Preview: Hatters aim for first league win at Field Mill

Hatters travel to one of their least happiest hunting grounds this evening, when they visit Mansfield Town, writes Mike Simmonds.

Luton have never tasted victory in the league at Field Mill in 10 attempts, failing to even hit the target in five matches.

They have triumphed once though, as back on September 19, 1989, they enjoyed a 4-3 Littlewoods Challenge Cup victory thanks to two goals each from Lars Elstrup and Roy Wegerle.

Town travelled north twice last season, losing 1-0 in the FA Trophy and drawing 0-0 in the league, where both times they came up against an inspired goalkeeper in David Grof, who won the man of the match award on both occasions.

Grof has since joined Walsall as Mansfield made big changes over the summer. Despite reaching the FA Trophy Final when they lost 1-0 to Darlington, a 13th place finish wasn’t considered good enough and manager Duncan Russell departed.

In came Paul Cox, who has changed the squad around radically, signing the likes of Andy Todd from former club Eastwood, while Shane Redmond, Martin Riley and Luke O’Neill have all joined, as has towering defender Ben Futcher on loan from Bury.

Luke Medley, Paul Stonehouse, Mark Preece and Tyrone Thompson have all moved as the newlook squad begun the new campiagn with just two points from their opening two games.

Team news: Hatters have no fresh injury concerns as they expect James Dance to be fit after he had to come off during Saturday’s win over Southport with a facial injury.

Defensive duo Dan Gleeson and George Pilkington are nearing a return to training, but Freddie Murray, Shane Blackett and Charlier Henry are all out.

The Stags will be without summer signing John Thompson (broken nose) and Ritchie Sutton (shouder), both who picked up the injuries in the friendly with Ilkeston Town that had to be abandoned. Tom Main is suspended, while Reece Day has a calf injury and Paul Bolland misses out too.

In charge: Paul Cox – former defender who began his career at home town club Notts County, before dropping down into non-league where he had five seasons at Kettering.

Joined Eastwood Town as assistant boss before taking over as manager in 2006 and led the side to fourth in the Blue Square North last season, before unveiled as Mansfield manager on May 19.

From the dug out: Paul Cox - “This is a tough league with some very big teams in it and Luton are probably the biggest of all. They have a fabulous history and are rightly considered as one of the favourites to win the division.

“I’m really looking forward to the game. It will be a fantastic benchmark for us to see where we are at.

“It is going to be hard game, but we are progressing and we put some building blocks down to build on against Braintree.”

One to watch: Louis Briscoe - Former Port Vale trainee has been a revelation since moving to Mansfield, scoring 19 league and cup goals last season, where he was named in the Blue Square Bet Premier team of the season.

Signed a new two year earlier this month and opened his account in the 1-1 draw with Braintree at the weekend.

Familiar faces: Adam Murray – signed by Richard Money in the summer of 2010, the 29-year-old central midfielder made seven appearances for Hatters before moving on loan to the Stags in September and completed his deal in the January transfer window.

Hatters keeper Kevin Pilkington played over 150 games for Mansfield between 2000-2005 before moving back to Field Mill for a loan spell last campaign.

Fact attack: The recent acquisition of Ben Futcher came about thanks to a £2,400 donation from The 12Stag, a group which raise funds to assist manager Paul Cox in the transfer market.

We’ve met before: Last season, neither side had much to play for in a goalless draw at Field Mill.

Jason Walker and Matthew Barnes-Homer forced saves from David Grof, while midfielder Alex Lawless could have won it late on, only to see Grof block his low drive,

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Dan Gleeson, Freddie Murray, George Pilkington, Zdenek Kroca, Jake Howells, Claude Gnakpa (Robbie Willmott 52), Keith Keane, Alex Lawless, Amari Morgan-Smith (Matthew Barnes-Homer 46), Jason Walker.

Attendance: 2,203.

William Hill Odds: Luton win 23/20, Mansfield win 15/8, Draw 5/2.