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Season 12/13 Stagsnet Match Report
Blue Square Bet Premier
Luton Town  
2 - 3
 Mansfield Town
Rendell 37, Gray 47.
 Green pen 31, Daniel 44, Meikle 90.
Attendance: 5968 (410 from Mansfield)
Date: 23 February 2013


Martin Shaw, Simon Chamberlain and Jeff Barnes at Kenilworth Road

If there is one ground in the entire world where you would want to win a league game in the last minute, it would have to be Kenilworth Road. With the game locked at 2-2 and Luton, for the first time in the game, pushing for a winner, super-sub Lindon Meikle popped up in the six yard box to poke home after the Stags had broken forward with Luton having too many men committed forward. The goal came in front of the massed travelling Stags fans who were sent into raptures. Earlier, the opening half an hour was quiet as the Stags silenced the home fans. Then the Stags should have been given a penalty when Daniel was clearly tripped by Wayne Thomas in the box. Unbelievably the referee waved away appeals. Two minutes later, Daniel was tripped again in a carbon copy incident, this time by McNulty, and this time the referee couldn’t ignore it. Green clinically finished low into the left corner of the net from the spot. Luton were level when the Stags were down to ten men as Beevers’s shoulder had popped out. A cross from the left was deflected into the path of Scott Rendell who was the spare man in the box, and easily neat Marriott. The Stags showed great character to come back and re-take the lead, as good play between Green and Stevenson, and Stevenson fed Daniel who was in space on the left and beat Tyler in the Luton goal. Luton were back level again just after half time as the pacey Andre Gray got away from Dempster and coolly slotted past Marriott for a terrific goal. On the balance of play the Stags were the better team, but in the final few minutes it was Luton who looked the more likely winners, desperately trying to keep their play-off hopes alive, but it was Lindon Meikle who had the final say.

The side selected by manager Paul Cox was unchanged yet again. However, a knee injury picked up by Anthony Howell in training on Friday flared up in the pre-match warm up and he had to be replaced by Chris Clements. Ben Hutchinson came on to the bench. Managerless Luton came into the game in poor form despite their excellent FA Cup run reaching the 5th round, and they had only scored 3 goals in their last 8 games. Luton included huge centre half Steve McNulty in their side, a player who Paul Cox had shown an interest in signing recently.

After the disappointing performance against Newport, Mansfield had learnt that they need to get stuck into opposition teams from the off and not defend too deep. And again, after the excellent performance at Hyde, the Stags were working hard from the first whistle. On 5 minutes, Lee Stevenson nearly nicked the ball off McNulty as the Stags chased every ball. Luton had a free kick on 8 minutes taken by captain Ronnie Henry but the whistle went as the ball came into the box and by the time Wayne Thomas headed into the net, the Mansfield players had already stopped.

A good move involving Green and Beevers came to nothing on 10 minutes. Then on 12 minutes, Andre Gray pulled a poor effort wide of the post. The game was stop-start with lots of fouls as Mansfield continued to get stuck in. A great tackle from Murray after Jones had fallen over on 19 minutes typified the Mansfield captain’s, and his team’s, start to the game. Following the resulting corner, Alex Lawless sent a dipping shot wide for Luton.

A good move from the Stags on 21 minutes culminated in Briscoe’s cross-come-shot being held by keeper Mark Tyler. Murray was hurt in a challenge on 23 minutes but after an anxious minute, he was able to carry on.

It was an opening period of little goalmouth action, but the game burst into life on 28 minutes. Daniel nipped in in front of centre-half Wayne Thomas in the penalty area on the right and, Thomas, who probably didn’t see Daniel coming, clearly tripped him in the area. It seemed to me to be a definite penalty but the referee waved away the appeals.

Amazingly, two minutes later on 30 minutes, there was a carbon copy incident as Daniel was tripped again, this time by McNulty. The referee simply couldn’t ignore the appeals again and had to point to the penalty spot. In both incidents, Daniel was just too quick to the ball ahead of Luton’s slow centre-halves. Green stepped up to take the penalty and sent it low and hard into the bottom left corner.

Beevers was injured on 36 minutes and we were later to find out that his shoulder had popped out. As he was down on the ground in agony, thousands of Luton fans hurled abuse at him for having the audacity to waste time. It was an example of what I find most endearing about this set of fans! Ritchie Sutton got ready to come on, but once Beevers’ shoulder had been put back in he was able to carry on and Sutton had to return to the dugout.

It was bad luck for the Stags though because, before Beevers was allowed to return to the action and thus while Mansfield were one man short, Luton equalised. A low cross from the left by Jonathan Smith following a throw-in was deflected to the one place Mansfield didn’t have covered, which was an unmarked Scott Rendell at the far post and he fired past Marriott.

The Stags showed great character and were back in front on 44 minutes. Good play as Green found Stevenson who slipped the ball to Daniel inside the area to the left. It was a very similar chance to Daniel’s chance at Hyde just before half time and this time he made no mistake burying it past Tyler.

Luton left the field at half time to boos from the home crowd and it would be important for Mansfield to keep the home side quiet in the early stages of the second half.

Half time 1-2

The Stags made a positive start in the opening minute of the second half as Briscoe sent a left footed shot wide from a distance.

But just what the Stags didn’t want to happen happened on 47 minutes. Andre Gray outpaced the Stags defence, latching on to a through ball from Rendell and bearing down on goal he fired past Marriott.

On 49 minutes, Marriott had to come out of his area to head away from a massive clearance from Luton keeper Tyler. On 58 minutes, a Luton corner was headed well over by Thomas.

At this point, it became clear that Beevers was not able to take long throws because of his shoulder. A great run from Briscoe on 60 minutes came to nothing and then another good run 2 minutes later again came to nothing. Murray had a shot blocked on 65 minutes and then, a minute later, a good run and pull back from Briscoe but no one was there. At the other end, Luton sub Jake Howells sent a free kick over the bar on 68 minutes and Andre Gray fired wide a minute later.

Hutchinson, a late addition to the substitutes bench, replaced Stevenson on 74 minutes. Luton had appeals for a penalty on 78 minutes as a corner came off the chest of Jones. A minute later at the other end, Hutchinson had two shots blocked. On 80 minutes, Clements played a 1-2 with Green and his powerful low shot was just wide of the post with Tyler motionless. A minute later, good play from Green as he got to the by line and pulled the ball back but Daniel couldn’t quite reach it.

On 83 minutes, sub Stuart Fleetwood was just unable to hook home Rendell’s effort as Dempster cleared, and then Ronnie Henry’s shot was deflected straight into Marriott’s midriff. On 85 minutes, Dempster blocked another effort from Rendell (I think . . . my view was obscured to be honest, and I don’t yet have DVD footage).

Meikle replaced Briscoe on 86 minutes. Luton were now on top for the first time in the game and Jonathon Smith sent a weak shot straight at Marriott on 87 minutes. Lindon Meikle’s first touch of the ball was to give it away and Marriott had to be out quickly to deny Gray and get Meikle out of jail.

With Luton pushing forward, desperately looking for a winner, Mansfield caught them on the break on the stroke of 90 minutes for a goal which was against the run of play but overall, was deserved. The Stags had players over as they broke through Hutchinson and Clements had a shot brilliantly blocked by Tyler, the rebound fell to Meikle who scored from 6 yards.

In 4 minutes of stoppage time, there were no scares for Mansfield who sent the 410 travelling fans home as happy as you could be from an away day.

Man of the match: Adam Murray

Report by: Martin Shaw, Simon Chamberlain and Jeff Barnes at Kenilworth Road

Line Up:
Marriott 7 Didn’t put a foot wrong.
Beevers 7 Linked well with Briscoe. Defended well. Bravely continued after his shoulder popped out, and then unable to take throws.
Dempster 7 Solid.
Jones 7 Defended well. Not such a threat in the opposition box today.
Jennings 6 Had a difficult second half against Gray. Allowed too many crosses in.
Briscoe 8 High on confidence, and regularly beat his man. Got some good crosses in.
Clements 6.5 Replaced Howell who was originally named in the side but dropped out through injury. Not as big a presence as Howell but distributed the ball well.
Murray 9 Excellent; ran the show. Told us he was as tired as he’s ever been after the game. And his performance showed why.
Daniel 7.5 Caused the defence some problems with his speed. Took his goal well.
Stevenson 7 Nice play to create Daniel’s goal. Skilful performance.
Green 7.5 Did so much work and took so much stick from McNulty. Kept going. Sweet penalty.
Sub Line Up:
Hutchinson (for Stevenson, 74) - Straight swap as Stevenson tired.
Meikle (for Briscoe, 86) - Frustratingly gave the ball away with his first touch, nearly gifting Luton a chance. Scored the winner with his second touch.
Wright (for Green, 90+4) -
Subs not used: Sutton, Rhead.
Opposition Line Up:
Tyler; Henry, McNulty, Thomas, Rowe-Turner; Lawless, Neilson (Howells 63), Smith, Martin (Fleetwood 55); Rendell, Gray. Subs not used: Ainge, Mendy, Brill.
Kevin Johnson (Somerset) 5 Poor game. Missed a definite penalty for the Stags.

Season 12/13 Reports