The Hatters head to Coventry City tonight looking to bounce back from Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Accrington Stanley and mount an immediate return to the top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
That last-gasp loss was a first in six matches for Nathan Jones’ men, who had been at the summit of the fourth tier for almost four months since beating Carlisle 3-0 on Tuesday 21st November. A win tonight will take them a point back in front of Accrington.
The Hatters will have 17-goal joint top scorer James Collins back available after serving a one-match suspension following his sending off against Cambridge, while utility man Glen Rea could make his 100th appearance for the club if selected against the Sky Blues.
Mark Robins’ team sit in eighth place, one spot outside the play-offs, and while the Hatters are the division's top scorers, City boast the best goals-against record having only conceded 28 times. They are the lowest scoring team in the top half, but do have one of the division’s leading scorers, with Marc McNulty having netted 14 league goals.
They have won their last two matches, both by the same 1-0 scoreline against Wycombe and Barnet, having previously gone five games without a victory, including a 3-1 FA Cup fifth round reversal at Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday 17th February, the date when tonight’s match was originally due to be played.
THE GAFFER SAYS:
On Coventry boasting the meanest defence in the division: “They are a very difficult nut to crack, so we know we are going to have to be at our best. It’s a wonderful game. They are a big club with a big history, so we’ll turn up there in numbers – I have no doubt – and we are looking forward to the game. They don’t concede a lot of goals, and I envisage it being a very tight game. What we’ve got to make sure is that we don’t give them anything to hang onto.”
On the possibility of the experienced Scott Cuthbert and Alan McCormack returning to the starting XI: “Everyone’s in contention. Scottie is a good experienced one, we’ve missed that in recent weeks. In the early part after he got injured, we still kept the momentum going and we won games, regardless of who we were playing at centre-half and people like Johnny Mullins came in and did fantastically well, and Glen Rea. But we’ve missed that leadership and those things, of course we have. And McCormack we’ve missed all season, because we brought him in to be just that, and the injuries that he’s had has means he hasn’t been.”
On Collins’ availability bringing competition up front after Elliot Lee returned with his tenth goal of the season on Saturday: “That’s what we want, we want those conundrums, we want that competition for places. The trouble is we haven’t had that lately, we’ve had people injured. Cuthbert’s been out, McCormack’s been out, Mullins has been out, Elliot Lee’s been out, Hylton’s been out, Cornick’s been out, so we haven’t had that. So, now with competition, it’s about winning games, it’s about having those options. Not just the starting XI, but the options to come off the bench as well to change a game, and that’s what we like as well.”
On Rea, who Jones brought with him from former club Brighton and who could bring up his century of Town appearances if selected tonight: “That’s why he’s here as he does the dirty work that doesn’t always get seen. Because he’s not your number one centre half, but he knows he can fit in there and does a wonderful job in defensive midfield. He can play in a three, can play in a centre half two, so his versatility is key to us, it really is.”
This is the first season that the Hatters and the Sky Blues have ever met in the fourth tier – you have to go back to the early 20th century when both sides competed in the Southern League to find them competing against each other at a level below this. More recently a Championship fixture, Coventry managed to hold onto their second tier status for four more seasons than the Town, before they were relegated to League One in 2012. They remained in the third tier for five seasons before falling into Sky Bet League Two at the end of last term after finishing in 23rd spot.
WHEN & WHERE?
Kick-off is 7.45pm tonight at the Ricoh Arena
There will be a pay on the day option for supporters travelling to the Ricoh Arena for tonight's Sky Bet League Two fixture.
Please be aware, however, that there will be a £3 additional cost to paying on the cash turnstiles at Coventry.
Tickets remain available to pre-purchase from the Kenilworth Road ticket office until 2pm this afternoon. They can be bought in person, by calling 01582 416976 or online by clicking here - and arrangements can be made for them to collected from Coventry if they are pre-purchased before that time.
Our last meeting provided an early blip during a blistering first half of the season for the Hatters, as Coventry came to Kenilworth Road at the end of October and left with all three points as they ran out 3-0 winners, knocking us off the top of the table. Tonight marks the 80th meeting between the Hatters and the Sky Blues, with Town picking up 24 wins, whilst Coventry have 41 victories under their belt. The other 14 fixtures have ended in draws.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
You can follow the Hatters' Twitter feed on @LutonTown, or stay up to date on the LTFC website in the match centre. iFollow Hatters subscribers can tune in for Simon Pitts' match commentary, whilst international subscribers can watch the game live. You can subscribe to iFollow Hatters by clicking here... and supporters who are overseas can buy an individual match pass for the live video stream via the Match Centre.