Green to turn it home from close range.
Suddenly the home fans turned up the noise levels as Geohaghon began to bomb in throw after throw with Luton clinging on.
Four minutes of time were added on but neither side were able to conjure up a last gasp winner.
STAGS: Redmond; Thompson, Geohaghon, Sutton, Beevers; Briscoe, Howell, Clements, Meikle (Rhead 76); Hutchinson (Speight 69), Wright (Green 64). Subs not used: Murray, Daniel.
LUTON: Tyler, Rowe-Turner, Kovacs, Lawless, Rendell, Howells, Ainge, Mendy, Smith, Henry, Gray (Fleetwood 90+5). Subs not used: Beckwith, O'Donnell, Robinson, Brill.
REFEREE: Ross Joyce of Billingham
ATTENDANCE: 2,610 (522 away).
Match report: Stags 2, Luton 2
Nottingham Post report byu Stevie Roden
IT had been a drought that has lasted ten weeks, stretching back to September 4.
But yesterday Matt Green came off the bench to fire a much-deserved equaliser and not only maintain Mansfield Town's much-improved run of performances but get himself back on the goals trail.
The man who bagged 30 times in the last campaign netted four times early this season but since then, nothing, and he found himself dropped to the bench.
But his time came in the 85th minute with the Stags heading for defeat as he notched from close range to earn a 2-2 draw with fellow promotion fancied Luton Town.
It extended Mansfield's unbeaten run to five games but more importantly, it meant they got something from a game in which they impressed for large periods.
Ben Hutchinson had given them an early lead for the second league game running but Andre Gray's double – one in either half – saw the visitors fight back before Green struck late on.
Stags boss Paul Cox made just one change to the side that knocked Slough out of the FA Cup on penalties and that was forced.
John Dempster, who was sent off in that match, began a three-game ban with John Thompson coming in at right-back and Ritchie Sutton switching to central defence.
Luton arrived in north Notts with the best away record in the league while Mansfield boasted the joint-best home record, which they shared with second-placed Newport.
And the Stags took the lead on eight minutes. Exodus Geohaghon, handed the captain's armband in Dempster's absence, delivered a bullet throw-in from the right of the box and Hutchinson, at the near post, directed a deft backward flicked header into the far corner.
It was a superb finish and minutes later Chris Clements drove a 20-yard shot that, via a deflection, went just the wrong side of the post as Mansfield got on the front foot.
It was a bright first quarter of the game from Mansfield and Nick Wright headed over the top from Louis Briscoe on the right who then darted forward but pulled his low effort wide of Mark Tyler's far stick.
But Luton were level completely against the run of play on 26 minutes.
A ball over the top put Gray down the right of the box; he got the better of Sutton down towards the byline and from the tightest of angles, he somehow managed to drive a low effort beyond Redmond.
It rocked Mansfield and, soon after, Luton's Ron Henry crossed from the right to find Jake Howells but his header was held by Redmond. Luton could have been ahead five minutes from the break when after an initial corner was cleared, it fell to Howells on the left and he blasted the ball into the six-yard box, but Gray put it wide despite being three yards out in the centre of goal.
Mansfield forced a corner within a minute of a lively start to the second half and when it was cleared to Briscoe, the winger whipped it back in and Wright flicked a backward header over Tyler and in, but the offside flag had gone up against him.
Another Geohaghon long throw caused problems again in the Luton box but after dropping invitingly to Howell, he fired high over the bar when he should have done better. Then at the other end, Alex Lawless fired through a sea of bodies but his low effort missed the target.
On 63 minutes, Luton's Janos Kovacs powered a header from a corner which looked to be going it but it was blocked on the line before Mansfield boss Paul Cox sent on Green for Wright.
But on 67 minutes, Stags were behind when Luton broke, Howells found Gray breaking into the centre of the box and, in behind the defence, he slotted it under Redmond, who will feel he should have done better for both goals.
With ten minutes left, Howells had a good chance to extend the lead but Redmond spread himself to deny the winger as his side left themselves open as they pushed for an equaliser.
And it came five minutes from time as Clements whipped in a free kick to the back post which Matt Rhead headed into the six-yard box for fellow substitute Green to finish from close range
Football: Mansfield 2 Luton Town 2
BY LAUREN ARCHELL
Luton managed to avoid the ignominy of a third straight league defeat on Sunday but, after leading with five minutes remaining against Mansfield, they will have been disappointed not to clinch a victory which would have lifted them level on points with third place.
Two clinical strikes from Andre Gray cancelled out Ben Hutchinson's opener and looked to have put Luton on track for yet another away win. But Matt Green salvaged a point for Mansfield with five minutes remaining to leave Luton perched in sixth spot ahead of a 16-day break from league action because of back-to-back cup matches with Dorchester Town.
Manager Paul Buckle will have been disappointed at the way his side relinquised the lead and the manner in which they conceded the first goal. The manager had instructed a youth-team player to half volley the ball in from the touchline in training to in attempt to prepare the team for the long throw of Mansfield's Exodus Geohaghon.
Yet from the captain's first delivery, Mansfield scored; Hutchinson heading past Mark Tyler.
Looking the more threatening, Mansfield had an opportunity to score a second when Lewis Briscoe managed to shrug off Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
Faced with a one on one with the keeper, the striker played his shot wide.
Just as the Stags were beginning to completely dominate the game, Gray popped up and grabbed an equaliser for the Hatters.
The striker burst down the right-hand side and forced a shot from an acute angle, which flew under the body of keeper Shane Redmond and into the back of the net.
The goalscorer had a golden opportunity to put the Hatters ahead just before half time but could not quite just get his feet in the right place to connect with the ball.
The chance came from a Jake Howells cross which landed at the feet of Gray just yards from goal, but the striker just did not have enough time to force a strike towards the keeper.
Luton finished the half the stronger team but, unfortunately, did not come out for the second half with quite the same intensity. Indeed, they were lucky not to find themselves behind for a second time.
The assistant referee's flag saw a Mansfield goal ruled out while minutes a close-range effort from Anthony Howell was volleyed over the bar.
After weathering the storm, Luton then hit Mansfield with a counter punch. Fantastic interplay between Arnaud Mendy and Howells left Gray with just the goalkeeper to beat. The striker kept a cool head to slot the ball past Redmond's outstretched arms to spark celebrations from the travelling fans.
The match still felt like it had more goals in it so it was not too much of a surprise when the Stags managed to find a leveller.
With the ball being crossed back and forth in the Luton box, it was substitute Green who managed to net the equaliser after losing his marker with just five minutes left to go.
It was a bitter blow for the Hatters and one they will have to bounce back from in time for their FA Trophy game with Dorchester Town.
Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe- Turner, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Scott Rendell, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy, Jonathan Smith, Ronnie Henry, Andre Gray (Stuart Fleetwood).
Subs: Dean Beckwith, JJ 'Donnell, Matt Robinson, Dean Brill
Mansfield Town: Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, John Thompson, Lindon Meikle (Matt Rhead), Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright (Matt Green) , Anthony Howell, Chris Clements, Lee Beevers, Ben Hutchinson (Jake Speight), Exodus Geohaghom
Subs: Adam Murray, Colin Daniel
REPORT: MANSFIELD 2-2 TOWN
Late goal denies Hatters victory
MANSFIELD 2 (Hutchinson 7, Green 85)
TOWN 2 (Gray 26, 67)
Two goals from Andre Gray were not enough for the Town at bogey ground Field Mill as a goal five minutes from time denied Paul Buckle's side all three points.
Gray's double had put the Hatters ahead after they had trailed to Ben Hutchinson's eighth-minute header. Gray's first from an acute angle before the break was followed by a second half-way through the second half.
The Hatters had chances to extend their lead but were punished when they failed to defend another ball into the box and Matt Green finished from close range to deny the Town a first league win at Mansfield.
Buckle made two changes to the side that beat Nuneaton in the week with Simon Ainge and Jonathan Smith restored to the line-up in the place of JJ O'Donnell and Dan Walker – the former dropped to the bench.
Gray had the first effort on a bright but cold November early afternoon when he saw his shot blocked on five minutes having taking Alex Lawless' pass, but three minutes later disaster struck when Mansfield took the lead.
Geohaghon's long throws has caused problems for defences up and down the country and the Hatters were the big defender's latest victims when his first throw of the afternoon was hurled in from the right and glanced home by Hutchinson giving Mark Tyler no chance.
Buoyed by that the Stags poured forward in search of doubling their tally early doors as the Town struggled to cope with Geohaghon's huge, deep throw-ins arrowed into the six-yard box.
On 11 minutes a quick throw from Tyler – after he'd clung onto a dangerous Mansfield corner – released Gray down the left. He swapped passes with Jake Howells to hare into the box but, after jinking past one challenge in the penalty area, the striker was unable to pick out partner Scott Rendell.
Mansfield were looking for more goals but their threat to the Town goal only seemed to stem from set-pieces – other than one right-wing raid from Louis Briscoe that saw the winger drag a shot-cum-cross wide of the mark.
There was no doubt that the Stags were enjoying the better of proceedings but the Town, against the run of play, levelled things up with a strike of real quality from Gray on 26 minutes. Janos Kovacs' long ball over the top didn't seem dangerous at first but Gray got ahead of marker Ritchie Sutton, burst into the box and drilled a low shot beyond home stopper Shane Redmond for his fourth of the season.
With their tails up the Hatters began to play some of the best football of the game, and two minutes later a Jake Howells header was stopped by Redmond after Ronnie Henry's right-wing cross.
Now it was end-to-end as back came Mansfield and the Hatters indebted to Tyler for punching clear an in-swinging left-corner with Geohaghon flying into the six-yard box at pace.
However, since the equaliser it was the Town playing the better football, and they should have taken the lead five minutes before the break after winning their first corner of the half. Swung in by Howells the flag-kick was half-cleared by the hosts to Arnaud Mendy who's piledriver from the edge of the box was blocked back into the path of Howells. He in turn drilled a hard, low cross that found Gray two yards out with the goal at his mercy but the pace on the ball gave the Hatters' goalscorer little time to react and a great chance went begging.
The Town almost made a bad start to the second half when Nick Wright's header floated over Tyler a minute after the restart, but to the goalkeeper's relief an offside flag was raised.
Tyler almost gifted the Stags a chance a minute later as the hosts piled on the pressure early in the second half but Hutchinson failed to hit the target 45-yards out with a first-time strike having seized on a low poor kick from the Town number one.
The hosts were enjoying much the better of the play as the Hatters continued to struggle with set-pieces and long throws and on 53 minutes Anthony Howell blazed over the crossbar when well-placed after the Town had let an Geohaghon long-throw travel dangerously close towards goal.
In truth the Town were finding it difficult to threaten the hosts but Lawless came close to making it 2-1 on 57 minutes when his shot from the edge of the box after a Howells free-kick was half-cleared.
However, five minutes later, on 62, a towering, goal-bound header from Kovacs from a left-wing corner from Lawless was hacked off the line by a combination of several men in yellow.
But the Town were not to be denied on 67 minutes when Gray got his second. Mendy did well to break up play and set Howells away down the left. He looked up and spotted the run of Gray to play the pass perfectly into the young striker's feet to latch onto 10 yards out and poke a fine finish home to send the 522 in the away into raptures.
Behind, the hosts brought on forward duo Jake Speight and Green in a bid to find an equaliser but a super break from the Town on 76 minutes could have fashioned a chance for a 3-1 lead when a magnificent cross-field pass from Howells fed Gray but, unselfish though it was, his pass back to Rendell was cut out and chance was gone.
Two minutes later another fine counter-attack from the Town saw Howells warm Redmond's finger-tips after Gray's pace and a pass from Smith created the opening.
The Hatters were looking a threat on break but, with five minutes left on the clock, they were undone again by a set-piece when Mansfield equalised. A lofted high ball into the box from a free-kick was headed across goal and Green was hand to tap home unchallenged from close range to make it 2-2.
Both sides pushed for a third goal in the final few minutes, and the Town almost grabbed a last-gasp winner when a low cross from Gray was cut-out by a last-ditch tackle with Lawless ready for a tap-in. The Hatters couldn't force home the resultant corner and that was the last action as Buckle's men had to settle for a point
Stags grab late leveller as Hatters hold on for a draw thanks to Gray's brace
Blue Square Bet Premier: Mansfield Town 2 (1) Luton Town 2 (1)
Livewire striker Andre Gray's brace was only good enough for a draw as Hatters' Field Mill hoodoo struck again this afternoon, writes Mark Wood.
Town had fought back from a goal down to lead with five minutes to go but substitute Matt Green pounced to net a late leveller from close range, meaning the Hatters are still to record a league win at Field Mill.
Town made two changes from the team that triumphed 2-0 at Nuneaton in their FA Cup replay on Tuesday. Ineligible loan men Simon Ainge and Jonathan Smith returned to the starting line-up as JJ O'Donnell dropped to the bench and Dan Walker missed out entirely as boss Paul Buckle stuck with the same 4-4-2 formation.
After another bizarre set of results the day before meant it was a great chance for the Hatters to make up ground on those at the top.
Alex Lawless did well to seize on a loose pass on six minutes but Gray's effort was blocked and Shane Redmond easily grasped the ball.
However, the Stags took the lead two minutes later as Town's set-piece susceptibility again reared its ugly head. Giant centre-half Exodus Geohaghon hurled the ball into the box and Ben Hutchinson's near-post flick looped over the helpless Mark Tyler and nestled inside the far post.
Chris Clement had a good effort from the edge of the box deflected behind as Mansfield continuously threatened from set-pieces with Luton's defence at sixes and sevens.
Neat play from Jake Howells and Gray almost created something for the Hatters who were very much on the back foot, before the pacey striker was just unable to take advantage of some hesitation in the home defence.
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner allowed Louis Briscoe to get the wrong side of him on 19 minutes but the Stags winger dragged his cross-shot just wide of the far post.
Mansfield's tackles had more bite as Town were surrendering possession far too easily with Geohaghon's long throws a constant menace.
Nick Wright dragged wide from Geohaghon's cross on 25 minutes and seconds later the Hatters were level. Janos Kovacs powered his header out of defence as Gray broke clear. His touch seemed to have taken him too wide but, from an acute angle, he fired home his shot shot inside Redmond's near post to level the scores.
Buoyed by that strike Town began to play with far more verve as it was now the Stags' turn to struggle. Ronnie Henry's cross picked out Howells in the box but his downward header was easy for the keeper.
Arnaud Mendy got away with a just a warning for a late challenge on Anthony Howell on 33 minutes and Luton should have taken the lead five minutes before the break when Howells drove in a great cross but Gray somehow contrived to put it wide from just a couple of yards out.
Town again started the second half slowly as the Stags had Wright's header ruled out for offside two minutes in.
Some kamikaze defending from the Hatters almost handed the hosts the lead on 49 minutes when Tyler's weak clearance went straight to Hutchinson but his first-time effort from 45 yards ran harmlessly wide when he had time to do far better.
Another Geohaghon long throw caused consternation in the Luton defence on 53 minutes and as it bounced across the box Howell scooped wastefully over.
Lawless' dangerous free-kick was only half cleared on 57 minutes and from the edge of the area his low drive ran just wide, while Wright scuffed a good opportunity tamely at Tyler.
Despite all Mansfield's pressure it was Luton who should have taken the lead on 63 minutes when Lawless' corner picked out the unmarked Kovacs at the far post but his powerful downward header was somehow scrambled off the line.
Striker Green was introduced as the Stags pushed for another with Lindon Meikle spiralling over.
With Mansfield pouring forward for another long throw Town caught them with a classic counter-attacking goal on 67 minutes. Breaking at pace Howells slipped through the perfect ball for Gray and, one-on-one with the keeper, he stabbed through Redmond's legs to put the Hatters ahead with his fifth goal of the season.
Mansfield threw on all three of their strikers from the bench as they sought a way back into the game, while another quicksilver Hatters break saw Howells feed Gray but his dangerous cross toward Mendy was cut out.
Luton were looking extremely dangerous on the counter and went close again with 11 minutes to go when Gray again skipped down the right and intelligently found Smith. He passed to the onrushing Howells but the Wales U21 international saw his shot from the of the box beaten away by Redmond.
And it was Luton's turn to have a goal ruled out for offside with six minutes to go when Smith fed Scott Rendell and, although he swivelled and curled home, the linesman's flag was already up.
The hosts though equalised seconds later though when a free-kick was arrowed into the far post and substitute Matt Rhead headed back across goal for fellow replacement Green to force home from close range.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added and Gray almost created the winner at the death when he got to the byline and pulled the ball back, but John Thompson dived in to clear in the nick of time as honours finished even.
Stags (4-4-2): Shane Redmond, Ritchie Sutton, John Thompson, Lindon Meikle (Matt Rhead 76), Louis Briscoe, Nick Wright (Matt Green 65), Anthony Howell, Chris Clements, Lee Beavers, Ben Hutchinson (Jake Speight 69), Exodus Geohaghon. Substitutes not used: Adam Murray, Colin Daniel.
Hatters (4-4-2): Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Scott Rendell, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy, Jonathan Smith, Ronnie Henry, Andre Gray (Stuart Fleetwood 90+5). Substitutes not used: Dean Beckwith, JJ O'Donnell, Matt Robinson, Dean Brill.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Billingham).
Bookings: Geohaghon 70; Beevers 75; Ainge 81.
Assistant Referees: Tom Nield and Ian Johnston.
Fourth Official: Thomas Bramall.
Star Hatter: Andre Gray. By far Luton's liveliest performer, scored twice and could have had more.
Attendance: 2,619 (Luton 522
Latest | November 2012