All you need to know and more about Saturday's game
Cheltenham Town v Luton Town
Sky Bet League 2
Saturday 24th January 2015, kick-off 3pm
Live commentary on Hatters Player, DiverseFM, BBC3CR and lutontown.co.uk. Highlights on Hatters Player, YouTube and BBC Football League Show.
• Hatters fourth, unbeaten in five league games (W2,D3)
• Town looking for first win at Whaddon Road (D2, L1)
• Cheltenham managed by ex-Town boss Paul Buckle
• Robins won once in 12 league games
WHO? Cheltenham Town, aka the Robins, aka the team who have a former Luton manager now in charge. Paul Buckle, who left Kenilworth Road for America in February 2012, took up the post at Whaddon Road in November following the dismissal of Mark Yates.
HOW THEY DOING? They say the league table doesn’t lie, so in three words: not very well. The Robins sit in 18th place in the table having taken 29 points from 26 games. That’s just three points from the final relegation place.
HOW TO GET THERE. The journey across to Cheltenham from Luton is one that navigates cross-country, going via through Aylesbury, Oxford, Witney and Burford on the A40. It’ll take you a good two-and-half hours to make the 110-ish mile trip west. If you’re driving it’s best to use the satnav, so type in GL52 5NA into your system. The Bobbers are, as ever, also making the trip and they leave the Luton train station at 11am. Their fares are £20 for adults and £18 for concessions. Whaddon Road, the Robins’ ground, has been turned into smart little stadium with two new stands on two sides of the pitch – one of which Hatters fans have been allocated.
TICKETS PLEASE. As we typed our keyboard away and asked the ticket office how many tickets they’d sold for this game for the 200th time, the answer was a resounding “1,185!”. Tickets go off sale at 3pm. Prices here.
RACEDAY WARNING. Cheltenham’s racecourse is staging a meeting on Saturday, which means the town will be a tad busier than usual so plan your journey accordingly so you don’t end up rushing around looking for a car park space at 2.58. As a result of the meeting the Robins’ usual park-and-ride, which runs out of the racecourse to the stadium, will not be in operation. For more information click here.
AWAY THE LADS The Town will be aiming to record their first win at Whaddon Road after failing to win on their previous three visits. The two sides last met on Gloucestershire soil in December 2007 when the Robins ran out 1-0 winners in a League 1 meeting. The Hatters have drawn the previous two matches at Whaddon Road, drawing 1-1 in January 2002 and 2-2 in April 2003. So far this term the Robins have won just four of their 12 home games, scoring 13 and conceding 13.
REF WATCH. Darren Handley takes charge of his first Luton match of the season. The Bolton official has shown 54 yellows and five reds in his 16 games this season and has overseen three goalless draws in his last four games. Mr Handley last refereed the Town last season in the 7-0 hammering of Hereford. He was also in charge when the Hatters lost 5-1 against Gateshead at Carlisle.
DID YOU KNOW? The Robins have conceded 14 times at home this season with nine of those (64%) coming in the final half-hour of matches.
HOME (UN)COMFORTS. Manager Buckle is still waiting for his first home win in charge at Whaddon Road, where success has been thin on the ground in recent months. A 5-0 win over Swindon in the FA Cup aside, the Robins have gone seven home league games without a win, stretching back to a 3-2 win over Northampton on 18th October. Since that day their record in League 2 at home reads W0 D3 L4. They were also dumped out of the FA Cup on home soil by Conference side Dover.
FORM GUIDE. The Robins’ form overall isn’t the greatest, either. Buckle’s sole win in charge so far was a 2-1 win at Oxford two weeks ago. Cheltenham have picked up seven points from the last 36 available W1 D4 L7 in League 2. Only three sides in League 2 have worse home records: Dagenham, York and Hartlepool.
HITTING THE TARGET. Cheltenham have also struggled for goals this season. Only Mansfield (21) and bottom-of-the-table Hartlepool (18) have scored less than the Robins’ 23 so far this season.
CLUB COLOURS. The Town will be sporting their orange and navy striped shirts at Cheltenham on Saturday. The look will be completed with navy shorts and orange socks. It will be the second time this season – after Bury away in the FA Cup – that the Hatters will play in this combination.
CLUB CONNECTIONS. You can’t look further than now-Robins boss Buckle, who was in charge of the Town between March 2011 and February 2013. He oversaw famous cup wins over Wolves and Norwich and got the Hatters to the Conference Play-off final against York in 2013.
Both clubs have players on their books that have previously been with the opposition. Town striker Paul Benson scored four goals in 18 appearances for the Robins in the second half of the 2012/13 season whilst on loan from Swindon.
Cheltenham also have an ex-Hatter in their ranks in the shape of Asa Hall, who joined the Robins this summer. The midfielder joined the Town in 2008 and went onto make 89 appearances and score 16 goals during his time at Kenilworth Road. He’s currently out injured with an Achilles problem.
The Robins have Kane Ferdinand on-loan from Peterborough, the midfielder who played 40 minutes for the Town last term whilst borrowed from Posh.
Lloyd Owusu, was another player to represent both clubs. The centre-forward, who scored seven goals in 15 Conference games for the Town in 2011, had previously spent one season at Cheltenham. He also netted seven goals during an 18-match spell at Whaddon Road during 2008/09.
MILESTONES. Jake Howells is set to make appearance number 301 after playing his 300th match for the Town last Saturday at Plymouth. Goalkeeper Mark Tyler is primed to make his 261st appearance between the sticks for the Town while skipper Stephen McNulty is due to play game number 97.
TOWN TEAM NEWS. There was good news from John Still at his Thursday press conference when he revealed midfielders Alex Lawless and Luke Guttridge will travel with the squad to Cheltenham and could even be on the bench. Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu will resume full training on Monday so will miss out, as will Luke Rooney who will go for an operation on a hernia next week. Paul Benson and Curtley Williams remain the only other players definitely unavailable.
LIVE AND ONLINE.Hatters Player is the only place to listen to online commentary of the Hatters this season and once again the DiverseFM team will be bringing subscribers all the action from Whaddon Road. What’s more there will be a full report, reaction and photographs post-match and live text updates during the match itself.
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