Report: Stags 1-1 Luton Town
Mansfield Town kept their play-off hopes alive with a 1-1 draw at home to Luton Town this afternoon.
The result means Stags leave the Easter weekend with four points from a possible six, a tally which manager Steve Evans had earmarked last week.
Stags completely dominated the first half and went into the break deservedly in the lead after midfielder Alfie Potter smashed in a brilliant volley to open the scoring.
Luton came out fighting in the second period and won themselves a penalty within the first six minutes, which top scorer Danny Hylton coolly chipped down the middle.
Mansfield made one change from the side which defeated Wycombe with striker Shaq Coulthirst replacing top scorer Matt Green up front, who had picked up a knock against the Chairboys, but was deemed fit enough to take a spot on the bench.
Mansfield’s first real chance of the game came in the opening five minutes when the ball made its way to Alfie Potter who was free 10 yards out, but he couldn’t get the ball under control and the Luton defence did well to close him down and clear the danger.
Luton had an early penalty shout as winger Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu slammed the ball into defender Rhys Bennett, however the referee waved away all appeals from the away side.
After applying their first piece of pressure, the Stags almost got caught on the counter when striker Isaac Vassell broke down the right-hand side and lifted the ball to Danny Hylton who, luckily for Mansfield, couldn’t control the ball inside the penalty area.
Defender Krystian Pearce rose well to meet a corner but saw his header blocked on the line whilst fellow defender Hayden White appealed for a penalty after being dragged down in the box, but nothing was given.
Stags began to get more confident in the game and 20 minutes in, they opened the scoring.
A corner fell to Potter, who had his first shot blocked but made no mistake with the second, smashing the ball into the net with his left foot. It was a fantastic reaction from Potter to instantly recover from his first blocked shot to give Stuart Moore no chance in the Luton net.
With Stags on the front foot and ready to double their lead, Luton had their best chance of the half.
Left-back James Justin put a teasing cross into the six yard area which Hylton couldn’t convert as he only managed to flick it past the far post.
After the chance for the Hatters, Stags dominated proceedings and were playing the ball around nicely, without carving out any clear-cut opportunities.
The Stags carried their good performance into the early stages of the second half with left-back Mal Benning doing brilliantly to dribble his way past a couple of Luton defenders before seeing his shot from outside the box go just over the bar.
However, Luton won a penalty straight after the goal kick as defender George Taft was harshly penalised for a handball.
Striker Danny Hylton lifted the ball over the big Stags’ defender and it hit his arm as he turned around.
Hylton stepped up and dispatched a well-taken penalty straight down the middle, waiting for Kean to make his move before stroking it home.
The goal gave Luton a new-found confidence as they began to push Mansfield back into their half. The Hatters almost took the lead after defender Alan Sheehan smartly cut inside and saw his shot deflected over the crossbar.
Luton were starting to have a lot of joy down the right-hand side as another cross called Kean into action again, but he tipped the ball behind for a corner.
Luton continued to look dangerous after an impressive piece of skill from former Stag Ollie Palmer, who had just been introduced to the action. He delivered an excellent cross which Hylton met with a diving header but he directed his effort over the bar and away to safety for the Stags.
Stags’ boss Steve Evans made attacking changes with both Matt Green and CJ Hamilton coming off the bench in the last 15 minutes, replacing Danny Rose and Alfie Potter, respectively.
Both teams had the opportunity to win the game in the last five minutes with Hylton heading wide of the goal after he was left unmarked at a corner and winger Alex MacDonald having his long range effort spectacularly saved by Moore.
The referee blasted his whistle for the final time after four minutes of added time, meaning Stags had to settle for a draw at One Cal Stadium.
Results elsewhere in the league means that Mansfield move down to 12th place, but are still just two points behind the play-off places.
STAGS’ LINE-UP: Kean, Bennett, Benning, Pearce©, Taft, Coulthirst, Potter (Hamilton 74’), White (MacDonald 60’), Byrom, Whiteman, Rose (Green 79’)
SUBS NOT USED: Jensen, Arquin, Howkins, Collins
LUTON LINE-UP: Moore, Potts, Cuthbert©, Hylton, Rea, Ruddock-Mpanzu, Lee, Vassell, D’Ath, Justin, Sheehan
SUBS NOT USED: King, Smith, Gray, Marriott, Gambin
ATTENDANCE: 4632 (892 away fans)
REFEREE: Mark Brown