PREVIEW: Luton Town v Mansfield

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The hunt for Mansfield Town’s next manager stepped up this week as chairman John Radford revealed he had drawn up a six man shortlist.

The Stags find themselves in this position after former boss Paul Cox left by mutual consent last week, just one day after attending a fans forum evening.

However, Radford has now stated the club will begin interviewing candidates next week as speaking exclusively to the club’s official website, he said: “We’ll possibly be able to announce our new manager either next Wednesday or Thursday.

“I’m looking for someone who has the connections that the club might need to take it to League One and possibly to the Championship. I’m looking for someone with a bit of experience. Having said that I won’t narrow my scope. It’s wide open between the six candidates.

“I want a manager who is ambitious and someone who has loyalty within them, who will stay at the club for a few years.

“I’m a chairman who doesn’t like to get rid of managers quickly, I like to give them a good chance.”

Current caretaker boss Adam Murray, a former Luton player, is yet to throw his hat in the ring for the job and admitted that he wasn’t sure if he could call an end to his playing days just yet.

He told the Mansfield Chad: “To be totally honest I have missed being on the field.

“Playing at Luton away are big moments in your career. It is a big decision to me if I want to leave that yet and throw my hat into the ring for the manager’s job.

“I will probably put myself on the bench on Saturday just so I can be part of the atmosphere.

“I don’t think I could do both. I could never go onto the field with my head no solely on playing. I have realised the last few days that it’s too much to ask to get the best out of both situations.”

Should Murray decide to apply, Radford could well consider the midfielder, adding: “At the moment, Adam hasn’t thrown his hat into the ring yet but he may be interested. Adam has said that he can’t manage and play.

“He wants to get himself out on the playing field again. He’s still young at the moment, in his early thirties, and he’s one of the fittest members of the squad. He wants to be out there captaining the side.”

Murray was active off the field during the loan window deadline yesterday, snapping up Oxford United winger Junior Brown on loan from Oxford United until the new year.

It’s not been a season to remember for the Stags so far though, particularly on the road, as they have tasted success just once in the league so far.

That came back on September 6 against Exeter, as they have taken just three points from a possible 18 since.

Goals have been desperately hard to come by too as Mansfield have scored just five times, drawing blanks in five of their matches too.

That coupled with a poor home record too proved to be the end for Cox as despite a good September, when he put together three wins from four, a disappointing sequence of nine league and cup games without a win saw his three and a half year stay ended.

As is often the way, Mansfield then saw an immediate improvement in results, beating high-flying Plymouth 1-0 in Murray’s first game at the helm and progressing in the FA Cup via a replay, avoiding an upset at Concord Rangers as they triumphed 1-0 on Tuesday night

Team news: Hatters will be without Luke Wilkinson as he is suspended after his red card at Burton on Saturday, while Alex Lawless (foot), Curtley Williams (shoulder) and Ross Lafaytte (hernia) miss out too.

Striker Alex Wall has joined Bristol Rovers on loan until the new year, while young defender Brett Longden has gone to Arlesey Town.

The Stags have a fairly clean bill of health although both John Dempster and Jamie McGuire are still out.

Top scorers: Hatters: Mark Cullen (8). Stags: Rakesh Bingham (3).

Milestones: Luke Guttridge will make his 50th appearance for Hatters if he features on Saturday. The midfielder who joined on a free transfer from Northampton in June 2013 has scored 15 goals in that time too.

Man in the middle: Gavin Ward, official has taken 15 games so far this season, showing 61 yellows and two reds.

Had the whistle for 32 games last term, handing out 95 yellows and seven reds in total.

Last took Luton in November 2012 when the Hatters won an FA Cup replay 2-0 at Nuneaton.

Ward also reffed Town’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton, again in the FA Cup, during January 2010 when Rickie Lambert netted the only goal.

It will be Ward’s first visit to Kenilworth Road since December 2008 when he took the 3-3 draw with Bournemouth, while also officiated the 0-0 draw with Carlisle in League One the season before.

Ian Cooper and Graham Kane are the assistant referees, with Craig Hicks 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, before returning to Mansfield and then heading to Carlisle United, while Torquay United snapped him up for £10k.

In January 2007, Murray joined Macclesfield Town for £17,500 until a year later was named captain of Oxford United and then moved to Luton in June 2010, before leaving on loan to Mansfield once more in October 2010, with the move turning permanent in January 2011.

Became assistant manager in June 2012 and was appointed caretaker boss after Paul Cox left this month.

View from the opposition: Caretaker boss Adam Murray told the Mansfield Chad: “There is no love lost between us, but I am really looking forward to it.

“I spoke to the people at Burton and they said Luton are the best team in the league by a million miles.

“They’ve got everything and it was the toughest game Burton have had.

“We’ve watched them a few times and know what they are all about.

“They have an experienced manager who has had two years to put the machine he’s got together – and that’s what they are, a machine.

“It is a cauldron – a real gladiators’ arena. When you step out there you know you are in a game. The atmosphere will be superb. We need to rise to the occasion.”

One to watch: Striker Vadaine Oliver has recently had his loan spell from Crewe Alexandra extended for another two months.

The 23-year-old netted the winner against Plymouth during Mansfield’s last league game, his first goal for the club.

Started his career at Sheffield Wednesday, before moving to Lincoln and then Crewe, for whom he scored once this season, in the 2-1 win over Port Vale.

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.

Midfielder Simon Heslop spent three months at Luton in the 2009-10 season, playing 13 times and scoring once after signing from Barnsley on loan.

Although out of favour at Luton, Solomon Taiwo had a brief stint at Mansfield, before his move to Town, playing once, that in the Stags 4-1 defeat to Cambridge United on October 6, 2012.

We’ve got form: Hatters have enjoyed some goal-laden clashes at home to Mansfield over the years, winning six, drawing five and losing three of their 14 meetings, scoring 34 times, conceding 22.

Town have gone three meetings without a win though, as they last triumphed 2-0 in September 2010 with goals from Danny Crow and Amari Morgan-Smith.

Their biggest triumph was 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 put 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 caretaker boss Adam Murray scoring for the visitors, while Town have managed four on two separate occasions as well.

Last time out: Luton were beaten 3-2 at home by Mansfield in their last meeting at Kenilworth Road in the Conference back in February 2013.

Matt Green’s penalty put the Stags ahead, before Scott Rendell levelled, only for Colin Daniel to make it 2-1 by the break.

Andre Gray equalised for Luton moments into the second period, but Lindon Meikle’s last minute penalty saw the Stags triumph.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Steve McNulty, Wayne Thomas, Scott Neilson (Jake Howells 63), Alex Lawless, Jonathan Smith, Dave Martin (Stuart Fleetwood 55), Scott Rendell, Andre Gray.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Simon Ainge, Arnaud Mendy.

Referee: Kevin Johnson.

Attendance: 5,968.