The Hatters take on Grimsby at Blundell Park tomorrow
The Hatters face Grimsby Town tomorrow with Nathan Jones’ side looking to bounce back from their midweek defeat to Cheltenham Town.
A convincing victory last Saturday at home to Cambridge United set the Town up well to go within three points of third and put distance between themselves and the sides fighting for an automatic promotion spot.
However, the 3-2 loss to the Robins saw Town slip down to fifth, in what Jones labelled one of his most frustrating nights as boss of the Hatters.
Jones however has seen his side take a point more from away games than home, having now played an equal amount of fixtures on the road as at Kenilworth Road.
That will be boosted by the return of 14-goal top scorer Danny Hylton, who has missed the last two Town matches through suspension.
The Hatters will still be without the suspended Johnny Mullins and Dan Potts, who is recovering from a knee injury, plus long-term casualties Danny Green and Cameron McGeehan.
The match comes on the back of an indifferent transfer deadline day for either side, who can both claim to have lost one of their key players.
Amongst the departures from Kenilworth Road, keeper Christian Walton – who Jones praised as “the best in the league” in his position – was recalled early by Brighton & Hove Albion from his season-long loan with the Town.
Striker Omar Bogle, the 19-goal top scorer for Marcus Bignot’s Grimsby, was sold to Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night, with the Mariners’ second top scorer spot shared by seven players, all on two goals.
The 23-year-old was also top of his former side’s assists table, having laid on six for his team-mates.
Bignot did bring in a number of players throughout the window, and a man to fill the gap left by Bogle could be former Solihull Moors forward Akwasi Asante. The striker netted 12 goals for the National League side this season before departing for the Blundell Park outfit.
In the reverse of this Saturday’s fixture in September, the Hatters fell to a 2-1 home defeat courtesy of two goals from Bogle.
Town manager Jones said in his press conference on Thursday that his side need to be at their best, even if they won’t have to face the league’s top scorer.
“It’s important we go there in the right frame of mind,” said Jones. “Grimsby will be a stern test.
“They’ve lost a big player in terms of Bogle, and that’s a positive for us, but they have other players who can step in. They have a good side. They have a good structure about them.”
On who could replace the goalscoring exploits of Bogle, alongside Asante, Bignot swooped for Jamey Osborne from his former club Solihull. The midfielder scored twice against the Town in early December when the Non-Leaguers took a two-goal lead into half-time of our Emirates FA Cup second round tie at Kenilworth Road, but ended up losing 6-2.
Jones said: “The lad Osborne has already scored against us as well, and he’s gone there from Solihull.
“They have good threats, but as we said, we are going there as Luton Town, we are concentrating on what we are good at, and hopefully get the right result.”
A former Mariner now plays for the Hatters in the form of loan signing Ollie Palmer. The 25-year-old striker joined the Town on loan until the end of the season from Leyton Orient, as Jones looked to “add another dimension” to his side with the acquisition of the target man.
(Pictured: Palmer will wear the number 28, whilst fellow January transfer window signing, Matt Macey, will wear the number 13).
Palmer enjoyed a fruitful spell under former Grimsby boss Paul Hurst, netting eight goals in 18 appearances and helping Grimsby reach the 2014-15 Conference play-off final, which they lost to Bristol Rovers.
“It’s slightly ironic that I went on loan there and I have come on loan here and this is my first loan game back there!” Palmer said.
“I am looking forward to being there. Grimsby was a fantastic time for me, being part of the team, helping them get into the play-offs, the play-off final. Hopefully I can skip that here and get automatic promotion!”
Bignot’s side go into this match in a little bit of inconsistent form, having won three and lost two of their last five matches.
Their last match was a 2-0 loss at Stevenage which sees them occupy 12th going into the weekend, but a win for the Mariners could mean shooting up the table into eighth.
This weekend’s game will be refereed by Mark Haywood, who last took of a match involving the Town in the 3-1 win over Barnet on New Year’s Eve. In 25 matches, he has handed out 86 yellow cards and five red cards this term.
If you aren’t able to make it up to Blundell Park on Saturday, our friends at Hitchin Town – who have hosted development games for the Hatters this season – are offering a ‘pay what you want’ match for their 3pm Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division kick-off against Kings Langley. There will also be collections for the charity, Sands, after their previous attempt to stage the event was postponed last month.
Hatters Player subscribers can tune in for Simon Pitts’ full match commentary from Grimsby from just before 3pm, whilst the LTFC live Wall will also be in action.
The sides have faced each other a total of 51 times in their histories, with Town winning 16 times, drawing the same amount, and the Mariners coming out on top in 19 matches.