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Season 15/16 Stagsnet Match Report
Football League - Sky Bet League Two
Luton Town  
1 - 0
 Mansfield Town
Mackail-Smith pen 59
Attendance: 7,939 (262 from Mansfield)
Date: 19 September 2015


Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Kenilworth Road

Mansfield Town were beaten 1-0 at Kenilworth Road this afternoon as a penalty from Craig Mackail-Smith was enough for Luton to earn the points. Mackail-Smith had won the penalty after a classy ball forward put him clear in the area and he was brought down by Tafazolli. It looked a nailed on penalty from my position. Tafazolli was booked when other referees might have shown a red card. But the Stags had enough chances to get a point in a decent performance and home goalkeeper Mark Tyler was Luton’s man of the match. Mansfield’s best chances were a shot from Matt Green in the first half saved by Tyler after a mistake by Steve McNulty left Green with the keeper to beat from 8 yards, a low shot from Craig Westcarr that was half-stopped by Tyler who then gathered as the ball rolled behind him, a great left-footed volley from Jack Thomas that was just tipped wide, and Adi Yussuf who was clean through on goal but his first touch was poor and he over-ran it to the keeper. Mansfield also put in some good crosses that weren’t converted. Luton had some good chances of their own and were unfortunate as a magnificent overhead kick from Mackail-Smith was ruled out for offside. It was a piece of skill from Mackail-Smith that highlighted why he probably should still be playing a higher level. Mansfield played some good passing football and at one point Luton didn’t touch the ball for around minute (post match note: checked from DVD: 1 minute and 2 seconds) culminating in a cross-shot from Rose that was saved. Mansfield lost Chris Clements through a groin injury that may keep him out for a while (to be assessed in the next 48 hours), and Nicky Hunt will be suspended next week after picking up his fifth yellow card. The squad is already getting stretched with Chris Beardsley also out for two weeks with a shin injury and Corbin Shires in hospital with a virus. Clements especially will be a big miss if he is out after a rich vein of form, though Jack Thomas came on today and looked dangerous and will need to take his opportunity next week. All in all a disappointing result, but not a bad performance and Mansfield are still healthily placed just outside the play-off zone.

Mansfield were unchanged from the side that beat Crawley last weekend. There was one change on the bench with Matty Blair back in the squad for the first time since his terrible injury at Carlisle last season. He replaced Beardsley who is out for a couple of weeks with a shin injury. Fitzpatrick had been recalled from his loan at Sutton Coldfield and travelled with the squad but was not in the 18. The news came that Corbin Shires is in hospital with a virus. The Stags lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Westcarr behind Green. Luton had got off to a slow start to the season but had got some obvious quality in their squad including the signing of Craig Mackail-Smith.

On 8 minutes, a good break by Luton down the right. A cross was deflected back to Jonathan Smith whose shot was saved one-handed by Jensen. Good save. Moments later, another cross from the right and a good punch away by Jensen though Mackail-Smith was off side anyway. On 10 minutes, Tafazolli put behind for a corner when he should have been able to put it out for a throw. The corner was cleared.

At the other end, a minute later, Green squared to Nathan Thomas who in turn squared for Rose who got in a shot but it was blocked. On 15 minutes, Nathan Thomas slipped over, not for the first time, Luton broke into the Stags box but an important touch by Tafazolli to clear.

A glorious chance for Mansfield to take the lead came on 20 minutes. Nathan Thomas put the ball into the middle from the left, McNulty should have cleared but the ball span off him straight to Green, Green was 8 yards out with just the keeper to beat but Tyler saved well from Green’s left footed shot. Green put his head in his hands. What a chance for Green and what a let off for McNulty.

Hunt was booked for tripping Jonathan Smith on the touchline half way inside his own half on 26 minutes. Two minutes later, Wilkinson went down claiming he’d been elbowed but none of the officials saw an offence and nor did I. Jonathan Smith was booked for tripping Hunt on 33 minutes. It was almost identical to the Hunt booking but the home fans booed and booed and booed and continued to berate the officials for the rest of the game.

On 35 minutes, there was a good break from the Stags but Nathan Thomas got to the edge of the box and then went backwards and any momentum was lost. On 38 minutes, Pearce was penalised for a foul. The free kick was headed away by Tafazolli. A minute later, McNulty was slow halfway inside his own half, Green nicked the ball off him but the Stags couldn’t make the most of it. On 40 minutes, good play by Benning down the left as he did well to skip past the defender but his cross was overhit.

A magnificent piece of skill lit up the game on 42 minutes. Good play from Luton down the right and as a cross came into the middle, Mackail-Smith sent a magnificent overhead kick into the top left corner of the net but the flag was already up for offside. Sensational play from a player who should still be playing at a higher level. Review of the match DVD, taken from a wide angle, shows that Mackail-Smith was possibly just a fraction offside but it was extremely close.

Disappointment for Mansfield on 44 minutes as Clements, who’s been in such a rich vein of form limped off with a groin injury and was replaced by Jack Thomas. A real opportunity for Jack Thomas though.

An even first half, the Stags having the best chance through Green while Mackail-Smith’s overhead kick was sensational. The referee was booed off by the home fans.

Half time 0-0

On 46 minutes, brilliant skill by Chapman to skip past a defender but eventually he lost the ball.

Jack Thomas was booked for a foul on the touchline on 47 minutes, just 3 minutes after coming on. He has to find a way to avoid getting so many bookings.

On 48 minutes, Jack Thomas won the ball inside his own half and played the ball forward for Green who seemed to be on the halfway line but was given offside. Green would have been away.

A minute later, a ball into the Stags box from the right but a good challenge to clear away. A Luton corner from the right on 50 minutes and a great catch by Jensen despite a thumping foul on him.

Another great chance for the Stags to take the lead on 52 minutes came with a good break from the Stags and Nathan Thomas played a fine ball into the path of Westcarr who fired low goalwards from 16 yards. It was half stopped by Tyler. The ball ran behind Tyler but he had time to stop it two yards from the goalline. Another fine save from the Luton keeper.

Lambe replaced Nathan Thomas on 53 minutes.

On 55 minutes, a Chapman long throw was flicked on but cleared. A minute later, Rose got to the byline and fired in a hard low cross but no one was there.

The only goal of the game came on 59 minutes. Jack Thomas thought he was fouled halfway inside the Luton half though it didn’t look like a foul to me. Jonathan Smith picked up the loose ball and threaded a wonderful ball forward into the path of Mackail-Smith who got goal side of Tafazolli in the area. Tafazolli clipped Mackail-Smith from behind. It looked a clear penalty to me. The referee quickly brandished a yellow card for Tafazolli. Some referees would undoubtedly have brandished a red. Mackail-Smith took the penalty himself powerfully driving it straight down the middle as Jensen dived to his right.

On 63 minutes, the Stags played some lovely passing football keeping the ball for around a minute without Luton touching it (post match note: checked from DVD: 1 minute and 2 seconds) and ending with a Rose cross-come-shot saved by Tyler.

A chance for Luton came on 64 minutes as a corner from the right fell to McCourt on the edge of the box whose shot came back to Wilkinson who fired over the bar. A minute later, Tafazolli gave the ball away to McCourt but recovered with a great tackle.

On 69 minutes, Westcarr thought he’d won a corner but the referee gave a goal kick. Westcarr stood for several seconds just staring at the referee with the ball at his feet and then ran off leaving the ball where it was. It was a dreadful lack of appreciation that we were losing 1-0 with 20 minutes to go and the referee would not add on time for a Mansfield player time wasting.

On 70 minutes, a good tackle by Pearce on the edge of his own box on McGeehan.

The Stags came close to equalising on 71 minutes. The ball came out to Jack Thomas who sent a brilliant left footed volley goalwards which was tipped wide by Tyler. Thomas put his head in his hands.

From the corner from the left, Tafazolli headed goalwards but it was cleared. Good play from the Stags on 73 minutes as Rose won a corner. From the Chapman corner from the right, Tafazolli headed wide. A minute later, a good break forward by Pearce but he couldn’t find Lambe with his pass. A minute after that, a Benning free kick was cleared to Jack Thomas whose low shot from 30 yards was easily saved. On 76 minutes, Luton took a free kick quickly, a cross came in and Wilkinson headed wide.

Yussuf replaced Rose on 77 minutes. A brilliant tackle by Jack Thomas on McNulty a minute later.

On 79 minutes, Benning’s free kick from 35 yards was headed wide by Pearce.

Mansfield had another glorious opportunity to equalise on 82 minutes. Chapman lofted a ball forward. Green was in an offside position but left the ball allowing Yussuf a clear run on goal. Yussuf was clean through but his first touch was poor and he overran it through to the keeper. As the keeper claimed it, Yussuf left a foot in and was booked for a foul. A match-fit Yussuf would surely have had a better first touch and a better chance of scoring but unfortunately this lack of match sharpness is a major downside of not having a reserve team, which is in turn a product of having a small squad.

On 84 minutes, Westcarr got forward on the left and got in a low shot which was easily saved by Tyler diving to his left.

Tyler was announced as the home side’s Man of the Match for a string of fine saves.

On 89 minutes, a great cross from Jack Thomas was put behind for a corner by O’Donnell just as Green looked as though he could head in. The corner from Westcarr was poor. On 90+2 minutes, Lambe crossed and Pearce headed upwards but Tyler held under his own bar.

A decent performance from Mansfield but not enough for a point. Bitterly disappointing. This is one of the places where Stags fans love to win, but it’s truly a horrible place to lose.

Man of the match: Krystian Pearce

Report by: Martin Shaw and Jeff Barnes at Kenilworth Road

Line Up:
Jensen 7 Commanding as usual. One fine save early on. Some good catches and one good punch. Didn’t look like being beaten apart from the penalty.
Hunt 7 Pretty solid. Booked in the first half and now will be suspended.
Pearce 8 Very good game.
Tafazolli 7 Good game. Mackail-Smith got the wrong side of him for the penalty and he could have been sent off.
Benning 7 Defended solidly. Some good runs forward but followed by poor crosses.
Rose 7 Some good attacking play down the right.
Chapman 7 Good game. Some dangerous balls forward, good distribution.
Clements 7 Went off injured just before half time.
N.Thomas 6 Fine ball into the path of Westcarr that the keeper half-stopped. Otherwise not quite as effective as last week.
Westcarr 6 Not at his best today.
Green 6 Missed a good chance in the first half. A shame Yussuf’s chance didn’t fall to him.
Sub Line Up:
J.Thomas (for Clements, 44) 7 Did well. Looked dangerous. One fine left footed volley. One excellent cross.
Lambe (for N.Thomas, 53) -
Yussuf (for Rose, 77) - A match-fit Yussuf would surely have had a better first touch on 82 minutes and a better chance of scoring but unfortunately this lack of match sharpness is a major downside of not having a reserve team.
Subs not used: Marsden, Collins, McGuire, Blair.
Opposition Line Up:
(4-5-1) Tyler; O’Donnell, Wilkinson, McNulty, Griffiths; McQuoid (sub Danny Green 81), Smith, McGeehan (sub O’Brien 86), Lee, McCourt (sub Lawless 90+4); Mackail-Smith. Subs not used: Justham, Williams, O’Brien, Hall.
Rob Lewis 7 Got most things right I thought.

Season 15/16 Reports