PREVIEW: Brentford v Luton Town

Brentford are aiming to bring down the curtain on their time at Griffin Park in style this season, as they prepare to move to a new stadium for the 2020-21 campaign.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 11:31 pm
Updated Friday, 29th November 2019, 11:32 pm
Brentford boss Thomas Frank

The club are building a 17,250 capacity ground called the Brentford Community Stadium in west London, which they are to share with London Irish RFC, leaving the home that they have spent well over 100 years at.

Thomas Frank is the manager charged with delivering Championship football once more at their new home and appears more than capable of doing so.

However, after finishing 11th last term, taking over once Dean Smith left for Aston Villa, he saw his squad depleted heavily, losing a number of first teamers to the Premier League.

Star striker Neal Maupay headed to Brighton for the sum of £20m, while Ezri Konsa was snapped up by Aston Villa as they shelled out £12m for his services.

Romaine Sawyers went to West Bromwich Albion, while Josh McEachran headed to Birmingham and Moses Odunbajo left for Sheffield Wedneday.

That meant a rebuilding job and Frank was certainly given the funds from the sales the club recouped in which to do so.

He raided Barnsley for Ethan Pinnock, while also brought in goalkeeper David Raya from Blackburn and centre half Pontus Jansson from Leeds.

Brentford shelled out £1m to Arsenal for Dominic Thompson, while going abroad for Mathias Jensen (Celta Vigo), Nikolaos Karelis (Genk) and Mads Roerslev (Vendsyssel), the trio all joining for undisclosed fees.

Joel Valencia (Piast Gliwice), Fredrik Hammar (IF BP) and Bryan Mbeumo (Troyes) all put pen to paper, as did Christian Norgaard from Fiorentina as the Bees searched high and wide for new players.

After a slightly sticky start, Frank's new recruits are starting to show they could definitely be a play-off contender this term, particularly on their travels.

They began with a 1-0 home defeat to Birmingham, but then turned that around to beat Middlesbrough at the Riverside.

However, defeat to Leeds, Charlton and Preston, while a draw against Hull and only one victory over Derby, meant the Bees took just four points from their next five games.

A 0-0 draw at home to Stoke followed, but then things picked up dramatically, the Bees winning six out of their next 10, including excellent victories at Barnsley (3-1), Swansea (3-0), QPR (3-1) and Wigan (3-0).

The home form has improved as well, beating Millwall and Reading, although they did suffer a reverse at the hands of Huddersfield.

Wednesday night's 1-0 reverse at Blackburn ended the fine away run, but still sees Frank's side well placed, eighth in the table, and just three points off the top six.

Team news: Luton boss Graeme Jones is without Martin Cranie, while Danny Hylton isn't expected to feature despite recovering from his knee injury.

Glen Rea finishes his spell at Woking this weekend, while young defender Corey Panter has joined Biggleswade Town on loan.

Brentford remain without the suspended Julian Jeanvier, while Josh Dasilva and Bryan Mbuemo are both in contention.

Sergi Canos, Nikos Karelis, Joel Valencia and Josh Clarke all remain out injured.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (6). Bees: Ollie Watkins (11).

Man in the middle: Tony Harrington - second Luton game of the season after taking Town's 3-0 win at Cardiff City in the Carabao Cup back in August.

Has refereed 15 fixtures so far, with just 37 yellows and two reds in that time, while he had 31 matches last season, 103 bookings and three dismissals.

Took Luton back in April 2016, a 2-1 win at Carlisle in League Two, Joe Pigott and Josh McQuoid scoring, while also had two Hatters matches in the 2014-15 season, a 2-1 win at Stevenage and 2-1 FA Cup loss at Cambridge.

Officiated four Luton games in the Blue Square Bet Premier during 2011-12, defeat at York, draws with Cambridge and Southport, plus a 2-0 loss at Wrexham sending off John-Paul Kissock in the final minute.

Once in the 2012-13 season he showed a red card in five out of six matches, making that six in 10 a few games later.

Daniel Leach and Timothy Wood are the assistant referees, with the fourth official Elliott Swallow.

In charge: Thomas Frank – 46-year-old from Denmark, who had a short playing career in amateur football, as he began youth team coaching in his home country, with the U8s and U12 teams at Frederiksværk BK.

Moved on to Hvidovre IF and Lyngby, as he was appointed manager of the Danish national U16s and U17s in 2008, leading the U17s to European U17 Championship semi-finals and U17 World Cup group stages.

Promoted to the U19s in 2012, but he failed to achieve qualification to the 2013 European U19 Championship.

Took his maiden job in senior football when named manager of Danish Superliga club Brøndby IF in June 2013, finishing fourth and third to earn Europa League qualification stages.

Resigned in March 2016 and moved to England to join Brentford as assistant head coach in December 2016.

Once Dean Smith left for Aston Villa in October 2018, Frank was promoted to the role of head coach as he led Brentford to the fifth round of the FA Cup and 11th in the Championship.

View from the opposition: Head coach Thomas Frank after defeat to Blackburn on Wednesday night - "I think we performed well enough - not top - but well enough to get something out of the game.

"What we need to learn is when we perform well enough, we need to get a draw once in a while or nick a win because it seems as though we have to perform top to get the win."

One to watch: Ollie Watkins – 23-year-old striker is in red hot form this season for the Bees, third top scorer in the Championship, with 11 goals in just 18 games.

Started out at Exeter as he impressed for the Grecians, earning his move to Griffin Park in July 2017.

Notched 11 in 48 appearances during his first season, plus 12 in 45 last term, but this season has taken off after getting the winner at Middlesbrough in August.

Bagged a hat-trick in the 3-1 win at Barnsley and also two in the wins over QPR and Derby County means he is one of the hottest prospects around at this level.

Friendly faces: Town's goalkeeper coach Kevin Dearden started out at Spurs, having numerous loan spells before heading to Brentford in September 1993, spending six years with the Bees, making over 200 appearances.

Went to Wrexham and then finished his playing career at Torquay, as he went into coaching, joining Luton in December 2014.

Played for both: Adam Newton – utility player began at West Ham, playing for Portsmouth, Notts County and Leyton Orient on loan, before heading to Peterborough in March 2002.

Played over 200 games for the Posh, as he then went to Brentford on a free in June 2008, featuring 38 times for the Bees, scoring once, that against Luton.

Headed to Kenilworth Road in July 2009, making 66 appearances and scoring four goals as Hatters were in the Conference during Newton's spell in Bedfordshire.

Joined Working in August 2011, spending six years with the Cards, playing over 100 games, scoring four times, before hanging his boots up in July 2017.

We've got form: Town have a pretty good record at Griffin Park over the years, as they started with a 1-0 Southern League win in September 1901.

They enjoyed a nine game unbeaten run between 1952 and 1966, a spell in which they picked up a 6-2 Division Three victory.

Town's recent cup form has been good at Brentford, with a 3-0 League Cup success in September 2006, Dean Morgan, Warren Feeney and Rowan Vine scoring, then a 2-0 success in the FA Cup first round replay in November 2007, Chris Coyne and Jaroslaw Fojut netting.

Despite that, Luton's last league win came September 1992, Julian James and Phil Gray scoring in a 2-1 Division One triumph, some eight games ago, Hatters drawing three and losing five.

In total, Town have won 17 of their 55 encounters, losing 25 and draw 13, scoring 71 goals and conceding 78.

Last time out: Luton were beaten 2-0 by Brentford back in League Two, May 2009, as the Bees earned promotion to League One.

Karleigh Osborne put the hosts in front on 73 minutes, before former Hatter Adam Newton netted in the final minute to complete the victory.

Hatters: Dean Brill, George Pilkington (Ian Roper 78), Michael Spillane, Keith Keane, Asa Hall, Jake Howells, Ian Henderson (Lewis Emanuel 62), Kevin Gallen, Chris Martin, Tom Craddock (Ryan Charles 75).

Subs not used: Sol Davis, Sam Parkin.

Referee: Graham Scott.

Attendance: 10,223.