Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Luton Town 0 v Mansfield Town 0 - BSBP

Wednesday 25th January 2012, at Kenilworth Road
Blue Square Bet Premier
Luton Town 0
Mansfield Town 0
Admission £18, Programme £3,
Attendance 5,261 inc. 111 in away end
Luton Town:
K Pilkington, Gleeson, Taylor, G Pilkington, Howells, Kovacs, Lawless, Watkins, Morgan-Smith (Fleetwood 57mins), Crow (9 McAllister 67mins), O'Connor
Unused Subs - Tyler, Dance, Poku
Mansfield Town:
Marriott, Riley, O'Neill, Sutton, Dempster, Murray, Roberts, Green, Dyer, Smith (Meikle 76mins), Hutchinson (Briscoe 82mins)
Unused subs - Redmond, Worthington, Howell
Quote from the Luton Town website report:
Two goal-line clearances from skipper George Pilkington earned the Town a point in front of the live television cameras.
The Hatters captain came to his side's rescue in each half: firstly heading Adam Smith's effort off the line on 10 minutes before brilliantly stretching to hack Matt Green's header off the line with just five minutes left.
The rest is all my own incoherent rambling.
Don't say you weren't warned.
Following the Stags unconvincing win against lowly Hayes and Yeading on Saturday, I said that some of the players 'will have to do better than that at Kenilworth Road on Wednesday'.
Well folks, although the BSBP draw specialists didn't win, I'm happy to report that they upped their game no end and were easily the equal, at least, of their highly fancied 'famous' hosts tonight.
Sure, the Hatters had their moments and Alan Marriott in the visitors goal was sporadically busy, but the Stags worked hard together as a unit, throughout the whole spine of the team, all night ... and it was very uplifting to watch first hand.
I personally believe that Paul Cox is definitely, 100% definitely, the right man to manage Mansfield Town, they've had a bit of a wobble of late, but look to be back on track and building for the future again.
They've now gone five games unbeaten again, the problem is, there have been too many bloody draws along the way, all season.
Luton, the town itself, gets a lot of bad press and is saddled with the reputation of not being a very desirable place to live.
I don't think I'm being too unkind when I say it isn't aesthetically charming in any way, shape or form, whatsoever.
Though, to be fair, the same could be said for the majority of towns I travel to in pursuit of football's holy grail.
But, since my son opted to go to Bedfordshire University this last year, I've seen quite a lot of the 'off the beaten track' attractions that this seat of learning has to offer in recent times and have reassessed my overall impression of Luton as a consequence.
But not necessarily for the better.
In conclusion, I must say, my favourite local feature, is probably the A6 northbound, which is the quickest escape route I've found out of Luton up to now, that leads towards the A1 and my own horrible council estate home.
If anybody has any faster suggestions for getting out of this ugly runt of a place, then I'm keen, nee desperate, to hear from them.
Both sides had early opportunities to take the lead.
Janos Kovacs hit the Stags crossbar and Mansfield came even closer when their former keeper Kevin Pilkington, for old times sake maybe, had a rush of blood to the head and charged out of his box in an effort to break down an attacking move ... Matt Green calmly knocked the ball to Adam Smith in space and his shot was on it's way over the line until the other Pilkington, Luton's captain George, ran backwards and headed the ball from under the bar.
The game ebbed and flowed both ways and the longer that the home side struggled the take the initiative, the more Paul Cox's side grew in stature and confidence.
Right on half time, Kovacs headed over the Stags bar. In doing so he had collided with Alan Marriott.
Thankfully, after a stoppage while the visitors keeper received treatment, he was able to carry on.
As the second half commenced, Gary Brabin, the Luton manager, had obviously given his side an half time bollocking and they came out all guns blazing.
But Mansfield absorbed the pressure, saw a few good chances come to nothing and began to assert themselves on the game more and more.
From various conversations over the course of the afternoon and evening ... we had commenced socialising in the White House, a Wetherspoons pub in Luton Town centre at 2pm ... it was apparent, that a good few Hatters fans aren't especially fond of Brabin, despite the fact that they are sitting third in the BSBP table and have progressed to the 3rd round of the FA Trophy, when they beat Hinckley United 3-0 in a replay on Monday.
'Pilko' ... Ex Stags and current Hatters keeper

Adam Smith came close again for the Stags, then in the final five minutes Matt Green beat Pilkington (K) in the air and with the ball heading goal bound and three points seemingly en route up the M1 with the Mansfield Town team, Pilkington (G) acrobatically hooked the ball away as it was going over the line.
I'm not convinced it wasn't over the line when the Luton skipper pulled off his second rescue act of the night, but to be honest I'm too biased to call it either way.
The Stags fans directly behind the goal were better placed to see it than me and they were in uproar towards the referee's assistant.
I suspect they are just as biased as me though.
Luton weren't unduly fussed by the - i) travesty of justice, ii) accurate call by the linesman*, (delete as apt, depending on whether you were blatantly wronged and stood in the away end, or spawny and grateful your team were riding their damn good luck elsewhere in the rest of the ground) and they surged up the field.
A late strike from Luton would've been a bitter blow for the Stags in light of what had just happened, but Marriott comfortably saved Dan Gleeson's shot from the edge of the box and the spoils were shared.
Green's goal didn't stand and inconclusive evidence aside, the draw was probably a fair result.
It needs to be said ... there were many positives to be drawn from the Stags effort, commitment to the cause and cohesion tonight.
Paul Cox picked exactly the right team for the job and played exactly the right tactics tonight.
And odd though it may seem, I felt better about tonight's draw as I left the ground, than I had about the smash and grab raid of three points against Hayes & Yeading ... I'm sure anybody else who attended both games will understand where I'm coming from.
The Oak Road Stand - it's nearly in that bathroom

Next up ... having a couple of nights off from football, because looking through the fixtures I can't find anything appealing.
Then I'm throwing a pair of dice to determine where I'm heading off to at the weekend, the options are infinite.
Though one of: Ebsfleet United, Gainsborough Trinity, Hall Road Rangers, Easington United, Stamford, Chorley or Rainworth MW v Mansfield Town XI (£3 admission) seems most likely.
For all you free-loaders out there, take note, it's ex-gratis admission day at Stocksbridge Park Steels v North Ferriby United in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League on Saturday 28th January.