REPORT: Mansfield Town 0, Luton Town 2

Mansfield Town v Luton Town -Photo by Steve Uttley

Mansfield Town v Luton Town -Photo by Steve Uttley

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Mansfield Town conceded an early goal for the fifth time in six home games as they crashed 2-0 to struggling Luton Town this afternoon

It was the Hatters’ first ever League win at Mansfield and came despite them making six changes to their side, having won just once in the last nine league outings andwith no goals scored in 360 minutes of football.

But they were given a huge boost when they found themselves in front through Paddy McCourt after just six minutes.

Mansfield dominated first-half possession but could not find a way through the Hatters’ rearguard and when Pelly Ruddock smashed home a second nine minutes after the break, the Stags had no way back in a flat second-half.

It was a wasted opportunity to impress the fans for Adam Murray’s men as the game brought in the biggest home crowd of the season.

Mansfield had so much of the ball but lacked a spark and a cutting pass on the day.

The Stags made three changes. New signing Sean Kavanagh, on loan from Fulham, began the game at left-back following the return of loanee Blair Adams to Notts County.

There was a surprise change in goal as Brian Jensen was left out, Adam Murray bringing in Scott Shearer for his first league start since the opening day of the season.

The other change saw midfielder Mitch Rose in for Craig Westcarr.

The West Stand was shrouded in a yellow mist from a flare as the teams came out to the noise of ‘clackers’ supplied by the Stags.

Amid a good atmosphere, the game began at a frantic pace.

Reggie Lambe did well to dribble his way between two defenders on the left of the box to set up Adam Chapman, who scuffed a poor shot goalwards.

Then Matt Green set up Chris Clements for an 18-yard sizzler that warmed Elliott Justham’s hands.

But when Luton created their first chance on six minutes, the visitors swept ahead.

Ruddock got to the right by-line and pulled it back low to McCourt who slotted home a sidefooted finish from eight yards as a helpless Shearer dived the other way.

It was Luton’s first goal in 366 minutes of football.

Mansfield soon won a central free-kick 20 yards out from where Clements has scored in the last two games. But his effort this time hit the wall.

On 13 minutes Luton menaced again as Cameron McGeehan went on a good run which ended with a vicious shot from 18 yards that Shearer did well to tip over.

On 19 minutes Shearer denied the same player with a great block from a 15 yard blast after a neat ball inside from the left by McCourt.

In reply, Green was well over at the other end as play swung from one end to another.

Loose home passing gave the ball away and invited a Luton break that Clements halted with a foul on 28 minutes to take a booking for his team.

Home fans were getting increasingly irate with their side’s lack of penetration as the ball was played back or sideways too often for their liking.

On 43 minutes Mitch Rose set up Lambe for a 20 yard shot that sailed straight to Justham.

But Mansfield were fortunate soon after as Ryan Tafazolli nudged Craig Mackail-Smith in the back in the box and he went down, but the referee felt he went down too easily and no penalty was awarded.

In the two added minutes Mansfield won their first corner of the afternoon from which Chapman’s ball in was headed over by Krystian Pearce from eight yards as Stags went in with work to do.

They had enjoyed the lion’s share of first half possession only to find Luton’s defence rock solid.

The Hatters won a corner within 22 seconds of the restart which came to nothing.

Stags pushed forward again and Kavanagh’s deep cross floated over for a goalkick, then James Baxendale was wide with a powerful low shot from 30 yards.

On 51 minutes Luton took a free -ick quickly to catch Mansfield napping and it took a superb last ditch sliding tackle by Kavanagh to prevent Ruddock testing Shearer.

Disaster then struck for the Stags on 54 minutes as Luton doubled their lead.

McCourt crossed from the left and Ruddock turned Kavanagh superbly to blaze a high finish inside the right post from 12 yards.

Two minutes later Stags sent on Matty Blair for Rose and two minutes on from that Adi Yussuf replaced Lambe.

Alan Sheehan’s time-wasting on 64 minutes earned him a booking as Luton looked to rest on what they had in the bag.

With 12 minutes left, Pearce flicked on a Chapman throw and Yussuf headed over from six yards.

On 83 minutes O’Connor was booked for a trip on Blair and then Jack Thomas took over from Chapman, who took some stick from the crowd as he left the field.

It was announced at the end that Stags’ next home game against Morecambe on February 6 will also be Kids for a Quid, but the hosts left the field to inevitable boos from the home fans at the end of an afternoon to forget ahead of two away fixtures.

STAGS: Shearer, Rose (Blair 56), Pearce, Chapman (Thomas 83), Clements, Green, Tafazolli, Hunt, Lambe (Yussuf 58), Kavanagh, Baxendale. Subs not used: Jensen, Collins, Beardsley, Westcarr.

LUTON: Justham, O’Donnell, Smith, Cuthbert, Lawless, McGeehan, McCourt (Lee 75), Ruddock (Musonda 90+3), Mackail-Smith (Marriott 85), Howells, Sheehan. Subs not used: King, Potts, Benson, O’Brien.

REFEREE: Ben Toner of Lancashire.

ATTENDANCE: 4,245 (739 away).

CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Scott Shearer.