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02 August 2019 Venue Kenilworth Road Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - Championship

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Match Previews

CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH PREVIEW | LUTON TOWN V MIDDLESBROUGH

2 August 2019

The Hatters host the Sky Bet Championship season opener this evening as they welcome Middlesbrough to a sold out Kenilworth Road – with the game also live on Sky Sports.

With the game being shown live on TV, supporters based abroad will not be able to watch the match live on iFollow Hatters tonight. Simon Pitts’ full match commentary will be available though.

Tonight’s game marks both Graeme Jones and Jonathan Woodgate’s first league game in charge of their sides.

Both appointed heading into the summer, Jones takes over a team newly promoted to the second tier, whilst Woodgate will no doubt be looking to get the Riverside Stadium based outfit back up to the big time.

Jones has made seven signings this summer, with the arrival of Callum McManaman, Martin Cranie, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Brendan Galloway, Simon Sluga and Jacob Butterfield, as well as bringing Kazenga LuaLua back to Kenilworth Road.

Middlesbrough have seen Aden Flint, John Obi Mikel and Stewart Downing depart, with the likes of Marcus Browne arriving from West Ham and Marc Bola signing from Blackpool.

Supporters who plan to pick up their season ticket today are advised to arrive at the earliest opportunity to avoid queuing, with the Ticket Office expecting long queues for collections.

With the instalment of recent LED advertising boards, some supporters will have their view from their seats slightly restricted, which the club are working hard to rectify. You can read more info on this by clicking here.

Contactless card machines will be available around the ground at food and drink kiosks, so please utilise these, as your queuing time dramatically decreases!  

 

GRAEME JONES SAID:

Please be aware - these quotes are taken from Graeme’s press conference yesterday

On whether he would settle for one place above the relegation zone come the end of the season: “No, I don’t look at life like that, I don’t look at football like that at all. I want to be competitive in every game, let’s see where it takes us.”

On Middlesbrough challenging for a place in the top six: “You would expect so – I think they were in the Premier League two years ago. Obviously finished a point or a goal outside the play-offs last year. So it’s a difficult challenge, but one you have to relish I think. You need to attack it and enjoy the night, but you only enjoy what you’re doing if you win.”

On his and Jonathan Woodgate’s managerial debuts as ‘young managers’: “I am delighted you’re calling me young, at 49 I will take that! Jonathan is maybe young! Two guys making their managerial debuts, the game wont define us, you hope you’ve got a long career after the game tomorrow, but I know Jonathan wants to win and get off to a good start as much as I do.”

On how he wants his team to play: “Definitely fast, attacking, attractive football. Teams I have been involved with and have coached, I have only ever coached one way and that is to score goals. If you don’t score goals you don’t win games, win titles, you don’t win anything. I think as the years have gone on I have had a much more pragmatic approach to the defensive aspect of the game. So it’s about getting the balance right, as a group, as a unit. With this group of players I promise you will get honesty, hard work and everything they have got. I think the fans know that from the previous years watching the side."

On how he is personally feeling ahead of the game: “I am OK. I have been through different circumstances. I am a process man, so today it’s press conference, it’s training tonight and then tomorrow I will start thinking about the game in different detail. But I am really, really looking forward to it and hoping to get off to a really positive start.”

 

WHO?

Now in their third consecutive season back in the Championship, having had a year in the Premier League for the 2016-17 campaign, Boro have had a change of direction after Tony Pulis left at the end of last season. The appointment of former defender Jonathan Woodgate has had a mixed response from Middlesbrough supporters – but through pre-season he has attempted to change the style of play to a more high paced, passing style.  

 

PARKING?

Parking is free at Power Court from 5pm for supporters who have a permit. You can download and print yours off by clicking here.

 

WHEN AND WHERE?

Kick-off is at 7.45pm at Kenilworth Road on Friday 2nd August.

 

MAN IN THE MIDDLE?

Oliver Langford will be taking charge of tonight’s game, having overseen 36 games last season, including the League One play-off final between Charlton and Doncaster. Dished out 108 yellow cards and six red cards.

 

TICKET INFORMATION

Buy-backs for season ticket holders are available until midday today. Any remaining tickets will only be available to supporters who meet the criteria, which you can find out by clicking here.

 

AWAY SUPPORTERS

If you are a Middlesbrough supporter making the journey to Kenilworth Road this evening, please have a look at our away supporters' guide!

 

PLAYED BEFORE?

This is the Town’s first meeting with Boro since April 1995, in which the Hatters lost 2-1 away. Earlier on that campaign Town had ran out 5-1 winners at Kenilworth Road. Of our 28 meetings, the Hatters have won 12, drawn six and lost ten.

 

FOLLOW THE ACTION

Tonight’s game will not be live on iFollow Hatters, due to the fact it is live on Sky Sports.

The main blow-by-blow account of the action from Kenilworth Road 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 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.

 

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Match Reports

LUTON TOWN 3 MIDDLESBROUGH 3

Six-goal thriller to mark the Town's return to the Championship

2 August 2019

James Collins scored an 85th minute equaliser to earn Luton a point in a pulsating Championship opener against Middlesbrough, but it was record signing Simon Sluga who was the hero.

But for a mistake that allowed Britt Assombalonga to make it 2-2, the Croatian international pulled off a string off fine saves, most notably midway through the second period after Lewis Wing had sent a screamer into his top corner that threatened to be the winner.

And it was a night for net-busters as Sonny Bradley, who was the only Hatter that didn’t score last term, broke his long-standing duck with a top bin rocket from 22 yards after Ashley Fletcher had headed Boro into an early lead.

It got better for Town though as Martin Cranie bagged on his debut with a header that put the host in front until Sluga’s only error saw the team turn in at half time all square.

It was harsh on the Hatters as they were the best side and after Wing gave Boro a spectacular lead they should have put the game to bed from the spot. But Assombalonga blazed over and that set the scene for a grandstand finish.

Along with goalscorer Cranie and stopper Sluga, there were two other summer recruits in Luton’s starting line-up with Ryan Tunnicliffe and Callum McManamam also given competitive home debuts. Both impressed as Luton showed fight, determination and a good deal of verve.

They’d made a good start but it was Middlesbrough forward Fletcher who drew first blood with a close range header after Marvin Johnson had all the time in the world to pick him out with the penalty box still crowded from a corner.

But Luton fans kept the noise up and they had they saw something sensational for their efforts when Bradley levelled the scores with an absolute smasher.

It went from good to glorious in the 24th minute through Cranie’s header before Sluga  showed the very best of what he could do followed quickly by a moment he’d rather forget. A Marvin Johnson curler looked destined for the top corner until the Croatian stretched his 6ft 3ins frame to paw it away, but moments later Andrew Shinnie gave the ball away in front of his own area and Assombalonga’s tame effort slipped through his grasp for the softest of equalisers. He’d soon redeem himself.

Town thought they’d got the third in 50th minute when McManaman whipped in a devilish cross and Collins converted only for referee Oliver Langford to rule it out, booking the forward for a handball. 

A deflected McNair shot from an acute angle hit the bar as Boro went down the other end to hint that they weren't done.

Dan Potts was caught in a tangle of legs in Boro’s box and the whole of Kenilworth Road appealled for a penalty that Mr Langford looked at but remained unmoved.    

By by the hour mark Luton’s dominance began to wane and their standoffishness cost them in the 69th minute when Wing took advantage of some space and slammed a shot beyond the despairing dive of Sluga, to hand the visitors the lead.

Then the stopper shone. He had his whole body instinctively in the way as Daniel Sanchez Ayala fired a point blank header his way and raced off his line to deny Assombalonga, with his feet.

It was all Boro and it looked to be game over when Cranie fouled Hayden Coulson in the penalty area, but Assombalonga blasted the spot-kick over and was then denied again soon after when Sluga slid in at his feet again. It proved a turning point.

Kenilworth Road errupted in the 85th minute when Harry Cornick - a threat after his introduction - got in behind and found Potts. The defender shimmied and shot straight at a Boro player prostrate on the ground, yet Collins was lurking and last term’s top scorer slotted in the rebound. And he could have won it too.

As the contest ticked into added time Town bombed forward with George Moncur finding Collins and the striker leathering the ball for what looked like a winner, only for Republic of Ireland international Darren Randolp to pull over an outrageously good save.

But, the feelgood factor continues at Kenilworth Road with a familiar “we are top of the league” chant ringing around the old girl. What a return to the Championship.

 

TOWN: Sluga, Cranie, Potts, Tunnicliffe, Bradley, Pearson, McManaman (Moncur, 74), Lee (Butterfield, 60), Shinnie (Cornick, 69), Mpanzu, Collins. Unused subs; Berry,  Galloway, Jones, Shea

 

MIDDLESBROUGH: Randolph, Sanchez Ayala, Shotton, Clayton, Assombalonga, Fletcher, Hobson, McNair (Saville, 86), Johnson (Browne, 70), Wing, Coulson. Unused subs: Tavernier, Gestede, Wood, Bola, Pears

 

Referee: Oliver Langford

 

Attendance: 10,053 (960)

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