PREVIEW: Accrington Stanley v Luton Town

Played for both: Shaun Whalley
Played for both: Shaun Whalley

It’s been a tough start to the season both on and off the pitch for Accrington Stanley.

Pointless after their three opening League Two games, out of the Capital One Cup, the club were then burgled after a break-in at their home ground this week.

Players’ belongings were taken, while other areas of the stadium were also targeted.

Manager James Beattie told the club website: “A number of my players have had their boots and other equipment taken, which have both monetary and sentimental value to them.

“As if it isn’t hard enough to try to keep this club in the Football League against the odds and with a small budget, this is another blow that could have a detrimental effect on both our season and the finances.”

Five boys have since been interested, while league sponsor Sky Bet stepped in to provide the players with new footwear ahead of their clash with Luton.

Beattie added: “The players here don’t earn lots of money and losing their boots earlier this week was a big blow to a lot of them.

“This gesture is a big lift to us and has helped us to end a difficult week on a high – now we’re out to end it with three points.”

Beattie has been strengthening his squad this month, signing ex-Wigan defender Jordan Mustoe on a short-term contract.

Meanwhile, Stoke City forward James Alabi has arrived on loan, while the club also added two new goalkeepers in Jay Lynch and Luke Simpson.

Teenage midfielder Connor Martin was also snapped up, plus ex Wigan defender Adam Buxton too.

During the summer, the club had to release a number of players, including former Manchester United striker Danny Webber.

Stanley started this year’s campaign with a 1-0 defeat at home to Southend, while they then ran Championship side Leeds United close in the Capital One Cup, bowing out 2-1 at Elland Road.

Accrington went down 2-1 at Cheltenham, before a disappointing 4-0 reverse at Shrewsbury, to leave them at the foot of the table.

Boss Beattie is refusing to panic just yet though as he added: “We are only three league games in and no one is pressing the big red button yet, I am certainly not.

“I have the belief in myself and the players. This is a great group of lads, they are very good players and it’s my job to pick them up after the defeat to Shrewsbury.

“We want to get that first win and we know from last season that the longer it goes on, the more anxious the players will get – but we know it will come.”

Team news: Goalkeeper Luke Simpson serves a one match suspension following his red card at Shrewsbury on Tuesday night, so Jay Lynch is likely to make his first Football League start in goal.

Fellow keeper Andrew Dawber is still a couple of weeks away from fitness with a knee problem.

Adam Buxton and Michael Liddle both missed the game on Tuesday due to injury and are being assessed.

The Hatters might have Paul Connolly back after his hamstring injury, but Jonathan Smith, Shaun Whalley, Alex Lawless and Andy Parry aren’t expected to feature.

Top League Two goalscorer: Stanley - Kai Naismith (1). Hatters - Mark Cullen, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (1).

Man in the middle: Seb Stockbridge is embarking on his second season as a Football League referee and has shown five yellows so far from his two games.

Last year, he brandished 83 yellows and seven reds from his 24 games, including a run of six dismissals in 11 matches.

Was in the Conference before his promotion, where he took Luton’s 1-1 draw with Grimsby in April 2013, while also the season before, Hatters’ 1-0 win at Blundell Park.

In charge: James Beattie - 36-year-old striker, who made five appearances for England during his career, is still registered as a player at Accrington.

Came through the ranks at Blackburn Rovers, he earned some big money moves in his time after moving to Southampton as part of the deal that took Kevin Davies to Ewood Park for £7 million.

Bagged 23 league goals in the 2002-03 season before moving to Everton for £6 million in January 2005.

Injuries severely hampered his time at Goodison Park, eventually earning a move to Sheffield United for £4million in August 2007 where he scored 22 goals in the Championship.

Returned to the Premier League in January 2009, as Stoke swooped for £3.5million, but fell out of favour and went to Rangers for an undisclosed fee.

Had his contract terminated in August 2011 and went back to Sheffield United, before moving to Accrington as player coach in November 2012.

Following the departure of manager Leam Richardson, Beattie expressed an interest in taking the position and took over permanently on Mary 13, 2013.

View from the opposition: James Beattie speaking to the club’s official website: “Luton did tremendously well last year. I worked with John Still on BT Sport and he is a football man through and through.

“Luton are back in the Football League and they have their history and get really good gates, which I am quite envious of, but I am concentrating on Accrington Stanley and all I am bothered about is our results.

“We will give Luton the respect they deserve but if we do the right stuff at the right time then I am in no doubt what the outcome will be – we just have to do it.”

One to watch: Midfielder Kai Naismith was Stanley’s top scorer last year, netting 10 league goals.

Already off the mark this campaign, the 22-year-old began his career at Rangers, before spells at Cowdenbeath and Partick ahead of his move to Stanley at the start of last season

Friendly faces: Shaun Whalley - Town’s winger joined Accrington from Chester in August 2006, spending two years with the club, netting five league goals in over 50 appearances.

Left Stanley in June 2008 when he was released and went on to sign for Wrexham.

Last time out: Hatters were held to a 0-0 draw at Accrington in their only other visit to Stanley in League Two during February 2009.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Mark Bower, Asa Hall, Sol Davis, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Keith Keane, Rossi Jarvis, Sam Parkin, Chris Martin (Kevin Gallen 77), Ian Henderson (Jake Howells 56), Tom Craddock.

Subs not used: Claude Gnakpa, Michael Spillane, Paul McVeigh.

Referee: Nigel Miller

Attendance: 1,033.

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