FA CUP PREVIEW: Accrington Stanley v Luton Town
Like most League Two sides in the FA Cup third round, Accrington Stanley are targeting that future changing money-spinning tie in the next stage if they can get past Luton Town first.
The hosts certainly haven’t had it easy in the competition so far, earning their tie with Luton by knocking out League One high-flyers Bradford City and then National League opponents Woking, both on their travels.
Speaking to the club’s official website, boss John Coleman said: “We know what the money a FA Cup run, and a plum fourth round tie, could do for the club.
“We have had some special days at home in the FA Cup. There was Huddersfield, Bournemouth and Colchester and those games altered the destiny of Accrington Stanley just by the influx of finances it brought.
“This could be another chance to do it again and take us to the next stage to go further on.
“I would urge any football fans to come down to Accrington and build on the atmosphere and make sure we have as many fans as Luton have.
“I would love to get a crack at playing a Premier League side and seeing if we can beat them.”
Meanwhile, Coleman has been quick to use the transfer window’s opening on Sunday to strengthen his squad, with a double loan signing from Premier League side Hull City.
Defender Harvey Rodgers, 20, has joined until the end of the season, as has striker Jonathan Edwards, who signed for the Tigers from Dunstable Town back in May, although both have yet to make a first team appearance, despite being regulars in the U23 side.
Coleman also faces decisions on loan duo, Blackburn winger John O’Sullivan and Bristol City defender Zak Vyner whose deals finish on Sunday, adding there could be plenty of business in the next few weeks.
He said: “We hope to bring one or two others in which means we may have to alter our shape slightly in the next couple of weeks. We have to build a squad and focus on trying to steadily improve.”
Stanley’s league form has just showed signs of picking up recently as after going down 1-0 at Luton in November, they went on to lose five out of their next six matches in the division.
That rut was ended with a 1-0 win at Crewe on New Year’s Eve, a first league triumph since Accrington beat Blackpool on October 15.
Coleman’s men followed up with a 2-2 draw at home with Hartlepool on Monday, to sit just four points and two places above the relegation zone.
Milestones: Luton attacker Jordan Cook recently made his 150th career appearance as a late sub during the 1-0 home reverse to Colchester United.
Team news: Luton striker Danny Hylton and defender Alan Sheehan are both expected to be fit enough for the clash, should boss Nathan Jones opt to use them.
Midfielder Cameron McGeehan is out with a broken leg, with Dan Potts (knee) missing too, plus long-term injured duo Danny Green and Nathan Doyle.
Bristol City loanee Zak Vyner is unavailable for Stanley in the competition.
Top scorers: Hatters: Danny Hylton (14). Stanley: Billy Kee (9).
Man in the middle: Darren Deadman - hugely experienced official who is now in his 14th season, showing 99 yellows and five red cards in his 28 games this term.
Refereed Luton once so far, the 2-1 home defeat to Grimsby Town, while also had the whistle for Hatters’ in the 2015-16 campaign, the 1-0 home win over Morecambe.
Has officiated Hatters on four other occasions, the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth in December 2014, plus a 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Walsall and 4-2 home defeat to Rotherham during the 2008-09 season.
Also sent off Alan Goodall in a 3-1 defeat at Brighton back in 2007.
Assistant referees are Matthew Jones and Joe Simpson, with the fourth official Scott Oldham.
In charge: John Coleman - 54-year-old who had a lengthy playing career, mainly in non-league football, plus a spell in Wales.
Became Ashton United player boss in 1997, before a move to Accrington two years later.
Spent over 12 years in charge at Stanley, leading them to the Football League in 2006 and was the third longest serving manager at the time, before leaving to join Rochdale in January 2012.
Had his contract terminated at Spotland though inside 12 months, and returned to management with Southport in December 2013, but left in April and then was appointed in charge at Sligo Rovers for a short period in June 2014.
Coleman was confirmed as Stanley manager for his second spell in September 2014 and came within a whisker of winning promotion last season, eventually losing out in the play-offs.
View from the dug out: John Coleman, speaking to the club’s official website: “They beat us 1-0 earlier in the season and they had three good chances in the game, our keeper made a couple of saves and they hit the crossbar with a free kick but we controlled the game for 80 minutes.
“I know it’s all about scoring goals and we didn’t but we have got to believe we can beat them with the way we played on the day at Kenilworth Road and the way we have been playing recently.
“They are above us in the league table and Luton are a good side but our form has been good recently, even though the results have not been what we would have wanted.
“In this case I believe the table does lie. We shouldn’t be a bottom half of the table team and we believe we can beat them.”
One to watch: Billy Kee - 26-year-old striker, who began his career as a trainee with Leicester, before moving to Accrington on loan in July 2009.
Signed on a free for Torquay and then went to Burton, netting almost 50 goals in over 100 games.
Headed to Scunthorpe in August 2014, but the move to Glanford Park didn’t really work out, as he was loaned to Mansfield, before heading back to Accrington in June 2015.
Bagged 17 goals last term and although only had five in his opening 17 matches this campaign, netted four in his last five games to take his tally to nine, including scoring in his last two matches.
Played for both: Shaun Whalley - 29-year-old winger joined Accrington from Chester in August 2006 and played over 50 times for the club until a move to Wrexham.
Luton snapped him up from Southport in June 2013 as he spent two years at Kenilworth Road, scoring five goals in 42 appearances.
Released in June 2015 and joined Shrewsbury where he has played 44 times so far, scoring eight goals.
We’ve got form: Luton are yet to win at Accrington, with their three previous matches all ending in draws.
The first game, a League Two clash back in February 2009, ended goalless, while Town then came from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw in August 2014, with all the goals coming in the first half.
Stanley flew out of the blocks, moving in front through James Gray and Luke Joyce, before Luton made swift changes, with Luke Rooney’s lovely effort making it 2-1 and Jake Howells’ deflected free kick completing the comeback.
Last time out: Luton needed a stoppage time goal from Jonathan Smith to earn a point in their 1-1 draw at Accrington on the opening day of last season.
The midfielder, who had conceded a penalty on 61 minutes for Josh Windass to score, then deflected Craig Mackail-Smith’s blast into the net to earn Hatters a point.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Scott Cuthbert, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty, Luke Wilkinson, Danny Green (Jack Marriott 76), Jonathan Smith, Nathan Doyle, Paddy McCourt (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 61), Craig Mackail-Smith, Josh McQuoid (Paul Benson 65).
Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Dan Potts, Cameron McGeehan, Luke Guttridge.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham.