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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: LUTON TOWN V OXFORD UNITED

1 March 2017

The winners of tonight's match take on Coventry at Wembley

Tonight sees the Hatters fight it out with Oxford United at Kenilworth Road for a place in the Checkatrade Trophy final.

It has proved to be a fantastic competition for Nathan Jones’ team, with a number of players who started in the early games using it as a stepping stone to regular football in a Town shirt.

Tonight’s winners take on Coventry City on Sunday 2nd April at Wembley, but this could prove to be the Hatters’ toughest challenge yet.

Prior to tonight, Oxford have won ten of their 13 matches in 2017, a feat that has seen them climb to within touching distance of the play-off places in Sky Bet League One, as well reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup and this stage of the Trophy.

Jones’ side are in decent form themselves, having only suffered one defeat in their last 11 games – a sequence that started off with the round of 16 win over Chesterfield in this competition.

The Town gaffer said: “It’s got to the business end of the season and the business end of this competition. It’s a big night for both clubs and hopefully it should be a good game. Two good sides in good form, it should be a difficult game.

“It would be [a big achievement to get to Wembley], it would be a wonderful achievement for the club. It would be great for the fans, but also personally as it’s my first year in full management, it would be a wonderful achievement.

“Credit goes to the squad at the minute and how the club have treated the tournament, we’re one game away, but we’ve got to concentrate on a very good Oxford side and winning that game.”

It will see Johnny Mullins and Danny Hylton pitted against their old team for the first time since the pair departed last summer, but Jones doesn’t want that to be the focus of tonight’s game.

“Let’s not build it up any more than it is,” said the Welshman. “They were real big parts of Oxford’s promotion last season, that’s why we signed them because we knew that they could do it at this level.

“They didn’t leave Oxford under any acrimonious circumstances or with any bad feeling. It’s just two players playing against their old club.

“I would imagine they’ll be very popular members of the Oxford squad, as they are ours. It’ll be no different from playing against Rotherham, as they both played there.”

The last time the two sides faced each other was back in April, when the Hatters ran out 3-2 winners at the Kassam Stadium.

Jones was full of praise for Oxford that day, saying he wanted the Hatters to be a similar side to what Michael Appleton had. Once again the Welshman didn’t hold back on the compliments for the U’s in his press conference earlier on this week.

He said: “You don’t get to semi-finals unless you’re doing something right. Oxford are a good side. I said last year that they were probably the best side in the league.

“I upset a few Northampton people, but I didn’t mean that detrimentally. I just meant that if they went up, they had the best chance of prolonging that and they did.

“I thought they were an excellent side last year and they could hurt you in a number of ways, and I believe they can do that this year. But we’re a good side ourselves and we will be concentrating on the things that we do best. They’re a good side and they will be a very difficult side to beat.”

In total the sides have faced each other 38 times. The Hatters have won 17 matches, drawn nine and lost 12 to Oxford.

Tonight’s match will be refereed County Durham based referee, Nigel Miller. He has overseen 28 games so far this season and dished out 56 yellow cards and six red cards.

Live match updates will be available on the LTFC website, with Simon Pitts’ full match commentary available on Hatters Player from just before kick-off.

Take advantage of the fantastic ticket offer the Hatters have on this evening, with one Under-18 getting in for free with a full paying adult – priced at just £10.

Cash turnstiles will be in operation in the Kenilworth Road End and Main Stand, but free junior tickets must be collected from the Ticket Office before kick-off.

Additional or unaccompanied Under-18s pay just £5.

For the latest ticket news for the fixture, please click here.

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