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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

2-2
13 March 2018 Venue Ricoh Arena Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: COVENTRY CITY v LUTON TOWN

The Hatters head to the Ricoh Arena tonight for a 7.45pm kick-off

13 March 2018

The Hatters head to Coventry City tonight looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Accrington Stanley and mount an immediate return to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table.

That last-gasp loss was a first in six matches for Nathan Jones’ men, who had been at the summit of the fourth tier for almost four months since beating Carlisle 3-0 on Tuesday 21st November. A win tonight will take them a point back in front of Accrington.

The Hatters will have 17-goal joint top scorer James Collins back available after serving a one-match suspension following his sending off against Cambridge, while utility man Glen Rea could make his 100th appearance for the club if selected against the Sky Blues.

Mark Robins’ team sit in eighth place, one spot outside the play-offs, and while the Hatters are the division's top scorers, City boast the best goals-against record having only conceded 28 times. They are the lowest scoring team in the top half, but do have one of the division’s leading scorers, with Marc McNulty having netted 14 league goals.

They have won their last two matches, both by the same 1-0 scoreline against Wycombe and Barnet, having previously gone five games without a victory, including a 3-1 FA Cup fifth round reversal at Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday 17th February, the date when tonight’s match was originally due to be played.

THE GAFFER SAYS:

On Coventry boasting the meanest defence in the division: “They are a very difficult nut to crack, so we know we are going to have to be at our best. It’s a wonderful game. They are a big club with a big history, so we’ll turn up there in numbers – I have no doubt – and we are looking forward to the game. They don’t concede a lot of goals, and I envisage it being a very tight game. What we’ve got to make sure is that we don’t give them anything to hang onto.”

On the possibility of the experienced Scott Cuthbert and Alan McCormack returning to the starting XI: “Everyone’s in contention. Scottie is a good experienced one, we’ve missed that in recent weeks. In the early part after he got injured, we still kept the momentum going and we won games, regardless of who we were playing at centre-half and people like Johnny Mullins came in and did fantastically well, and Glen Rea. But we’ve missed that leadership and those things, of course we have. And McCormack we’ve missed all season, because we brought him in to be just that, and the injuries that he’s had has means he hasn’t been.”

On Collins’ availability bringing competition up front after Elliot Lee returned with his tenth goal of the season on Saturday: “That’s what we want, we want those conundrums, we want that competition for places. The trouble is we haven’t had that lately, we’ve had people injured. Cuthbert’s been out, McCormack’s been out, Mullins has been out, Elliot Lee’s been out, Hylton’s been out, Cornick’s been out, so we haven’t had that. So, now with competition, it’s about winning games, it’s about having those options. Not just the starting XI, but the options to come off the bench as well to change a game, and that’s what we like as well.”

On Rea, who Jones brought with him from former club Brighton and who could bring up his century of Town appearances if selected tonight: “That’s why he’s here as he does the dirty work that doesn’t always get seen. Because he’s not your number one centre half, but he knows he can fit in there and does a wonderful job in defensive midfield. He can play in a three, can play in a centre half two, so his versatility is key to us, it really is.”

WHO?

This is the first season that the Hatters and the Sky Blues have ever met in the fourth tier – you have to go back to the early 20th century when both sides competed in the Southern League to find them competing against each other at a level below this. More recently a Championship fixture, Coventry managed to hold onto their second tier status for four more seasons than the Town, before they were relegated to League One in 2012. They remained in the third tier for five seasons before falling into Sky Bet League Two at the end of last term after finishing in 23rd spot.

WHEN & WHERE?

Kick-off is 7.45pm tonight at the Ricoh Arena

TICKET INFORMATION?

There will be a pay on the day option for supporters travelling to the Ricoh Arena for tonight's Sky Bet League Two fixture.

Please be aware, however, that there will be a £3 additional cost to paying on the cash turnstiles at Coventry.

Tickets remain available to pre-purchase from the Kenilworth Road ticket office until 2pm this afternoon. They can be bought in person, by calling 01582 416976 or online by clicking here - and arrangements can be made for them to collected from Coventry if they are pre-purchased before that time.

PLAYED BEFORE?

Our last meeting provided an early blip during a blistering first half of the season for the Hatters, as Coventry came to Kenilworth Road at the end of October and left with all three points as they ran out 3-0 winners, knocking us off the top of the table. Tonight marks the 80th meeting between the Hatters and the Sky Blues, with Town picking up 24 wins, whilst Coventry have 41 victories under their belt. The other 14 fixtures have ended in draws.

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. You can subscribe to iFollow Hatters by clicking here... and supporters who are overseas can buy an individual match pass for the live video stream via the Match Centre.

 

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Match Reports

REPORT: COVENTRY CITY 2 LUTON TOWN 2

Cuthbert and Collins return with goals to earn Hatters a big point

13 March 2018

The Hatters showed tremendous character to fight back from two goals down at half-time and bring a valuable point back from Coventry tonight, with captain Scott Cuthbert and James Collins marking their returns to the side with crucial second-half headed goals.

First-half strikes by Peter Vincenti and Marc McNulty had given the Sky Blues the advantage, but Cuthbert – back in the starting XI for the first time in almost four months following groin surgery – halved the deficit ten minutes into the second half.

Then, after having a header chalked off for offside in the 79th minute, Collins – who missed Saturday’s defeat to Accrington through suspension – moved to the top of the Town scoring charts with a bullet header three minutes from time to haul the Hatters level during a barnstorming finish.

Manager Nathan Jones’ third change to the starting line-up from Saturday’s reversal was Harry Cornick, who came in as part of a front three alongside Collins and Hylton.

The Hatters got off to the worst possible start as they looked to bounce straight back to the top of the table, falling behind in the third minute when Marek Stech could only push Tom Bayliss’ 20-yard shot into the path of Vincenti, who slammed home from close range.

The Town were presented with a great chance to respond in the ninth minute when Cornick looked to be in on goal after City right-back Jack Grimmer sold his keeper Lee Burge short with a back-pass, but the spin and bounce on the ball allowed Dominic Hyam to get back and challenge before the striker could get his shot away.

Jones’ men were enjoying plenty of the ball in the Coventry third without creating any clear-cut opportunities.

Collins had the first shot in the 18th minute, forcing Burge into a save low at his near post, before the returning striker tricked his way past Grimmer and Hyam and into the six-yard box a minute later, only for the former to get back and nick the ball before he could pull the trigger.

Glen Rea, back in the midfield holding role, was next to have a go, trying his luck from fully 30 yards but his 24th-minute piledriver whistled the wrong side of the post.

Marc McNulty and Jordan Shipley soon tested Stech at the other end, before the former hit a snap-shot that Rod McDonald attempted to turn in inside the six-yard box, but thankfully for the Hatters it went well wide.

Shipley’s attempted 36th-minute curler after some fine one-touch passing in the middle of midfield was off target, then McNulty hit a 20-yarder that flew high over Stech’s bar as the hosts enjoyed the better of the second part of the first half.

Their second goal came right on the stroke of half-time after Cuthbert was penalised for a foul just outside the area, and McNulty stepped up to curl around the wall and into the far corner, with the aid of a slight deflection.

Jones resisted the temptation to make any changes at the break, and his side came out of the blocks quickly, Cornick getting his head on a left-wing cross from Berry,

Coventry were soon back on top, however, and Jonson Clarke-Harris attempted a left-footed curler in the 51st minute that was just too high.

The Town were back in business ten minutes into the second half when Sheehan whipped in a left-wing free-kick that Cuthbert met with a powerful far-post header to halve the deficit.

Jones made a double substitution in the 66th minute, bringing Luke Gambin into midfield in place of Rea – who had just been shown a yellow card for a foul – and Elliot Lee on up front as a replacement for Cornick.

The Town were having the better of the half territorially, but still without troubling Burge in the home goal and it was Coventry who were next to register a shot on target, McNulty once again forcing Stech into a save with his legs after cutting in from the right.

Boyhood Coventry fan Collins thought he had dragged the Town level in the 79th minute when he got on the end of a Sheehan free-kick aimed for the far post, but the linesman’s flag was already raised for offside before the ball nestled in the corner of the net.

Berry then picked out Hylton to chest down for Stacey, racing into the box on 83 minutes, but Burge was equal to the right-back’s stabbed effort as the Town turned the screw.

And they were deservedly level in the 87th minute when Gambin dug out a delicious cross from the left and Collins buried a bullet header inside the near post for his 18th goal of the season.

Coventry might have snatched it three minutes into stoppage time when sub Kyel Reid crossed from the left for Clarke-Harris to head straight at Stech, who then had to repel a fierce shot from outside the box from Reid.

But the Hatters survived to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, and move to within a point of Accrington – and seven points clear of Wycombe in fourth, albeit having now played a game more than both. Next up, Newport!

 

TOWN: Stech, Stacey, Cuthbert ©, Sheehan, Potts, Rea (Gambin 66), Downes, Berry, Cornick (E Lee 66), Collins, Hylton. Subs: Justin, Mullins, O Lee, Jervis, Shea (GK)

Goals: Cuthbert 55, Collins 87

Yellows: Rea

COVENTRY: Burge, Grimmer, McDonald, Vincenti (Ponticelli 90), Doyle ©, McNulty, Hyam, Clarke-Harris, Haynes, Shipley (Reid 64), Bayliss (Kelly 76). Subs: O’Brien (GK), Stokes, Biamou, Barrett

Goals: Vincenti 3, McNulty 45

Yellows: Kelly

REFEREE: Charles Breakspear

ATT: 8,863 (2,002 Hatters)

 

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