Stags plotting path to Wembley

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STAGS boss Duncan Russell was a relieved man after his Stags side finally saw off plucky Chasetown 3-1 in Tuesday night’s FA Trophy quarter-final replay at Field Mill.

And he is already plotting how the Stags might shock Luton Town in the semi-finals and achieve their Wembley dream.

Said Russell: “We did it the difficult way tonight. We didn’t really start in the first half.

“I can’t put my finger on it but a few words were said at half-time and they came out and responded. But I want them to be doing it themselves from the off and not need that.

“We looked tentative and after a couple of boos from the crowd I saw a couple of heads go down a bit.

“I thought Chasetown played really well in the first half though we still had our chances against the run of play.

“I told them to keep a higher line in the second half and it all went to plan. I always thought we would score goals.

“Danny Mitchley and Paul Connor could have had six goals between them if not more on the night. I was pleased to see Danny score a great goal and his run into the six yard box was fantastic. He has great movement and I want to convert that into goals.

“But, fair play to Chasetown, they never gave up and came back at us, scored a goal and kept going.

“At 2-1 I knew we needed a third. We had so many chances on the night and, against better opposition, we must make sure we take them as you will be punished at the other end.”

Now Stags prepare for the semi-final first leg visit of promotion-chasing Luton Town on Sunday (noon) and Russell added: “Luton are a good outfit. But, until we had a man sent off in the controversial game down there, I don’t think there was much in it.

“I am certainly not fearful of Luton and my players won’t be fearful of them either. We are the underdogs which is a nice position to be in sometimes. We are relishing the challenge on Sunday.”

Stags fans will hope keeper Alan Marriott and on-loan striker Louis Moult can return from injury for the big game

Russell said: “We are taking it day to day with Alan. Everyone will be off tomorrow and we will speak with him after training on Thursday and see how he feels.

“Louis hurt his back against Tamworth after it had been playing him up the last few weeks and Stoke advised us not to play him tonight. I expect to see him on Thursday and hopefully he will be fine for Sunday.”

Skipper Adam Murray, who bagged the first goal, said: “We knew what they were about and we expected Chasetown to come at us like that for the first half-hour. We knew we had to weather the storm and impose our game on them which is how it worked out.

“Our fans have high expectations of us and soon let you know if it’s not going our way which you can’t blame them for as this is a big club and they expect a winning team.

“But it was never going to be a pretty game of football tonight. Chasetown were in our faces, making it horrible, and credit to them for that.”

On the semi-final against his former club, he added: “Luton are a very, very good side – one of the strongest in this league. But it is a cup game and anything can happen. We will be giving it our all and seeing what happens at the end of it.

“Luton have some top quality players, both ability-wise and football knowledge-wise. They are a passing team who know when to mix it up and are strong in all areas.

“But if we are on our game we are a match for anyone. We are not going to worry about them, it’s all about how we impose ourselves on them.

“Everyone here will be putting their bodies on the line.”