The Hatters entertain Sky Bet League One side Portsmouth tomorrow in the first round of the Emirates FA Cup, looking to extend the club’s unbeaten record in the world’s oldest cup competition against the Hampshire side.
Historically the Hatters have never lost to Pompey in the FA Cup, having beaten them at the same stage in 1921-22 in a replay, then in the third round in 1950-51 and a quarter-final in 1987-88, when current chief recruitment officer Mick Harford was on the scoresheet.
This time around, Nathan Jones men have been in excellent form of late, sitting third in Sky Bet League Two with last week’s 3-0 home defeat to Coventry City their only set-back in their last 12 games in all competitions.
A young Town side bounced back with a 2-1 win at AFC Wimbledon to progress to the Checkatrade Trophy knockout stages in midweek, and Jones is keen to see his squad test themselves against a team who won the fourth tier title last term and currently sit mid-table in League One under new manager Kenny Jackett, who replaced Wigan-bound Paul Cook in the summer.
THE GAFFER SAYS:
On the FA Cup? “Like anyone who’s my era and older, it’s a real nostalgic one. The FA Cup final used to be the only game we could watch on TV. It’s that kind of competition – it’s held in high regard all over the world. It’s maybe lost a slight bit of gloss in the latter rounds, because big Premier League teams now with things like Champions League slightly rotate in their earlier rounds, and so do a few Championship clubs because it’s so important in terms of getting to the Premier League. But I still think it’s held in massive regard and it has that excitement, especially these rounds now where Non-League clubs are in it. They, and the League One and League Two clubs, are striving to get to the third round. There is no draw like it. It’s more eagerly awaited than the Champions League Draw.”
On facing a League One club? “This is a real, real good test because they won the league last year and probably deservedly so. Over a season the league doesn’t lie. They nicked it on the last day, but they had that momentum going into the final stages and that’s what you’ve got to do. They were a good side and they’ve changed manager, but he’s very experienced at this level and he’s got a real work ethic about him, so you know exactly what you’re going to get from a Kenny Jackett team. They’ll be organised, they’ve got very good players and it’ll be a real difficult game, but we're looking forward to it and I think it's the tie of the round. Obviously I'm slightly biased, but I really think it's the tie of the round – it hasn't quite got the romance, but in terms of a football match, I think it's as big as it comes.”
On picking his strongest possible side in order to progress in the competition? “Of course, because this is another game. If you ask me ‘Do I want to win the FA Cup or do I want to get promoted this year?’ Realistically, it would probably do my reputation no end of good winning the FA Cup with a League Two team, but the be-all and end-all is us getting promoted. Look, we won’t let anything distract us from that, but this is not a distraction. This is a real good game; good for the fans and good for the football club. It’s a real mouth-watering tie and we’re looking forward to it. Our players will be, because they’ll be looking to bounce back.”
The Fratton Park outfit were winners of this competition ten years ago, when Harry Redknapp led the then-Premier League side all the way to Wembley and a 1-0 success over Cardiff City. Their infamous financial meltdown then led to them plummeting to the bottom division inside five years, however, where they stayed for four until they finally beat us to escape the EFL basement last May as League Two champions. After 16 games in their first League One campaign since 2012-13, they currently sit in 14th spot, five points off the play-offs and five above the drop zone. Top scorer is summer signing Brett Pitman, who has nine goals in 14 appearances so far for the club, but like the Hatters, Pompey have failed to score in their last two league games – and have lost three in a row.
WHEN AND WHERE?
Kick-off at Kenilworth Road is at 3pm on Saturday 4th November.
With Portsmouth having sold in excess of 1,100 tickets, the LTFC ticket office are advising supporters to purchase tickets in advance if possible. They can be purchased online or from the Ticket Office by phone on 01582 416976 or in person. Tickets will be available on the day, but to avoid queues, please BOOK EARLY!
Golden Senior (75+): £12
Senior (65+): £15
Young Adult (17-21): £15
Under 19: £12
Youth (Under 17): £8
Junior (Under 10): £5
LAST TIME WE PLAYED?
It was the first game of this year, on January 2nd, when the Hatters travelled to Fratton Park and were beaten 1-0 by a Christian Burgess goal, with 11-goal midfielder Cameron McGeehan suffering a broken leg during the first half. The result saw Pompey complete the double on Town, having won 3-1 here at Kenilworth Road just under a year ago.
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' audio match commentary, although overseas subscribers should note that they will NOT be able to watch a live stream of tomorrow’s match as it is a cup competition.
MINUTE’S SILENCE FOR REMEMBRANCE DAY
Supporters should be aware that as it is our home game closest to Remembrance Sunday, there will be a minute’s silence prior to kick-off in memory of the servicemen and women who have lost their lives serving their country. The Royal British Legion held a collection at last Saturday’s game against Coventry, but poppies are still available around the ground.
ANY OLD POUND COINS TO GET RID OF?
The club will accept the now redundant coins for the final time at tomorrow’s match. The coins can be used in the Club Shop at the ground, in the Ticket Office, to purchase food, drink or a programme and even to get your Golden Gamble ticket. Make sure you take advantage of this chance to get rid of that loose change!