Match report: Stags 2, Luton 2
IT had been a drought that has lasted ten weeks, stretching back to September 4.
But yesterday Matt Green came off the bench to fire a much-deserved equaliser and not only maintain Mansfield Town's much-improved run of performances but get himself back on the goals trail.
The man who bagged 30 times in the last campaign netted four times early this season but since then, nothing, and he found himself dropped to the bench.
But his time came in the 85th minute with the Stags heading for defeat as he notched from close range to earn a 2-2 draw with fellow promotion fancied Luton Town.
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It extended Mansfield's unbeaten run to five games but more importantly, it meant they got something from a game in which they impressed for large periods.
Ben Hutchinson had given them an early lead for the second league game running but Andre Gray's double – one in either half – saw the visitors fight back before Green struck late on.
Stags boss Paul Cox made just one change to the side that knocked Slough out of the FA Cup on penalties and that was forced.
John Dempster, who was sent off in that match, began a three-game ban with John Thompson coming in at right-back and Ritchie Sutton switching to central defence.
Luton arrived in north Notts with the best away record in the league while Mansfield boasted the joint-best home record, which they shared with second-placed Newport.
And the Stags took the lead on eight minutes. Exodus Geohaghon, handed the captain's armband in Dempster's absence, delivered a bullet throw-in from the right of the box and Hutchinson, at the near post, directed a deft backward flicked header into the far corner.
It was a superb finish and minutes later Chris Clements drove a 20-yard shot that, via a deflection, went just the wrong side of the post as Mansfield got on the front foot.
It was a bright first quarter of the game from Mansfield and Nick Wright headed over the top from Louis Briscoe on the right who then darted forward but pulled his low effort wide of Mark Tyler's far stick.
But Luton were level completely against the run of play on 26 minutes.
A ball over the top put Gray down the right of the box; he got the better of Sutton down towards the byline and from the tightest of angles, he somehow managed to drive a low effort beyond Redmond.
It rocked Mansfield and, soon after, Luton's Ron Henry crossed from the right to find Jake Howells but his header was held by Redmond. Luton could have been ahead five minutes from the break when after an initial corner was cleared, it fell to Howells on the left and he blasted the ball into the six-yard box, but Gray put it wide despite being three yards out in the centre of goal.
Mansfield forced a corner within a minute of a lively start to the second half and when it was cleared to Briscoe, the winger whipped it back in and Wright flicked a backward header over Tyler and in, but the offside flag had gone up against him.
Another Geohaghon long throw caused problems again in the Luton box but after dropping invitingly to Howell, he fired high over the bar when he should have done better. Then at the other end, Alex Lawless fired through a sea of bodies but his low effort missed the target.
On 63 minutes, Luton's Janos Kovacs powered a header from a corner which looked to be going it but it was blocked on the line before Mansfield boss Paul Cox sent on Green for Wright.
But on 67 minutes, Stags were behind when Luton broke, Howells found Gray breaking into the centre of the box and, in behind the defence, he slotted it under Redmond, who will feel he should have done better for both goals.
With ten minutes left, Howells had a good chance to extend the lead but Redmond spread himself to deny the winger as his side left themselves open as they pushed for an equaliser.
And it came five minutes from time as Clements whipped in a free kick to the back post which Matt Rhead headed into the six-yard box for fellow substitute Green to finish from close range.