Tuesday, 17th February 2015: Mansfield Town 1, Luton Town 0

Rakish Bingham -Pic by: Richard Parkes
Rakish Bingham -Pic by: Richard Parkes
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Despite another nailbiting finish, Mansfield Town this time got over the line and recorded a fantastic 1-0 home win over high-flying Luton Town at the One call Stadium tonight.

Sub Rakish Bingham was the hero with the only goal of the night on 32 minutes that maintained Stags’ amazing record of never having lost a league game at home to the Hatters.

And it came just four days after the Stags had failed to hold on in an identical situation when they gave Northampton a stoppage time penalty in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

Luton arrived on a 10-game unbeaten run, but injury-hit Stags sweated blood for the cause and dug in deep to protect keeper Lenny Pidgeley’s goal.

Mansfield suffered yet another injury blow on 19 minutes when Reggie Lambe limped off.

But that saw Bingham come on to play wide and he popped up with a great finish from Jack Thomas’ pass after a superb home counter-attack from a Luton corner.

The victory saw Mansfield vault over three other struggling sides into 18th place, including this Saturday’s opponents Oxford United.

Mansfield welcomed Nathan Elder back into the side, the loanee Leicester left back replacing Lee Beevers.

There was also a surprise place on the home bench for Chris Clements, who was expected to be sidelined for a few weeks with a gashed ankle.

He gave a brave display as sub for the last 20 minutes though ended up having more stitches into the wound at the end.

Luton arrived without suspended central defenders Steve McNulty and Luke Wilkinson and also had new loan signing Cameron McGheehan serving a ban.

On a cold night, Drury cut out an early attempted one-two in the Luton box by Heslop and Lambe in a cat and mouse opening.

Lacey then did enough as he jumped with Oliver to stop him seriously testing Tyler with a header from Elder’s long cross.

Then Heslop curled in a dangerous low ball from the left in front of goal which Tyler grabbed before Oliver could pounce.

Stockley tried to get Cullen away with a neat lofted ball forward, but Tafazolli was in to police the situation and clear.

Sutton clashed angrily with Howell after the Luton man left a foot in as he cleared, the referee giving Howell a warning only.

There was little to warm the fans for the first 15 minutes, Ravenhill heading clear the game’s first corner.

Lambe had a shot charged down after Sutton and Oliver had worked the ball to him in the left of the box.

Under pressure from Ravenhill, Robinson sent a hurried shot well wide of the home goal from 20 yards.

Stags’ never-ending injury issues continued on 19 minutes as Lambe was replaced by Bingham.

Luton skipper Smith then had to go off to tend to a cut and change his shirt.

Robinson for Luton and then Bingham gave the ball needlessly away as the sides strived to rise above the mediocre.

The Hatters won a second corner on 29 minutes which Pidgeley managed to punch away, despite being fouled, and the whistle went anyway.

Oliver headed clear a Drury free kick on 32 minutes, but when it reached Smith 25 yards out, he tested Pidgeley with a rasping low drive that he pushed away for a corner with Lacey trying to get a touch.

But when Stags cleared that corner, they swept upfield to take the lead, still in the 32nd minute.

Youngster Thomas played a diagonal pass from left to right and found Bingham in the box whose low finish was powerful and deadly from 10 yards.

Heslop then pulled a low shot wide of the Luton goal.

The Hatters hit back with corner number four. Again Stags broke with Heslop trying to put Bingham away, this time stopped on the right.

Elder and Oliver made space on the left to set up a shooting chance for Brown that was blocked.

A minute from the break the ball broke for Heslop just outside the box and he sidefooted a tame finish straight to Tyler.

Two minutes were added and in the last of those a far post cross from Drury from the right picked out Howells, who headed wide at the far post.

Hatters boss John Still was clearly unimpressed with his side’s first half and threw on Oduwa and Whalley for Robinson and Howells for the second half, Whalley having bagged a brace against Mansfield at Kenilworth Road in November.

But Stags almost doubled their lead out of nowhere on 49 minutes as a long Thomas cross from the right deceived Tyler and came back off his bar.

An Oliver backheel almost got Thomas in for a return pass in a neat home move on 53 minutes as the home side pressed for a second.

Oliver nodded a long Elder cross back down towards Thomas on the edge of the box, but the youngster’s finish was always sailing wide.

But this was much more positive from the Stags after the way they had gone into their shells, defending and ultimately surrendering a 1-0 lead against 10-men Northampton on Saturday.

Bingham saw a low shot deflect wide for a corner on the hour which was easily cleared at the near post.

Stags skipper Ravenhill, who only came back from a hamstring problem on Saturday was limping badly for a while and almost a passenger.

Cullen tested Pidgeley with a low shot after a one-two with Stockley on the edge of the box on 67 minutes, but the keeper held on as the ball bounced in the mud.

Two minutes later it seemed Clements would replace Ravenhill, whose limp had eased, but instead he came on for Heslop, who had played really well.

Luton really should have been level on 74 minutes when a throw from the left was flicked on and Cullen was left unmarked at close range only to poke a finish wide.

The home fans were becoming more and more tense, sensing another nervous finish on the way.

Stags needed a second goal to kill it, but Brown was well off with his hopeful long range attempt as we entered the last 10 minutes.

Oliver was given deserved applause for a battling display on 85 minutes as he was replaced by Rhead.

Tafazolli invited trouble as he gave away a free kick 40 yards from goal on 89 minutes, but Rhead headed that and the follow-up ball away.

Four minutes were added in which a scramble saw Smith higt the sidenetting.

STAGS: Pidgeley; Sutton, Riley, Tafazolli, Elder; Ravenhill, Thomas, Heslop (Clements 69); Lambe (Bingham 19), Oliver Rhead 85), Brown. Subs not used: Studer, McGuire, Beevers, Kee.

LUTON: Tyler, Franks, Smith, Lacey, Drury, Howells (Oduwa HT), Griffiths, Cullen, Harriman. Robinson (Whalley HT), Stockley (Guttridge 69). Subs not used: Justham, Parry, Layayette, Hall.

REFEREE: Kevin Johnson of Somerset.

ATTENDANCE: 2,998 (801 away).
CHAD STAGS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ricky Ravenhill.