PREVIEW: Luton Town v Hull City
Hatters host the Tigers this weekend
Hull City are finding life in the Championship is just as tough as when they left it two seasons ago, as despite the campaign still in its relative infancy, it already looks like another year of second tier struggle at the MKM Stadium.
Back in 2019-20, the Tigers looked like they were on their way to a top half finish with Luton the side who were trying to keep their head above water following their promotion from League One.
With Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki flying, everything appeared rosy, but once they were sold in the January transfer window, it all went wrong, and badly, Hull plummeting like a stone, with 16 defeats from the remaining 20 games, including an 8-0 reverse at Wigan, only winning just once.
That meant they dropped out of the division, their fate more or less sealed with beaten 1-0 at home by Luton, eventually finishing rock bottom.
Rather than just lick their wounds in League One though, boss Grant McCann set about making sure it wasn't a temporary stay as his charges went on to lift the title, pipping nearest rivals Peterborough to top spot.
The only down side was that there were no fans to celebrate with, although their first game back in the Championship went even better than they could have hoped for with a 4-1 win at Preston on the opening day, boosting spirits about the term ahead.
However, the harsh reality then took over, as Hull lost both home games to QPR and Derby, before going down at Fulham and although stopped the rot with draws against Bournemouth and Swansea, couldn't build on those matches, defeated by Blackburn.
That run also saw Hull fail to score too in six matches, something they rectified at home to Sheffield United, although still lost 3-1.
They drew with Blackpool, before finally ending the dismal nine game sequence when defeating Middlesbrough 2-0 at home, the only side they had beaten in that horror run towards second tier relegation two seasons ago too.
However, it reverted to type at Huddersfield on Saturday losing 2-0, while even worse followed, doing down 2-1 at home to fellow relegation strugglers Peterborough in midweek, who had lost all six previous league matches away prior to the contest.
It has led to some real criticism of manager McCann, with a number of supporters calling for him to go in midweek.
Speaking to Hull Live, he understood their frustrations saying: “We’ve been in a dark place in this football club before, the first year I was here. We’ve sampled that, we’ve sampled the highs of promotion and winning the league.
"At this present time, things are going against us, we’ve got to keep working, trying to improve.
"We’ve got to stand up to the criticism which is going to come our way, which people are entitled to their opinion of course and I take responsibility, like I say.
"I understand their frustrations, I really do. I feel it as well, the players feel it, and we’re disappointed to be coming in losing the game, so I get it.
"The supporters pay their hard earned money to vent their frustrations and I understand that, I can’t control that.
"All I can do is try and control the team and get them to win games and at the minute we’re not doing it so that’s why the frustration is there from everyone.”
McCann didn't really splash the cash after securing the title, as they lost Reece Burke to Luton, while George Long went to Millwall and Jordy de Wijs completed his move to QPR.
The Hull chief brought in experience in the shape of Tom Huddlestone for a second spell, plus George Moncur, who came in following his contract expiring with the Hatters.
Midfielder Andy Cannon signed from Portsmouth and Exeter winger Randell Williams joined up too, while Tyler Smith arrived from Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee.
City looked to the loan market as Manchester United Di'Shon Bernard signing, along with Manchester City youngster Matt Smith and Brighton's Ryan Longman both on board.
Team news: Luton don't have any injury concerns for the clash at Kenilworh Road, although will be without Kal Naismith who is suspended after picking up five bookings for the season at Derby on Tuesday night.
Hull are without Tom Huddlestone after he picked up a hamstring injury against Peterborough which could rule him out for six weeks.
On-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter might also miss out as well.
Top scorers - Hatters: Harry Cornick, Elijah Adebayo (6). Tigers: Keane Lewis-Potter (3).
Milestones: Striker Danny Hylton remains one game away from his 150th appearance for the Hatters.
Man in the middle: John Busby - Refereed 10 games so far this term, showing 45 yellows and two reds, with his lone Luton match, the 5-0 hammering at home by Birmingham.
Took Town twice last term, the 3-2 win at Bristol City in April and 3-1 Carabao Cup success over Norwich City.
Had 35 fixtures in total, and was also in charge for the FA Vase final at Wembley, while has refereed Luton on numerous other occasions, including the 4-0 win over Doncaster in March 2019 and 2-1 Checkatrade Trophy victory over Brighton U21s that season.
Officiated another five Luton matches, Town winning three, drawing one and losing one.
Referee's assistants are Ian Cooper and Matthew Jones, with the fourth official James Linington.
In charge: Grant McCann - 41-year-old, who started his playing career with West Ham, before spells at Livingston and Notts County, as he became Cheltenham Town's record signing at the time for £50,000 in January 2003.
Switched to Barnsley for £100,000 in January 2007, while joined Scunthorpe and then Peterborough in May 2010, playing almost 200 games for the Posh, eventually going on to finish his career, which also featured 39 caps for Northern Ireland, at Linfield.
Headed back to London Road and Peterborough in a coaching capacity 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, but accepted the offer to take over at Hull just 12 months later.
Couldn't keep the Tigers in the Championship, as they went down in 2020, but masterminded an immediate return from League One with the title last term.
View from the opposition: Boss Grant McCann speaking to the club's official website: “Luton have made a good start to the season.
“I've always had a good relationship with Nathan Jones.
"We're looking forward to it. We'll go there and try and come away with three points.
"We're doing everything we can. We've got a group of players that are giving everything for the football club."
Manager record: Luton boss Nathan Jones has faced Grant McCann three times before, all against different sides.
First his Luton team lost on penalties to Peterbough in the Checkatrade Trophy in January 2018 after a 0-0 draw at Kenilworth Road.
Town then went to Doncaster in September 2018 and were beaten 2-1, before his only success, the 1-0 win at Hull in July 2020.
Jones has also taken on Hull twice, the Luton secured by Kazenga LuaLua's strike and also a 2-0 away defeat when Stoke manager.
McCann has a decent record against Luton with three wins out of five meetings, the two mentioned and a 3-0 success at Kenilworth Road when in charge of Hull in September 2019.
The other two have ended in Hatters wins though, Luton beating Doncaster 4-0 in March 2019 and then the crucial 1-0 triumph that saw Town take a huge step to staying up.
One to watch: Josh Magennis - 27-year-old striker who began his career at Cardiff, with a loan spell at Grimsby, before heading north of the border to Aberdeen in July 2010, scoring 12 goals in his four years at Pittodrie.
Brief loan at St Mirren, as he moved to Kilmarnock, netting 20 goals in 84 games to alert Charlton who moved to bring him down south in August 2016, as he scored 20 goals in his two years at the Addicks.
Had a season at Bolton, scoring just seven goals for the Trotters, then going to Hull in August 2019.
Was the star of the League One campaign with 18 strikes last term and looked like he would make the step up with a goal in the 4-1 win at Hull.
Went eight games for club and country without scoring, ending that run at home to Peterborough in midweek, but did miss a penalty too.
Has scored 26 goals in his 84 appearances for Hull and has won 63 caps for Northern Ireland, on target eight times too.
Friendly faces: Town defender Reece Burke was signed by Hull for £1.5m from West Ham in July 2018 after coming through the Hammers academy and making 15 appearances, plus having a number of loan spells.
Spent three years with the Tigers, but decided to leave in the summer, as he agreed a move to Luton after playing 110 games and scoring five goals for City.
Has made six appearances for the Hatters so far since his move to Bedfordshire.
Town skipper Sonny Bradley came through the ranks at Hull, but played just twice for the Tigers in the Championship, as he left at the end of the 2013 season, heading to Portsmouth on a free transfer.
Went to Crawley and Plymouth, moving to Luton in July 2018, and has played 130 times, scoring three goals so far for the Hatters.
Luton head of goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden also had a brief stint at Hull, joining on loan from Spurs in January 1991, playing three times.
Hull midfielder George Moncur joined Luton in January 2019 after an undisclosed move from Barnsley, as he played 59 times in total, scoring 11 goals, netting some memorable efforts, including against Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Wigan Athletic.
Wasn't offered a new contract in the summer as he moved to Hull, but was sent off against QPR and then had to sit out three games.
Played 11 times so far this term, with seven starts, but has come off the bench in the last two games.
Played for both: Mark Cullen - Started his career with the Tigers, scoring in the Premier League aged just 18, when netting at Wigan in a 2-2 draw.
Managed two in 28 appearances overall, with loans at Bradford, Bury and Stockport, moving to Luton on a free in June 2013.
Bagged 24 goals in 83 matches for the Hatters including the famous strike at Cambridge which virtually sealed Town's promotion to the Football League in March 2014.
Left for Blackpool for a fee of £180,000 in June 2015, scoring 26 goals in 108 appearances for the Tangerines, with a move to Port Vale four years later.
Spent seasons with the Valiants, scoring 11 goals, before joining Hartlepool in the summer, opening his account in Tuesday night's 3-1 win at Bradford City.
We've got form: Visitors Hull have enjoyed easily the better of recent fixtures at Kenilworth Road, winning on five of their last six trips to Bedfordshire, currently on a run of three successive victories.
Town's last success came back in February 2005, when an Ahmet Brkovic goal settled the League One encounter.
In fact, the Hatters have consistently struggled against their opponents on home soil since games started with a 3-0 defeat in Division Two in November 1949.
It took them four games to register a victory, that a 3-2 Division Two win in 1953 thanks to Hugh McJarrow's double which led to four wins in six encounters.
However since then, City have had the upper hand, with Luton winning just three of their last 12 meetings, as in total, Town have triumphed in seven to Hull's 10, with four draws from their 21 matches, scoring 28 and conceding 33 goals.
Last time out: Luton were defeated 3-0 by Hull on their last visit to Kenilworth Road, that a Championship contest in September 2019.
The visitors went ahead on 63 minutes when Kevin Stewart's half volley bounced into the top corner.
Town then fell apart late on, Kamil Grosicki scoring on 87 and Stewart adding a second at the death after a mix-up between Dan Potts and Simon Sluga saw him tap home from a yard out.
Hatters: Simon Sluga, Luke Bolton (Dan Potts 76), James Bree, Sonny Bradley, Matty Pearson, Ryan Tunnicliffe, Andrew Shinnie, Izzy Brown (Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu 64), Kazenga LuaLua (George Moncur 64), Harry Cornick, James Collins.
Subs not used: James Shea, Lloyd Jones, Jacob Butterfield, Elliot Lee.
Referee: Andy Madley.