PREVIEW: Plymouth Argyle v Luton Town

Luton Town FC. Stock images.
Luton Town FC. Stock images.

Like most managers, Plymouth Argyle boss John Sheridan is hoping to strengthen in crucial areas during the transfer window, although his efforts so far have proved fairly fruitless.

The Pilgrims chief is determined to acquire a new striker to provide cover for Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra, particularly with Deane Smalley ruled out for the season with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Speaking to the Plymouth Herald, he said: “I have been working my socks off. It’s very frustrating and not for the lack of trying.

“While we need one, I will keep trying. We have been very close to getting one or two.

“But I think I have got two of the best strikers in the division in Reuben Reid and Lewis Alessandra.”

Sheridan has also seen plans to sign Blackburn Rovers utility player Anthony O’Connor on a permanent deal scuppered despite having a bid accepted by the Championship club.

The former Republic of Ireland international had a successful five month loan spell at Home Park, but wants to make a decision on his future at the end of the season and although Sheridan is trying to bring him back on loan, it is not expected to be completed before Luton’s visit.

Sheridan also is trying to re-sign Bristol City midfielder Bobby Reid, who impressed during his three month stint with the Pilgrims that ended on January 3.

One player who Sheridan has brought in though was MK Dons centre back Tom Flanagan on loan until February 10 and he made his debut in last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Southend.

Results on the pitch have been just as frustrating for Sheridan and his side recently, as after back to back wins over Northampton and Dagenham, they are on the back of a four game winless run.

Argyle were beaten by Newport and then at home to Oxford on December 28, a first home defeat for over three months, while their last two matches have ended in 0-0 draws.

That takes their overall run to just three league wins since November 1, as Argyle have also drawn four and lost three in that time.

After the recent stalemate with York City, Sheridan blasted his players, telling BBC Radio Devon: “Our performance was pathetic.

“I apologise to all the supporters who made the journey. I thought it was a shocking performance.”

Team news: The Hatters have doubts over Luke Rooney with a groin problem, while although Alex Lawless, Paul Benson, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Luke Guttridge are making progress, none are expected to feature yet.

Curtley Williams is still out and Ross Lafayette has joined Woking on a month’s loan.

Plymouth have injury worries too, with forward Deane Smalley ruled out for the rest of the campaign by a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Top goalscorer: Hatters - Mark Cullen (9). Argyle: Reuben Reid (13).

Milestones: Hatters’ current longest serving player Jake Howells will make his 300th appearance for the club if selected on Saturday.

The 23-year-old has managed 30 goals in his 299 matches so far.

Man in the middle: Keith Hill, the experienced 47-year-old Hertfordshire official has officiated 22 games this season showing 73 yellow cards and four reds.

Yet to take a Luton game this term, while last campaign he brandished 136 cautions and four reds in his 35 matches.

His last Hatters match was back in February 2009, when Town went down 2-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two, managed by now Luton boss John Still with Scott Griffiths and Solomon Taiwo starting for Daggers.

Hill also took Luton’s 2-1 defeat at Leeds in the Championship in February 2006 where he sent off Sol Davis in the closing stages, plus a 3-2 League Two home win over Northampton in February 2003.

The assistant referees are Mark Derrien and Paul Rees, with Mark Pottage the fourth official.

In charge: John Sheridan, 50-year-old former midfielder who began at Manchester City before moving to Leeds where he made over 200 appearances until Nottingham Forest shelled out £650,000 for his services in 1989.

Only made one appearance for Forest as he moved to Sheffield Wednesday for £500,000, scoring the winning goal in the 1991 Football League Cup Final at Wembley as the Owls beat Manchester United 1-0.

Had spells at Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and Doncaster before ending up finishing his career at Oldham, while he also won 34 caps for the Republic of Ireland, playing in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Was appointed Oldham manager in 2006, having served as caretaker boss twice, but left in 2009, when he joined Chesterfield in June of the same year, taking them up to League One, where they lasted one season, coming straight back down.

Resigned as Spireites manager in September 2012 and became Plymouth manager in January 2013, leading the club to safety and signing a new year three deal in May.

View from the opposition: John Sheridan: “I really like the manager (John Still). They’ve got a strong squad. They’ll know they are for a game on Saturday, though.

“I’m very pleased with how we play at home. We always look a threat. Our home form is keeping us going.”

One to watch: Reuben Reid - Was a real crowd favourite during his loan spell at Plymouth from Yeovil last season, scoring 21 goals in 54 appearances.

Joined permanently in the summer and is the club’s leading marksman with 13 goals in 29 games.

Has been on a lean patch of late though with just two goals in his last nine games, both of those coming in a 3-0 win over Dagenham.

Began his career at Home Park, before spells at Kidderminster, Rochdale, Torquay, Wycombe, Brentford, Rotherham, West Brom, Peterborough, Walsall, Oldham and Yeovil, but appears to have settled back at Plymouth once more.

Friendly faces: Hatters defender Paul Connolly came through the youth ranks at Plymouth Argyle, and made his league debut in the final game of the 2000-01 season.

Was a first team regular from 2003 onwards, helping the team to gain promotion to the First Division in 2003-04, scoring his only ever goal against Norwich on November 10, 2007.

Made over 150 appearances in eight years before his move to Derby in May 2008.

Meanwhile, Town defender Scott Griffiths spent a month with Argyle in the 2012-13 season on loan from Peterborough, making six appearances until he moved to Luton.

We’ve got form: Hatters have not enjoyed many visits to Home Park, winning just seven of their 35 meetings, with six draws and 22 defeats, scoring 42 goals and conceding 71.

It took them 16 years and 10 efforts to enjoy a first win, that a 4-2 triumph in 1937 with Frederick Roberts (2), Joe Payne and Edward Vinall on target.

The biggest success was a 3-0 Division Two triumph in 1961 with goals from Gordon Turner (2) and Harry Walden, while Luton’s heaveiest defeat came in 1929 as they were hammered 6-1.

Although losing their most previous trip, Hatters were 2-1 winners the time before, a Championship clash in April 2006 thanks to late goals from Rowan Vine and Calvin Andrew.

Last time out: Town fell to a 1-0 defeat at Plymouth in their last visit to Home Park, that in the Championship back in November 2006.

Bojan Djordjic scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark as Town couldn’t equaliser.

Hatters: Dean Kiely, Kevin Foley (David Bell 64), Russell Perrett, Lewis Emmanuel, Leon Barnett, Steve Robinson, Carlos Edwards, Markus Heikkinen, Ahmet Brkovic, Rowan Vine, Warren Feeney (Dean Morgan 64).

Subs not used: Marlon Beresford, Chris Coyne, Adam Boyd.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Attendance: 9,965.