PREVIEW: Luton Town v Bristol City

Bristol City boss Lee Johnson cast his net far and wide over the summer in a bid to shape his squad ready for a sustained push for the Premier League this term.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 4:24 pm
Luton are back at Kenilworth Road this weekend

The Robins chief lost defender Adam Webster to Brighton as the Seagulls forked out a fee of around £20m for the defender who was a virtual ever-present last term.

Midfielder Marlon Pack also headed to Cardiff, with Johnson publicly stating his side needed reinforcements to compete this term, and the boss was certainly given funds from those sales to do just that.

He raided Premier League Chelsea for three players, defender Tomas Kalas for £8m, midfielder Kasey Palmer for £3.5m and one-time Luton academy defender Jay Dasilva.

Johnson stuck to the domestic leagues when bringing in Colchester duo Rene Gilmartin and Sammie Szmodics, while also snapped up Brentford number one Daniel Bentley, Doncaster midfielder Tommy Rowe, then bringing in the experienced centre half Ashley Williams from Everton too.

Stretching his net further afield, Johnson went to France and Italy as Monaco midfielder Han-Noah Massengo arrived for a reported fee of around £7.3m, with Adam Nagy brought in for an undisclosed sum from Bologna.

Just this week, he raided Spain for former Sevilla striker Rodri on a short term contract after the forward had been without a club since leaving Grenada in the summer.

Loan-wise, it was a mixture, with Benik Afobe appearing to be a great addition from Stoke City, scoring three goals in five games, until suffering a season ending anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Johnson then looked at Portugal, borrowing full back Pedro Pereira from Benfica, the youngster playing six times already.

City's new-look squad are knitting together impressively too, as a 3-1 defeat on the opening day at home to Leeds is their only reverse so far in the league.

They drew 1-1 at Birmingham, and although knocked out of the EFL Cup on penalties at QPR, put a run of four wins from five together to shoot up the Championship, including three straight victories, with away triumphs at Derby, Hull and Stoke.

They then finished all square against Swansea, Preston and Brentford, but got back to winning ways last time out, seeing off Reading 1-0 at Ashton Gate.

It meas they are in a healthy sixth place and looking good odds to improve on the last two seasons where they have finished eighth and 11th, as victory at Kenilworth Road could see them move to the top of the table.

Team news: Luton should have Martin Cranie available once more, while Glen Rea stepped up his recovery by taking part in a training match, leaving just Danny Hylton as an absentee.

For City, Benik Afobe is out, along with record signing Tomas Kalas, Jay Dasilva (tibia fracture), and recent addition Rodri, who won't feature until after the weekend.

Saikou Janneh and Adam Nagy are back in training, while Hakeeb Adelakun, Marley Watkins and Sam Szmodics are all fit too.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (5). Robins: Andreas Weimann (4).

Man in the middle: Graham Scott - taken six games this season, five of them in the Premier League, with two red cards, sending off Everton's Seamus Coleman in the Toffees' recent 1-0 defeat at Burnley and Tottenham defender Serge Aurier in Spurs' 2-1 win over Southampton.

Last term he officiated 29 matches, including a number of top flight fixtures, with 70 bookings and three red cards.

First Town game since the 4-1 victory over Wycombe Wanderers in September 2016, while he also refereed the 2-1 defeat to Northampton in March 2015.

Did have the whistle for two more Luton games way back in the 2008-09 campaign as he had Town's 1-1 draw at home to Morecambe and and 2-0 defeat at Brentford.

Assistant referees are Neil Davies and Derek Eaton, with the fourth official Daniel Leach.

In charge: Lee Johnson – a midfielder during his playing career, he had spells at Arsenal and Watford as a youngster, joining Brighton in 2000, heading to Brentford on non-contract terms and then signing for Yeovil Town in July 2001.

Managed by his father Gary, they reached the Second Division, as Johnson went to Hearts and then rejoining his dad at Bristol City, before spells with Derby County, Chesterfield and Kilmarnock.

Appointed Oldham manager in March 2013 at just 31, then the youngest boss in the Football League, as left in February 2015 for Barnsley.

Left in February 2016, heading to Bristol City, where has now completed well over three years in charge, the longest serving manager in the Championship and ninth overall in England.

Signed a new four-year contract in May, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2023.

View from the opposition: City boss Lee Johnson talking to the Robins official website: “It’s a big game at Kenilworth Road, with a tough side in Luton who have an excellent home record and we’ll be going there to try impose ourselves and win the game.

“Kenilworth Road is a good place to play and I played there a lot when I was at Watford as an Academy player and Arsenal before that.

“You really get that feeling of the fans on top of you.

"They are in and around and close to the pitch. It’s very different to the modern stadiums you see in the Championship at the moment but it’s always a great atmosphere.

“Luton fans are held in very high regard in terms of the atmosphere they create and I expect it to be a really good game.”

One to watch: Andreas Weimann – Austrian forward started life at Aston Villa, where spent six years, scoring 24 goals in 129 matches.

Had two loan spells with Watford and then snapped up by Derby for £2.5m in June 2015.

Only netted nine times in three years at Pride Park, with a loan stint at Wolves too.

Headed to Ashton Gate for an undisclosed fee in July 2018 and had five in his first six games last term, although could only double that tally by the end of the season.

Has made a good start to this campaign though, on four goals from 11 matches.

Friendly faces: Town's head of recruitment Mick Harford spent a year at Bristol City as he joined the Robins from Newcastle United for £160,000 in August 1981.

Netted 11 goals in 30 league matches, before being sold to Birmingham in March 1982, Luton shelling out £250k for him in December 1984, as he went on to score 92 goals in 217 games for the Hatters over two spells.

For City, defender Jay Dasilva was in Luton's academy until snapped by Chelsea in 2012, along with his brothers Cole and Rio.

Never made a first team appearance while at Stamford Bridge, spending time on loan at Charlton and then Ashton Gate last season, turning the move into a permanent one this summer, as he has played once so far this term, currently out with an injury.

City midfielder Tyreeq Bakinson came through the ranks at Luton, as he played six times for the club, mainly in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Headed to Ashton Gate in October 2017 but is yet to feature for the Robins, having a successful loan stint at Newport County last season.

Attacker Freddie Hinds made two appearances for Luton in the Checkatrade Trophy after impressing in the youth team, then joining City for an undisclosed fee in January 2017.

Made four appearances for the Robins, scoring twice in the League Cup, but has been out on loan in recent seasons, at Cheltenham, Wrexham and Bath City, before moving to Colchester in the summer, yet to play for the U's.

Played for both: Steve Robinson - midfielder who started his career at Spurs, leaving for Bournemouth in 1994 where he played around 250 games.

Went to Preston in 2000, and had a loan spell with City in 2002, featuring six times and scoring once in a 3-3 draw with Reading.

Snapped up by Luton in June 2002 for £50,000, and played in the Hatters' League One promotion-winning team in 2005, racking up 211 appearances and scoring 12 goals before leaving in 2008.

After working with the Northern Ireland youth teams, Robinson was named manager of Oldham Athletic in 2016, only lasting 33 games, but was appointed Motherwell boss in February, and has now completed two years at Fir Park.

We've got form: Luton have the upper hand over Bristol City when the two sides have met at Kenilworth Road in the past.

Although they started with 3-1 United League defeat back in 1899, Robert Burbage's double saw them win their next encounter, a Southern League match in 1900, starting a run of 60 years without defeat, including a 5-4 triumph in 1933, Andy Rennie bagging a treble, as Luton kept 11 clean sheets from 18 visits.

City then won 4-1 in Division Three in 1963, as the recent honours have been in the visitors' favour, going seven games without defeat from 1993 to 2004, winning four, until Steve Howard, Emmerson Boyce and Keith Keane were on target in a 3-2 triumph for Luton.

Town's last league contest at Kenilworth Road saw them enjoy a 5-0 victory, as they have won the last three contests, taking their overall record to 14 wins, 10 draws and eight defeats from the 32 meetings, scoring 53 goals and conceding 37.

Last time out: The Hatters ran out 3-1 winners when Bristol City last visited Kenilworth Road, a Carling Cup first round tie back in August 2015.

Jack Marriott's double on 44 and 63 minutes, with Paul Benson's goal in between saw the hosts in control, with Callum Robinson, now with Sheffield United in the Premier League, pulling one back.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Stephen O'Donnell (Scott Griffiths 79), Dan Potts, Steve McNulty, Scott Cuthbert, Mark O'Brien (Nathan Doyle 76), Luke Wilkinson, Cameron McGeehan, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Paul Benson, Jack Marriott (Josh McQuoid 80).

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Alex Lawless, Ryan Hall, Luke Guttridge.

Referee: James Linington.

Attendance: 3,948.