PREVIEW: Luton Town v Peterborough United

Hatters host Championship new-boys at Kenilworth Road

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 7th August 2021, 10:32 am
Luke Berry makes it 4-0 to Luton when they last faced Peterborough in January 2019
Luke Berry makes it 4-0 to Luton when they last faced Peterborough in January 2019

Peterborough United will be determined to establish themselves as a Championship club once more after ending eight years away from the second tier last season.

Finishing second to Hull City in League One, the Posh moved back into the division for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign.

They did so with something to spare as well, ending up seven points above third place Blackpool, while they almost pipped the Tigers to the title, ending a mere two behind them.

Since then, boss Darren Ferguson has managed to keep the majority of the squad together and has in fact been one of the busiest manager's during the transfer window so far, with a number of signings as Posh chairman Darren MacAnthony is clearly happy to invest.

First in came Ipswich goalkeeper David Cornell, before former Hatter Jorge Grant moved from Lincoln City after a fine season in which he scored 17 times for the Red Imps.

Another ex-Luton player, Jack Marriott, made his return to London Road up after being released by Derby County, with Leicester City centre-back Josh Knight arriving for a 'substantial fee'.

The untested Joe Tomlinson has joined from Eastleigh for an undisclosed fee, with further money going out on Colchester winger Kwame Poku for what was a 'substantial six-figure fee'.

Posh then went even bigger as they brought in Exeter City winger Joel Randall for what was labelled a 'seven-figure' fee following his 13 goals for the Grecians last term.

Speaking about the addition of Randall, MacAnthony tweeted: “I forgot to say that the fee was 7 figures.

"Delighted to ensure more money gets invested through the great @EFL way it should be & to a club who produces incredible young players.”

Boss Ferguson was understandably happy to have been backed in the market and put together a squad which he doesn't want to see just scrapping for safety this season.

He added: “I have been really pleased with the recruitment we have managed to do in the summer and we are still looking to add at least one if we can.

"Pre-season has been challenging for all clubs in the world we live in at the minute, but I have been happy with our preparations.

"There are a few short of minutes, but I think that will be the same for a lot of clubs.

“The Championship is a tough league, but our aim is not to just survive, we want to be competitive in every game and see where it takes us.

"There is a lot to look forward to, for all of us, and we cannot wait to get started.”

Team news: Luton could hand debuts to a number of their summer signings, although the two most likely are Allan Campbell and Fred Onyedinma.

Full back Dan Potts is out after his hamstring injury picked up against Brighton, but boss Nathan Jones hopes that Sonny Bradley, Tom Lockyer and Reece Burke could all be in contention.

Striker Danny Hylton isn't likely to feature having not appeared in pre-season yet.

Posh will leave it late before making a decision on the fitness of midfielders Jack Taylor (hamstring) and Siriki Dembele (Achilles).

Recent additions Poku and Randall are pushing for starts while Marriott and Jonson Clarke-Harris have played in pre-season after nursing injuries over the summer.

Man in the middle: Andy Woolmer – experienced official took three Luton games last season, the Hatters unable to score in any of them, losing 2-0 at Derby County and drawing 0-0 at Coventry, also going down 2-0 at home to QPR.

Had 31 matches in total, showing 93 yellow cards and just one red.

Did have four Town fixtures the campaign before, including the final match in front of fans at Kenilworth Road before the coronavirus pandemic, awarding Town a late penalty as they drew 1-1 with Stoke.

Also had Luton's 1-0 win at Swansea after the season restarted, sending off the hosts' Jordan Garrick for throwing a punch.

Nick Greenhalgh and Lee Venamore are the referee's assistants with fourth official Christopher Sarginson.

In charge: Darren Ferguson – 49-year-old who is the son of Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson.

Came through the ranks under his father at Old Trafford and spent four years with the Red Devils, before heading to Wolves for £250,000 and then Sparta Rotterdam, going on to spend eight years at Wrexham, captaining them to one promotion and the Football League Trophy in 2005.

In January 2007 he left Wales to become player-manager of Peterborough United, leading the Posh to the Championship, but exited in November 2009, with United bottom of the table.

Appointed Preston North End manager in January 2010, sacked in December 2010, as he then returned to London Road in January 2011, winning promotion to the second tier via the play-offs.

Spent two seasons in the Championship, with Ferguson then leaving in February 2015 by mutual consent.

Became Doncaster Rovers boss in October 2015, going up to League One, as he resigned from his post in June 2018.

Was back at Peterborough for a third time on January 2019 and successfully won promotion to the Championship again last term.

View from the opposition: Darren Ferguson talking to the club's official website - “Sometimes when you get to the last week of pre-season it can feel a little bit like it is dragging, but this week has been about the excitement of what lies ahead.

"I personally am really looking forward to Saturday and our opening fixture against Luton Town, I think it will be a really good benchmark for us in terms of where we are at.

“Last season was wonderful and the only downside was the fact we were not able to succeed in front of our fantastic supporters so everybody cannot wait to see over 1,000 at Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

"It should be an incredible atmosphere and hopefully we can put on a good performance for them.”

Manager record: The two managers have come up against each other just twice before, when Darren Ferguson was in charge of Doncaster during the 2016-17 season, Nathan Jones' Luton team winning 3-1 at home and then drawing 1-1 on the road.

Jones is yet to taste victory against Peterborough though, his previous three matches all ending in defeat, albeit two of them in the Checkatrade Trophy.

Friendly faces: Luton's head of goalkeeping Kevin Dearden spent a spell at Posh in the 1990-91 season on loan from Spurs, playing seven times.

Town's head of scouting operations Phil Chapple finished his career at Peterborough, the defender signing in July 1998 and made 20 appearances, scoring once.

For United, striker Jack Marriott joined Luton in May 2015 from Ipswich Town and played 91 times scoring 28 goals.

Went to Peterborough for an undisclosed fee in June 2017, as he scored 33 times in 56 matches, and then went to Derby, netting 17 goals in 86 outings.

Had a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday last year, failing to score 13 appearances, and then headed back to London Road in the summer.

Midfielder Jorge Grant moved on loan to Luton from Nottingham Forest in July 2018 as he spent six months at Kenilworth Road, scoring four goals in 22 matches.

Spent the second half of the campaign on loan with Mansfield and was then snapped up by Lincoln in the summer of 2019.

Played 89 times, with 19 goals and that was enough to earn his move to Posh in the summer.

Meanwhile, United goalkeeping coach Mark Tyler signed for the Hatters from Peterborough 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, while he finally hung up his gloves aged 44 this summer.

Played for both: Shane Blackett - Luton-born defender started his career with Dunstable Town as he went to Arlesey and then headed to Dagenham & Redbridge in 2004, signed by former Town boss John Still.

Sold to Peterborough in the 2007 January transfer window alongside another ex-Hatter in Craig Mackail-Smith as although he struggled with injuries, made 38 appearances in two years as the Posh went from League Two to the Championship.

Was allowed to leave when United reached the second tier, as he moved to Luton in July 2009, but once again injuries restricted him to just 51 appearances, scoring once, leaving in May 2012.

Played for Arlesey, Hemel Hempstead and Dunstable again, before a stint at St Neots until retiring and is now a pre-contracts manager.

One to watch: Jonson Clarke-Harris - 27-year-old striker began his career at Coventry, playing once, as he then went to Peterborough for free in July 2012, but never made a first team appearance.

Loaned out to Southend and Bury, before heading to Oldham in May 2013, scoring nine times in 53 games.

Signed by Rotherham for £350,000 as he scored 10 times for the Millers during his four year spell, with loan stints at MK Dons, Doncaster and Coventry.

Went back to the Sky Blues on a permanent basis, but it was in January 2019 when moving to Bristol Rovers that his career really took off, with 27 goals in 52 games.

That earned a £1.2m move to the Posh last summer and he scored a superb 33 times in just 49 matches, spearheading the club's promotion to the Championship.

We've got form: Luton made a poor start to their home meetings with Peterborough, going down 3-2 in a Division Three clash back in 1964, while they were then held to a draw 1-1 the following campaign.

Things started to pick up quite handsomely from there though, with a first win, triumphing 5-2 in a League Cup first round replay during August 1969, which started a run of seven games and over 30 years without defeat, as they kept five clean sheets in a row between 1983-2000 too.

Town were finally defeated in August 2002, going down 3-2 on the opening day of the new Division Two season, although have bounced back since with two wins and two draws.

In total, the Hatters hold the upper hand, with seven victories, five draws and just two losses from their 14 clashes, scoring 28 goals and conceding 11.

Last time out: Luton ran out comfortable 4-0 winners on their way to the League One title when the two sides last met at Kenilworth Road in January 2019.

James Collins got Luton on their way on eight minutes before the visitors were reduced to 10 men midway through the half, Ryan Tafazolli sent off for a rash challenge on Andrew Shinnie.

Collins immediately made it 2-0, as he completed his treble on 53 from Kazenga LuaLua's pass, Luke Berry twisting brilliantly to add a fourth just after the hour mark.

Hatters: James Shea, Jack Stacey, James Justin, Matty Pearson (Alan Sheehan 77), Sonny Bradley, Alan McCormack (George Thorne 69), Luke Berry, Andrew Shinnie (George Moncur 69), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, James Collins, Kazenga LuaLua.

Subs not used: Harry Isted, Dan Potts, Lloyd Jones, Aaron Jarvis.

Referee: David Coote.

Attendance: 10,055.