PREVIEW: Cheltenham Town v Luton Town

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Like a number of clubs who find themselves nearer the the wrong end of the table than they would like, Cheltenham Town opted to make a change at the top recently, with Mark Yates relieved of his duties in November and former Town boss Paul Buckle taking over.

Yates, who had been the third longest serving Football League manager, eventually paid the price for a run of nine defeats in 14 games, after originally starting the season in impressive form.

However, things haven’t made a marked improvement under Buckle, as he has only won once in his first nine games, drawing four and losing four, including a shock FA exit at the hands of Conference side Dover Athletic.

It’s the home form that has been Cheltenham’s major issue as bar an amazing 5-0 FA Cup win over League One Swindon, they have not tasted success since October 18, some six league games games ago

Buckle is still to taste victory at Whaddon Road, taking just three points from a possible 12 as the Robins sit 18th in the division, a mere three points above the drop zone.

Off the field, the ex-Luton manager has tried to ring the changes as much as he can within the budget allowed, signing three youngsters on-loan from Liverpool in Kevin Stewart, Lloyd Jones and Jack Dunn.

Both Dunn and Stewart made an instant impression, scoring the goals in a 2-1 win at Oxford, while Dunn was again on target during the 1-1 draw with Morecambe.

Buckle has also borrowed Jake Gray from Crystal Palace, and is hoping for further additions before the close of the January transfer window.

To do that, he needs to move players out too as full back Paul Black was released ahead of a move to America, while Andy Haworth has joined Barrow until the end of the season.

Team news: The Hatters could have Luke Guttridge and Alex Lawless on the bench after both players returned to training this week.

Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Paul Benson and Curtly Williams are all out, as is Luke Rooney, who will undergo a hernia operation shortly.

For Cheltenham, Matt Taylor returned from a hamstring injury in last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Morecambe, while the experienced Matt Richards could be in line for a recall.

Top goalscorer: Hatters - Mark Cullen (9). Robins - Byron Harrison (7).

Milestones: If Luke Guttridge features, it will be his 50th appearance for the club since joining on a free from Northampton in July 2013, scoring 15 goals in that time.

Man in the middle: Darren Handley - Bolton official has taken 16 games so far this season, showing 54 yellow cards and five reds after being promoted from the Conference last term, where he showed 92 yellows and five reds in 27 games, also reffing the play-off final clash.

Handley officiated three Luton matches last season, sending off Alex Wall in the 2-0 defeat at Wrexham, while he also had the whistle for the 1-1 draw at Chester and Town’s thumping 7-0 victory over Hereford.

Has been in charge for three other Hatters games too, the 2-1 win at Hyde and 5-1 hammering by Gateshead in 2012-13 plus the 3-0 reverse at Forest Green Rovers back in the 2011-12 campaign.

In charge: Paul Buckle - 44-year-old who turned pro at Brentford in 1989 and had spells with Wycombe, Torquay, Exeter, Northampton, Colchester, Aldershot and Weymouth in his playing career.

Became Exeter play-coach in March 2005 and then assistant boss for the Grecians, before appointed Torquay boss in June 2007.

Led them to the Football League and lost the League Two play-off final but left to join Bristol Rovers in May 2011, although was soon dismissed after just six wins in 23 games.

Became Luton Town manager in April 2012, losing the Conference play-off final to York City 2-1.

The following season, he masterminded a 1-0 FA Cup win at Premier League Norwich City as Town reached the fifth round of the competition, only to leaving on the eve of a Conference clash at Macclesfield in February 2013.

Moved to America for year, where he was appointed as Technical Director at the Met Oval in New York in November, before making a return to English football 12 months later.

View from the opposition: Paul Buckle, talking to the Gloucestershire Echo: “I am looking forward to it. Luton come in good form and they are a big team in League Two with a big fan base and that’s going to make for an exciting game.

“Without a doubt I am pleased to see Luton doing so well. John Still has done a great job there, getting them back into the Football League.

“It took a lot longer than quite a few people were expecting, but the Conference is a tough league to get out of.

“They are in the League now and you can only see them moving in one direction now. They are a club that deserved to be back in the League, I’m delighted for the people at the club.”

One to watch: Jack Dunn - 20-year-old midfielder who has made a fine start to his one month loan deal at the Robins.

Scored just 40 minutes in his debut at Oxford, helping Cheltenham to a 2-1 win, while he also scored in the 1-1 draw against Morecambe, making it two goals in three games.

Friendly faces: Midfielder Kane Ferdinand was on loan at Luton last season but played just 40 minutes in a 0-0 draw at Lincoln and was booked, as he didn’t feature for the club afterwards.

Went back to Peterborough and played 12 times for the Posh this season, before moving to the Robins and has made 14 appearances with his deal recently extended until May.

Midfielder Asa Hall joined Cheltenham in the summer after he was released by Shrewsbury. The 28-year-old made 89 appearances for Luton, scoring 16 times in two years before being let go in August 2010 and moved to Oxford.

Has played just one time for the Robins this term as a calf and then Achilles injury means he is ruled out until February.

Hatters forward Paul Benson played 18 times for the Robins, scoring four goals between January 2013 to May 2013 after joining on loan from Swindon.

We’ve got form: Hatters have never won at Whaddon Road in their history, with two draws and a defeat in their previous three visits.

Steve Howard scored for the Hatters in a 1-1 draw back in 2002, while Paul Hughes and Adrian Forbes netted as Town were held 2-2 in April 2003.

Last time out: Luton suffered a 1-0 defeat on their last visit to Cheltenham, that a League One clash back in February 2009.

Andy Lindegaard put the Robins ahead on two minutes as Luton couldn’t force an equaliser.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Richard Jackson (Calvin Andrew 81), Chris Coyne, Chris Perry, Matthew Spring, Steve Robinson (Drew Talbot 61), Keith Keane, Dave Edwards (Anthony Grant 67), Marc Wilson, Darren Currie, Paul Furlong.

Subs not used: Alan Goodall, Paul McVeigh.

Referee: Steve Bratt.

Attendance: 3,702.