PREVIEW: Luton Town v Plymouth Argyle

Alex Lawless in action against Plymouth last season
Alex Lawless in action against Plymouth last season

Plymouth Argyle are certainly showing no signs of suffering any kind of hangover after missing out in the play-offs last term.

Defeat home and away to Wycombe ended any hopes of a return to League One, but if anything, Argyle are in even better shape to get out of the division without needing the lottery of the play-offs this time around.

The Pilgrims changed manager in the summer as John Sheridan left after just over two years in charge, with former Ross County boss Derek Adams appointed in his place.

He tinkered with the squad slightly, bringing in Jake Jervis, Gregg Wylde and Graham Carey, all from Scotland, plus Crawley’s Josh Simpson too and acquired Bolton Wanderers’ Oscar Thelkeld, Hiram Boateng (Crystal Palace) and Craig Tanner (Reading) on loan.

Adams got off to the perfect start winning 2-0 at AFC Wimbledon, before being knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Gillingham and a home loss to Portsmouth.

However, four straight wins followed until a surprise setback at Stevenage, losing 1-0.

That was quickly forgotten with a 2-1 success at Wycombe as the Pilgrims won six of their next eight games until a rare defeat on Tuesday night, losing 1-0 at fellow promotion challengers Oxford United.

Team news: Luton will be without Stephen O’Donnell after the defender has gone in for a hernia, while there is a slight doubt over striker Craig Mackail-Smith’s hamstring and Paul Benson’s neck injury, but everyone else is now fit for selection.

Plymouth are without talismanic striker Reuben Reid who has a hip flexor strain, but apart from that, have a fully fit squad.

Top scorers: Hatters: Jack Marriott, Cameron McGeehan (7). Argyle: Jake Jervis (7).

Milestones: Midfielder Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu will make his 50th appearance for Luton if selected at the weekend.

Man in the middle: Ross Joyce - Official has taken nine games this season, showing 33 yellows and two reds.

Promoted from the Conference after having 19 games in non-league last season, brandishing 68 bookings and dismissing six players too.

Sonething of a good luck omen for Luton as has taken eight Hatters matches so far, with Town yet to taste defeat.

Joyce reffed three games in the 2013-14 Conference winning season, all away, with Luton drawing 0-0 at both Gateshead and Lincoln, winning 2-1 at Grimsby too.

The year before he had Town’s 2-1 win at Lincoln, plus the 2-2 draw at Mansfield and 0-0 at Wrexham.

Prior to that Joyce took the 3-1 victory at Tamworth, sending off two home players in the 2011-12 season, and the 0-0 draw at Alfreton.

Ian Dudley and Michael Webb are the linesmen, with fourth official John Busby.

In charge: Derek Adams. 40-year-old who had a playing career mostly north of the border, enjoying stints at Aberdeen, Burnley, Ross County, Motherwell, Ayr United and Livingston.

Became player-coach at Ross County in November 2006, taking on the position of player-manager the following year.

Led the club to the Scottish Second Division championship in 2008 and also the Scottish Cup final in 2010, before leaving to become Hibernian assistant manager.

Returned to Ross County in May 2011 as manager, guiding the side to the Scottish Premier Division, eventually leaving in August 2014 and after a spell out of the game, was named Plymouth boss in June.

View from the opposition: Derek Adam talking to the Plymouth Herald - “Luton have got a very good support and over the years they have been a very good football club, so we understand what we are going to.

“I would have thought the game will be quite frenetic, and you don’t get to pass the ball as much in that type of atmosphere. That’s what happens.

“John (Still) has changed his team about a bit this season. They have also changed formation.

“They have got very good experience so it’s going to be a good test for us.”

One to watch: Jake Jervis, top scorer for Arygle so far this term, netting seven goals.

The 24-year-old moved to Home Park in the summer from boss Derek Adams’ former club Ross County having spent last season north of the border.

After beginning his playing career at Birmingham, Jervis has had spells at a variety of clubs, including Turkish side Elazigspor.

Friendly faces: Argyle striker Ryan Brunt played six times for Luton during the 2011-12 season after joining on loan from Premier League side Stoke City.

He moved to Home Park in January this year and has scored four times in 35 games so far, including just once this term.

Luton midfielder Olly Lee had two loan spells at Plymouth last season, making his debut against Luton, playing 15 times and scoring twice.

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

Played for both: Striker Enoch Showunmi came through the ranks at Luton, scoring 16 goals in 114 games during 2003-2006 before moving to Bristol City.

Had spells at Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Falkirk, Tranmere, Notts County and Torquay before his last Football League appearances came when at Plymouth in the 2013-14 campaign, joining them on loan from Notts County, as he played seven times without finding the net.

We’ve got form: Luton and Plymouth have been long term adversaries over the years, with games starting out in the Southern League way back in 1904.

Since then, the sides have met at Kenilworth Road a total of 47 times, with Hatters winning 17, drawing 19 and losing 11, scoring 69 and conceding 60.

The biggest triumph was a 5-2 success in 1930 thanks to Andy Rennie’s hat-trick and a double from Jimmy Yardley.

Argyle had had the upper hand in recent times as Town have won just one of the last five matches, that a 2-0 Carling Cup success in 2008 with strikes from Rossi Jarvis and Tristan Plummer. The other four fixtures have seen Luton draw two and lose two.

Last time out: Hatters fell to a 1-0 defeat against Plymouth at Kenilworth Road last season.

The visitors netted the only goal of the game on 68 minutes when midfielder Dominic Blizzard scored.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Steve McNulty, Alex Lacey, Paul Connolly, Jake Howells (Alex Lawless 69), Scott Griffiths, Andy Drury (Jim Stevenson 78), Luke Rooney, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Luke Guttridge, Mark Cullen (Ross Lafayette 71).

Subs not used: Elliott Justham, Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith, Alex Wall.