PREVIEW: Luton Town v Tamworth

Tamworth look set for a battle against relegation as the season enters the business end with the Lambs currently fourth from bottom in the Skrill Premier, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 7th February 2014, 11:12 am

They do have games in hand on their side, but away from home is where the Lambs have really struggled so far, with just three wins, two draws and eight defeats from their 13 matches.

Goals have been very hard to come by as Tamworth have netted just 26 in total, with only a mere 12 coming on their travels.

On the road they have conceded 27 too, although the Lambs did enjoy a rare success recently, triumphing 3-0 at rock bottom Hyde, their first away win in the league since beating Forest Green back in September.

After that victory against one of the supposed title challengers, Tamworth had lost six out of eight Skrill Premier fixtures on the road to fall below the dreaded dotted line.

In that time, they have suffered defensively too, shipping six at Aldershot and five at Kidderminster, while also going out of the FA Trophy with a comprehensive 4-1 defeat at Grimsby.

Boss Dale Belford remains positive his side can turn things around though, as he told the Tamworth Herald: “We have a fantastic group of players at this football club.

“I believe in them and everyone in the dressing room is ultra positive about the remainder of the season as well.

“I still believe that we can equal or beat the record we set last year of 55 points.

“It means that we would need 28 or 29 points from 19 games.

“That would certainly be some achievement but I believe in the lads.

“We have to go out, deliver some performances and finish the job this season.”

There have been some changes in the Lambs ranks last month too, with former Burton and Gillingham midfielder Chris Palmer signing, but Kaiyne Woolsey left to join Maidstone United on loan.

Two players were released too, Jordan Rose and Connor Gudger, although Belford did strengthen his attacking options, bringing in teenage striker Connor Waldon on a month’s loan from Swindon Town.

Team news: Tamworth are expected to be without club captain Duane Courtney, a Hatters target during the summer, and Andy Haworth (both hamstring) for the trip to Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Midfielder Lloyd Kerry also missing out through suspension.

Top scorer Richard Peniket (groin) is a doubt too, but the Lambs do have Chris Palmer and Connor Waldon available after both were cup-tied for the FA Trophy game with Grimsby Town last weekend.

Hatters have Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (ankle) and Alex Lawless (eye) back in training but the match might come too soon for the pair.

Ryan Inniss has recovered from a bout of illness, while Elliot Justham is expected to be fit after his dislocated shoulder against Leighton.

Danny Fitzsimons and Jonathan Smith are the only other long-term absentees.

Top Skrill scorer - Hatters: Andre Gray (17). Lambs: Richard Peniket (5).

Man in the middle: Craig Hicks - first time the official has been to Kenilworth Road or had the whistle for a Luton Town game.

Has reffed Tamworth once though, the 1-0 win at Salisbury back in August.

So far this campaign, Hicks has shown 37 yellows and three reds in the nine games he has taken, including booking seven players in one game on two occasions.

In charge: Dale Belford - 46-year-old, who had been a goalkeeper at Aston Villa, but never made a first team appearance before spells at the likes of Notts County, Nuneaton Borough, and then joined Tamworth in October 1988.

Set a club record of 712 minutes without conceding a goal for the Lambs and was also part of the FA Vase winning team in 1989.

Had further spells in non-league at Atherstone United, Hinckley United, Gresley Rovers and Sutton Coldfield Town, before returning to Tamworth in 2006-07 as player-goalkeeping coach.

Became Atherstone Town boss in February 2010, but again went back to Tamworth as a player-coach in March 2011.

When Des Lyttle departed as boss, Belford was appointed caretaker manager for the four remaining league games and after Marcus Law left the club in January last year, he was given the job permanently.

View from the opposition: Lambs midfielder Richie Baker told the Tamworth Herald: “Luton are the form team right now and they are on a great run.

“When we played them earlier in the season and lost 4-3, they were struggling a little bit and I felt we had a chance in that game.

“I went off at half time in that game and remember thinking, from playing in the match and watching from the side-lines, that they were no great shakes.

“Since then though, they have really stepped it up and full credit to them.

“They are flying high and will expect the points this weekend. They may take us lightly and think ‘it’s only Tamworth’.

“But we will go there in good spirits. There’s no one that we should fear in the league, I honestly believe that.

“I think in the Conference, any team can beat anyone on their day – it’s just the top teams are the ones with more consistency.

“They are the ones who stay up there and challenge ultimately.”

Average home crowd: Luton: 6,751. Tamworth: 1,063.

One to watch: Nick Chadwick - vastly experienced striker who joined on a free transfer in October and has since scored five goals in 13 matches.

Now 31, Chadwick started his career at Premier League Everton, scoring three goals in the top flight, as Plymouth paid £250,000 for his services back in 2005.

Spells at the likes of Hereford, Shrewsbury, Chester and Stockport followed, before his move to the Lambs.

Friendly faces: Defender Wayne Thomas spent a frustrating spell at Kenilworth Road last season. On joining, he couldn’t play due to international clearance, before getting sent off at Braintree in his second match and didn’t feature again afterwards.

The 34-year-old was released by Town in the summer and joined Tamworth, scoring on his debut in the 1-0 opening day win at Salisbury and has since played 19 league games for the Lambs, although was dismissed in the 6-0 defeat at Aldershot.

We’ve got form: Luton have never lost at home to to Tamworth in their four previous meetings, all played in the Conference.

Town have won three and drawn one, scoring seven goals to the visitors one in response.

The biggest win came in the 2011-12 season when Town triumphed 3-0 thanks to strikes by Stuart Fleetwood, Janos Kovacs and an own goal by Francino Francis.

Last time out: Hatters were held to a 0-0 draw by Tamworth last term with a game that only just went ahead.

Referee Adam Scott helped clear the Kenilworth Road surface of snow to get the game on, but in blizzard-like conditions, neither side could make a breakthrough.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Steve McNulty, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Jake Goodman, Jon Shaw (Scott Rendell 76), David Martin, Jonathan Smith, Solomon Taiwo, Alex Wall (Andre Gray 61).

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Ronnie Henry, Matt Robinson.

Attendance: 5,501.

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