PREVIEW: Luton Town v Mansfield Town

Paul Benson scores Town's first against Mansfield last season

Paul Benson scores Town's first against Mansfield last season

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After struggling badly against the threat of relegation last term, Mansfield have made a hugely promising start to the 2015-16 campaign.

Adam Murray’s side began with 1-1 draw at home to Carlisle, before recording a fine 2-0 win at Notts County.

Defeat at Accrington followed, but the Stags then started an unbeaten league run which now stands at four games, with a 2-1 win at York, plus last weekend’s excellent 4-0 triumph over Crawley Town the stand out results.

Murray used the summer’s transfer window wisely, strengthening his squad, adding plenty more in terms of experience and quality with 15 new additions.

Upfront was one of the main areas to improve with Mansfield managing just 38 goals in their 46 games last term, with their top league scorer Vadaine Oliver, bagging a mere seven strikes.

The return of former Stags forward Matt Green on a free from Birmingham will no doubt help improve the goals for tally, while fellow striker Craig Westcarr has always been a threat as Mansfield are already on 11 goals in their seven games so far.

The likes of Nicky Hunt, Lee Collins and Brian Jensen were all brought in too as Murray is operating with a small squad once again, as there were naturally a host of departures, including Rakish Bingham, Junior Brown, Matt Rhead and Richard Sutton.

Speaking to BBC Radio Nottingham, Murray said: “We are happy with our squad. We are a small squad and pretty young, but we’ve got a lot of ability and belief.

“We are not going to take bodies on board just to come in and sit around, or force someone into the stands.

“We’ve had this here over the years too many times, where we’ve had seven or eight guys sitting in the stands.

“Financially it’s stupid and as a team outfit you want the ethos that everybody believes they can play.”

Team news: Hatters will be without Scott Cuthbert after his sending off against Notts County last weekend, while Nathan Doyle (hamstring), Paul Benson (neck) and Luke Guttridge (back) are definitely out too.

Dan Potts made his return for the reserves in midweek, although this game might come too soon for him.

For Mansfield, a number of players have been struck down by a virus this week with a few likely to miss the trip.

Goalkeeper Scott Shearer is back in training, but the Stags will most likely resist the temptation to bring winger Matty Blair back into the side despite his return to training after eight months out.

Top scorers: Hatters: Cameron McGeehan (3). Stags: Matt Green, Craig Westcarr (3).

Milestones: Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu remains in line for his 50th appearance for Hatters if he features on Saturday.

Man in the middle: Rob Lewis - Experienced official who has taken four games so far this season, with 18 bookings in that time.

Took 10 games last season, showing just 19 yellows and two reds, including a visit to Kenilworth Road for Luton’s 3-2 defeat to Exeter.

Has reffed Hatters on three other occasions, as he took the 1-0 win for Luton over Forest Green in the Conference back in August 2009.

Also had the whistle for Luton’s 2-1 win over Hartlepool and 2-0 defeat at Southend during their 2007-08 League Two campaign.

The linesmen are Colin Lymer and Ian Smedley with Nick Hobbis the fourth official.

In charge: Adam Murray - 33-year-old who began his career at Derby County, turning professional in August 1998.

Had spells at Mansfield, Kidderminster, Notts County, Carlisle United and Torquay United, before moving to Macclesfield in January 2007 for £17,500.

A year later he joined Oxford and then moved to Luton in June 2010, but was loaned to Mansfield in October 2010, with the move turning permanent in January 2011.

Became assistant manager at Field Mill in June 2012 and was appointed caretaker boss after Paul Cox, with the position made permanent in December 2014, as he became the youngest manager in the Premier League or the Football League at the time.

View from the opposition: Caretaker boss Adam Murray told the Mansfield official website: “Saturday’s a game where we’re going to have to go there and be solid.

“We will go there as underdogs so the team selection and the formation we go with will be one of positivity but also one of respect to the environment we’re going to.

“It’s hostile, it’s tense and it’s a crowd that expects from the home side and they can be a very strong twelfth man. It’s something you have to control down there and the game management is vitally important.

“We’re going there to put points on the board and that’s the main focus.

“When you actually sit back and watch the games that they’ve played so far, they’re not playing bad.

“Sometimes in this game, as we know, you don’t get that slice of luck that you deserve and they’ve put in some really good performances where I know John (Still, Luton manager] would believe that they deserve more points on the board than they have got.”

One to watch: Matt Green - prolific 28-year-old striker who is now back for his third spell at Mansfield.

Began life at Newport County and had spells at Cardiff, Darlington, Oxford, Torquay, Cheltenham and then Mansfield in July 2011, where he scored 54 goals during a loan and ultimately permanent stay.

Headed to Birmingham for two injury blighted seasons as he was restricted to 12 appearances, returning to Mansfield in the summer.

Opened his account with a double in the 2-1 win at York, while also netted in last weekend’s 4-0 win over Crawley.

Friendly faces: Stags caretaker boss Adam Murray played seven times for Luton after being signed by Richard Money in July 2010, before leaving to join Mansfield three months later.

Played for both: Former Hatter Andy King who sadly passed away in the summer, began his career at Kenilworth Road, enjoying two spells at the club.

Went on to manage Mansfield during 1993-96, leading them to the Third Division play-offs in his second season.

In previous years, George Pilkington, Kevin Pilkington and Godfrey Poku have all moved from Kenilworth Road to Field Mill for short stays.

We’ve got form: Clashes between Luton and Mansfield usually means goals, more often than not ending up in the Stags net.

The hosts have enjoyed seven wins, five draws and just three defeats in their 15 previous meetings, scoring 37 times, conceding 21.

With Mansfield failing to score in four of their last five visits, Hatters have enjoyed some big victories over the years, the most impressive a 7-2 hammering handed out in the League Cup in October 1989 with a hat-trick by Lars Elstrup, plus goals for Roy Wegerle (2), David Preece and John Dreyer.

They also managed to put another five past the Stags in April 2002 thanks to strikes from Jean-Louis Valois, Dean Crowe, Kevin Nicholls and Steve Howard (2), with current Mansfield boss Adam Murray scoring for the visitors, while Town have managed four on two other occasions as well.

Last time out: Luton enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Mansfield last season thanks to fine second half brace from winger Shaun Whalley.

After Paul Benson had put Luton in front in the first period before suffering a broken leg, it was Whalley who made the points safe, firing in two excellent efforts.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Scott Griffiths, Fraser Franks, Steve McNulty, Jonathan Smith, Andy Drury, Shaun Whalley (Luke Rooney 86), Nathan Doyle, Paul Benson (Jake Howells 29), Mark Cullen (Charlie Walker 82)

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Ricky Miller.

Referee: Gavin Ward.

Attendance: 8,418.