PREVIEW: Nuneaton Town v Luton Town
After languishing down at the bottom for most of the campaign, three straight defeats and a run of one win from six at the turn of the year saw the club really struggling.
But results are beginning to pick up though as Town have taken seven points from 12 including vital wins at Barrow and against Alfreton, while they are proving tough to break down too, conceding just three goals in their last four games.
One reasons for their upturn has been the goals of Hatters winger James Dance, as the on-loan midfielder fired two last minute winners in those matches, including one from the penalty spot.
Defender Steve O’Halloran told the Nuneaton News he was hoping Dance would be in a home shirt again this evening, saying: “He’s been giving us all the information! No no, he’s not really.
“James has gone back now and it’s a shame because he’s a good player.
“He could be facing us and we’ve got to be ready for that. I could even mark him, who knows.”
Nuneaton are hopeful of bringing the Luton man back the club after tonight’s clash as assistant boss Micky Moore added: “That’s one we might revisit after we’ve played them.”
Dance wasn’t the only loan addition the club made as 20-year-old striker Louis Molt joined from Northampton, but he is yet to score in five appearances.
Boss Kevin Wilkin also swooped for two Coventry players on short-term deals, goalkeeper Lee Burge and defender Aaron Phillips, but experienced striker Kyle Perry was on the way out, rejoining Tamworth.
Team news: Nuneaton could be without versatile defender/midfielder David McNamee who turned his ankle in the 0-0 draw against Hereford on Saturday.
Midfielder Simon Forsdick is fit after hobbling out of Saturday’s game with cramp, while the game is the last for Moult’s loan spell.
For Luton, Wayne Thomas is suspended, while Janos Kovacs and Jon Shaw miss out through injury.
New loan signing Jake Goodman is in line to start and forward Alex Wall could be on the bench, leaving both Danny Spiller and Garry Richards as the long-term injuries.
Top BSBP scorer: Nuneaton: Andy Brown (13). Hatters: Andre Gray (11).
Man in the middle: John Hopkins. Card-happy official, who has shown 59 yellows and seven reds in just 13 games this season, at an average of over four cautions a match.
Three of his dismissals came in Luton’s 1-0 defeat to Telford, with Ronnie Henry, Jake Reid and Dan Preston all receiving their marching orders.
Has also taken Luton’s 6-1 hammering of Barrow and two Nuneaton matches, the 0-0 draw at Grimsby and the 1-0 home win over Alfreton last month.
In charge: Kevin Wilkin – had spells with Cambridge City, Northampton Town and Rushden & Diamonds amongst others during his playing career, while also spent time with Nuneaton Borough.
Returned to Nuneaton as player/assistant manager in 2004 and following the sacking of Roger Ashby in 2006 became caretaker and then permanent boss.
After Nuneaton Borough were liquidated at the end of the 2007–08 season he was appointed manager of the reformed club, guiding them to promotion from Southern League Division One Midlands in the play-offs and then from the Southern League Premier, also in a play-off triumph.
Completed a hat-trick of play-off wins after a 1-0 triumph over Gainsborough Trinity saw them back into the Conference after a nine-year absence.
View from the opposition: Assistant boss Micky Moore: “We’re at home and I think I’m right in saying the only team in the top half who has beaten us here in the league is Kidderminster.
“When we played Luton in the FA Cup at home we lost 2-0 but we gave them a good game and they scored a dubious penalty.
“We’ll give them a good game again and it’s a match we’ve got to try and get some points from.
“They won on Saturday and they’ve just got a new manager. Listen, they’ve got a fantastic squad that’s capable of going on a 10 game winning run.
“You can argue it’s a good time to play them as their confidence is low. You could argue it’s a bad time to play them because they’ve got a new manager and the players will want to impress to earn contracts for next year.”
One to watch: Andy Brown. Leading scorer in the league with 13 goals this season and has looked a real handful in the three matches against Town.
The last 16 games have heralded seven goals for the 27-year-old, who was snapped up on a free in the summer after spending three years at AFC Telford.
Friendly faces: Winger James Dance has just completed a one-month loan spell at Nuneaton where he made one start and three substitute appearances netting two goals.
We’ve got form: Hatters have travelled to Nuneaton once in their history, earlier in the season for an FA Cup first round replay.
Scott Rendell put Town ahead after 22 minutes and sealed the victory with a penalty in the second half.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Janos Kovacs, Jake Howells, Ronnie Henry, Alex Lawless, Arnaud Mendy, JJ O’Donnell (James Dance 89), Dan Walker (Matt Robinson 55), Scott Rendell, Andre Gray (Jake Woolley 89).
Subs not used: Dean Brill, Alex Lacey, Brett Longden, Dean Beckwith.