HOLMES, MARRIOTT, RICHARD MONEY REACTION
Holmes hopes Stags fans keep the faith
GARETH Holmes hopes Mansfield Town fans will keep faith the club can still reach the play-offs after last night's 0-0 home draw with Luton Town.
The Stags were keen to secure three points to make up some ground on their play-off rivals.
But while defending well, they could not find a way through a well-drilled Hatters backline, leaving some supporters at Field Mill booing with frustration at the final whistle.
But first team coach Holmes said: "We felt we were the only team who were going to go on and win it, aside from a couple of half chances for Luton.
"From the point of view that we haven't made up ground on those in the play-offs it could be seen as disappointing but it was a good performance.
"We bounced back in terms of work-rate and attitude from some of the disappointing games recently.
"Of course there is pressure on us to win games, but no more pressure than we put on ourselves. We have seen the table and where our rivals stand.
"But all we can do is keep performing like that and, if we do, we will win more games than we lose."
Jones injury a big blow for Stags
CHAD.co.uk, 02 March 2010, By John Lomas
MANSFIELD Town fear central defender Luke Jones could miss the rest of the season after being stretchered off with suspected ankle ligament damage during tonight's home 0-0 draw with Luton Town.
Jones had only just returned from a two-game suspension when he was forced to leave the field before half-time tonight and after the game first team coach Gareth Holmes said: "Luke will be in for treatment tomorrow.
"We can't tell exactly how bad it is until the swelling goes down in a couple of days and he will then probably have a scan to give us a clearer view of the damage.
"It is a big blow but I thought Michael Brough stepped into the void well.
"Luke Jones and Luke Foster have forged a good partnership between them in the games they have played and were developing a real understanding.
"Tonight Michael Brough showed we have good depth in the squad and acquitted himself very well."
With Stags likely to trail play-off rivals Luton by six points once Chester's record is expunged, this would have been a good point at any other time but it was a game Mansfield knew they really needed to win.
"Tonight we gained a point against a side who are play-off contenders and we have dominated the game and were the better side over the 90 minutes," said Holmes.
"We were possibly unlucky not to get all three points, even though we didn't really have any clear-cut opportunities.
"We are just not getting the rub of the green right now. It is not bouncing for us or that flick is going to one of their players instead of ours.
"We got the ball into their box on a number of occasions but didn't get the rub of the green and it wouldn't fall for us.
"The important thing after Saturday was that we produced a performance against a very good side and reacted in a positive manner."
Recalled winger Louis Briscoe looked the man most unlikely to unlock the Luton door tonight without success.
"We all know what Louis can do and he has the potential to be the best winger in the league. He showed it again tonight but knows he just lacked that bit of composure," said Holmes.
Surprisingly, a small number of home fans chose once again to boo the side at the end of this tight, fascinating contest and Holmes added: "It is harsh after a performance like that against a team like Luton. I don't understand it but everyone is entitled to an opinion. They pay their money and have their say.
"The majority of the fans know that was a good point and we have done very well tonight.
"Alan Marriott will be pleased that we have limited them to few chances by working hard and staying resilient.
"We showed good attitude, work rate and discipline in doing our jobs.
"We know it was a chance to make up ground on Luton but we felt we looked the team that would probably go on and win it.
"There were more positives than negatives to come out of tonight. All we can do is ask the lads to perform and they've done that tonight.
"If we carry on playing like that we will win more games than we lose.
"We have probably been hit hardest by the Chester situation which is disappointing, but you can't keep griping on about it and you just have to react to the hand you are dealt.
Marriott praise of Stags resolve
GOALKEEPER Alan Marriott hinted the draw shared between Mansfield Town and Luton Town was a fair result after praising both sets of defences.
The shot stopper kept his first clean sheet since before Christmas – the soon to be deleted 4-0 win over Chester aside – and had very little to do.
But opposite number Mark Tyler was also rarely called into action as clear-cut chances were few and far between.
"It's pleasing to keep a clean sheet and you don't necessarily expect that when you come in to play a good side like Luton, especially after they beat us 4-1 at their place," said Marriott.
"Defensively in front of me I thought the players did fantastically, not just the defenders but the midfielders, who were chasing down the space.
"I think we dominated certain parts of the game and had a few chances but nothing which really worked their keeper. But you have to give Luton credit because they defended well.
"Their big centre halves stood up well to Duffers and the balls we played up there.
"We did get some decent quality balls into the box, but it did not quite happen for us.
"I think both managers will be happy because it maintains their momentum in the push for the play-offs. It would have been a big setback for either team to lose."
Luke Jones was carried off on a stretcher late in the first half with ankle ligament damage and could face a lengthy lay-off.
Marriott said: "You don't want it to happen to any player but I felt for Jonah as it was his first game back.
"I felt partly responsible for his sending off at Stevenage and it is never nice to see."
MIXED REACTION FOR MONEY
Despite being pleased with a "committed" performance from his side, Hatters boss Richard Money was left wondering what might have been following the 0-0 draw at Mansfield.
The Town chief was left frustrated after seeing Jake Howells' effort two minutes before half time harshly ruled out for offside by the linesman.
"I thought it was a valuable point," Money said afterwards. "But the sad reality is we had a perfectly good goal chalked off.
"It was well onside. You can ask anyone in the Mansfield camp and they will say the same.
"It was a great move, a lovely header from Hatch, and a great finish.
"Sometimes the officials have got to make crucial decisions but that is one they got wrong.
"Did we deserve to edge it tonight? Possibly, possibly."
The point moved the Hatters back up into fourth place in the Blue Square Premier and stopped a run of two successive league defeats.
And it was the defending and shape of his side that Money was happy with the most.
"I think we defended as a team tonight from front to back," he said. "It's not easy to come here when you have throw-ins landing up in your six-yard box and free-kicks fired in from all angles.
"It's not easy standing up to that but thankfully we have a big team and we had enough about us to see it off.
"I said to the players in the dressing room afterwards that it was another good point in a game that showed great commitment from both sets of players.
"And the shape of the team tonight is much more how I want it.
"We had much better width and how we played is more like the Luton team I want to see."
After impressing going forward in patches throughout the 90 minutes, Money was, however, disappointed that his side couldn't hit the target.
Especially after giving four different strikers time on the pitch.
"It was a good team performance but our forward players need to give us a bit more," he said.
"I thought they were loose in possession and a bit loose in the final third when we needed that bit of quality.
"It's not easy I know - especially on these heavy pitches - but we've got good strikers and we need to score goals.
"We're not oblivious to the fact we need to score more but we know we have enough quality in the strikers' department to score more and that's the aim.
"Sometimes in training you watch us and the goals fly in.
"We know the quality is there it's, just as the moment, in the heat of the battle, we can't find the right pass at the right time.
"Losing two in a row was a big, big blow and hurt one or two egos. Hopefully this is a good platform to build on for the weekend."
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