PREVIEW: Accrington Stanley v Luton Town
Accrington gave their fight for survival a huge shot in the arm, by picking up just a third league win of 2019 when beating Walsall 2-1 last weekend.
Prior to the clash, Stanley had been dropping like a stone, taking just 14 points from a possible 54 since the turn of the year, suffering 10 defeats from 18 encounters.
However, the success against their fellow relegation candidates lifted them to 16th in the table, four points above the drop zone.
Safety is by no means secured for John Coleman’s side though, with an extremely difficult run-in awaiting them.
After taking on the Hatters, they then go to the best team in the division in Doncaster Rovers, before entertaining Plymouth Argyle and finishing the campaign at promotion contenders Portsmouth.
Coleman is definitely not taking his side’s survival for granted either, saying: “The pressure is still there, it’s certainly not done, and we have got to find more points from somewhere.
“It was pleasing to get the win against Walsall as we needed it and, on the balance of play, I think we deserved it.
“No one can breathe safely yet. It’s the team who are the most clinical and keep their nerve in the games who will stay up.
“All we can do is focus on the job in hand.”
It had looked a very different story for Stanley back in October, as ahead of their trip to Luton, they were sitting fourth, four points above Town with seven wins, five draws and two defeats to their name from 14 fixtures.
The following 28 games have heralded a mere five victories though, with seven draws, and a hefty 16 reverses in total, leading Stanley to the predicament they are in.
Team news: Luton can welcome back top scorer James Collins who is available after suspension, while Kazenga LuaLua is also fit.
Andrew Shinnie is banned after his red card at Charlton, but Danny Hylton (knee) is out, along with Alan McCormack (back), Dan Potts (knee) and Glen Rea (knee).
The hosts have no real injury concerns after their 2-1 win over Walsall last week.
Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (22). Stanley: Billy Kee (15).
Man in the middle: Carl Boyeson – has taken 34 games this season, showing 111 yellows and five reds, with one Luton match, Town’s 3-2 win over Shrewsbury back in August.
Last season, he had the 2-0 defeat at Chesterfield in January, his first Hatters encounter since the 4-1 win over Exeter in May 2016.
Officiated a number of Luton games earlier in his career, the 3-0 FA Cup win over Rotherham in December 2009 and 2-1 home defeat to Exeter in League Two in March 2009.
Had another four matches between 2002-2007, Luton beating Nottingham Forest and Oldham, drawing with Sheffield Wednesday and losing to Swindon.
In charge: John Coleman - 56-year-old who figured for Southport, Macclesfield Town and Morecambe among others during his playing career, plus having a spell in Wales too.
Became Ashton United player boss in 1997, before taking charge at Accrington two years later.
Spent over 12 years with the Reds, leading them to three promotion, including reaching the Football League, and was the third longest serving manager when he departed for Rochdale in January 2012.
Didn’t last a year at Spotland, returning to management with Southport in December 2013.
Left six months later, as he headed to Sligo Rovers for a short period in June 2014, before returning to Stanley in September 2014, masterminding their League Two title success last season.
View from the opposition: John Coleman talking to the club’s official website: “Luton have done incredibly well.
“Ironically we were above them when we played them earlier on in the season, it was never a 4-1 game, it could have finished 5-5, but they were clinical and we didn’t take our chances.
“Since then they have been on an unbelievable run and they have been the pick of the bunch for me.
“They are a good side with good footballers who are on a crest of the wave and are used to winning games.
“I like their manager Mick Harford, he is a good footballing man, and they have been outstanding.
“They have a great chance of getting promoted but we want to delay that on Saturday.”
Friendly faces: Matty Pearson moved to Accrington from Halifax in May 2015, and had a fine two year spell with Stanley, playing 103 times, scoring 12 goals, including against Luton in the 4-1 home defeat in April 2017.
Sold to Barnsley in July 2017, with Luton snapping him up from Oakwell in the summer of 2018, as he has played 48 times for the Hatters so far, netting six goals.
Town defender Lloyd Jones went on loan to Accrington from Liverpool in March 2015, playing 11 games, scoring in the 1-1 draw at Morecambe.
Further loans followed with Blackpool and Swindon, before moving to Town in January 2018 although has played just six times in total for the Hatters and is currently on loan at Plymouth.
Stanley defender Janoi Donacien was in the youth ranks at Luton with spells at Spurs and Aston Villa.
Had loans at Tranmere, Wycombe and Newport County, going to Accrington in August 2016 playing almost 100 games.
Joined Ipswich in the summer but only featured 11 times, heading back to Stanley on loan, where he has made 16 appearances.
One to watch: Sean McConville – 30-year-old winger who started his career with Accrington in 2009, going to Stockport in June 2011 for a season.
Stints followed at Rochdale, Barrow, Stalybridge and Chester, returning to Stanley in June 2015 and has been a big part of their climb up the leagues since.
Scored 10 goals in 49 games this term, following the 13 he managed last term, including a strike at Kenilworth Road, as Accrington won the League Two title.
Played for both: Harold Andrews – born in August 1903, he managed 140 goals in 385 Football League appearances from his position of inside left, centre forward or left half.
Started his career with Lincoln City, going to Notts County and Barnsley, before joining Luton in 1935.
Only played one game for the Hatters then moving to Accrington, where he featured over 50 times.
We’ve got form: Luton have never lost on their travels at Accrington Stanley in the league, with their first three visits, ending all square.
They did exit the FA Cup 2-1 in January 2017, before winning their last two trips, running out 4-1 and 2-0 victors.
In total, Luton have scored 10 goals and conceded just five during their six trips to the Wham Stadium.
Last time out: Luton eased to a 2-0 win at Accrington last season, with James Collins opening the scoring from close range after Olly Lee had headed Dan Potts’ cross goalwards on 22 minutes.
Alan Sheehan was then fouled in the box just before half time following a clever short corner routine, with Danny Hylton converting from the spot as Town kept their hosts out in the second period.
Hatters: Marek Stech, Jack Stacey, Dan Potts, Scott Cuthbert, Alan Sheehan, Glen Rea, Olly Lee, Luke Berry (Lawson D’Ath 76), Harry Cornick (James Justin 86), Danny Hylton, James Collins.
Subs not used: James Shea, Johnny Mullins, Akin Famewo, Jordan Cook, Elliot Lee.
Referee: Martin Coy.