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27 September 2016

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Previous record not important tonight, says Jones

The Town head to Hartlepool United tonight for a clash in which they and their predecessors in a Luton shirt have excelled in recent years, winning seven of the last eight matches against the Monkey Hangers.

That sequence dates back to October 2004 at Kenilworth Road, when Steve Howard opened the scoring against his former club and Ahmet Brkovic and Gary McSheffrey completed a 3-0 win at Kenilworth Road.

Last term the Hatters did the double over United, with Jonathan Smith, Jack Marriott – with a double – and Olly Lee on target in a 4-1 win up in the north-east, while current manager Nathan Jones presided over a 2-1 home win in February, Cameron McGeehan and Craig Mackail-Smith on the scoresheet.

Jones doesn’t believe the Town’s previous record will have any bearing on tonight’s Sky Bet League Two encounter against a team who sit 15th at kick-off and without a home league win this term.

“Stats are stats for a reason and they are the truth, but I’m not sure that applies now,” said Jones at his Press call at Ely Way yesterday. “I hope it does. I hope it’s eight out of nine that we’ve won come Wednesday morning. But I’m not sure it does. 

“If I told the players that, maybe it would give them a bit of a lift or maybe they’d get complacent. I don’t know. This is a completely different scenario to the game we played at home last season and we are going to need to be at it to win the game.”

Hartlepool come into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw at leaders Plymouth on Saturday, but Jones isn’t concerned about having to halt any momentum Craig Hignett’s side may have built up in Devon – preferring to concentrate on his own troops, who came from behind to beat Doncaster 3-1 on Saturday.

“We won’t change our game plan,” said the Welshman. “We try to start well and impose ourselves on teams. That’s what we like to do, so I don’t think it’s a case of nipping their momentum in the bud in any way. 

“We’re off the back of a wonderful, wonderful win, against possibly the best team in the league, apart from us. 

“Obviously we’re very confident in what we do, but they are the best team we’ve come up against so far this season and to come out 3-1 winners, we’re on the back of momentum ourselves. 

“I think it’s about concentrating on our performance and making sure we’re at it – and if we are it’ll take a good side to beat us.”

The Town first played Hartlepool on February 12th 1966 and won 2-1, with John O’Rourke scoring twice.

Our overall record is P21 W13 D1 L7, and the Town’s top scorer in the fixture is Howard with six goals. The Durham-born striker also had two spells playing for the Monkey Hangers, whose most famous fan Jeff Stelling kindly wrote a letter of support for the Hatters’ plans for a new stadium last week.

Tonight’s referee is Seb Stockbridge, assisted by Billy Khatib and Helen Byrne. The fourth official is Geoffrey Liddle.

Any Town fans travelling without a ticket can pay on the night, but tickets must be purchased from the Hartlepool ticket office. There will be no cash turnstiles in operation.

Anyone not travelling to Victoria Park can follow the game with live updates on Twitter, or listen to Simon Pitts’ top drawer commentary on Hatters Player.

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