PREVIEW: Cambridge United v Luton Town

Mark Tyler saves from the spot against Cambridge last season only for the rebound to be scored
Mark Tyler saves from the spot against Cambridge last season only for the rebound to be scored

Cambridge United will be keen to get over their recent mini blip and return to the early season form that saw the U’s enjoy an excellent start the campaign, taking seven points out of nine.

Beginning with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Newport on the opening day, United then lost 1-0 at Rotherham in the Capital One Cup, before a thrilling 4-4 draw at Carlisle and overcoming AFC Wimbledon 2-1 away.

However, results have fallen away slightly since then with a disappointing 3-0 reverse at home to Crawley followed by a 0-0 draw at Barnet.

They were also knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night in, going down 2-0 at home to struggling Dagenham, making it three games withouth a goal.

Boss Richard Money has certainly ramped up the expectation levels for the visit of with Luton though, as speaking to the Cambridge Evening News, he said: “When I was manager of Luton, Luton and Cambridge didn’t turn the juices on. It was more about Stevenage and Watford and whoever else.

“But now that’s reversed itself completely. It’s arguably the biggest game of the season for both clubs.

These are the games that the calendar is all about

“When the fixtures first come out, everyone’s looking at fixtures like this, and others of course, as to when they fit into the calendar.

“We’ve had some incredibly good matches against them over the last three years and some real close games, and I don’t think tomorrow’s game will be any different.”

Like Luton too, Money has busied himself in the transfer market this summer, using the extra money at his disposal from a money-spinning FA Cup replay with Manchester United last term to good effect, bringing in an experienced core to his side.

The likes of Luke Berry, Jeff Hughes, Mark Roberts, Leon Legge, plus Keith Keane and Barry Carr all signed on, while striker Jacob Blyth’s addition on loan from Leicester City last month, made it 12 new faces in total.

Team news: Luton have doubts over Scott Cuthbert (hamstring), Paul Benson (neck), Nathan Doyle (hamstring) and Dan Potts, while Jack Marriott is suspended.

Paddy McCourt is away with Northern Ireland and Cameron McGeehan is also out, banned from playing by the Northern Irish FA after refusing to play for their U21s.

For Cambridge, boss Richard Money expects to have a fully fit squad to choose from, with Barry Corr, Leon Legge and Keith Keane all available once more.

Top scorers: Hatters - Jack Marriott, Craig Mackail-Smith, Paul Benson, Cameron McGeehan (2). United - Barry Corr (5).

Milestones: Should he keep his place, defender Scott Griffiths will make his 100th appearance for the club at the weekend. The 29-year-old was signed in March 2013 after being released by Peterborough and has scored three goals in that time.

Meanwhile, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu is in line for his 50th game for Hatters. The midfielder joined from West Ham permanently in January 2014 and like Griffiths, has netted three times in a Luton shirt.

Man in the middle: Graham Salisbury. Vastly experienced referee who has officiated five games this season, brandishing 12 yellows and three reds.

Last season he had 35 matches, showing 137 yellows and eight reds, while he had the whistle for this fixture in the league, sending off Tom Naylor after 54 minutes and awarding Luton a penalty that Mark Cullen netted the rebound from in a 1-0 win.

Hadn’t taken Luton before then since the 2007-08 campaign when he reffed Towns’ 1-0 win over Southend in League One, as Calvin Andrew scored the winner.

Prior to that, he has taken Luton a further six times, with Hatters winning three, including a 4-1 hammering of MK Dons, drawing two and losing one, although he did send off Kevin Nicholls during the 1-1 draw against Plymouth in 2004.

The referees assistants are Matthew Buonassisi and Dave Bushell with the fourth oficial Declan Bourne.

In charge: Richard Money - 59-year-old who began his playing days at Scunthorpe, before spells at Liverpool, Luton, Portsmouth and Fulham among others during the 1970s and 80s.

Became caretaker player/manager of Scunthorpe at the end of his playing career, before being appointed youth team coach at Aston Villa, moving to Nottingham Forest as coach and then Manchester City.

Was academy director and first team coach at Coventry City, before moving to Sweden where he had spells at AIK and Västerås SK, also coaching in Australia with Newcastle United Jets.

Returned to England to become manager of Walsall in May 2006 and took the role of academy director at Newcastle in June 2008.

Became Hatters boss on October 30, 2009, but had a difficult relationship with Luton fans and left on March 28, 2011.

Was announced on October 4, 2012 that he had joined Cambridge United as head coach, with then current manager, Jez George, returning to his role as director of football.

Signed a three year deal in May though that saw him handed the title of manager.

View from the opposition: Richard Money speaking to the Cambridge Evening News: “There is absolutely no doubt on this planet that they will be amongst the automatic promotion challengers, and certainly in the play-off challengers.

“There is no doubt about that, and we just have to try to make sure it doesn’t start this weekend. It is only three points, but I think this weekend is a big three points.”

One to watch: Barry Corr - Experienced 30-year-old striker who has made quite the start to life at Cambride, netting five goals in his opening three games with doubles against Newport and Carlisle.

Started life at Sheffield Wednesday, before spells at Bristol City, Swindon and Exeter before it was Southend where he made his name, bagging 63 goals in 185 game until moving to Cambridge in the summer.

Friendly faces: There are plenty of links between both sides most notably, ex-Town boss Richard Money, who is in charge at the Abbey.

The former Luton chief managed Hatters between October 2009 and March 2011, while he also played 49 times for the club, scoring once during 1981-82.

In Cambridge’s squad is popular former Luton midfielder Keith Keane who made 285 appearances, scoring eight times, prior to moving to Preston North End in July 2012.

Defender Greg Taylor who played 43 games for Luton, scoring once, is at United too and recently passed 100 games for the club.

For the Hatters, midfielder Cameron McGeehan had an excellent loan spell with Cambridge last year, scoring three goals in six games, before returing to Kenilworth Road.

Luke Guttridge also spent five years at Cambridge, making over 150 appearances, scoring 17 league goals, while Town first team coach Hakan Hayrettin enjoyed a season at the Abbey Stadium too, featuring 17 times in the 1994-95 campaign.

Famous faces: Striker Steve Claridge was signed by Luton from Cambridge for £120,000 in March 1992 after scoring 28 goals in 79 games for the U’s.

However, he only played 16 games, netting twice for the Hatters as financial difficulties saw him sold back to Cambridge just five months later where he went on to bag another 18 goals in 53 games.

We’ve got form: Hatters have been tough to beat in the league and FA Cup clashes at the Abbey, winning five, drawing eight and losing just three of their previous 17 meetings, scoring 25 goals and conceding 22.

Town’s best win was 3-1 back in Division Two in 1980 thanks to David Moss’ penalty, plus goals from Clive Goodyear and Brian Stein.

The Hatters did enjoy a 4-3 win in 2009, when down to 10 men after Liam Hatch’s red card, they turned a 2-0 half time deficit into a 4-3 victory thanks to goals from Kevin Gallen (2), Rossi Jarvis and Jake Howells.

Luton’s biggest loss saw the hosts triumph 3-1 in League Two in 1999 as Martin Butler, Trevor Benjamin and Michael Kyd scored, with Liam George bagging Town’s late consolation.

Last time out: Luton suffered a 2-1 defeat on their last visit to Cambridge, an FA Cup third round clash last term.

Robbie Simpson put the hosts ahead on 22 minutes, before Ryan Donaldson added a second after 66 minutes.

Full back Michael Harriman (74) pulled one back for the Hatters but they couldn’t force a replay.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Fraser Franks, Jake Howells, Michael Harriman, Paul Connolly (Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu 59), Luke Wilkinson, Andy Drury, Jonathan Smith, Andy Drury, Jim Stevenson, Mark Cullen ( Ross Lafayette 59), Ricky Miller (Charlie Walker 65)

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lacey, Luke Rooney, Matt Robinson.

Attendance: 7,063.

Referee: Tony Harrington.