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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
12:15 28th January 2012

TOWN 0-0 MANSFIELD TOWN

Town 0 Mansfield Town 0 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. Defeat though would have been harsh on the Town on a night of frustration that saw Janos Kovacs strike the crossbar with a first half shot in their best chance of the game. But in the end, as chance came and went it ended in stalemate with Pilkington's defensive instincts ensuring an 11th league game unbeaten in the Blue Square Bet Premier for the Hatters. Amari Morgan-Smith - who was thrown in for the Town from the start in a team showing 10 changes from side that beat Hinckley in Monday's FA Trophy win 48 hours earlier had the first chance when, in the fourth minute, he turned his man brilliantly using a lovely piece of skill to drag the ball back before unleashing a firm low shot that Stags goalkeeper Alan Marriott gathered at the second attempt. The Town were enjoying a bright spell early on but they came mighty close to going a goal down on 10 minutes when George Pilkington saved namesake Kevin with an excellent goal-saving clearance off the line to deny the Stags the lead. Kevin came haring out of his goal to close down Green and, with the goalkeeper stranded way out of his box, the visiting striker popped a pass back for Smith who clipped a lovely first-time shot goalwards that seemed destined to for the net until it was brilliantly headed away by the back-peddling skipper. Back came the Town, though, with Marriott again needing a second attempt to collect another long range effort, this time from Adam Watkins on 17 minutes. The Hatters came even closer to breaking the deadlock twice in the space of a minute throughKovacs when he firstly blasted a shot against the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten on 21 minutes before the Hungarian headed over seconds later from six yards following a right-wing cross from Jake Howells. The Town continued to probe in search of a breakthrough and it wasn't until the 37th minute that they came close again when tidy and skilful play from Lawless sent Aaron O'Connor scampering into the penalty area. The former Stags forward's low cross was met by Danny Crow at the near post and the striker's instinctive flick with the outside of his boot was heading home until Martin Riley cleared off the line. Still the Hatters pressed, and a minute later Watkins had a penalty appeal waved away after the midfielder had gone down in the box under a challenge from Luke O'Neill before Kovacs headed straight at Marriott. All of a sudden it was end-to-end stuff and Ross Dyer should have done better for the Stags on 40 minutes when he headed over from close range after a dangerous left-wing cross had caused confusion in the Town's six yard box. Still the chances came the Hatters' way as O'Connor, Howells, Morgan-Smith all saw half-chances come and go in the lead up to the break. Lawless was becoming the main architect in the centre of the Hatters' midfield, and it was his defence-splitting pass that saw O'Connor have a low shot blocked by the legs of the onrushing Marriott on 45 minutes. The Town spurned another good chance moments before the break when Kovacs headed over when well-placed following Howells' inswinging right-wing corner. Five minutes after the restart the Town - now shooting towards the Kenilworth Road end - came close to making it 1-0 when O'Connor wriggled into the box only to see a cross - aimed at Crow for a tap-in - stopped by a Mansfield defender. Two minutes, on 52 minutes, Greg Taylor forced Marriott into a fine save after the left-back had taken a pass from Watkins after strong wing play from Morgan-Smith. But back came the visitors when Smith, who had come close in the first half, came close once more when his low shot from the edge of the box was deflected inches wide of the target and behind for a corner. The Town were becoming increasingly frustrated in their quest to break the deadlock and Gary Brabin introduced Stuart Fleetwood and Craig McAllister in a bid to find a goal. Fleetwood tried his luck from distance on 70 minutes with a shot that bounced just wide and it wasn't until 10 minutes from the end that McAllister had the Town's next chance when he flashed a left-foot shot wide of the post after battling his way through the visitors' defence. Then, just like in the first half the Town had Pilkington to thank for keeping the scoreline goalless. This time the skipper somehow stretched out a leg to hook Green's header out and away from goal when the ball seemed destined to roll over the line and earn the visitors all three points. In response the Town raced up the other end and Marriott kept out Dan Gleeson's shot from the edge of the box after O'Connor had skipped down the left, but that was the last chance and the game ended goalless. Frustration all round. Disappointment no doubt but there's no rest for the wicked...the Town are in action again at Kenilworth Road on Saturday when they welcome Alfreton Town. BE THERE. For minute-by-minute analysis see below. Luton Town 0 Mansfield Town 0 Result FULL-TIME It's all over here, full report, reaction and photographs to follow. 90 mins - Into the last minute...three of them added... 86 mins - Back come the Town, Gleeson driving a shot into the arms of Marriott from the edge of the box after good play from O'Connor down the left. 85 mins - Oh my word, another clearance from George Pilkington keeps the Mansfield out, hacking the ball away underneath the crossbar on the stretch to prevent Matt Green's header. 80 mins - 10 minutes left now and the Town come close as McAllister bulldozers his way through the Mansfield defence to flash a left-foot shot just past the post. 75 mins - 15 minutes left here for either side to grab a winner... 70 mins - Shot off target from Fleetwood from almost 30 yards...the attendance by the way is 5,261 which includes 111 from Mansfield. 67 mins And here comes McAllister - on for his debut - in the place of Crow. 66 mins - Chance again for the Town - Howells and Lawless link-up well and the former clips over a lovely ball for Crow who can't quite connect with the chance there for his taking. 64 mins - As Craig McAllister gets ready to join the fray Greg Taylor becomes the first Town man in the book for a foul on Dyer. 60 mins - Another booking for a Mansfield man as Gary Roberts clatters into Lawless and receives a yellow. 57 mins First change for the Town of the night, Stuart Fleetwood on for Morgan-Smith. 54 mins - Ooh, close for the Stags as Adam Smith rifles a low shot goalwards that takes a deflection behind for a corner. 52 mins - Better from the Town once more as Morgan-Smith does well down the left to feed Watkins who in turn lays it off to Greg Taylor whose first-time shot is saved well by Marriott, diving down to his right to prevent the ball from creeping into the corner. 50 mins - Half a sniff for the Hatters as O'Connor bursts down the right and into the box but his attempts to pick out a team-mate for a tap in are ended when a Mansfield man sticks a last-ditch foot out to collect the ball. 46 mins Back off and underway here, Mansfield restart us as the Town shoot towards the Kenny end this half. HALF-TIME And that's the break, goalless here at Kenilworth Road. Both sides have had chances but it remains all square. Check back in the second half for the second half updates. COYH. 45 mins + 2 - Almost half-time and the Hatters go close through Kovacs once more, rising to meet Howells' lovely right-wing corner to head inches over the crossbar. 45 mins - Decent chance for 1-0 Town as Lawless does well once more to win the ball in midfield and slide a ball into the path of O'Connor into the box whose shot is going in before Marriott's intervention to block with his legs. 43 mins - And again as the Hatters press before the break, Morgan-Smith curling a left-foot shot from the edge of the box into the hands of Marriott. 42 mins - Another chance for the Town, long ball headed on really well by Lawless into the path of O'Connor who sees a low shot deflect wide. 40 mins - Back come Mansfield, dangerous ball from the left is met by Ross Dyer at the back post but his header isn't troubling Pilkington from six yards. In truth he should have done better. 39 mins - Another chance for the Town, high deep cross from the left is met by the head of Kovacs whose header is straight at Marriott. 38 mins - Penalty? Adam Watkins shows lovely feet to get past two Mansfield men and get into the box but his progress is stopped by a challenge by Luke O'Neill. The referee is unmoved. 37 mins - Better from the Town as Lawless shots great craft to play O'Connor into the penalty area. The former Stags gets to the byeline and pulls the ball back for Crow at the near post who does well to get a boot to it but his effort, which is probably sneaking in, is cleared behind by Riley. 36 mins - Almost a sniff for the Hatters as Jake Howells does really well to surge through the Mansfield defence. He switches through the gears and drive a shot well wide after being egged on to have a shot. 30 mins - Half-an-hour gone here, still goalless. Town still probing. 26 mins - First man in the book is a Mansfield man - Martin Riley - for a crude challenge on Howells. 21 mins - Oh so close to 1-0 as Kovacs comes mighty close to giving the Town the lead twice in 30 seconds. Firstly he sees a shot rattle the crossbar after being first to react to Morgan-Smith's blocked shot before the Hungarian heads over from six yards following Howells' right-wing cross. 17 mins - Another shot on target for the Hatters that is too hot for Marriott to handle, the visiting goalkeeper keeping out Adam Watkins' 20-yarder. 10 mins - Wow. What a clearance from George Pilkington as he helps his namesake out to prevent Mansfield taking the lead. The Town goalkeeper commits himself way out his area to close down Matt Green and the Stags striker pops the ball back for Adam Smith who clips an effort from 20 yards out goalwards. It looks like it's going to drop in but the Town skipper, backpeddling, heads off the line. Phew. 7 mins - Town still on top here early doors. 4 mins - First chance and it's for the Town as Morgan-Smith shows good skill to turn away from his man 20 yards out and drive a shot goalwards that Alan Marriott, the visiting keeper, holds on to at the second attempt. 2 mins - So it's 4-3-3 for the Hatters with the usual back four, Alex Lawless, Jake Howells and Adam Watkins occupying the central midfield positions, Amari Morgan-Smith and Aaron O'Connor are on the flanks with Danny Crow down the middle. 1 min Annnnnnd we're off here at Kenilworth Road as the Town get us underway. They're kicking towards the Oak Road end in this first half. Enjoy the updates. COYH! 19:28 HERE THEY COME Out come the two sides... 19:20 PRESS BOX PREDICTIONS Andrew Barringer: 2-1 Luton, Simon Pitts: 2-1 Luton, Mike Simmonds: 1-1 draw, Mark Wood: 2-0 Luton, James Cunliffe: 2-1 Luton. 19:00 EX-MEN Kevin Pilkington and Aaron O'Connor former Mansfield men in the Town squad while the Stags have ex-Hatter Adam Murray in their ranks. He skippers the visitors tonight. 18:40 TEAM NEWS Amari Morgan-Smith starts for the Town as Gary Brabin makes 10 changes from side that beat Hinckley United. It's one change to the side that drew 3-3 with Southport with Morgan-Smith in for John Paul Kissock. Town: K. Pilkington; Gleeson, G. Pilkington, Kovacs, Taylor; Lawless, Howells, Watkins; O'Connor, Morgan-Smith; Crow. Subs: Tyler, McAllister, Fleetwood, Dance, Poku. Mansfield: Marriott, Riley, Green, Murray, Dyer, O'Neill, Sutton, Smith, Hutchinson, Dempster, Roberts. Subs: Worthington, Briscoe, Howell, Redmon, Meikle. 18:30 YOU HAVE 60 MINUTES Remember kick-off is at 7.30 tonight. Team news coming soon... 17:55 ON THIS DAY The Town's record on 25th January is pretty good having won eight and losing three of the 11 fixtures played on this day. You only have to look back to last year for the last time the Hatters featured on this day in history when a solitary goal from Claude Gnakpa earned a 1-0 victory over Grimsbyo. That game was also featured live on Premier Sports TV, just like tonight's game is. The Town have won six of the last seven games played on this date. 17:00 IMPORTANT NIGHT Good evening and welcome to you all. To get us in the mood for tonight's crucial Blue Square Bet Premier game with Mansfield, here's a few numbers for you: 4.25 - The staggering average number of goals scored between the Town and Mansfield when they meet at Kenilworth Road. 3.07 - The average number of goals a game scored at Kenilworth Road this season. 24 - The number of goals scored by the Town in their last nine games. 4 - The number of goals conceded in their last nine games (three of which came in one game). And finally... 0 - The probable number of goals that will be scored tonight now that we've highlighted these geeky stats.... So, onto tonight as the Town and Mansfield catch-up with the rest of the Blue Square Bet Premier, meeting in front of the live Premier Sports TV cameras. And, following Tuesday night's, results both the Town and the Stags will be keen to impress this evening with their promotion rivals all slipping up. Only new leaders Fleetwood Town won out of all the sides in the top 11 in the division which gives both sides this evening a great chance to enhance their promotion prospects. Mansfield arrive at Kenilworth Road in 10th place in the league, eight points off the play-offs and with two games in hand. One of those matches is tonight and Stags boss Paul Cox knows the importance of three points this evening. Win those two games in hand and you're within touching distance of the top five... As for the Town, their ambitions are a lot higher. Still chasing the top spot, Gary Brabin knows his side must keep up the pressure on Wrexham and Fleetwood above them. Keep winning is all they can do and in recent weeks they've been doing precisely that. Okay, so a draw at Southport last time out stopped a run of five successive league wins, but given the conditions that day nobody was complaining. Let's just hope the wind takes an evening off tonight, eh? All you need to do is believe. COYH Well, whatever happens tonight, and indeed throughout the season, your official website will have everything covered: every step of the way. If you can't make the match then we'll have all the goals and incidents as it happens live with the usual news in the run-up to kick-off with team line-ups and plenty of chat as your official website has, as ever, the usual updates keeping you bang up-to-date with all the action - and in a number of ways. There's none of those boring ball-by-ball "defensive thrown-in taken by Luton left-back" updates as we continue to and bring you an updated and detailed text commentary. This is a great way to keep in touch and has been popular to those supporters not able to get to a computer or a radio as the service is also available and is updated live on our WAP site. On Hatters Player you all have access to our live commentary. Remember, Player is available as ever which means you all have access to our live commentary. If you haven't heard it yet then where you have been? It's still brought to you by Simon "Statto" Pitts but he's got company this time! The DiverseFM team have collaborated with BBC Three Counties radio and the Club to bring you the Luton Town Show. Following the final whistle we'll have all the reaction from the men that matter this after, bringing you exclusive video content from Gary Brabin and from the dressing room. We'll have plenty of content to keep you interested as we'll have all of the post-match reaction from Gary as well as match action from Gareth Owen to follow after the final whistle. Be sure to check out www.hatterspics.co.uk - our online image library. Like a picture you see and fancy having that on a mug? Well, fancy no more - with Hatters Pics it's a reality. Remember, we want you to get in touch. Join the updates and get in touch. Email andrew.barringer@lutontown.co.uk and we'll pick the best comments to go live on the site during our live updates. Don't forget we're also on twitter and Facebook so feel free to interact with your fellow fans online. Enjoy the game. #COYH  
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