PREVIEW: Hull City v Luton Town

Hatters head to Hull City this weekendHatters head to Hull City this weekend
Hatters head to Hull City this weekend
Hatters head to the KCOM Stadium this weekend

Hull City's plummet down the table in recent months has been nothing short of remarkable as they have endured a quite frankly horrendous 2020 on the pitch.

A 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday on New Year's Day saw the Tigers sitting in ninth place, just two points off the top six, with 11 wins from 26 games, some 16 points clear of the drop zone and 18 away from Luton.

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Two 1-0 defeats to Fulham and Derby, although annoying, could have been brushed off as blips, but then a 2-1 home reverse to Huddersfield and 5-1 hammering by Brentford were signs that all was not quite right.

The January transfer window wasn't kind to manager Grant McCann either as his two leading lights Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, who had contributed 22 goals between them, went to pastures new on deadline day, ensuring a season that was already unraveling, continued to do so at a rate of knots.

The Premier League came sniffing for Bowen, West Ham parting with £18m for his services and Grosicki understandably opted to swap a relegation battle for one to get into the top flight, heading to West Bromwich Albion.

Hull just couldn't recover from those body blows, as the defeats just kept on coming, going into lockdown with a 4-0 home revers to Leeds and 5-1 hammering at Stoke.

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That made it nine losses from 11 games, with two draws, claiming just two points out of 33.

Since the season resumed it hasn't got much better, beaten 1-0 at home by Charlton and then leading at Birmingham, only to concede late on and draw 3-3.

McCann's side did finally register a first victory since January when beating Middlesbrough 2-1 at the KCOM, with a stoppage time goal going in their favour this time, but that wasn't the start of a grand revival by any means.

In fact it just got worse, beaten by West Bromwich Albion, Bristol City and Millwall, before the lowest point of the campaign followed at Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night.

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Seven-nil down at half-time, Hull eventually lost 8-0 , their worst defeat in 109 years, to sit third bottom in the table, now level on points with Luton, and looking in serious, serious trouble after a run of one win in 18 games, taking six points from 54.

That saw McCann, who was appointed as manager in June 2019, apologise to supporters, but also state he wasn't about to resign any time soon.

He told the Hull Daily Mail: "It's not a question I am going to answer now.

"We have got two huge games coming up in the next week or so and I will try to prepare the team to get the results.

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“First and foremost, I would like to apologise to the fans – it wasn’t anywhere near good enough from any of us – myself, my staff and the players.

“It could have been 10-0 at half-time. Wigan were excellent, but we can't defend like that and expect to get anything from a game."

“We were second best in all areas and just didn’t turn up.

"There’s no point in me trying to shy away from that and say anything different.

“We improved in the second half but the game was way, way gone by that point.

"It hurts and everyone was embarrassed by the final score.

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“We’ve got to pick the bones out of the performance when we analyse everything and go through it with the players.

“We’ve got a huge game to get ready for against Luton on Saturday and we’ve got to pick a team that is ready to fight and get the three points.

"The good thing is, it's still in our hands. We have two games left - one at home against Luton on Saturday and we have to win."

Team news: Luton have doubts over defender Matty Pearson after he rolled his ankle recently, plus Glen Rea (thigh) and Izzy Brown (Achilles), who have both been out.

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Long-term injuries Brendan Galloway and Eunan O'Kane won't feature this season either.

Hull have a virtually fully fit squad apart from Liverpool loanee Herbie Kane whose campaign has been ended by a hamstring injury.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (13). Tigers: Tom Eaves (8).

Man in the middle: Robert Jones – Has taken 32 games so far this term, including the League One play-off final last week, showing 105 yellows, but is yet to brandish a red card.

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Only showed it twice last season as well, meaning his last sending off came back in April 2019,

Had two Luton games last season, the 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup and 1-0 Carabao Cup reverse to West Bromwich Albion.

Prior to those fixtures, Jones was in charge when Luton lost 3-0 to Coventry City in October 2017, dismissing Glen Rea.

The referee's assistants are Shaun Hudson and James Mainwaring, with Jarred Gillett the fourth official.

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In charge: Grant McCann – 40-year-old, who started out at West Ham, before spells at Livingston and Notts County, heading to Cheltenham Town in January 2003.

He joined Barnsley for £100,000 in January 2007, then went to Scunthorpe and Peterborough, finishing his career with Linfield, retiring with 39 caps for Northern Ireland under his belt as well.

Headed back to Posh as coach in February 2015, while was appointed first team manager in May 2016, sacked in February 2018.

Named Doncaster boss in June 2018, leading Rovers to the play-offs where they were defeated by Charlton.

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Accepted the offer to take over at Hull in June 2019, as he signed a one year rolling contract.

View from the opposition: Assistant boss Cliff Byrne told the club's official website: “We made it quite clear at our debrief that we can’t dwell on Tuesday, we have to move on and look ahead to Luton.

“Obviously the magnitude of the upcoming game is massive.

"It’s a real opportunity to go and respond.

We’ll be fully focused on ourselves. We know what we want to do this weekend and we have an opportunity to go out there and do what we didn’t do on Tuesday.”

One to watch: Mallik Wilks – 21-year-old forward has been in good form since arriving from Barnsley on loan in January, as he soon opened his account in the 1-1 draw with Reading.

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Netted three times in 10 games before lockdown and has managed two since the season resumed, making it five goals in 17 appearances.

Had started his career with Leeds, spending time on loan at Accrington and Grimsby, before moving to Doncaster under Hull boss Grant McCann, scoring 16 goals in the 2018-19 season.

Moved to Barnsley in July 2019, but only netted once, joining Hull on loan in January 2020 and then making the move permanent earlier this month for an undisclosed fee, penning a two-year deal.

Friendly faces: Town captain Sonny Bradley came through the ranks at Hull, as he went on loan to Aldershot, playing twice for the Tigers at the end of the 2011-12 season.

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Went back to the Shots for the 2012-13 campaign and then joined Portsmouth on a free in May 2013.

Goallkeeper coach Kevin Dearden also had a brief stint at Hull, joining on loan from Spurs in January 1991, playing three times.

Played for both: Midfield Nathan Doyle started his carer at Derby County with loan moves to Notts County and Bradford City, joining Hull on a two and a half year deal in January 2007 for a nominal fee.

He only made one appearance the following season, although did play in the play-off semi-final second leg at home to Watford, scoring his first professional goal in the 4-1 win.

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Was an unused sub for the play off final when Hull beat Bristol City to reach the Premier League.

Made his top flight debut in December 2008 against Manchester City, joining Barnsley on loan in Setember 2009, coming on as a sub for current Town player Jacob Butterfield when making his debut.

Went on loan to Preston and then returned to Bradford in August 2012 playing almost 100 times, as he came to Luton under John Still in September 2014.

Penned a one-year deal and despite playing just 31 times that term, was named player of the season by Town supporters for his displays in central midfield.

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Signed a two year deal in April 2015, but a succession of injuries meant he played just 14 more times, leaving by mutual consent in January 2017 and joining Bridlington Town in May 2018.

We've got form: Luton have more often than not enjoyed their trips to Hull over the years, starting out with a 1-1 Division Two draw in April 1950.

They lost 5-3 in their second visit, before starting a four game winning run including a 4-0 triumph thanks to Bob Morton's double in December 1954.

Results have gone either way since then, although Luton did have a fine 4-0 success at Boothberry Park in April 2002, Steve Howard netting a treble and Dean Crowe scoring.

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Since Hull moved to the KCOM Stadium in 2002, Town have found it slightly harder, with one victory, Howard again scoring to decide a Championship clash in September 2005, the other two matches ending goalless and a 3-0 defeat.

In total, Luton have played 19 games, with nine wins, four draws and six defeats, scoring 29 goals and conceding 26, including keeping clean sheets in their last two visits.

Last time out: Luton were held to a 0-0 draw in their Championship clash at the KCOM Stadium back on October 17, 2006.

Hatters: Marlon Beresford, Kevin Foley, Leon Barnett, Sol Davis, Markus Heikkinen, Richard Langley, Steven O'Leary, David Bell, Dean Morgan, Sam Parkin, Rowan Vine.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Keith Keane, Peter Holmes, Adam Boyd, Warren Feeney.

Referee: G Laws.

Attendance: 14,895.