PREVIEW: Stevenage v Luton Town

Luke Wilkinson celebrates his goal against Stevenage last season
Luke Wilkinson celebrates his goal against Stevenage last season

Stevenage boss Teddy Sheringham is finding out the hard way just how difficult the job of football management is.

The ex-Manchester United, West Ham, Tottenham and England star was appointed as boss at the Lamex Stadium in the summer once Graham Westley left the club after leading them to the play-offs last term.

Sheringham started with a 2-0 defeat at home to Notts County, although his first seven games showed signs of promise, as Boro beat Hartlepool but then more impressively followed that by a 2-1 win over leaders Plymouth, as they picked up two wins, three draws and two defeats.

Since the Pilgrims triumph on September 5 though, things have become that bit harder for Stevenage as a draw with York was followed by five straight defeats in all competitions.

The rot was stopped at Exeter in a 3-3 thriller, while Wycombe were then seen off 2-1, but two draws and two defeats have seen them sitting in 20th place, just five points off the drop zone.

Their cup form has been markedly better though, as League One leaders Gillingham were knocked out 3-0 on home soil in the FA Cup recently.

It’s fair to say Sheringham hasn’t yet stumbled across his first choice side, with the new manager using a vast 31 players in the league so far, while making a whole host of loan signings too.

That number could rise to 32 by 3pm on Saturday too, after Fleetwood striker Jamille Matt joined on loan yesterday.

The boss also recently registered as a player once more at the age of 49, along with his assistant Kevin Watson, ahead of a Herts Senior Cup tie with Welwyn Garden City, although neither actually played in the end.

Team news: Luton will be without Nathan Doyle and Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu who both continue to recover from ankle injuries, while Stephen O’Donnell is out after his double hernia operation.

Craig Mackail-Smith is rated a definite maybe by Town boss John Still, but although Danny Green was ill in the week, he is expected to be fine for the match.

Top scorers: Hatters: Cameron McGeehan (8). Boro: Chris Whelpdale (5).

Man in the middle: Rob Lewis - Shrewsbury-based official has taken 10 games so far, showing 34 yellows and two reds, with both dismissals coming in his last three matches.

Already refereed Luton once this season during the 1-0 win over Mansfield, where he booked four players, only showing yellow to Ryan Tafazoli though when as last man he brought down Craig Mackail-Smith for a match-winning penalty.

Took 10 games last season, showing just 19 yellows and two reds, including a visit to Kenilworth Road for Luton’s 3-2 defeat to Exeter.

Has officiated Hatters on three other occasions, as he had the 1-0 win over Forest Green in the Conference back in August 2009.

Also had the whistle for Luton’s 2-1 win over Hartlepool and 2-0 defeat at Southend during their 2007-08 League Two campaign.

Mark Howes and Guy Stretton are the linesmen with Robert Whitton the fourth official.

In charge: Teddy Sheringham - 49-year-old went on to have a glittering career in the game after making his debut for Millwall back in 1983 as he remains the ninth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history with 147 goals, and is the competition’s 19th-highest appearance maker

After over 200 games for Millwall, where he scored almost 100 goals, Sheringham moved to Nottingham Forest for £2m in 1991, before joining Spurs for £2.1m the following season and then Manchester United for £3.5m in July 1997.

Won even top-level trophy in the English game while at Old Trafford, plus, most famously the Champions League, after coming off the bench to score a late leveller and then setting up Ole Gunnar Solskjær for the winner.

Returned to Spurs in 2001 and then joined Portsmouth in 2003 before a spell at West Ham as he ultimately finished his career with Colchester.

Also made 51 appearances for England, scoring 11 times, playing in two World Cups and one European Championships.

Upon his retirement, returned to Upton Park in a coaching capacity before his first managerial appointment with Stevenage during the summer.

View from the opposition: Kevin Watson talking to the Stevenage Comet: “I think me, Teddy (Sheringham) and Sarlly (Darren Sarll, first team coach) could have this week off and the lads would not need motivating for the game.

“We know what it means to the fans and to the players involved. I was at Luton for two or three of these fixtures when I worked there and these are big games and big days regardless of whether it’s at the Lamex or Kenilworth Road.

“We know what it’s all about. It’s a proper derby game. Even though it’s at home we’re probably going into the game as underdogs, which suits us fine.

“There’s plenty of boys in the dressing room who have been here a while and know what it means.

“Fraser (Franks) has had his foot in both camps, Ronnie Henry too. We’ll be up for it.

“It will be a good occasion, a full house. I’m sure the place will be buzzing.”

One to watch: Chris Whelpdale - 28-year-old is the leading scorer for Boro this season with five goals, including three in his last six outings.

Wideman started his league career with Peterborough, making over 100 appearances, before a lengthy stint at Gillingham, and joined Stevenage in June 20014, where he has scored 12 goals in 61 games.

Friendly faces: Stevenage skipper Ronnie Henry is well known to Luton fans, playing 87 times for the club and leading Hatters to the Conference title during 2013-14.

Moved to Stevenage before Town’s League Two campaign started and has made 45 appearances since.

Centre half Fraser Franks played 34 times for Luton until joining Stevenage in the summer, where he has featured in 18 games so far, scoring twice,

Stevenage assistant boss Kevin Watson ended his playing career at Kenilworth Road too. The midfielder joined from Colchester in August 2008, but only played 11 times prior to his retirement, as he became first team coach under Mick Harford and then Richard Money until his departure in May 2010.

Boro goalkeeping coach Dmitri Kharine also had a lengthy spell with Luton in the same position from 2003-2014.

Played for both: Jude Stirling. 33-year-old player who came through the ranks at Luton Town.

He was sent off on his Hatters debut in a 4-0 defeat at Swansea and went on to play 13 times for the club, before a loan spell at Stevenage, a move he made permanent in March 2002.

Since then, has been with a host of clubs including MK Dons, Peterborough, Grimsby and Barnet, before dropping into the non-league scene.

We’ve got form: Luton have won all four of their visits to Stevenage in the past

Starting with a 4-3 Football League Trophy victory in 2002, thanks to Ahmet Brkovic’s treble and a Tony Thorpe strike, they have scored eight goals and conceded four.

Another Football League Trophy win followed in 2003, with Matthew Judge’s last minute winner deciding the tie.

The only two league meetings have been won by Luton too, Matthew Barnes-Homer bagging the winner in April 2010, before last season’s 2-1 victory too,

Last time out: Luton were 2-1 winners at Stevenage last season courtesy of a late winner from Alex Wall.

Luke Wilkinson had headed Hatters in front on 10 minutes, but Tom Pett levelled the scores just after the half hour.

However, Wall came off the bench on 83 minutes and immediately made the difference, cutting in on his left foot and curling past Chris Day.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Steve McNulty, Luke Wilkinson, Alex Lacey, Scott Griffiths, Jonathan Smith (Jim Stevenson 66), Andy Drury, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Nathan Doyle, Paul Benson (Charlie Walker 70), Mark Cullen (Alex Wall 83).

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Jake Howells, Luke Guttridge, Matt Robinson,

Referee: Tony Harrington.

Attendance: 5,236.