FA CUP PREVIEW: Luton Town v Wycombe Wanderers

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Wycombe are starting to get to grips with life in League One following a tough start to the campaign.

It had taken Gareth Ainsworth’s side, who came up with Luton last year after finishing in third place, until their fifth match to taste that winning feeling, triumphing 2-1 at Bradford City.

That wasn’t the catalyst for an immediate upturn in form as although Wanderers were naturally tough to beat, drawing four of their next six, including 1-1 against Luton at Adams Park, they lost the other two.

However, October brought about a real change of fortunes as Wycombe saw off Burton 2-1, a first home success for Chairboys fans to celebrate.

That was followed by defeat to Coventry, but back-to-back home successes over Scunthorpe and Rochdale, meant the 3-2 defeat to Walsall could be quickly forgotten as Peterborough were defeated 1-0 last weekend.

That made it four wins from six encounters to lift Wanderers some six points above the relegation zone and now sitting in 15th position.

Ainsworth has a fine record in the FA Cup as he hasn’t lost a first round tie since the year of his appointment in September 2012.

That year, he went down 4-1 at Crewe, but in the years following, the Chairboys have had some great runs, picking up some famous results along the way, including taking Aston Villa to a replay, winning at Millwall and putting five past Chesterfield on their travels.

Their best effort came in the 2016-17 campaign, as they made it all the way to the fourth round, losing 4-3 at Spurs, after being 2-0 and 3-2 in front during the tie at White Hart Lane.

Last season they made the third round again, knocking out both Solihull Moors and Leatherhead, although their adventure was unceremoniously ended, dumped out 5-1 at Adams Park by Preston.

The Hatters have a proud first round record in recent years too, as they haven’t lost since John Still was in charge, beaten 2-1 at Welling United in November 2013.

If you look at their record when being a Football League club it’s even better too, as the last time they failed to progress at this stage came way back in November 2001, losing 3-2 at Southend, Adrian Forbes and Ahmet Brkovic on target, Tess Bramble scoring a late winner for the Shrimpers.

Team news: Luton are without striker Danny Hylton who starts the first game of his three, or four, match suspension.

Jorge Grant is expected to be available, while Luke Berry is fit but unlikely to be risked, with Dan Potts missing out due to his groin injury.

For Wycombe, Anthony Stewart and Nathan Tyson have returned to full training, while Michael Harriman and Adebayo Akinfenwa are in contention after missing Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Oxford.

Top scorers: Hatters: Danny Hylton, Elliot Lee (5). Wanderers: Adebayo Akinfenwa (5).

Man in the middle: Craig Hicks - has taken 16 games so far this season, showing 55 yellows and three reds.

Four of those cautions came in the one Town match he took, that the 3-0 win over MK Dons in the Checkatrade Trophy last month, with three going to the visiting side.

Took Luton three times last year, the 1-1 draw at Newport County, plus Hatters’ 4-1 home victory over Crawley and the 2-2 draw with Spurs U21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Assistant referees are Steven Plane and Christopher Kidd, with the fourth official Bhupinder Gill.

In charge: Gareth Ainsworth - 45-year-old, who had a lengthy playing career with Blackburn Rovers, Northwich Victoria, Preston North End, Cambridge United, Lincoln City and Port Vale, who shelled out £500,000 for his signature in 1997.

Headed to the Premier League when he joined Wimbledon for £2million a year later, before a switch to Cardiff in 2003 and then QPR where he spent seven years, twice serving as caretaker-manager.

Joined Wycombe in February 2010 and was appointed player manager in November 2012 following the sacking of Gary Waddock, while he is now the second longest serving manager in English football, only behind Morecambe’s Jim Bentley.

View from the dug out: Gareth Ainsworth talking to the club’s official website: “Some teams may opt to rest players in the FA Cup but Wycombe Wanderers will certainly not be doing that.

“The league of course is important but this competition is important to us too.

“I love this competition; it is going to be a partisan atmosphere at Luton which is always the case when we go there, but given it is a cup tie I’m sure that will add that extra little bit of spice.

“There is always drama when we face them, home and away, and I couldn’t even tell you when the last 0-0 draw was between these two teams.

“Of course I don’t want to jinx it by saying that but I’m sure there will be another derby-like atmosphere on Saturday.

“Luton is a big club and we are hoping we can upset the apple cart on Saturday.

“We all know what getting to round three can mean for our club, and hopefully we can bring home some cup magic with us.”

One to watch: Midfielder Bryn Morris joined the Chairboys on loan from Shrewsbury in the summer.

The 22-year-old started his career with Middlesbrough, having temporary spells at Burton Albion, Coventry, York and Walsall, before moving to the Shrews in January 2017.

Snapped up by Ainsworth until January and opened his account for his new club in the 2-2 draw at Portsmouth in September.

Developing a real eye for goal recently, scoring twice in his last three league games, including the winner against Peterborough last time out.

Played for both: Darren Currie - midfielder who began life with West Ham, although it was Barnet where he made his name, between 1998-2001.

Joined Wycombe in 2001 for £200,000, the club’s joint highest transfer fee paid in their history, playing over 100 times for the Chairboys, scoring 14 goals.

Released by the club and headed to Brighton, where he made just 22 appearances, joining Ipswich for £250,000 in December 2004.

Had three years with the Tractor Boys, leaving in May 2007 and signed a two year deal with Luton in the summer, playing 38 times, scoring twice. leaving following relegation to League Two.

Headed to Chesterfield and then dropped down into non-league, becoming assistant manager at Dagenham & Redbridge to former Luton boss John Still, following him to Barnet in the summer.

Friendly faces: Town stopper Marek Stech had a brief stint with Wycombe in the 2008-09 season when he joined on loan from West Ham, playing twice, a 3-3 draw at Brentford and 1-0 home defeat to Rochdale.

Wycombe defender Michael Harriman spent an impressive eight months on loan at Kenilworth Road during the 2014-15 campaign, making 39 appearances, scoring twice.

Rejoined Wycombe for a second spell in July 2015 and has since gone on to play 129 times for the Chairboys, scoring nine goals.

Striker Craig Mackail-Smith joined Wycombe in the summer of 2017 after being released by the Hatters following an injury-hit two years in which he played 40 times, scoring five goals.

Netted 10 goals for the Chairboys last term and has bagged three this term, taking his overall tally to 13 in 61 appearances.

We’ve got FA Cup form: Luton have played Wycombe once in the FA Cup before, that a second round meeting back in December 2004 at Adams Park.

The Hatters eased to a 3-0 victory on the day, Steve Howard opening the scoring after 20 minutes.

Kevin Nicholls added the second on 70, with Howard’s second 10 minutes before the end settling the tie.

Luton went on to face Brentford at home in the third round, going out 2-0 in front of 6,861 fans at Kenilworth Road.

Hatters: Marlon Beresford, Chris Coyne, Paul Underwood, Curtis Davies, Sol Davis, Kevin Nicholls, Keith Keane, Steven O’Leary, Ahmet Brkovic (Enoch Showunmi 83), Steve Howard, Rowan Vine (Calvin Andrew 84).

Subs not used: Dino Seremet, Dave Bayliss, Peter Holmes.

Attendance: 4,767.

Referee: Paul Danson.