PREVIEW: Luton v AFC Wimbledon

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AFC Wimbledon will be hoping for a far, far better showing in League Two this season.

Last campaign, they narrowly avoided relegatioin when a poor run of form after Christmas saw the Dons finish a mere three points above the relegation zone.

As ever, that meant a large turnaround of playing staff with plenty of departures including former Hatter Will Antwi, plus Jack Midson, Rhys Weston and Seb Brown, the keeper who denied Hatters during the penalty shoot out of the 2011 Conference play-off final.

Manager Neal Ardley has been busy strengthening his squad too, with the three stand out additions being Northampton striker Adebayo Akinfenwa and former Crawley forward Matt Tubbs, plus experienced defender Mark Phillips.

The Dons have also brought in Gillingham defender Adam Barrett on loan until October 4 and re-signed left-back Callum Kennedy.

Free agent Jack Smith moved too after the left back recently left Milwall, as did ex-Arsenal keeper James Shea, who Town boss John Still signed when on loan when manager at Dagenham & Redbridge.

Basingstoke Town’s young stopper Joe McDonnell was also brought in as was Charlton Athletic forward Adebayo Azeez who bagged five goals in 25 appearances last season during loan spells at Torquay and Dagenham & Redbridge.

AFC began the current campaign with a 2-2 draw against Shrewsbury, although they looked to be taking all three points until conceding a late equaliser.

They were then knocked out of the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night after a 3-1 defeat at fierce rivals MK Dons.

Team news: Luton will be without Luke Rooney who is suspended for one game after his controversial sending off against Swindon Town on Tuesday night.

Town are once again expected to without Jonathan Smith, Shaun Whalley and Alex Lawless, while Andy Parry is definitely out for a few more weeks.

AFC Wimbledon defender Andy Frampton faces a spell on the sidelines after he broke an ankle recently.

Defender Jack Smith is doubtful despite receiving treatment on the knee injury that saw him stretchered off on Tuesday, but on-loan centre-back Adam Barrett will be back in the squad for Saturday.

Assistant boss Neil Cox told the club’s official website: “We have one or two players with knocks and we’ll have a good look and see who is available.

“Jack has come in today (Friday), but he’s still a little bit sore and we’ll know more tomorrow. We’ll see who comes through training, before making a decision on the team and getting organised for Saturday.”

Man in the middle: Oliver Langford. Kept his cards in his pocket on the opening day of the season when in charge of the Championship clash between Millwall and Leeds United.

Last year, he brandished his yellow card 79 times in 37 games, with five reds, while had the whistle for the League Two play-off clash between Burton and Southend.

First Luton game since the FA Cup trip to Charlton in 2010 when the Hatters drew 2-2, where he booked Dan Gleeson and Keith Keane, plus now Town frontman Paul Benson, who was part of the Addicks team.

Also took Hatters’ 1-0 win at Exeter in League Two back in August 2008, but this will be his first trip to Kenilworth Road.

In charge: Neal Ardley, 41-year-old who was something of a legend at Wimbledon after making his debut 1991.

Played almost 250 games for the club, before moving to Watford in 2002, where he spent three seasons.

Joined Cardiff City in March 2005 and then Millwall for the 2006-07 campaign before retiring after a series of injuries in August 2007.

Had started taking his coaches badges at 24, and was appointed as manager of the Cardiff City academy, staying for five years before being appointed as manager of AFC Wimbledon on October 10, 2012.

View from the opposition: Assistant boss Neil Cox talking to the club’s official website: “Playing in front of a full house and in their first home league game after promotion they will be expected to win.

“They will get the ball forward and try to squeeze us in, and it’s up to us to be brave. We have to be strong. The back four have to be solid and all the midfielders have to work hard so that we stop Luton putting balls into the box.

“But our front two will cause anyone problems, they did that the other night, and it’s going to be a good game for us. I think it’s a game that our players should be really looking forward to.”

Two to watch: AFC brought in striking duo Adebayo Akinfenwa and Matt Tubbs to lead the line at Kingsmeadow.

Although not prolific last season, Akinfenwa bagged 10 goals in League One for Gillingham and has scored consistently throughout his career for the likes of Northampton, Torquay and Swansea.

Meanwhile, Tubbs was lethal for Salisbury and Crawley earlier in his career, before a difficult move to Bournemouth and then Rotherham.

Rediscovered his golden touch back at Crawley on loan towards the end of last campaign, notching eight goals in 18 games.

Friendly faces: Fraser Franks spent an injury-hit two seasons at AFC Wimbledon after joining from Brentford.

Was present at Manchester City when the Dons defeated Town in the play-off final, but made just 28 league appearances in total, including three in League Two.

Had loan spells at Hayes & Yeading and Newport County, before leaving Kingsmead to sign for Welling United.

Part of Wimbledon’s backroom staff is former Town forward Stuart Douglas, who is the club’s physiotherapist.

Began his career at Hatters in August 1995 and made over 100 appearance, scoring 18 league goals before spells at Oxford and Rushden and then moving to Boston United on a free in August 2002.

We’ve got form: Hatters have hosted AFC Wimbledon twice since the club’s creation in 2002.

The first game saw Town beaten 2-1 despite as Tom Craddock’s strike, Nathan Elder and Danny Kedwell netted for the visitors in February 2010.

Last time out: Hatters were comprehensive 3-0 winners over AFC Wimbledon in their last meeting at Kenilworth Road, a Blue Square Bet Premier clash in September 2010.

Town took the lead through George Pilkington’s goal on 23 minutes, while fellow centre half Zdenek Kroca added the second after 38 minutes.

Moments into the second period, Matthew Barnes-Homer made it 3-0 and there was no coming back for the Dons.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Freddie Murray, George Pilkington, Zdenek Kroca, Jake Howells, Claude Gnakpa, Adam Newton, Andy Drury, Shane Blackett, Matthew Barnes-Homer (Dan Walker 85), Taiwo Atieno.

Subs not used: Kevin Pilkington, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Adam Murray, Danny Crow.

Referee: Rob Whitton.

Attendance: 7,238.