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Season 10/11 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Mansfield Town  
0 - 0
 Luton Town
Attendance: 2203 (424 from Luton)
Date: 16 April 2011


Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Mansfield Town produced a very solid defensive display to earn a point at home to play-off bound Luton Town at Field Mill on Saturday. For the Stags, this was the third game at Field Mill in 92 hours, and the players worked extremely hard to preserve the record of never having lost at home to Luton in 10 league games. The Stags' outstanding young defender Tom Naylor limped off injured after 15 minutes, but the injury is not serious (he apparently felt his hamstring was tight and is fatigued). This gave an overdue chance to Mark Preece who made his debut at centre half and played extremely well alongside Steve Foster. David Grof had yet another very good game and Luton must be sick of the sight of him after the FA Trophy semi-finals. Up front, the Stags looked too lightweight with the pairing of Mitchley and Higginson and did not create many goalscoring opportunities, but the overall performance drew considerable applause from the home crowd, who took great delight in rubbing in to the Luton players and fans that the Stags are going to Wembley but they're not! The retort of the Luton fans of "we're going to Accrington" was however humourous.

Before the game, Stags chairman John Radford thanked the Stags fans for supporting the club and buying more than 10,000 tickets so far for Wembley. Radford received a rapturous ovation.

The Stags made two changes to the side that beat Bath 44 hours earlier, as Conor Higginson replaced the injured Luke Medley up front, while Steven Istead replaced Adam Murray who was not allowed to play as part of his move from Luton earlier this season. Luton had Tyler in goal with Kevin Pilkington on the bench. Danny Crow was out injured and Barnes-Homer was on the bench. Gnapka and Lawless, both sent off at Kenilworth Road 4 weeks ago, were in the starting line-up.

The game started quietly and on 10 minutes there was an uncharacteristic mix up between Naylor and Grof which allowed former Ilkeston striker Morgan-Smith to win the ball but his shot was blocked by Silk. Three minutes later Naylor slipped and lost the ball to Morgan-Smith again but as Morgan-Smith pushed the ball past Silk, he ran the ball too far forward allowing Grof to come out quickly and claim it.

On 20 minutes, a strange incident as Stonehouse over-ran the ball on the left wing and it appeared to be heading out for a goal kick to Luton, but the ball hit the corner flag, stayed in play and Stonehouse was able to cut inside a defender and shoot from 8 yards, but his shot was blocked by Gleeson. Luton got the ball straight to the other end and Grof had to be alert to clear the ball in front of Walker. A couple of chances for Luton on 22 minutes as first Grof saved with his legs from Lawless from 12 yards, and then Lawless crossed from the byeline and Istead had to head behind for a corner.

Naylor produced a brilliant tackle to deny Morgan-Smith on 31 minutes. But soon afterwards, Naylor was limping and signalling to the bench that he needed to go off. He went straight down the tunnel but within 10 minutes, we brought first news direct from the changing rooms to StagsPlayer/mansfieldtown.net listeners in the commentary that the injury was not serious (details at the top of this report).

Mark Preece came on for his long-awaited debut, and with Sandwith absent for Wembley, Preece appears likely to have a place in the 16 for Wembley.

A chance for Luton on 41 minutes when Lawless chipped in a cross from the byeline and Jason Walker headed wide.

A good half defensively for the Stags after a couple of early mix ups but the Stags were looking lightweight up front with Mitchley and Higginson getting no change from the massive Kroca and George Pilkington.

Half time 0-0

The dangerous Barnes-Homer came on at the break and brought a good diving save from Grof on 47 minutes, with Preece making a good clearance shortly afterwards. Gnapka had a good shot 2 minutes later and Grof saved again. On 57 minutes, Kroca headed wide from a Walker cross.

Adam Smith replaced Mitchley on 58 minutes and was into the action on 65 minutes with good skill on the left and his cross nearly set up Silk in the middle but was just cleared.

Barnes-Homer tested Grof again on 72 minutes - this time Grof saved with his legs. Grof made a diving save from Walker on 75 minutes. Then on 76 minutes, a chance for the Stags as Higginson shot from long range but it was an easy save for Tyler. Lawless’s shot was well saved by Grof on 85 minutes and then 2 minutes into stoppage time, Walker headed over.

At the final whistle, “Que Sera Sera” was played over the tannoy and scoreboard-Stu put “Wembley, Wembley” on the scoreboard to gently rub Luton’s noses in it. A pleasing result for the Stags, though the lack of firepower up front was a worry.

Man of the Match: Mark Preece, Steve Foster, David Grof - couldn't separate them.

Report by: Martin Shaw at Field Mill

Line Up:
Grof 8 Several good saves.
Silk 7 Defended well.
Naylor 6 A couple of early mix-ups, but one brilliant tackle just before he limped off. Should be ok for Wembley.
Foster 8 Excellent in partnership with Preece.
Stonehouse 7 Good game, and had a shot on goal after the ball bizarrely stayed in play as it hit the corner flag.
Cain 5 Disappointing.
Istead 6 So much better in his proper position in midfield than at right back.
Nix 6 Not his best game.
Briscoe 6 Worked hard, and by the end looked dead on his feet. Should have been substituted to give him a rest and should be rested against Grimsby.
Higginson 6 Not an effective strike pairing with Mitchley as they are too lightweight together. Worked hard.
Mitchley 5 Not a good game.
Sub Line Up:
Preece (for Naylor, 33) 8 Very good debut, at last after a long wait. Slotted in really well alongside Foster. Some good tackles and good in the air. Just one mistake which he immediately atoned for with a good tackle.
Smith (for Mitchley, 58) 7 Livened things up a bit. One good dribble and cross.
Subs Not Used: Collett, Thompson, Spence.
Opposition Line Up:
Tyler, Gleeson, George Pilkington, Kroca, Fred Murray, Gnakpa (Willmott 52), Lawless, Keane, Howells, Jason Walker, Morgan-Smith (Barnes-Homer 46). Subs Not Used: Kevin Pilkington, Newton, Carden.
Seb Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear) 6 Generally handled the game ok if a little inconsistent with yellow cards, and missed two good opportunities to play advantage.

Season 10/11 Reports