PREVIEW: Luton Town v Plymouth Argyle

Luton Town FC. Stock images.
Luton Town FC. Stock images.

Like Luton, Plymouth Argyle had a quiet transfer deadline day on Monday, with just one player entering the Home Park premises.

That was Swansea City’s Welsh U19 winger Alex Bray, who has joined until January 10. Although yet to feature for the Premier League side in a competitive match, he did play against Plymouth during a pre-season friendly before the campaign began.

The new signing is hoping his wing play will be of great effect in League Two, as he told the club’s official website: “I like to think I’m attack-minded; like to beat players, running with the ball; I can pass and move.

“I’m quite quick, so, hopefully, in this league, I can be quite dangerous – on the counter-attack, especially.”

Argyle boss John Sheridan did the majority of his business in the summer, with the main addition, enticing last season’s top scorer Reuben Reid to join permanently from Yeovil.

The likes of James Bittner, Peter Hartley, Deane Smalley, Lee Cox, Oliver Norburn and Carl McHugh all joined, with Anthony O’Connor signing on loan from Blackburn too.

Argyle started in disappointing fashion, losing 1-0 at Cambridge United, and it’s their away form that has been the only real down side, with another defeat at Bury.

Conceding from set-plays has been a feature on their travels and it’s that side of the game they have been working on ahead of this weekend’s clash.

Boss Sheridan said: “They were soft goals in both of the games and we have worked on set plays this week.

“We have got to defend and stop crosses coming in the box because I don’t think many teams have played through us.

“I think our shape is really good at the moment, but we do allow balls to come in the box a bit cheaply.”

On home soil, they appear a different proposition, only beaten on penalties by Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup, while they have taken seven points from nine, defeating Southend and Exeter.

After avoiding relegation by a single point in 2012-13, last term represented real progress as Plymouth finished in 10th place, although still some way off the play-offs.

They’ve been tipped to feature in the promotion shake-up this season, and that is the least Sheridan expects as speaking to local media before the campaign started, he said: “I would like to think we are going to be up there this season.

“I want people to think we are going to have a really good, successful season.

“I like putting a bit of pressure on myself. I don’t mind saying we’re going to try to push for promotion.

“I’ve done well in this league, and last season was a step up from the one before. From tenth, you’re going to be in and around the play-offs, hopefully, if there is a step up again.”

Team news: The Hatters should have Scott Griffiths back after he missed the trips to Accrington and Shrewsbury, while Andy Drury and Luke Guttridge are fit too.

Alex Lawless and Jonathan Smith are back in training, but Shaun Whalley and Andy Parry remain out, with Matt Robinson suspended after Town failed in their appeal against his red card.

Argyle have a fully fit squad with the exception of striker Matt Lecointe, who has suffered a recurrence of a long-term knee injury.

Plymouth’s poor away form has seen Sheridan promise to make a few changes for Saturday’s match though.

He said: “I look at our last two away games and we have lost them both, but I felt we were in the games and should have got something from them in my eyes.

“Whatever team I play, will always be a team that will try to win the game. I’m not going for a draw or to sit back.

“We are going to try to take the game to Luton. It won’t be the same team as last Saturday – I can tell you that.

“I don’t usually give that information, but I will make a couple of changes. It’s all purely to get the right result, which is to win.”

Top goalscorer: Hatters - Luke Rooney (2). Reuben Reid (5).

Average attendance: Hatters: 8,496. Plymouth: 7,698.

Man in the middle: Mick Russell - taken one game this season, the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash between Wycombe and Coventry on Tuesday night, while he was also the fourth official for Fleetwood’s 1-1 draw against Leyton Orient.

Had a mixture of games last season from Championship to League Two, showing 73 yellows and three reds in his 28 games.

First trip to Luton since the 2008-09 season when he reffed Town’s 1-0 League Two defeat to Wycombe Wanderers in April 2009, booking then Hatters striker Ian Henderson.

In charge: John Sheridan, 50-year-old, former midfielder who began at Manchester City before moving to Leeds where he made over 200 appearances until Nottingham Forest shelled out £650,000 for him in 1989.

Only made one appearance for Forest as he moved to Sheffield Wednesday for £500,000, scoring the winning goal in the 1991 Football League Cup Final at Wembley as the Owls beat Manchester United 1-0.

Had spells at Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers and Doncaster before ending up finishing his career at Oldham, while he also won 34 caps for the Republic of Ireland, playing in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups.

Was appointed Oldham manager in 2006, having served as caretaker boss twice, but left in 2009, when he joined Chesterfield in June of the same year, taking them up to League One, where they lasted one season, coming straight back down.

Resigned as Spireites manager in September 2012 and became Plymouth manager in January 2013, leading the club to safety and signing a new year three deal in May.

View from the opposition: John Sheridan speaking to the local press ahead of the televised trip to Luton: “I think the players are excited.

“It’s always nice for people to see you play. With it being on TV, it adds that little incentive, knowing people are watching.

“I think it will be a good game too. Luton have come up after having a really good season.

“We have prepared properly and, hopefully, we can go and express ourselves and give a good performance.

“Usually the home team are going to put you under pressure.

“They are going to take the game to you, so we have got to stand up and be counted and have that little bit of know-how, believe in ourselves and take care of the ball more.”

One to watch: Reuben Reid - Was a real crowd favourite during his loan spell from Yeovil last season, scoring 21 goals in 54 appearances.

Joined permanently in the summer and has already bagged four goals this term, including one in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Southend.

Began his career at Home Park, before spells at Kidderminster, Rochdale, Torquay, Wycombe, Brentford and then Rotherham, where he scored 19 goals in a season.

Moves to West Brom, Peterborough, Walsall, Oldham and Yeovil followed, but appears to have settled back at Plymouth once more.

Friendly faces: Hatters defender Paul Connolly came through the youth ranks at Plymouth Argyle, and made his league debut in the final game of the 2000-01 season.

Was a first team regular from 2003 onwards, helping the team to gain promotion to the First Division in 2003-04, scoring his only ever goal against Norwich on November 10, 2007.

Made over 150 appearances in eight years before his move to Derby in May 2008.

Meanwhile, Scott Griffiths spent a month with Argyle in the 2012-13 season, making six appearances until he moved to Luton.

We’ve got form: Hatters have a fine overall record against Plymouth at Kenilworth Road, with 14 wins, 15 draws and six defeats in their 35 meetings that span back to the 1920s, scoring 59 goals and conceding 43.

Recent years have seen Town only beaten once in 44 years, that a 2-1 reverse in the Championship when Steve O’Leary scored and Paul Connolly was part of the Argyle side.

Hatters’ biggest win was a 5-2 triumph back in the Division Three South in 1930 when Andy Rennie hit a hat-trick and Jimmy Yardley notched twice.

They did suffer consecutive 4-3 defeats in 1939 and 1947, while their biggest margin of defeat is two goals on three separate occasions, all ending 2-0.

Last time out: Hatters enjoyed a 2-0 victory the last time Plymouth visited Kenilworth Road, that a Carling Cup tie in August 2008, in front of a crowd of just 2,682.

Town were ahead through Rossi Jarvis’ strike on 15 minutes, while Tristan Plummer netted the second late in the game, his only goal for the club.

In the Argyle side that day was Jason Puncheon, now plying his trade in the Premier League for Crystal Palace.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Claude Gnakpa, Sol Davis (Keith Keane 70), Lewis Emanuel (Tristan Plummer 31), George Pilkington, Asa Hall, Michael Spillane, Kevin Nicholls, Rossi Jarvis, Chris Martin (Kevin Watson 87), Sam Parkin.

Subs not used: Aaron Fletcher, Ian Roper, Paul McVeigh, Josh Klein-Davis.

Referee: Rob Shoebridge.

Attendance: 2,682.

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