PREVIEW: Luton Town v Huddersfield Town

Hatters host the Terriers at Kenilworth Road

By Mike Simmonds
Friday, 1st October 2021, 1:40 pm
Dan Potts saw this header hit the post against Huddersfield last season
Dan Potts saw this header hit the post against Huddersfield last season

After two seasons of struggling in the Championship following their relegation from the Premier League, Huddersfield have made a far better start this time around as they hope to finally feature at the right end of the table once more.

Final positions of 18th and 20th have seen the tenures of managers Jan Siewert and Danny Cowley ended early, with Carlos Corberan arriving in July 2020 and maybe about to start turning things around.

With 10 games gone, the Terriers find themselves in seventh, just outside the play-offs after in what has been an all or nothing kind of start to the Championship campaign, with five wins and four draws.

Corberan looked to reshape his squad over the summer, plenty of experience being allowed to leave as Christopher Schindler, Richard Stearman, Richard Keogh, Juninho Bacuna and Alex Pritchard all moved on.

The Spaniard raided the lower leagues for his new additions, with Lee Nicholls (MK Dons), Ollie Turton (Blackpool), Josh Ruffles (Oxford), Connor Shanks (Bradford), plus Sheffield Wednesday duo Tom Lees and Jordan Rhodes all joining.

He did swoop for Luton defender Matty Pearson as well, along with Chelsea U21 Jon Russell, before loaning in Levi Samuels Colwill from Chelsea, Norwich's Daniel Sinani and West Ham's Ademipo Odubeko.

Huddersfield's campaign began with penalty shoot-out win at Sheffield Wednesday in the Carabao Cup, before a 1-1 draw at Derby, but with fans allowed back at the John Smith's Stadium, they might have been wishing they weren't, Town hammered 5-1 by Fulham.

The home supporters enjoyed their next visit though, beating Preston North End 1-0, as the Terriers went to Sheffield United and came back with an impressive 2-1 success.

Although they were knocked out of the cup by Everton, the Terriers good start carried on, easing past Reading 4-0.

It has been a bit hit and miss since, a 2-1 loss at Stoke followed by a 3-0 win at Blackpool, before back-to-back defeats against Nottingham Forest and Swansea, although that was ended with a 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers on Tuesday night, Town twice coming from a goal behind to triumph.

It was a big statement for Corberan, who told the club's official website: “The most important thing was to show that we’re an important group of players and we have a real team, and we know that if I don’t have an important player, we have other players that are ready to compete at the level they did.

“I feel really pleased. We want always to make our people really happy.

"We want every time they come to enjoy watching a very serious team in attack and a very serious team in defence.”

Off the field, it has been a good few weeks for the club too with duo Lewis O'Brien and Brahima Diarra signing new deals.

Meanwhile, exciting attacker Sorba Thomas has also won a call-up to the Wales international squad for their World Cup qualifiers.

Team news: Luton are slowly getting to the end of the injury problems with midfielder Allan Campbell back on the bench for Wednesday night's win over Coventry after recovering from ligament damage.

Dan Potts, Danny Hylton, Fred Onyedinma, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Admiral Muskwe aren't expected to feature, but should be at least available when Luton head to Millwall after the international break.

For Huddersfield, long term absentees Jordan Rhodes, Pipa, and Aaron Rowe are all unavailable.

Late decisions will be made on Alex Vallejoi, who came off against Blackburn in midweek with a knee problem, plus Jonathan Hogg and Levi Colwill who both missed the match.

Top scorers - Hatters: Elijah Adebayo (5). Terriers: Danny Ward, Matty Pearson (3).

Man in the middle: Leigh Doughty – refereed this fixture last season, sending off Harry Toffolo late on for a foul on Glen Rea.

That was one of the 25 games he had in total, as he also dismissed Matty Pearson for a second yellow when he attempted an overhead kick during Luton's defeat at Swansea.

This season he has taken eight matches, three in League Two and four in the Championship, showing 33 yellows and one red.

Nick Greenhalgh and Bhupinder Gill are the referee's assistants with the fourth official Paul Howard.

Milestones: Town midfielder Glen Rea made his 200th appearance for the Hatters during Wednesday night's 5-0 win over Coventry.

Striker Danny Hylton remains one away from reaching 150 if he is fit enough to feature in the squad.

In charge: Carlos Corberan - 38-year-old Spaniard, who had a brief playing career with Valencia CF, featuring for the reserve team, but retired at the age of just 23, to pursue his coaching ambition.

Started working at Villarreal CF's C and B-teams as a fitness coach, heading to Saudi Arabia side Al-Ittihad a year later.

In July 2013, he became manager of AD Alcorcón's Juvenil A squad, leaving six months later, appointed assistant at Al-Nassr FC.

Earned a first senior managerial role in November 2016 when he took over at Cypriot First Division club Doxa Katokopias FC, but only lasted three months, becoming head coach of Ermis Aradippou in January 2017.

Moved to England when named Leeds United U23 boss in June 2017, promoted to first team coach by Marcelo Bielsa a year later, before he became Huddersfield boss in July 2020.

Managerial record: Nathan Jones has faced Carlos Corberan twice in his career so far, both times last season when Town drew 1-1 at the John Smith's Stadium and were also held to a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road too.

Jones has never lost to Huddersfield in his time as Luton manager, with a 2-0 win at the Terriers forming part of the Great Escape when he kept the Hatters up.

He did whoever go down to a 1-0 defeat at the Bet 365 Stadium when Stoke City chief in October 2019.

View from the opposition: Carlos Corberan speaking to the club's official website: “Luton Town's result against Coventry City didn't surprise me.

"They'd had more away games than home games and some injuries.

"They're a very dangerous side at home and you need to go there with the right mentality.

“We know our strengths and we always want to put our strengths into action, knowing that opponents will know our strengths and try to minimise them.

"Sometimes it can be more tough, but the players need to communicate with actions and show our fans what we can do."

One to watch: Sorba Thomas – 22-year-old winger who was with West Ham as a youngster, then heading to the academy at Boreham Wood.

Spent six years at Meadow Park before he was signed by Huddersfield in January of this year.

Made seven appearances in the final stages of the previous season, while has been regular this term, scoring his first goal in the 4-0 win over Reading.

It's his supply-line that has caught the eye though, with six assists so far, the most in the Championship and was named Player of the Month for August.

Wales have been impressed enough to call him up to their squad for the World Cup qualifiers next week too.

Friendly faces: Defender Matty Pearson joined Luton from Barnsley for an undisclosed fee in June 2018 and went on to play a huge role in the Hatters rise from League One to the Championship, forming a solid partnership with Sonny Bradley.

Became a big crowd favourite at Kenilworth Road, going on to play 136 times, scoring 10 goals in three successful years in Bedfordshire.

Turned down a new contract in the summer to move to Huddersfield and has played 11 times for the Terriers, joint top scorer with three goals.

Luton's head of goalkeeping Kevin Dearden joined Huddersfield in March 1999 from Brentford, but left in June without featuring for the first team.

Played for both: Mick Kennedy - tough-tackling midfielder who started out at Halifax Town, spending two years at the Shay before moving to Huddersfield for £50,000 in 1980.

Made almost 100 appearances for the Terriers, joining then Second Division side Middlesbrough for £100,000 in 1982 and had spells at Portsmouth, Bradford and Leicester, signing for Luton in 1989.

An incident packed season saw Kennedy play 36 times under three managers, see red twice and come off the bench at Derby on the final day to help ensure the Hatters stayed up.

Was sold to Stoke for £250,000 in 1990, while turned out for Chesterfield and Wigan Athletic, before calling time on a career that also saw him win two caps for the Republic of Ireland.

Ran a Soccer School in Ireland after retiring, before sadly passing away in February 2019.

We've got form: Luton have just about come out on top against Huddersfield during their encounters at Kenilworth Road.

Town's first meeting was a Division Two clash in February 1953, losing 2-0, as they hit back to triumph in 1960.

A 4-3 defeated followed, but Luton turned around a poor start in the 1960s and early 1970s with three wins and a draw, then going 50 years without losing until a League One defeat in 2004.

Town have taken four points from the last six available, as in total, the Hatters have won six, drawn two and lost five matches of their 13 meetings, scoring 23 and conceding 18.

Last time out: Town were held to a 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road by Huddersfield last season.

The hosts took the lead with a fine move as Mahamadou-Naby Sarr gave the ball away, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu found Harry Cornick who put it on a plate for James Collins to tuck home on 11 minutes.

Dan Potts then hit the post as the visitors hit back when Sarr equalised with 16 minutes to go.

Harry Toffolo was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Glen Rea in the closing stages, as the Hatters midfielder was also denied by the woodwork in stoppage time.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, Matty Pearson, Tom Lockyer, Sonny Bradley, Luke Berry (Glen Rea 72), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jordan Clark (Kal Naismith 87), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Harry Cornick (Tom Ince 83), James Collins.

Subs not used: James Shea, Martin Cranie, George Moncur, Danny Hylton, Sam Nombe, Elijah Adebayo.

Attendance: None.

Referee: Leigh Doughty.