Mansfield Town manager Adam Murray said tonight’s gutsy 1-0 home win that halted high-flying Luton Town’s 10-game unbeaten run would give his side a massive psychological boost.
The relegation-haunted Stags threw away two vital points on Saturday when they gifted Northampton a stoppage time penalty in a 1-1 draw.
Tonight, though, Murray’s walking wounded stood firm against Luton’s intense second half pressure to defend the lead given to them by Rakish Bingham on 32 minutes and maintain an amazing record of never having lost a league game at home to the Hatters.
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Murray said: “That was a big step, not just the points, but mentally they needed to go through a brick wall and get over the line. It will be a huge psychological boost.
“We have taken four points off two top teams this week. Luton are a team with a manager I respect. They epitomise him as they are hard-working, down to earth and quality. So for us to go and beat them I am over the moon.
“The crowd were very anxious. But I can’t ask any more from them with how they backed us. Some of my boys were dead out there tonight, but the fans pushed us over the line.
“The most pleasing thing for me was our work rate and the pride my players showed in wearing the shirt. They gave everything for this football club.
“I am asking people to go through barriers and there were some tired legs out there. That fatigue has cost us with losing Reggie Lambe. We will have to see how he is tomorrow but it doesn’t look good.
“We don’t have the biggest squad and in an ideal world we would have freshened things up tonight. So absolute credit to all the lads.”
Two of the players out there for Mansfield probably shouldn’t have been, Ricky Ravenhill having returned on Saturday just seven days after pulling a hamstring and Chris Clements with stitches in a nasty ankle gash.
Skipper Ravenhill was limping badly for a time after the break but gritted his teeth to see it through and epitomise the home side’s bravery.
“Ricky is a monster,” said Murray. “A scan told me he would be out six to eight weeks and he was back in five days. He is a machine and the sort of player I want at this club.
“Chris had an infected wound and looked like he would be out for a while. But anti-biotics cleared the infection up quickly, though he is in there having it re-stitched right now.
“But we don’t have time to feel tired. We will do our recovery in the right way.
“It’s soldier time. It’s war time. If you are 80 per cent fit, you’re playing. I did it as a player and I expect my players to go that extra mile for this club.”
Luton boss John Still admitted: “It has been a frustrating night. We didn’t start great, in fact neither team started well.
“I felt we were reasonably comfortable all of the game, but we made an error from one end of the pitch to the other and they scored. It was a basic error, one we shouldn’t have made.
“In the second half we had wave after wave of attacks. We made enough opportunities to score.
“Mark (Cullen) did a fantastic bit of skill, but put the chance past the post. With the form he is in, he would have expected to score that and we expected him to.
“We had lots of balls in and around their box and flashing across the goal, but we were unable to get back in it. That’s football, we worked our socks off and we are disappointed, but disappointment’s part of my job.
“It was not the perfect conditions to play the perfect ball and perfect pass, but we did enough to have ground it out tonight. “We didn’t for two reasons, because we couldn’t get the finishing touch ourselves and because the other team worked really hard to keep in the game.
“It was a dour, gritty home performance, but I thought if we could get one goal we could go on and get another one.
“There was maximum effort from everyone . We are still in a fantastic position. I don’t want to do the players a disservice.
“I hear people around me going that this player is out and that player is out, but that team did enough to get something from the game.
“It didn’t and it is up to the manager to pull something up and then we go again on Saturday.”