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30 December 2017 Venue Vale Park Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: PORT VALE v LUTON TOWN

All the info you need as the Hatters head to Vale Park on Saturday, 3pm kick-off

29 December 2017

The Hatters head into 2018 safe in the knowledge they’ll be top of the table before hosting Lincoln City on New Year’s Day, but will look to add to their points tally with a win at Port Vale on Saturday afternoon.

Having only suffered one defeat in their last 23 games in all competitions, the Hatters are in fantastic form – which carried on when they headed to Swindon on Tuesday, defeating the Robins 5-0 courtesy of a second half rout.

All four of Town’s strikers – Danny Hylton, James Collins, Harry Cornick and Elliot Lee – scored in the win, meaning they have now been involved in 51 goals so far this season (36 goals, 15 assists).

Since the appointment of Vale legend Neil Aspin, the Valiants have been on the rise – so much so the 52-year-old has signed a new two-and-a-half year deal just over two months since he first arrived at the club as manager.

After joining the club at the beginning of October, when Vale were only out of the relegation zone on goal difference and five points behind 21st place, they’ve shot up the table into 17th, now eight points clear of the bottom two – picking up 17 points in their last ten games.  

The Hatters are unbeaten in eight league matches and have won three on the bounce – the fourth time they have achieved that this season.

In all competitions, the unbeaten run stands at 12 games, with the Town looking to extend club record sequences on the road which currently stand at 11 unbeaten away EFL matches since losing 1-0 at Barnet in August, and 13 without defeat away from home in all competitions.

They will also want to add to the club record 126 goals in a calendar year in the final game of 2017, while maintaining a watertight defence that has conceded just once in six matches in December – with goalkeeper Marek Stech having not been beaten in 299 regulation minutes since Shola Ameobi scored Notts County’s equaliser at Kenilworth Road on December 9th.

THE GAFFER SAYS:

On Saturday’s opponents and the current form: “We’ve got Port Vale next, which is a massive, massive game. We have had a good Christmas period so far, but we want to make sure we finish the year in good form, we know whatever happens we will finish 2017 top of the league.

“But we would like to extend that, not just a point ahead, we want to finish ahead. But we know Port Vale is going to be a very, very difficult game up there, it really is. We’re looking forward to it though as we couldn’t be in any better form.

“They have picked up under Neil Aspin. They’re a good side and it’s always a difficult place to go, I have been there as a player and it was difficult. It’ll be difficult on Saturday but I am sure they will look at us and think it’s going to be a difficult encounter as well, because we are in decent form.”

Speaking after the game against Swindon, Town striker James Collins said: “The Christmas period and New Year is big for any club, but we’ve won two out of two now and we go into the game on Saturday full of confidence. We will rest up this week and whatever side plays we will try and put on a display.”

WHO?

The Valiants finished 21st in Sky Bet League One on 49 points, seeing them relegated back to the fourth tier – where they last played in 2012. Former Leeds United midfielder Michael Brown was in charge, but after a slow start he departed and has been replaced by ex-Vale defender Aspin, who spent ten years at Vale Park as a player, making over 400 appearances. Now in decent form, they will be looking to climb back up the table and challenge for a place in the top seven to return to the third tier.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Kick-of is at 3pm on Saturday 30th December at Vale Park.

TICKET INFORMATION

Hatters fans will be able to purchase tickets on the day from the away sales kiosk next to the Hamil Road Stand at Vale Park, cash only between 1pm and 3pm.

Prices on the day are:

Adult (22-61): £22
Seniors (62+): £17
Young Adults (18-21): £17
Juniors (12-17): £10
Under-12 (0-11): FREE
Carers: FREE

LAST TIME WE PLAYED?

Saturday's game will mark the 37th time the Hatters have played the Valiants, with the Hatters triumphant in 17 of those games. Vale have won 11 and the other eight have ended in draws. In the reverse fixture, the Hatters welcomed Vale to Kenilworth Road back in September and ran out 2-0 winners, with Jack Stacey netting his first goal for the club with a rocket of an effort after an own goal from Ben Whitfield had put the Town in front before half-time.

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. 

To take out a domestic subscription for audio commentary at £4.49 a month, or a £5 match pass to watch the live stream if you're overseas, click here

 

 

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Match Reports

REPORT: PORT VALE 4 LUTON TOWN 0

The Hatters' 12-game unbeaten run comes to an end at Vale Park

30 December 2017

The table-topping Hatters suffered a rare blip at Port Vale this afternoon to end 2017 with a defeat - but they remain four points clear in Sky Bet League Two.

The Valiants ran out 4-0 winners, courtesy of a Johnny Mullins own goal, a Tom Pope brace and one from Ben Whitfield, as the Town’s club record 13-game unbeaten away run came to an end with a first defeat in 13 matches in all competitions.

But with second-placed Notts County losing at Swindon, Nathan Jones’ side’s lead at the summit was maintained, although the advantage over fourth place has been cut to nine points with Exeter scoring an injury-time winner against Barnet.

Jones freshened up his starting XI at Vale Park with four changes from the 5-0 Boxing Day win at Swindon, as midfielders Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Lawson D’Ath, with forwards Elliot Lee and Harry Cornick – both who scored from the bench at the County Ground – also starting.

The hosts had the first opening in the third minute as Nathan Smith blazed over the bar from a knock-down in the box, but the Hatters were soon looking to profit at the other end, Elliot Lee engineering space for himself on the edge of the box, only to see his shot blocked by Gavin Gunning.

Vale were looking a threat in the air, and from another Pope knock-down from a high ball into the Town penalty area, Cristian Montano took aim at goal – a brave block by captain Alan Sheehan keeping the Vale winger’s effort out.

The Hatters’ defence were well on their guard, and it was from a lightning quick counter-attack – after clearing a Vale free-kick – that Mpanzu burst to the left-byline and cut back a cross that home centre-half Smith blasted against Hylton, with the ball drifting just wide.

Cornick led the next charge down the right, with Elliot Lee slipping a low ball into the box that found its way to Hylton, but neither he nor Mpanzu could get a shot away as Vale scrambled clear.

The hosts were soon in front, when Whitfield reached the left byline and cut a dangerous ball back into the six-yard box, where an attempted clearance by Potts hit Mullins and went into the back of the net.

It was the first goal the Town had conceded in three matches, and the first time they’d not scored first in 13, but they looked to get straight back on terms when Cornick’s cross from the right drifted over Hylton to Mpanzu, whose shot from ten yards was deflected behind for a corner.

Vale called Stech into action on 33 minutes when Montano let fly from the edge of the box, then Pope headed another deep cross onto the roof of the net a minute later.

The hosts were having plenty of joy from pumping balls into Pope, and it was the former Bury striker who went close again in the 42nd minute, meeting a cross from Montano with a header that went inches wide of Stech’s right post.

It was a let-off for the Town, who went in at the break fortunate to be just one goal down without really threatening at the other end.

At the break Jones dropped Rea back into a back three in an attempt to deal with Pope’s aerial threat, with James Justin and Potts pushed forward to make a midfield four with Mpanzu and D’Ath.

The Town responded well to the new shape with Potts venturing up the left in the 50th minute after D’Ath spread the ball wide, then crossing for Hylton to lay it off for Justin to sting Vale keeper Ryan Boot’s palms from 15 yards

Montano fired over for the hosts in the 51st minute, then Jones made a double substitution, replacing D’Ath and Elliot Lee with Luke Berry and James Collins.

It was Vale who were soon on the attack again, however, a 25-yard Whitfield free-kick deflected just wide in the 58th minute before he set up Pope to double the advantage on the hour after a rapid break down the left.

The Town had the ball in the back of the net in the 68th minute, seconds after Andrew Shinnie had come on for Cornick, but an assistant’s flag for offside ruled Hylton’s effort out after Mullins had met a cross from the right.

Within two minutes Vale had added a third, with Pope pinching Rea’s short backpass to Stech and squaring for Whitfield to roll into an empty net.

Rea looked to make amends at the other end in the 75th minute when he fired a low shot from 25 yards that had Boot scrambling across his line to ensure it went wide of his left post.

The afternoon got worse for the Town in the 83rd minute when Pope scrambled in a fourth, despite Rea’s best attempts to get back and block with the linesman signalling the ball had crossed the line.

With five minutes to go, Sheehan curled a free-kick towards the far post that just eluded both Hylton and Potts as they looked to claw a goal back – but after a memorable recent run, it was an afternoon to forget for the Hatters as Vale deservedly took the points.

For Jones and his squad, they get the perfect chance to bounce quickly back into form when third-placed Lincoln visit Kenilworth Road for Monday’s New Year’s Day clash.

 

TOWN: Stech, Justin, Mullins, Sheehan ©, Potts, Rea, Mpanzu, D’Ath (Berry 54), Cornick (Shinnie 67), Hylton, E Lee (Collins 54). Subs: Cook, Gambin, Famewo, Shea (GK)

PORT VALE: Boot, Davis, Kay, Harness, Pugh, Pope (Barnett 87), Montano, Smith, Whitfield (Worrall 76), Tonge, Gunning (Anderson 57). Subs: Lainton (GK), Denton, Forrester, Turner

Goals: Mullins (OG) 23, Pope 60, 83, Whitfield 70

REFEREE: Tom Nield

ATT: 5,523 (1,175 Hatters)

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