DESPITE a superb first half display, Mansfield Town were held 1-1 at the break by old rivals Luton Town at the One Call Stadium this afternoon.
Stags dominated the first 25 minutes and grabbed an eighth minute lead through Ben Hutchinson.
But, despite pressing hard, they couldn’t find a second goal and were stung on 26 minutes when Andre Gray levelled from the acutest of angles against the run of play.
That goal did see Luton raise their game at last with chances at both ends in an absorbing half of football.
A Clements free kick was headed clear by the visitors’ defence in the tense opening stages.
A loose pass from Howell then set Luton on their way in midfield, but Beevers did well to get a block on Gray’s shot, the ball looping tamely to Redmond.
Briscoe drilled in a low ball from the right which passed through everyone as Stags looked hungry.
And they were rewarded on eight minutes with a goal from Hutchinson.
Geohaghon’s trademark long throw from the right picked out the leap of Hutchinson who flicked a superb header out of the reach of Tyler.
Clements was not far wide with a low 20 yard effort, then Mansfield forced two successive corners as Luton found themselves on the back foot.
Clements slipped Wright clear on 18 minutes, but his finish was wide and the offside flag was up anyway.
But it was stirring stuff from the Stags and another low Briscoe ball in from the right again eluded everyone in front of goal.
Another Geohaghon throw was cleared back to him and this time he dinked a delightful ball in towards the near post where the right boot of Wright turned the ball just wide.
Luton had spent most of the half desperately defending.
But they suddenly hauled themselves level out of the blue on 26 minutes.
Gray took on Sutton down the right and was marshalled towards the by-line. But somehow he delivered a superb low finish under Sutton’s challenge from the tightest of angle and across Redmond to find the net inside the far post.
Redmond had to grab a Henry header from Howells’ cross soon after as the visitors finally began to ask questions of the home defence.
Mendy was lucky not to be booked for taking out Howell across the shinpads.
Mansfield forced two more corners, Tyler doing well to punch the first away before Geohaghon’s head could reach it, and Meikle too high with his finish from the second.
The Hatters forced their first corner of the game on 40 minutes from which they caused problems, Mendy seeing a shot blocked, then Howells put it back it, Gray poking inches wide from close range.
Gray also headed wide at the far post as Luton finished the half with a flourish.
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Weather for Mansfield
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North