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Match Reports

Match report: Stags 2-2 Luton Town

26 August 2017

Match Reports

Match report: Stags 2-2 Luton Town

26 August 2017

Mansfield Town were held to a 2-2 draw by Luton Town at One Call Stadium this afternoon in a pulsating Sky Bet League Two contest.

Stags went in to a 2-0 lead after defender Rhys Bennett, making his first start of the season, converted midfielder Joel Byrom's free-kick in the first half.

Frontman Lee Angol then doubled Stags' advantage when he latched onto Byrom's exquisite through-ball before slotting low underneath Hatters' 'keeper Marek Stech.

With Stags seemingly cruising towards victory, two Luton goals in five minutes turned the game on its head. Striking duo James Collins and Danny Hylton struck in the 85th and 89th minute, respectively.

Stags, however, were presented with a golden opportunity to snatch all three points when they were awarded a penalty in the sixth minute of injury time.

Substitute Jimmy Spencer stepped up, but his kick was saved by the legs of Stech.

Stags' boss Steve Evans made five changes to the side which slipped to defeat against Accrington Stanley last week, with frontman Kane Hemmings coming straight into the side to make his debut after joining on loan from Oxford United earlier this week.

Right-back Rhys Bennett was named in the starting XI for his first league appearance of the season, with Hayden White being left out of the squad altogether. Centre-half David Mirfin replaced Zander Diamond at the heart of the defence after the Scot failed to recover from a knock picked up earlier in the week. Elsewhere, midfielder Jacob Mellis was handed a start in place of Paul Digby, who was named on the bench alongside winger Alex MacDonald, who has now fully recovered from his knee injury.

Stags came flying out of the blocks and had two chances to take the lead within the first three minutes.

Frontman Lee Angol won the ball midway in the Luton half and drove forward before slotting it through to new boy Hemmings, but Angol's pass was too strong and Hemmings could only fire over on the stretch.

Then, Angol again did well to win possession and he spread it wide to over-lapping full-back Rhys Bennett. The former Rochdale man whipped in a cross from the right and it was missed by Angol before Luton right-back Jack Stacey booted it against winger Paul Anderson and it looped over the bar from two yards out.

The front pairing again linked up well after nine minutes when Angol flicked on Benning's ball forward, but Hemmings couldn't shift the ball well enough to get a shot away and instead won a corner, which came to nothing.

Stags continued to dominate in the opening period of the game. Midfielder Jacob Mellis, who was providing the glue in the Stags' midfield, squared the ball to Anderson who in turn laid it off for Benning and his dangerous cross was turned behind by Luton left-back Dan Potts.

Midfielder Joel Byrom went over to take the corner and he swung the delivery deep to the back post where Bennett directed a header across the face of goal, but no-one could turn it in.

Stags' corner count was on the rise as Bennett won another flag kick when he attempted to turn in the box, but was dispossessed by a well-timed challenge from Potts, but it came to nothing.

The visitors finally came forward in the 18th minute, when winger Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu found himself in space on the edge of the box, but he could only drag his effort well wide of goalkeeper Conrad Logan's right-hand post.

Hatters' left-back Dan Potts was the first man in the book for bringing down Angol on the right-hand side and it was from the resulting set piece that Stags took the lead.

Byrom, whose dead-ball delivery had been superb, whipped in a lovely ball which found Rhys Bennett via the head of Krystian Pearce and the former Botlon Wanderers full-back prodded the ball home from close range to give Stags the advantage.

Stags had their tails up after taking the lead and came forward with Hemmings, who was causing all sorts of problems for the Luton back-line.

He turned Hatters' skipper Scott Cuthbert inside out down the left and played a low cross into the feet of Angol in the box, but he was dispossessed and Luton cleared the danger.

Left-back Mal Benning was then brought down 20 yards from goal and it gave Stags a great opportunity to test visiting 'keeper Marek Stech. Striker Angol took charge of the situation, but could only fire his effort over the wall and into the hands of the Czech stopper.

Stags looked comfortable and the only real opportunity Luton had was when centre-half Alan Sheehan curled in a dangerous free-kick from the right-hand side, but it sailed wide of Logan's back post.

Neat play on the edge of the box between midfielder Will Atkinson, Mellis and Angol resulted in the former Peterborough United frontman being clipped by McCormack. Angol picked himself up and curled the free-kick into the edge of the wall, before seeing his rebound blocked by McCormack.

Stags went into the break with a 1-0 advantage, which was the least they deserved after an excellent first half showing.

It was an end-to-end start to the second half as the visitors went straight on the attack, with Hylton teeing up Collins on the edge of the box, but the former Crawley Town frontman blazed his volley over the bar.

Stags gave as good as they got, however, and influential midfielder Jacob Mellis forced a fine save from Stech. The former Chelsea man used Angol's run as a decoy and fired a shot towards the top corner, but Stech flew across his goal to beat it away.

Luton captain Scott Cuthbert struggled to contain the lively Lee Angol all afternoon and he again brought him down after 52 minutes, this time on the right-edge of the box.

Byrom curled a cross to the back post, where Pearce was free, but his downward header fell to the grateful Alan Sheehan, who cleared the danger.

Mellis was in the thick of the action and weaved his way past two Luton players on 56 minutes before being scythed down by Sheehan with Angol an option to his left and Hemmings to his right. Sheehan picked up a yellow card for what was a clear foul.

Mal Benning stepped up to take the set piece, but his effort clipped the outside of the wall and Stech gratefully claimed.

Luton defender Sheehan, who had just been booked, was lucky to escape without further punishment in the 63rd minute when he brought down Rhys Bennett deep in the Stags' half, but the referee gave only a foul.

Stags almost doubled their lead in the 70th minute when Anderson carried the ball towards the box before feeding it down the left to Benning, and his low cross arrowed through the six-yard box and marginally evaded Hemmings.

But a minute later, Stags did get their second. The ball fell loose to Joel Byrom in midfield and he played an exquisite pass through to Lee Angol and he did brilliantly to hold of Cuthbert, carry the ball into the box and slot it beneath Stech from 12 yards out.

Stags were much the better side and Hemmings almost bagged himself a debut goal in the 73rd minute when he let a left-footed half volley fly towards goal from 25 yards out, but it whistled just past the outside of the post.

Luton enjoyed a large share of possession as the game entered its final 10 minutes, but Stags contained them well, without really threatening to go forwards themselves.

With seven minutes left, Stags' boss Steve Evans replaced debutant Kane Hemmings with Danny Rose.

Luton then set up a tantalising last five minutes when they halved the deficit in the 85th minute. The visitors broke into the box down their right-hand side and a low cross evaded the dive of Logan and James Collins was there to convert from just a yard out.

After being second-best throughout the afternoon, the Hatters got an undeserved equaliser. Collins turned provider as he lofted a cross over Logan and Danny Hylton was on hand to head into the back of the net from just two yards out.

Luton, all of a sudden, were in the ascendancy as the fourth official showed five minutes of time to be added on, before Mpanzu wasted a good opportunity when he sliced a shot wide from 15 yards out.

Then, drama descended upon One Call Stadium.

Stags came forward down the right-hand side and Will Atkinson hung a high cross up to the back post towards Paul Anderson. Cuthbert got something on it and Anderson immediately appealed for a penalty, which referee Ross Joyce duly awarded for handball by the Luton captain.

Substitute Jimmy Spencer stepped up to take the penalty, but he fired his effort straight down the middle, allowing Stech to save with his legs. Fellow striker Danny Rose was first to the rebound, but he could only fire over the top whilst stretching.

There was little time for anymore action and Mansfield Town had to settle for a point in a game when, in all honesty, they should have had three.

STAGS' XI: Logan, Bennett, Pearce, Mirfin, Benning, Byrom, Mellis (Digby 75), Atkinson, Anderson, Hemmings (Rose 82), Angol (Spencer 89)

SUBS NOT USED: Olejnik, Taft, MacDonald, Sterling-James

LUTON XI: Stech, Stacey, Cuthbert ©, Sheehan, Potts, McCormack (Rea 58), Lee (Cornick 75), Mpanzu, Shinnie (Berry 58), Hylton, Collins

SUBS NOT USED: Shea, Justin, Gambin, Lee

REFEREE: Ross Joyce

ATTENDANCE: 4,665 (987 away)

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