All the views and news ahead of tomorrow's Hive trip
The Hatters head to north London tomorrow to continue the push for promotion at Barnet looking to build on the euphoria of last Saturday’s last-gasp win over Blackpool with another big three points.
Manager Nathan Jones will want his side on the front foot from the off as they bid to record a third league double of the campaign following the 3-1 victory over the Bees at Kenilworth Road on New Year’s Eve.
Alan Sheehan, Cameron McGeehan and Alex Gilliead netted for the Town that day and the Barnet goalscorer, Luke Gambin (pictured below), is now a Hatter after making the move north to Kenilworth Road in January (Youtube highlights available here).
But Jones knows that despite a recent run of indifferent results, tomorrow’s opponents have other dangermen, including 24-goal top scorer John Akinde who – along with Gambin – scored as the Bees beat the Hatters 2-1 on our last visit to The Hive a year ago.
At his pre-match Press call at Ely Way yesterday, the Welshman said: “They have got a few threats. We went there last year and it put the nail in our play-off coffin. It wasn’t a great game.
“They’re a different side now and obviously I am looking for a different outcome. It’ll be a tough test. It’s a local one. Anyone that plays against Luton raises their game anyway, so it doesn’t matter who we play, our focus has to be exactly the same.”
With the Town in fifth place at kick-off having ended a five-game winless sequence last Saturday, a victory could take them up a position in the table should fourth-placed Stevenage fail to take maximum points from their trip to Colchester.
Jones is relishing the last half-a-dozen games of the league programme as he bids to mastermind a winning run that could see the Town break back into the automatic promotion places, after Ollie Palmer's last-minute winner sparked wonderful celebrations at Kenilworth Road last week (pictured below).
“Knowing the group I’ve got here, they are hungry and want to get better,” said Jones. “The competition in training – we’ve just had a fierce nine v nine and you are having to hold them back, so it’s a good position to be in. There is all to play for.
“It’s a world away from where we were last year. Yes, we had similar aspirations, but we are in a better position now and I’m pleased.
“It’s going to be an exciting time for the club, for the fans, for the players – it’s going to test them mentally and physically. The Easter period is a wonderful time because people go in and out of that and a lot changes. It’s a wonderful time.”
Tomorrow’s match also sees the gaffer come up against his old coach Kevin Nugent, who came to Kenilworth Road soon after Jones took charge in January 2016, but departed during pre-season when the opportunity to take up a role as assistant to close friend Russell Slade at Charlton came up.
He had a brief spell in caretaker charge when Slade was sacked last November, but took over at The Hive in mid-February and has found his first few weeks tough going with the Bees winning just one of his first nine games as head coach and dropping to 15th in the table.
When asked about his former coach, Jones (pictured above with Nugent at The Hive last season) replied: “He has had some decent caretaker stints, including one at Charlton.
“It was difficult for Kev, because they weren’t in a bad position when he went in at Barnet. They have had a bit of a turnover with players.
“Kev’s very thorough, very professional. He knows the league. That’s why I wanted to work with him, why I brought him here.
“Whatever happens, I hope they do quite well – just after Saturday.”
As well as long-term injury victims Danny Green and McGeehan, Jones will be without left-backs Jack Senior and Dan Potts and centre-half Johnny Mullins tomorrow, although midfielder Jordan Cook has been back in training after missing last week’s game with a tight hamstring.
The match will be refereed by Darren England, who last took charge of a Hatters game when Barnet visited Kenilworth Road and Green and McGeehan netted in a 2-0 victory in November 2015.
He has reffed the Bees twice already this term – a 5-1 defeat at Portsmouth and a goalless draw with Newport County at The Hive. In his 37 games in 2016-17, England has issued 105 yellow cards and nine reds, including two in the Newport v Crawley Town clash at Rodney Parade last Saturday.
As the Hatters look to record a sixth win in eight games against Barnet since the first took place in 2008, they will be roared on by another massive away following with over 1,600 tickets sold by the LTFC ticket office.
The remainder of our 1,800 allocation will be available on the day from the Away Ticket Office at Barnet from midday tomorrow.
If you can’t make it to the game, the live Wall on the official website will be in action with live updates from our Twitter feed @LutonTown, whilst Hatters Player subscribers can tune in for Simon Pitts’ full match commentary from just before 3pm.
*Hatters player subscribers can see Nathan Jones' full Press conference by clickinghere