Lu­ton’s un­wanted run comes to an end

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Mike Sim­monds

LU­TON’S wait for a league win is over and as­sis­tant man­ager Terry Harris ad­mits re­lief is the over­rid­ing emo­tion.

Craig Mack­ail-Smith’s penalty mo­ments be­fore the hour mark was enough for Town to seal vic­tory, af­ter the striker was fouled by Ryan Tafa­zolli.

“It’s a re­lief,” said Harris. “It was a lit­tle bit ner­vous at the end which is un­der­stand­able as we’ve con­ceded four goals in the last minute re­cently, which is some­thing I haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced in my ca­reer.

“We said to the play­ers ‘for 60 min­utes it was ex­cel­lent, for the last 30 it was nervy’ and it will be. But hope­fully that will stop as the games go on now.

“It’s nat­u­ral as we wanted to get the train rolling again and I thought we played some good football. Craig Mack­ail-Smith up front was ab­so­lutely mag­nif­i­cent, he didn’t give the back two a mo­ment’s rest and got his re­wards with the penalty.”

Mans­field had their chances too, with Lu­ton keeper Mark Tyler mak­ing some ex­cel­lent stops from Matt Green and Craig West­carr in par­tic­u­lar.

The Stags were in­debted to a fine save from Brian Jensen early on, as he showed good re­flexes to parry Jonathan Smith’s low shot.

Mans­field then came close them­selves as home skip­per Steve McNulty slipped in the area as Matt Green swiv­elled to shoot, de­nied by Tyler’s legs.

Mo­ments be­fore half­time, Lu­ton thought they had the lead in stun­ning fash­ion as Mack­ail-Smith con­nected with a won­der­ful over­head volley, but a raised lines­man’s flag saw the goal dis­al­lowed for off­side.

Lu­ton did break the dead­lock on 58 min­utes though, as Mack­ail-Smith was tugged back in the area by Tafa­zolli who avoided a red card from ref­eree Kevin John­son.

Mack­ail-Smith took the hon­ours him­self though, blast­ing down the mid­dle to beat Jensen.

Craig West­carr was close to an in­stant re­sponse, fir­ing low at Tyler, be­fore a cru­cial fin­ger­tip stop from the Hat­ters goal­keeper saw Jack Thomas’ long-ranger flicked past the post.

And Stags boss Adam Mur­ray was left to lament a lack of cut­ting edge at Kenilworth Road. He said: “We had a chance in the first half and should have scored.

“Then sec­ond half we dom­i­nated the game and gave away a stupid penalty.You can’t come away to a place like this and miss one-on-ones.

“For the penalty, we got our­selves into a mud­dle at the back and to be fair to Mack­ail-Smith, it was good move­ment. That was the dif­fer­ence, that lit­tle bit of move­ment where they got in and that’s the fine lines.

“We weren’t ruth­less. We had a lot of play in their fi­nal third and it’s not bounced for us or we’ve not an­tic­i­pated where it’s go­ing to go.”



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