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Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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26 January 2019 Venue Roots Hall Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW | SOUTHEND UNITED V LUTON TOWN

25 January 2019

The Hatters will look to move to the top of the Sky Bet League One table for the first time this season tomorrow when they face Southend United at Roots Hall.

Avoiding defeat would not only mean the Town would be in their best vein of form for 50 years in the EFL, it would also see them snatch top spot off Portsmouth, who are in Emirates FA Cup action this weekend.

The Hatters are currently equalling a run they haven't matched in league football since 1982, when they went 15 league games unbeaten. A point or more for the Town tomorrow would mean the run would only have been bettered on three occasions in the club's history – two 19 game unbeaten runs in 1968 and 1969/70 and a 23-game run in 1913/14 (this only includes Football League matches!)

Southend find themselves on a remarkable run of their own, although maybe not one that you'd necessarily want. Since the 24th November, Chris Powell's side have consistently won a match and then lost the following one over the past ten games in League One.

Last weekend though they very much found their stride in an emphatic 4-0 win over Bradford, in which they netted a few seriously classy goals.

MICK HARFORD SAYS:

On the potential to move top of the table: "There's a massive incentive at the weekend. Obviously we do have to think about Tuesday as well, i.e. who we play, who can do the two games in three, four days. So if we win on Saturday, we go top of the league, and there's no bigger incentive than that, and the players are aware of that.

"They'll be well prepared, they're looking forward to a massive challenge on Saturday against what I believe is a really good Southend team, who on their day can beat anyone. Chris Powell, he knows the league, he's well organised, his teams are very thorough and organised, they're very attack-minded and also tough to break down.

"So there's big challenges ahead over the next few days, but challenges we all want and we're going to cherish and nurture them. I'm going to embrace the challenge and hopefully we can win all six points."

On whether or not to play up the importance of the upcoming games: "I think we've got to play it up. It's a massive challenge, that's where we want to be and I keep saying if we want to win the league, we've got to beat these teams and they're good teams, good squads.

"They know what's ahead of them and me repeating that, I'm sure doesn't have any impact on how they're going to play or what their performances are going to be like. I think it's something they should cherish and embrace and be proud of where they are in the league."

On Southend's current run: "It's ten games they have gone now win-lose. You've got to respect Southend, we played them earlier on in the season and I went to watch them the game before and at the time I thought they were the best team I had seen in the league. They played a four-four-two shape and they were really at it. Chris had them at full pelt.

"We know what to expect down there, it's a difficult little ground, sometimes it's a little bit like Kenilworth Road, the atmosphere is quite intimidating and it's going to be a tough day for us. We will be ready and prepared for them."

YOU CAN WATCH MICK'S PRE-MATCH PRESS CONFERENCE ON IFOLLOW FREEVIEW BY CLICKING HERE.

WHO?

Chris Powell is well known in football for being one of the good guys, but he also knows how to get out of the third tier, having guided Charlton to the Championship. Whilst maintaining a fair amount of the core of the squad he inherited when he took over from Phil Brown a year ago, he has also added a few new faces. Arguably one of the best stoppers at this level in Mark Oxley with Michael Turner and Jason Demetriou in front of him forms a solid defence, whilst Michael Kightly and Sam Mantom play as part of a decent midfield – with the addition of Luke Hyam bringing real quality. Injuries though have really hindered the Shrimpers in recent months though, with long term injuries keeping key members of Powell's squad out.

WHEN AND WHERE?

Kick-off is at 3pm at Roots Hall on Saturday 26th January.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE?

Tomorrow's game will be refereed by Thomas Bramall, who has overseen 31 games so far this season, dishing out 66 yellow cards and three red cards. He last refereed a Town game in our 1-0 win at Bury in the first round of the Emirates FA Cup.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets for tomorrow's game at Roots Hall are on sale until 2pm today – there will be none available on the day!

PLAYED BEFORE?

We've already met twice this season – both those games were played at Kenilworth Road, with Town winning the league fixture, before losing the Checkatrade Trophy match back in December. In total we have defeated them 39 times, drawn 19, and lost 30.

FOLLOW THE ACTION

The main blow-by-blow account of the action from Roots Hall will be provided via the Match Centre on the club website, which you can access by clicking here. (*Please note that the club's Live Text will appear only by accessing through an internet browser, users of the Luton Town FC app will receive updates from Opta... the EFL Digital team assure us they are working on a fix to get club updates onto the app)

The main moments from the game will appear on the Hatters' social media feeds:

Twitter – @LutonTown
Facebook – www.facebook.com/LutonTown/
Instagram – www.instagram.com/ltfc_official/

And of course Simon Pitts will be on hand to provide commentary for iFollow Hatters which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

If you're an international subscriber, make sure you purchase a match pass so you can watch the game live!

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Match Reports

REPORT & GALLERY | SOUTHEND UNITED 0 LUTON TOWN 1

Pearson's fourth goal of the season sends the Hatters top of League One

26 January 2019

The Hatters went top of League One for the first time since 2005 with a 1-0 win at Southend this afternoon, while extending their unbeaten league run to 16 matches - the club's best for half-a-century!

Matty Pearson's first-half header proved enough to see off a Shrimpers' side who only really tested the Town's defensive qualities in the last 20 minutes, when James Shea made his only save of note and the goalscorer and his centre-half partner Sonny Bradley headed away every ball thrown into the box.

Interim manager Mick Harford masterminded a second win in his three league games in charge so far, following the 1-1 draw at third-placed Sunderland, to take the Hatters to their highest league position since relegation from the Championship in 2007, but top spot in the third tier for the first time since the title-winning season 2004-05.

Harford named an unchanged matchday squad from last week’s 4-0 home win over Peterborough, knowing that avoiding defeat would make it the best unbeaten league sequence since the 19 set over the end of 1968-69 and start of the 1969-70 campaign.

The starting line-up had Shea in goal behind a back four of Jack Stacey, Pearson, captain Bradley and James Justin.

Just ahead of them, and returning to an old stomping ground, was former Shrimpers midfielder Alan McCormack, with Andrew Shinnie, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Luke Berry completing the diamond behind front men James Collins and Kazenga LuaLua.

The bench was also exactly the same as a week ago, with Dan Potts, George Moncur, George Thorne, Aaron Jarvis, Lloyd Jones, Alan Sheehan and goalkeeper Harry Isted.

The game started very evenly, with the hosts content to let the Hatters have the ball at the back then trying to pounce on the counter attack when moves broke down - although the Town dominated possession.

Stacey was proving the best outlet down the right, and having already blazed one attempt over the scoreboard after good work by Mpanzu, the full-back broke through in the 19th minute to latch onto a lovely pass from Berry, but home keeper Nathan Bishop raced off his line to deflect the final shot inches wide.

The breakthrough came in the 29th minute, and it was the Town’s first headed goal since Danny Hylton completed his hat-trick against Accrington in late October, Pearson breaking free of his marker to stoop and direct Justin’s right-wing corner past Bishop for his fourth goal of the season.

Southend’s first effort on goal came four minutes later, but Stephen Humphrys’ header looped tamely into Shea’s gloves after Sam Hart’s left-wing cross had proved just too high for Bradley.

Town continued to dominate the ball, although Southend were starting to threaten on the break, Sam Cox wriggling free on the right side of the area only to see his low cross cleared, before Elvis Bwomono’s deflected centre from the same area had Shea scrambling to prevent a corner.

The Hatters began the second half well and almost doubled the advantage a minute in when Justin's free-kick found Bradley unmarked at the far post, but Bishop did well to save his left-footed volley at the foot of his post and prevent the ex-Plymouth man netting his first goal for the club.

LuaLua was starting to revel in the open space down the side of Southend's three centre-halves, jinking his way past John White and standing up a delightful cross that Michael Turner did well to turn behind for a corner under pressure from Collins.

LuaLua and Collins both played a part in the next positive move for the Town, together with Justin, helping tee up the outstanding Berry, who dragged his shot from the edge of the box well wide after a period of sustained possession.

A minute later, one short of the hour mark, Justin bent a shot just over the bar from 20 yards, then Southend started to have a spell of pressure, without creating a clear-cut chance.

The next of those once again fell to the Hatters, LuaLua teasing Bwomono on the left and delivering another inviting centre for Collins, whose header looped up onto the roof of the Shrimpers' net.

Shea was called into real action for the first time in the 72nd minute when Cox let fly with a beauty from 25 yards that the Town keeper did well to fly across his line and push around the post, as he looked to preserve a 13th clean sheet in 20 league and FA Cup matches.

At the other end Collins was off target again in the 76th minute after more fine work from Justin, who was having a blinder down the Town left, the top scorer firing over from 12 yards.

Southend started to mount some late pressure, raining balls into the Hatters penalty area - but the defence stood firm to ensure that Tuesday's top-of-the-table clash with Portsmouth will kick-off with the Town in pole position.

What a night it promises to be under the Kenilworth Road lights!

 

TOWN: Shea, Stacey, Pearson, Bradley ©, Justin, McCormack, Mpanzu, Shinnie, Berry, Collins, LuaLua (Moncur 86). Subs: Potts, Thorne, Jarvis, Jones, Sheehan, Isted.

Yellows: Stacey, McCormack

Goals: Pearson 29

SOUTHEND: Bishop, Bwomono, Turner, Dieng, Cox, Yearwood (Kelman 69), Mantom © (McLaughlin 84), Moore, Humphrys, Hart, White. Subs: Kightly, Klass, Robinson, Kelman, Hutchinson, Smith (GK).

Yellows: Yearwood, Hart

REFEREE: Thomas Bramall

ATT: 8,460 (2,037 Hatters)

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