The Hatters will look to spend Christmas Day at the top of Sky Bet League Two as they welcome Grimsby Town to Kenilworth Road tomorrow for their final home game of 2017.
Should Nathan Jones’ side win, extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches in all competitions, and results elsewhere go their way, the Hatters could be as many as five points clear at the summit of the fourth tier come tomorrow evening.
Grimsby have aspirations of their own this campaign – just two points shy of the League Two play-offs, Russell Slade’s team are certainly a side who are looking to improve on last season’s 14th-place finish.
They aren’t afraid to take on the high-flying sides either, picking up a point last week at Notts County in a 0-0 draw.
The Town will be without captain Scott Cuthbert and Alan McCormack through injury, whilst Jack Stacey will serve the first of his three-game suspension after picking up a red card last week at Forest Green Rovers.
THE GAFFER SAYS:
On Jack Stacey’s three-game suspension: “Jack Stacey has been in fantastic form. He probably needed a rest if I am being honest, it was probably one game too far. We were toying with the idea, but to our detriment we decided against it and kept him.
“Whoever steps in, and James Justin is the most likely because he is the most natural one, it gives him the opportunity, but that’s what this squad is about.
“Cuthbert is out, Mullins has come in and has been excellent since. Alan McCormack got injured and Glen Rea got in and he hasn’t looked back. They’re all level headed and that’s the most important thing.”
On whether he’s more focused on the gap between first and second or between first and fourth: “Both really, the aim is to get promoted, so it’s more the one with fourth place. We want to extend that, if someone gave the option of extending that one or the one to second place, then you’d do that naturally.
“As time goes on you look at both gaps. We like being top. Someone said, ‘Is it difficult being top?’ I don’t think it’s more difficult being top. People want to be at Luton, people will come here and know that we are a decent side, so I don’t think it adds any more pressure to our side. It’s wonderful being top of the league.”
On coming up against his former Yeovil manager Russell Slade: "I played under Russ and got to the play-off final. I was his captain at Wembley, so I know him very well. He's a good friend of mine. I kept in touch with him after that. I really enjoyed playing for him and thought he was a good manager. He taught me a lot in fact, because he put a lot of trust in his older players, and I was one of them myself with Terry Skiverton and Marcus Stewart. He knew he could trust us to control his changing room. I have real fond memories of the time I played under him, and I know what we are going to get from his teams."
In their second season back in the fourth tier, the Mariners have started off this campaign strongly under ex-Leyton Orient and Cardiff City manager Slade. Their 117-year stay in the league came to an end back in 2010, with the Mariners finally getting back into professional football back in 2016 via the play-offs having qualified for them four years in a row.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Kick-off is at 3pm on Saturday 23rd December at Kenilworth Road.
Tickets for this fixture are still available from the Ticket Office, in person, over the phone on 01582 416976 and online by clicking here.
LAST TIME WE PLAYED?
The Hatters have won 16 of the 52 meetings between them and Grimsby, whilst the Mariners have been victorious in 19 of those games. Our last meeting came at Blundell Park back in February, where Isaac Vassell netted the Town's goal in a 1-1 draw, with Danny Hylton seeing an injury-time penalty saved.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
You can follow the Hatters’ Twitter feed on @LutonTown, or stay up to date on the LTFC website in the match centre. iFollow Hatters subscribers can tune in for Simon Pitts' match commentary, whilst international subscribers can watch the game live.
The Salvation Army will be singing Christmas carols at tomorrow's game, so if you are able, please give generously at their collection points around the ground.