After achieving a very good 1-0 victory at Wycombe Wanderers on Good Friday, the Stags have the opportunity to gain maximum points from FL Easter fixtures for the first time in several seasons when playoff candidates and main rivals during the last decade, Luton Town, travel to One Call Stadium on Easter Monday.
Last time we gained maximum points from Easter fixtures was at the very end of our 12-match BSP winning streak four years ago, beating Tamworth 1-0 away and Gateshead 4-0 at home.
And early on in the Stags’12-match winning streak on the way to the 2012-13 Conf title, the Stags travelled to Kenilworth Road as well.
A few days before that clash on February 2013, then Luton boss Paul Buckle departed. After the Stags’ 3-2 win there, the winner struck by Meikle in the 90th minute, John Still, who during a decade steered Dagenham & Redbridge from the Conf to one League One campaign on limited resources, was appointed Luton boss and was sacked just before last Christmas. The then Stags boss, Paul Cox, did quit the Torquay managerial post a few months earlierr. Currently, Cox is boss at Barrow, another side the Stags and the Hatters faced in the Conf a few seasons back. Out of the players appearing in February 2013, Matt Green is now at the Stags, converted a penalty) while no Luton player then is still at the Hatters.
The Stags’ win at Kenilworth Road in February 2013 was the third of all time at Luton in FL and BSP games. The other two, in February 1964 and September 2003, were achieved at third FL level.
This is also a clash between two of the four latest BSP champions.
Now, this will be a tough game as Luton are among the League Two draw specialists, 16 in all, most shared with Blackpool and Yeovil, while the Stags have drawn thirteen, half of those around the time of our visit to Luton earlier this season in a fixture which ended 1-1 and was to be the Stags’ final league point with Adam Murray as Stags boss.
Other memorable games between the sides include the FA Trophy semifinals in 2011.
On the way to the FA Trophy final at Wembley in 2011, the Stags beat Luton over two legs.
This happened in March 2011:
Within a week, the Stags booked their FA Trophy Wembley final tickets by beating Luton Town, 2-1 on aggregate in the semifinals, a two-legged affair which Luton, if they had taken their chances and not lost discipline in the home tie, had won. Instead, the Stags took theirs and progressed. The tie at Kenilworth Road was to be Richard Money's last home game as Luton boss, as he resigned days after a humiliating 2-1 BSP away defeat at Southport the week after the Hatters' FA Trophy exit. More on the epic semi-finals in the Match Centre for the 2010-11 season.
This was also the last but one of four clashes between the sides that campaign.
In the BSP, the Stags lost the BSP clash at Luton 2-0, beaten by the ref, as the match report headline said. The proof: a debatable Stags red card and harsh penalty awards against them. The home game on April 16, 2011, ended goal-less, with goalie Grof once again denying the Hatters.
Luton did during their previous league years create a piece in soccer history. The Hatters were the first side to drop from the highest level to the basement league (relegated from the top flight in 1959-60, playing their first season in Division 4 in 1965-66) and then regain the place at the top (promoted from division 4 in 1967-68, playing at the highest level again in 1974-75). All that took the Hatters fourteen years to manage.
During these years, the Hatters faced the Stags in Division 3 on four occasions. In 1963-64, the Hatters had been relegated from the second level while the Stags had gained their first-ever promotion. On February 1, 1964, the Stags visited Kenilworth Road for the first time since the Stags' inaugural league season in 1931-32. Then, Luton had plunged in further relegation trouble, only to stay up due to a good finish of the 1963-64 season, while the Stags were upper midtable, and won 2-0 thanks to goals from Hall and Wagstaff in front of 6307. The game at Field Mill on September 21, 1963, had been dead-locked at 1-1 thanks to a Tyrer strike for the Stags attended by 9565.
The following 1964-65 season saw the Stags very close to being promoted to Division Two for the first time while Luton were relegated to the basement. In those days, teams often played each other in midweek fixtures at home one week, away the following week and vice versa. Two such games then were the Stags v Hatters ones in October 1964. On October 12, 1964 (for several years, the Stags played home midweek fixtures on Mondays), the Stags romped past the Hatters 2-0 courtesy of a Wagstaff strike and an own-goal, attendance 8083. By that time, Luton went through a big slump with sixteen consecutive games without victory, the Hatters' longest-ever league sequence without winning. No wonder that only 2874 found the way to Kenilworth Road to watch the 1-1 draw on October 21, 1964, with Anderson netting for the Stags.
Three seasons later, Luton were on the up again crowned Division 4 champions in 1967-68, the same campaign that saw the Stags' division 3 status saved due to the demotion of Peterborough. And in September 1968, both sides had started well in the third tier. Incidentally, the game at Luton on September 18, 1968, was to be the last Stags one for several seasons without Sandy Pate in the side. A very good crowd, 19315, saw the Stags lose 4-2 in a fiery encounter with two red cards (one for each side).
And when the Stags played their so far solitary season at the second level in 1977-78, Luton were one of the opponents but were (like Tottenham, Fulham and Stoke) unable to beat the Stags. On November 12, 1977, the Stags beat the Hatters 3-1 at home. More on that game in the Vintage Stags section. Former Luton player John Aston was a Stag that campaign but was an unused sub at home, but did play at Kenilworth Road a month later, on December 17, 1977, when the teams drew 1-1.
From then on, the sides did not clash again until 2001-02. Those games, and the ones in 2002-03 are fresh in the previewer's memory, as those four games yielded 23 goals, thirteen of those were Stags ones, including a 4-1 rout at Field Mill on November 3, 2001.
Luton also faced the Stags in their inaugural league season. Then, the Hatters were victims of the Stags' first-ever FL hat-trick. On Easter Monday March 28, 1932, Johnson ran riot and notched a hat-trick when the Hatters were stuffed big style to a 5-2 victory, Bowater netting the other two, thus gaining revenge for a 1-3 defeat at Luton on Good Friday March 25, 1932. Luton manager then was Harold Weightman, who later bossed the Stags for their last 19 league games in 1935-36.
Last season, the Stags lost both fixtures against the Hatters. The home clash on January 23, 2016 saw the Hatters’ first ever league victory at Mansfield to a 2-0 scoreline. But way back in 1989, the Hatters did so in the League Cup during the Hatters’ latest stint at the highest level, a stint which lasted a decade and ended just before the inauguration of the Premier League in 1992. Before January last year, the Hatters were closest in league games during a BSP fixture on November 18, 2012, just five minutes. Then, Matt Green equalized in a game being an advert for the BSP.
Elsewhere, some League Two promotion and relegation issues might be decided on Easter Monday. Plymouth need just one point against Newport County at Home Park to ensure a return to League One after six seasons, while Portsmouth might do the same with a win at Notts County and Luton failing to win at Mansfield. And at the bottom, Leyton Orient will drop out of League Two for the very first time if they fail to beat Hartlepool at home. Apart from our fixture, crunch games around the playoff zone include Carlisle v Stevenage and Cambridge v Exeter.
There has been a few players appearing for both sides. John Aston is already mentioned. Of the others, Mike Saxby and Steve Taylor were involved in transfer activities in July 1979 which led to the end of Billy Bingham's managerial career at the Stags (Saxby going to Luton, Taylor the other way). Goalkeeper Steve Taylor played on loan for both sides during his career between the sticks. The FA Trophy final season in 2010-11 saw Kevin Pilkington (167 Stags FL games between 2000 and 2005) and Adam Murray playing for both sides, Pilko on loan for a few games around the turn of the year, and Murray permanently after the 2-0 defeat at Luton in September 2010. The scorer of the winning goal at Chesterfield three years ago, Calvin Andrew, started in fact his FL career at Kenilworth Road, where he played in each of the Hatters' two latest campaigns in the second tier, 2005-06 and 2006-07 respectively. Ollie Palmer, the scorer of the Stags’ first FL goal back in the League, incidentally at Wycombe, is now appearing for Luton.
Played for both sides: Calvin Andrew, John Aston, Andy Burgess, John Downie, Luke Graham, Jamie Hand, Simon Heslop, Fred Hogg, Fred Holbeach, Johnny Mullins, Adam Murray, Aaron O'Connor, Sid Ottewell, Ollie Palmer, George Pilkington, Kevin Pilkington, Godfrey Poku, Lewis Price, Mike Saxby, Jon Shaw, Alan Sheehan, Wilf Sheldon, Hilton Sidney, Steve Sutton, Soloman Taiwo, Greg Taylor, Steve Taylor, Imre Varadi,.Jock Weir.
Managed both sides: Harold Wightman.
Home games: P 14, W 7, D 6, L 1. GF 23, GA 12
Away games: P 15, W 3, D 5, L 7. GF 20, GA 31
Season Home Date Away Date
1931-32 5-2 1932-03-28 1-3 1932-03-25 Div 3 (S)
1963-64 1-1 1963-09-21 2-0 1964-02-01 Div 3 (old)
1964-65 2-0 1964-10-12 1-1 1964-10-21 Div 3 (old)
1968-69 1-0 1969-04-07 2-4 1968-09-18 Div 3 (old)
1969-70 0-0 1970-04-20 2-2 1970-03-14 Div 3 (old)
1977-78 3-1 1977-11-12 1-1 1977-12-17 Div 2 (old)
2001-02 4-1 2001-11-03 3-5 2002-04-01 Div 3
2002-03 3-2 2003-03-04 3-2 2002-09-17 Div 2
2009-10 0-0 2010-03-02 1-4 2009-08-11 BSP
2010-11 0-0 2011-04-16 0-2 2010-09-28 BSP
2011-12 1-1 2011-08-23 0-0 2012-01-25 BSP
2012-13 2-2 2012-11-18 3-2 2013-02-23 BSP
2014-15 1-0 2015-02-17 0-3 2014-11-29 League Two
2015-16 0-2 2016-01-23 0-1 2015-09-19 League Two
2016-17 (at Luton) 1-1 2016-10-22 League Two
1989-90 3-4 1989-09-19 at Field Mill
1989-90 2-7 1989-10-03 at Kenilworth Road
2010-11 1-0 2011-03-13 at Field Mill (semifinal first leg)
2010-11 1-1 2011-03-19 at Kenilworth Road (semifinal second leg aet)
An interesting game is on the cards. Come on Mansfield!