PREVIEW: Mansfield Town v Luton Town

Danny Hylton chips home his penalty at Mansfield last year
Danny Hylton chips home his penalty at Mansfield last year

Bookies favourites for the title this season, Mansfield Town have certainly been busy in the transfer market this summer to achieve that goal, revamping the squad almost entirely at the One Call Stadium.

Oxford striker Kane Hemmings became the latest recruit this week, penning a season-long loan deal from the League One club, taking it up to a total of 14 new faces so far.

The Stags are certainly giving it a real push this term, with the likes of Zander Diamond and Will Atkinson both joining from the league above too, while Omari Sterling-James, Bobby Olejnik, Conrad Logan, defenders David Mirfin, Johnny Hunt, Hayden White, Jacob Mellis, Paul Digby, Paul Anderson, Lee Angol and Jimmy Spencer all putting pen to paper as well.

Boss Steve Evans isn’t even finished there either, confirming to the press in the week that he is looking for further additions before the window shuts for business on Thursday evening.

With all the new players, Mansfield have enjoyed the whole spectrum of during their start to the season, drawing 2-2 at Crewe on the opening day, before knocked out of the Carabao Cup 1-0 at home to Rochdale.

They won their opening clash in front of their own fans, defeating newly-promoted Forest Green 2-0, before a first defeat in the league last weekend, going down 3-1 at Accrington.

Defender Krystian Pearce is relishing the chance to come up against a side in Luton, who like Stags, have been heavily tipped to finish in the top three this year, as he told the official website: “All the boys are looking forward to it. Training’s been good; everyone’s looking lively in training so it should be a good performance from the lads.

“They’re probably one of the biggest clubs in the league and they’re probably going to be up there come the end of the season – but hopefully we’ll be above them.

“Every game is going to be tough but Luton have got a very good strike force, but if I’m selected I’ll be trying my best to nullify them.

“It’s going to be a tough fixture. We’re trying to put [last] Saturday right and trying to get another three points on the board.”

Team news: Hatters boss Nathan Jones confirmed that Scott Cuthbert will be available for selection after recovering from injury, which leaves just Lawson D’Ath (foot) as out.

For Mansfield, winger Alex MacDonald will be named in squad, however fellow wide-man Alfie Potter will miss out.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (4). Stags: Danny Rose (2).

Milestones: Should he play, then striker Danny Hylton will make his 50th appearance for the Hatters on Saturday. The forward, who joined from Oxford United in the previous summer, has scored an impressive 27 goals in that time.

Man in the middle: Ross Joyce - Officiated five games this season and already show 22 yellows, despite not getting his card out in one match, his tally boosted by nine cautions in Leeds United’s 5-1 win over Newport on Tuesday night.

Last year, he managed 182 bookings and 12 reds in his 44 games, while Saturday will be his first Luton fixture since a 2-1 home defeat to Plymouth in October 2015, where he controversially sent off Ryan Hall for two yellows, after appearing to fail to book him for the first incident.

Joyce refereed Luton a fair bit in their Conference days, 0-0 draws at Gateshead and Lincoln in the 2013-14 season, plus the 2-1 win at Grimsby.

The campaign before, he took the 2-1 win at Lincoln, the 2-2 draw at Mansfield as well, as well as the goalless stalemate with Wrexham.

In the 2011-12, Joyce had the whistle for Luton’s 3-1 win at Tamworth sending off two players for hosts and another 0-0, this time at Alfreton.

Gareth Mellor and Matthew Jones are the assistant referees with David Richards the fourth official.

In charge: Steve Evans – 54-year-old who, believe it nor not, had been a player in his early days, joining Bolton Wanderers and then having spells at Clyde, Albion Rovers, Ayr United, Hamilton Academical and St Johnstone, until a knee ligament injury ended his career in 1986, aged 24.

Started out as a manager with Stamford in 1994, while he then had two controversial spells at Boston United, before taking over at Crawley in May 2007.

Left the Red Devils in April 2012 to join Rotherham, keeping the Millers in the Championship, but left in October 2015 and was appointed Leeds United head coach later that month.

Was sacked in May of the following year and his next job came at Mansfield in November, replacing former Luton midfielder Adam Murray in the hotseat.

View from the dug out: Mansfield boss Steve Evans - “We’re all looking forward to Saturday. It’ll be a tough afternoon for us.

“They’ve made some top, top signings and spent big money very wisely.

“(James) Collins and (Danny) Hylton are as good as anyone in the league.

“They’re very good players but we’ve got good players as well.”

Played for both: George Pilkington – popular centre half joined Luton from Port Vale in July 2008, playing 172 times and scoring 12 goals during his four years. Left in June 2012 for a miserable spell at Mansfield, playing just seven times in two seasons and had loan moves to Forest Green and Macclesfield.

Turned his stay with the latter into a permanent one in July 2014 and has been there ever since, making almost 150 appearances, including two this season.

Friendly faces: Striker Lee Angol spent a season as a Luton Town player, although never played for the first team, loaned out to Boreham Wood, where he starred.

Opted not to sign a new deal at Kenilworth Road and headed to Peterborough, before a loan spell at Lincoln last season and then joined Mansfield in the summer, with the 23-year-old already off the mark, scoring in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Accrington.

Keeper Conrad Logan joined Luton on loan in August 2008 from Leicester, playing 30 times for the club in their League Two campaign.

Had further spells with Stockport, Bristol Rovers, Rotherham, Rochdale, before moving to Hibernian and then back to Rochdale, linking up with Mansfield in the summer, where he has been first choice in the league so far.

For Town, defender Johnny Mullins headed to Mansfield from Reading in May 2006, spending two years there, playing 94 times and scoring five goals.

Meanwhile, Alan Sheehah had a two month loan spell at Field Mill when a Leicester player in September 2006, playing 10 games for the club.

One to watch: Danny Rose – 23-year-old forward who came through the ranks at Barnsley, before heading to Bury in March 2014, where he scored 20 goals in 81 games, going on to join Mansfield in July 2016.

Managed to hit double figures, just, last season, with 10 strikes in 42 matches but has begun well this season, scoring twice in four appearances.

We’ve got form: Luton have only ever tasted victory once at Mansfield in a league encounter, that back in the 2015-16 season, when Nathan Jones’s first away game in charge ended in a 2-0 win courtesy of Paddy McCourt and Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu goals.

Before that, they had gone 13 league games without a win, starting with a 5-2 defeat back in the Old Division Three during 1932.

However, Luton had picked up a victory in the League Cup in September 1989 thanks to doubles from Roy Wegerle and Lars Elstrup, so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

In total, Luton have made 17 trips to the Stags, with two wins, seven draws and eight defeats, socring 17 goals, although they have been blunted in seven of those matches, and conceding 28.

Last time out: Luton were held to one of their many 1-1 draws at Mansfield last season.

The hosts had the lead on 23 minutes through Alfie Potter, before Danny Hylton won a penalty for handball and the striker cheekily converted his spotkick to earn Luton a point.

Hatters: Stuart Moore, James Justin, Dan Potts (Stephen O’Donnell 84), Scott Cuthbert, Glen Rea, Alan Sheehan, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Olly Lee, Lawson D’Ath, Danny Hylton, Isaac Vassell (Ollie Palmer 64).

Subs not used: Craig King, Jonathan Smith, Jake Gray, Luke Gambin, Jack Marriott.

Attendance: 4,632.

Referee: Mark Brown.