PREVIEW: Luton Town v Peterborough United
After slipping out of the top two places in November and even the play-off spots for a brief period recently, Peterborough are definitely attempting to do something about that in the January transfer window, with the addition of four players already.
Highly rated Brighton defender Ben White, and Sheffield United’s Northern Ireland international Daniel Lafferty both joined on loan until the end of the season.
Fleetwood midfielder Kyle Dempsey signed a similar deal, but the stand out addition has to be Lee Tomlin, who has headed back to his former club from Premier League Cardiff until May.
The 30-year-old previously played for the League One side between 2010 and 2014, making over 150 appearances before spells at Middlesbrough, Bournemouth and Bristol City, where he was transferred for fees totalling just under £9m.
He has already made an impact, scoring on his debut as Posh beat Rochdale 2-1 last week, with outspoken chairman Darren MacAnthony tweeting: “So as a late Xmas pressie for Us and Posh fans Barry Fry has delivered the sensational loan signing of @Leetomlin10 back to the @theposhofficial from @CardiffCityFC on loan until the summer.
“Massive thanks to Neil Warnock for making this happen.”
One playing leaving the ABAX Stadium however, is midfielder Jermaine Anderson, who heads to Bradford until the end of the campaign.
The new arrivals are there to boost a squad which started in stunning form, winning their opening five games to sit at the top of the table.
That sequence was ended by a draw with Doncaster, but it took until September 15 for Posh to experience that losing feeling, beaten at home by Portsmouth.
Steve Evans’ side began to blow hot and cold though, drawing 2-2 at Sunderland one week and then hammered 4-0 on home soil by Barnsley the following Saturday.
Posh have found things tough going since November too, as a 1-0 defeat at Wycombe led to a run of just one league win in eight games, that a 1-0 home triumph over AFC Wimbledon.
When it was ended, it was done so in spectacular style, Accrington humbled 4-0 away on December 29.
Two further defeats followed, 2-0 at home to Scunthorpe on New Year’s Day and then a thumping FA Cup exit, 5-0 at Middlesbrough.
However, Evans’ men made Checkatrade Trophy progress by seeing off Chelsea U21s and then defeated Rochdale to push them into sixth place once more.
The visitors come to Kenilworth Road with the second best away record in the table too, eight wins from 13 games, comfortably the leading scorers on their travels, with 30 goals, well ahead of anyone else in the division
Team news: Luton could hand debuts to both George Moncur and George Thorne with the former arriving from Barnsley today.
Attacker Harry Cornick (ankle) is a major doubt, but goalkeeper Marek Stech is training, while Glen Rea remains out for the season with knee ligament damage.
Posh striker Matt Godden missed training on Thursday with an ankle injury but is expected to recover in time for the trip to Kenilworth Road.
Top scorers: Hatters – James Collins (11). Posh – Ivan Tony (17).
Man in the middle: Antony Coggins - has taken 25 games this season, showing 92 yellow cards and three reds.
This will be his third Luton fixture already, having had the whistle for the 2-2 draw with Charlton and 4-0 home win over Bradford City.
Also refereed the Checkatrade meeting between Luton and Peterborough last term which ended 0-0, Posh triumphing on penalties.
In charge: Steve Evans – 56-year-old who had spells with Bolton Wanderers, Clyde, Albion Rovers, Ayr United, Hamilton Academical and St Johnstone in his playing days, until a knee ligament injury led to an early retirement aged just 24.
Started his managerial career at Stamford in 1994, while had two spells at Boston United, before taking over at Crawley in May 2007.
Left the Red Devils in April 2012 to join Rotherham, departing in October 2015 and was appointed Leeds United head coach later that month.
Sacked in May 2016, as he then took charge of Mansfield in November 2016, resigning on February 27, 2018 and was appointed Peterborough United boss a day later.
View from the opposition: Steve Evans talking to the club’s official website - “The way they play and the results they’ve achieved means they demand respect.
“They are a top side with top players, but then so are we.
“We won’t be going there to frustrate them. We will be going there to try and win a very important game.
“The loss of their manager won’t affect them. I watched them on Tuesday and they played very well even though they lost. This is a tough game for us, but it’s also a tough game for them.
“They were excellent at Sunderland in arguably their best performance of the season so we know they will provide tough opposite at a stadium that creates a wonderful atmosphere. They have a superb home record, we have a really good away record, we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Friendly faces: Luton club captain Alan Sheehan spent a month on loan at Peterborough from Bradford during the 2014-15 season.
He came on in the 2-0 defeat at Scunthorpe and then started the 1-1 draw at Barnsley, before heading back to the Bantams.
On-loan midfielder George Thorne had a month at London Road in the 2012-13 campaign when a West Bromwich Albion player.
He made seven Championship starts, scoring in the 5-4 win over Bolton.
New signing George Moncur was on loan at Peterborough from August 2016 to January 2017, whilst a Barnsley player.
He featured 15 times, scoring three goals.
Town goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden also spent a spell at Posh in the 1990-91 season on loan from Spurs.
For Peterborough, shot-stopper Mark Tyler signed for the Hatters from Posh in July 2009.
Spent seven years at Kenilworth Road, racking up 297 games, before moving back to London Road on loan as player coach in March 2016.
Played a further eight times for the club as he has clocked up well over 450 appearances, although now 41, is yet to feature this term.
Played for both: David Oldfield. Born in Australia, Oldfield was spotted by Luton Town as an 18-year-old, signing in 1986.
He was snapped up by Manchester City for £800,000 in March 1989, before heading to Leicester in an exchange deal with Wayne Clarke in 1990, playing over 200 times and helping the Foxes win promotion to the Premier League in 1994 via the play-offs.
Had a brief loan spell with Millwall and returned to Kenilworth Road in 1995, staying for another three years as he left for Stoke in 1998, having made 178 appearances and scoring 32 goals in a Hatters shirt.
Spent two years with the Potters, moving to Peterborough in 2000, playing almost 100 games, scoring five times.
From there, he went on to play for Oxford, Stafford Rangers, Tamworth and Brackley Town.
Was named caretaker manager at Oxford in March 2004, although didn’t take chance of a match, something he did do in his second stint in temporary charge in April 2005.
Left the backroom staff in 2006, as be became Brackley Town manager in December 2007, then appointed reserve team boss at Peterborough in 2008.
Had one match in charge of the first team when Gary Johnson left, a 2-1 win over Brentford, as Darren Ferguson took over.
Headed to West Bromwich Albion as development coach in July 2011, then to MK Dons as head of the academy in June 2014.
Named Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s assistant at Burton in November 2014, moving with the former Chelsea striker to QPR in December 2015.
Returned to Peterborough in 2017, appointed Grant McCann’s number two, before Steve Evans came in and he left the club.
One to watch: Ivan Toney - started his carer at Northampton before a move to Newcastle didn’t work out, making just four appearances for the Tynesiders.
Had loan spells with Barnsley, Shrewsbury, Scunthorpe and Wigan before a move to Peterborough in the summer.
Took time to get going, with no goal in his opening seven games, before he was off the mark at Southend.
That led to finding the net three times in five matches, but then went eight without a goal in another barren run.
However, the superb free kick against Luton in the Checkatrade Trophy kickstarted Toney into life, scoring three in three.
Is on a run of 14 in his last 16 games, including hat-tricks at Bradford and Accrington, making it 17 for the campaign.
We’ve got form: Luton made a poor start to games with Peterborough on home soil as back in 1964 they suffered a 3-2 defeat in Division Three, then held 1-1 the following season.
However, Town picked up a handsome first win, triumphing 5-2 in a League Cup round one replay in August 1969, which started a run of seven games and over 30 years without defeat, as they kept five clean sheets in a row too.
They were finally beaten in August 2002, but have the upper hand as in total, with six wins, five draws and just two defeats in their 13 encounters, scoring 24 goals and conceding just 11.
Last time out in the league: Before last season’s 0-0 Checkatrade Trophy draw that the visitors won on penalties, Luton ran out 2-1 winners over Posh in their most recent league meeting at Kenilworth Road, a League One meeting in September 2004.
Rowan Vine put the hosts in front on 31 minutes, before Curtis Woodhouse levelled just after half time, although Paul Underwood (57) bagged the winner for Town.
Hatters: Marlon Beresford (Dino Seremet 15), Kevin Foley, Chris Coyne, Paul Underwood, Curtis Davies, Sol Davis, Kevin Nicholls, Steve Robinson, Ahmet Brkovic, Steve Howard, Rowan Vine (Gary McSheffrey 71).
Subs not used: Keith Keane, Steven O’Leary, Enoch Showunmi.
Referee: A Hall.