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23 August 2016

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Hatters bid to make Round Three for first time in nine years

The Hatters take on Leeds United tonight in a bid to make it to the third round of the League Cup for the first time since 2007.

On that occasion, Luton were knocked out by Everton in the fourth round by an extra time goal from Tim Cahill after wins against Dagenham and Redbridge, Sunderland and Charlton earlier in the competition.

In contrast, Leeds haven’t reached the third round for the past two seasons, but did manage to reach the third round in five out of six attempts from 2008-09 to 2013-14.

The highlight of those for the West Yorkshire club was in 2012-13, when they reached the fifth round after knocking out Shrewsbury, Oxford, Everton and Southampton before a 5-1 home loss to Chelsea.

Both clubs have one League Cup final win and defeat each to their names after Luton’s famous 3-2 victory against Arsenal in 1988, whilst Leeds beat the same opposition in 1968, two of Arsenal’s five League Cup final losses.

In 1988, Brian Stein’s brace earned Luton a 3-2 comeback win over the Gunners, including a 90th minute winner after Danny Wilson’s equaliser.

The Whites’ only League Cup triumph was rather less dramatic as Terry Cooper’s first half goal secured a 1-0 win over Arsenal in the final in front of almost 98,000 at the old Wembley.

Over the years, Leeds have had 50 seasons in the top flight of English football, the last of which came in 2003-04 when they finished 19th in the Premier League with just eight wins.

Three seasons prior to that, Leeds reached the semi-final of the Champions League before losing 3-0 on aggregate to Valencia.

Since 2003-04, Leeds have spent nine seasons in the Championship, finishing between 13th and 15th in the last five of those.

The Elland Road outfit has welcomed the likes of Marcus Antonsson, who struck 22 league goals in Sweden last year, Kemar Roofe from Oxford, ex-Swansea winger Pablo Hernandez, ex-England goalkeeper Rob Green and Bristol City defender Luke Ayling this summer.

They have all been brought in by Leeds new boss Garry Monk, who joined the club in June after his stint as Swansea boss came to an end in December last year.

The last time Leeds travelled to Kenilworth Road was in 2006, when a Carlos Edwards brace combined with goals from David Bell, Rowan Vine and Markus Heikkenen gave the Hatters a 5-1 win over Leeds.

Luton are unbeaten against the Championship side at Kenilworth Road since 1991, when Gary Speed and Rod Wallace gave the visitors a 2-0 win.

In recent times, two players have featured for both clubs in the form of Kevin Nicholls, who moved from Luton to Leeds in 2006 after 175 league appearances and 30 goals in five seasons, but he moved back to the Hatters in 2008 and played a further 42 games.

Enoch Showumni also featured for both club as the striker scored 14 league goals in 102 games for Luton before spending a season and a half at Elland Road between 2008 and 2010, scoring six times in 28 appearances.

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