Town on the road for season finale
The curtain comes down on another season as the Hatters’ 2012/13 campaign draws to a close with a trip to Haig Avenue to take on Southport in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
So, Southport? Yep, nicknamed the Sandgrounders. Don’t forget they are another former Football League side in the Blue Square Bet Premier, and it's certain we’ll be playing them again next term too.
Oh really? Yes, Sandgrounders manager Liam Watson has again worked wonders on a limited budget are safe from relegation going into their final game against the Town on Saturday, now that they are four points above the relegation zone.
Hardly home comforts Watson’s side have conceded more goals at home than any other side in the Blue Square Bet Premier, having shipped 41 goals at Haig Avenue. Southport have lost exactly half of their 22 home matches, only winning seven times. You have to go back to 5th March for the last time they won on home soil – a 2-1 win over Cambridge – and since then they’ve lost their last four matches, against Alfreton, Newport, Kidderminster and Forest Green.
On the road It’ll be a 372-mile round-trip for the Town from the Maple Road car park to Haig Avenue, so Google maps tell us. It’s a simple enough journey. Take the M1 and M6 north. Leave the M6 at junction 26. Take the M58, leaving at junction 3 and then take the A570 into Southport. Punch in the postcode PR8 6JZ to get you right there.
Bobbing along As ever the Bobbers Travel Club are running a coach to Haig Avenue (also called, for sponsorship reasons the Merseyrail Community Stadium – catchy). They leave the Maple Road car park at 11am and the fare is £26 for adults and £23 for concessions.
Head-to-head The Town will be attempting to win at Southport for the first time since a Tuesday night in September 1969. That evening goals from Malcolm Macdonald, Graham French and Chris Nicholl gave the Hatters a 3-0 win. The Town haven’t won on their last two visits since, losing 2-1 in 2011 and drawing 3-3 in a topsy-turvy encounter last season which saw the Hatters 2-0 down and 3-2 up.
It’s been a while Both sides meet for the first time since late September when the Hatters ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at Kenilworth Road. Two goals from Scott Rendell and one from Stuart Fleetwood was enough to see off the Sandgrounders.
Good God-frey! The Sandgrounders have one former Town man in their ranks in the shape of Godfrey Poku. Having left Kenilworth Road in the summer the combative central midfielder is on loan at Haig Avenue from Mansfield, and has featured 31 times in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season for Watson’s men. He’s been booked 10 times.
Last but not least The Town have a miserable record in recent years in their final (regular, not counting Play-Offs) game of the season. Last season’s 2-0 win at Fleetwood was their first in nine attempts at winning their last match of a campaign. Over the last 20 years the Hatters have only won four of their last games of the season, and three of those have come away from Kenilworth Road. Those have come at Fleetwood (2-0 in 2011), Shrewsbury (2-0 in 2002) and Millwall (1-0 in 1999). The sole home win came thanks to late winner from Rory Allen (remember him – best loan signing ever?) against Carlisle in 1998.
Team news After the Town’s victory over Ebbsfleet on Thursday night manager John Still (who made seven changes for that team from the side that drew with Newport on Tuesday) may shuffle his pack again.
Just the ticket It’s pay on the day for Town fans who have the choice of whether to sit down or stand up to witness the season finale. Click here for all the details and prices.
Live and direct We’ll have all the news as it happens from Haig Avenue. Pre-match build-up, team news, live text and audio commentary, a report, reaction, photographs and interviews. Remember to keep it lutontown.co.uk, Hatters Player and check out our ever-growing Facebook and Twitter feeds #COYH