MANSFIELD TOWN 1 LUTON TOWN 0
FA Trophy semi-final first leg
Sunday, March 13 2011
Luton Town must overcome a one-goal deficit in next Saturday’s home FA Trophy semi-final second leg if they are to reach the Wembley final on May 7.
The Hatters were sunk by an excellent 62nd minute shot on the turn by Danny Mitchley but, despite creating plenty of chances of their own, could not find a way past Hungarian keeper and man-of-the-match David Grof, who is loan with Stags from Notts County.
Luton assistant manager Gary Brabin said: “We are disappointed as we wanted more from the first game.
“We know we are a lot better than that. But it’s only half-time and today has given us a better insight as to what Mansfield are all about.
“We now know what we are up against next weekend. We know exactly what we have to do.
“Mansfield worked really hard and probably in the end deserved their lead. But, if anything, based on chances, I think we had the better chances today and their keeper made some outstanding saves.
“Now we must concentrate on Tuesday’s league game, get the three points, then we know what we have to do on Saturday.”
Luton began well enough and Freddie Murray fired a great first time chance wide from 18 yards while Grof re-adjusted himself in mid-air to keep out a goalbound deflected effort from Jake Howells.
He also blocked a header from Lloyd Owusu.
But it was Mansfield who had the ball in the net on 32 minutes as Paul Connor fired home only to se an offside flag quickly cut short celebrations.
Grof twice parried shots from Alex Lawless before the deadlock was finally broken in a thrilling passage of play on 62 minutes.
George Pilkington saw his far post header strike the Mansfield crossbar with Grof beaten, only for Stags to steam downfield where Gary Silk threaded a pass to Mitchley who spun and squeezed a low finish across Kevin Pilkington and in off the inside of the far post.
Grof again came to Mansfield’s rescue on 73 minutes as Howells crossed from the left and sub Danny Crow met it with a powerful diving header that the Hungarian again turned aside.
Luton pushed hard but, even with five minutes added on, Stags clung on to their precious advantage.
Mansfield goalkeeping legend Pilkington, who was only back at Field Mill on loan recently, was upset to be booed by the home fans on his return as Luton keeper.
He said: “It wasn’t the reception I was hoping for and I was very disappointed seeing as what I have done for the club.
“But I enjoyed the game. I have only had two saves to make, yet we have come away losing 1-0.
“We have to fancy our chances with the second leg being back at home but there are two teams and we already have to claw back a goal so start the match on the back foot.”
LUTON: K. Pilkington; Graham, G. Pilkington, Kroca, Murray (Poku 75); Gnapka (Morgan-Smith 69), Lawless, Keane, Howells; Barnes-Homer, Owusu (Crow 56). Subs not used: Tyler, Asafu-Adjaye.
REFEREE: Karl Evans of Wigan.
ATTENDANCE: 3,208 (422 away).