PREVIEW: Luton Town v Bury

Bury are definitely one of the teams to watch out for in League Two this season according to most people in the know.
Played for both: Mark TylerPlayed for both: Mark Tyler
Played for both: Mark Tyler

Tipped by Hatters boss John Still on the Football League show at the weekend, the Shakers were amongst the bookies favourites to finish as champions before the campaign started.

Much of that has come down to a summer of transfer recruitment that saw a host of experienced and proven players come into the club.

The likes of Ryan Lowe, Nicky Adams and Kelvin Etuhu all moved to Gigg Lane, joining the likes of Daniel Nardiello, who was already a Shaker.

The latest new face is Barnsley striker Danny Rose who penned a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee on Monday, following a short-term loan move.

Much of this has been down to Bury’s successful takeover in May of last year, with chairman Stewart Day revealing more than £1.5m has been invested in the League Two club since.

Being one of the heavily touted teams is music to manager David Flitcroft’s ears though as he told BBC Radio Manchester: “I love the fact we’ve been built up to be a top team but we’ve got to handle it.

“We will find solutions. Me, the coaching staff and the chairman, that’s what we do.

“We’ve worked really hard on trying to build a strategy on recruitment and we’ve recruited some fantastic players.

“Nothing will be won in the first month or January. It will go right to the wire.”

Chairman Day has also revealed that any new players must go through a rigorous interview process before signing, adding: “This isn’t financially motivated for a lot of players, it’s about success.

“First and foremost, the player has to have the appetite to wear the shirt.

“Some of the players have failed the interview process. We’ve come away and it’s not been right for David or I.

“Thankfully that has been few and far between because the diligence we’ve done as a coaching staff is to bring in the right recruit.”

Bury have also strengthened their squad elsewhere, with ex-Hartlepool striker James Poole coming in, plus midfielder Joe Thompson, after he was given the all-clear from cancer.

Former Northampton full back Joe Widdowson was snapped up too as was Chorley defender Keil O’Brien, who was at Manchester United’s youth team.

There were players departing though, as popular keeper Brian Jensen headed the list, while Trevor Carson, Richard Hinds, Robbie McIntyre, Tommy Miller, Lewis Young and Temitope Obadeyi all left.

Despite all the hype, Bury started in disappointing fashion with a 2-0 home defeat by Cheltenham Town on the opening day.

They they ran Championship outfit Bolton mightily close in the Capital One Cup, conceding a last minute penalty before losing in extra time.

The Shakers did get their first points on the board at the weekend though, with a 2-0 triumph at Hartlepool.

Team news: Luton will have Luke Rooney available after he served his one match suspension against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Town are still without Paul Connolly, Jonathan Smith, Shaun Whalley and Alex Lawless, while Andy Parry is definitely missing for a few more weeks.

Bury’s new signing Danny Rose, who scored six minutes after coming on against Hartlepool, is pushing for a start after joining permanently on Monday.

Pablo Mills is fit after a head injury as is Kelvin Etuhu, who has recovered from the flu, but Craig Jones (back) may be out.

Goalkeeper Rob Lainton may continue after Shwan Jalal picked up a groin strain in the Capital One Cup.

Top League Two goalscorer: Hatters - Mark Cullen (1). Shakers: Daniel Nardiello, Danny Rose (1).

Man in the middle: Tim Robinson - has had two games so far this season, showing four yellow cards, taking MK Dons in League One and then Birmingham’s 3-1 victory over Cambridge United, while he was the fourth official at Plymouth v Exeter on Saturday.

Was in charge of 30 games last season, showing 93 yellows and five reds in total.

His first visit to Kenilworth Road, but Robinson did take Luton’s 1-0 win at Newport County in the Blue Square Bet Premier in November 2011, booking Alex Lawless before Danny Crow scored a last minute winner.

In charge: David Flitcroft: 40-year-old who is the younger brother of the former Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City player Garry Flitcroft.

Started his playing career at Preston North End, while had spells at Lincoln, Chester, Rochdale, Macclesfield before joining Bury in 2004, playing over 100 times for the club.

Moved to non-league Hyde United, but returned to Rochdale as assistant manager, until hanging up his boots in 2011.

Appointed number two at Barnsley in June 2011, he was named caretaker boss during the 2012-13 season, and on earning the full time post, guided the club to Championship safety on the final game.

Was sacked after a poor run of results in November 2013, and was then appointed Bury boss on December 9.

View from the opposition: Bury skipper Jim McNulty, speaking to the Bury Times: “Luton is a tough game. “They are a man’s outfit, they will play percentage football and make it difficult.

“So it is going to be a tough night - a night to stand up to be counted.

“But if we can go down there, put in another strong performance and get a victory, that will send out a message.

“We’ve got gritty characters and we have got a lot of men in our dressing room that have been promoted from this division and the next, so we are equipped to go anywhere, we just need to get the juggernaut in motion.”

Two to watch: Strikers Daniel Nardiello and Ryan Lowe have made careers of knowing exactly where the goal is.

The return of Lowe delighted Bury fans as the striker scored 50 goals in two years at the club in his previous spell.

Now 35, he is showing no signs of slowing down as Lowe was top scorer for Tranmere last season, before moving back to Gigg Lane, and opened his account against Bolton in the cup.

Nardiello, 31, has been prolific wherever he has gone, none more so than at Rotherham, finishing with 19 goals in the 2012-13 campaign.

Had a successful loan spell at Bury last season and made the move official in January, netting 16 times for the club. Off the mark for this season with a goal at Hartlepool on Saturday.

Friendly faces: While at Peterborough, Hatters keeper Mark Tyler spent two months on loan with Bury in the 2008-09 season. He made 11 appearance for the Shakers, including one at Kenilworth Road, when Bury ran out 2-1 winners.

Striker Mark Cullen also spent two loans spells with the club while at Hull City.

His first stint was in League One in the 2011-12 where he made one start and three sub appearances.

He then returned in the 2012-13 campaign, making seven league starts and three sub appearances, scoring just once in the 2-2 draw at Stevenage.

We’ve got form: Hatters’ recent record at home to Bury doesn’t make for good reading, as they haven’t tasted victory against the Shakers since a 2-1 win back in the Old Division Two in 1962 when Gordon Turner and Ron Davies scored.

The two side have met six times since then, with Luton drawing four of them, including three stalements, plus two 2-1 defeats.

If you look at Town’s overall record though, it’s very good as they won 11 out of 12 meetings, with nine straight successes, after the first match back in 1937 ended 1-0 to the visitors.

In total, the two clubs have met 19 times, with Luton winning 11, drawing five and losing three, scoring 33 times and conceding 18 goals.

The biggest win was a 4-0 triumph in 1961 thanks to braces from Turner and Alec Ashworth while they’ve only ever been beaten by a single goal margin.

Last time out: Hatters suffered a 2-1 defeat in their most recent meeting with Bury at Kenilworth Road, a League Two clash in January 2009.

The hosts had led through Asa Hall’s first half goal, but a quickfire double from Andy Bishop (56) and Andy Morrell (66) saw the Shakers to victory.

Current Hatter Jake Howells came off the bench on 64 minutes to replace Sol Davis, while now Luton keeper Mark Tyler was between the posts for the visitors.

Hatters: Conrad Logan, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Mark Bower, Sol Davis (Jake Howells 64), Asa Hall, Michael Spillane (Claude Gnakpa 77), Kevin Nicholls. Sam Parkin, Tom Craddock, Ian Henderson, Kevin Gallen (Akanni-Sunday Wasiu 70).

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Rossi Jarvis.

Referee: Fred Graham.

Attendance: 5,545.

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