Category Archives: Luton Town

Carabao Cup: Round One Draw Announced

The Carabao Cup Round One draw was made on Thursday evening from Morrisons, Colindale, North West London.

There were two stand out ties from the draw with AFC Wimbledon playing MK Dons, while newly-promoted Salford City will face Leeds United.

The draw was conducted by two former England internationals in John Barnes and Ray Parlour and was split into two regions – North and South.

Huddersfield Town, the hightest-ranked team in the Northern Section, will face Lincoln City while the highest ranked Southern side, West Bromwich Albion, will face Millwall.

Every club from Sky Bet League One and League Two enter the Carabao Cup in Round One, along with 22 Championship clubs.

Only Cardiff City and Fulham – who finished 18th and 19th respectively in the Premier League last season, will enter in Round Two, alongside the clubs from the Premier League, not in European competitions.

The first round matches are scheduled to take place week commencing Monday 12thAugust, with the final due to take place on March 1, 2020.

Full Round One Draw can be seen below:

North Draw

Tranmere Rovers v Hull City

Grimsby Town v Doncaster Rovers

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City

Port Vale v Burton Albion

Nottingham Forest v Fleetwood Town

Bradford City v Preston North End

Blackpool v Macclesfield Town

Blackburn Rovers v Oldham Athletic

Mansfield Town v Morecambe

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland

Scunthorpe United v Derby County

Rochdale v Bolton Wanderers

Huddersfield Town v Lincoln City

Middlesbrough v Crewe Alexandra

Shrewsbury Town v Rotherham United

Sheffield Wednesday v Bury

Salford City v Leeds United

Barnsley v Carlisle United

South Draw

Colchester United v Swindon Town

AFC Wimbledon v MK Dons

Oxford United v Peterborough United

Queens Park Rangers v Bristol City

Plymouth Argyle v Leyton Orient

Wycombe Wanderers v Reading

Charlton Athletic v Forest Green Rovers

Gillingham v Newport County

Stevenage v Southend United

Luton Town v Ipswich Town

Walsall v Crawley Town

Bristol Rovers v Cheltenham Town

Brentford v Cambridge United

Coventry City v Exeter City

Swansea City v Northampton Town

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The Championship: In a league of it’s own?

The gulf between the Premier League and the rest of the EFL has been well documented, and in recent seasons it has only continued to grow. However, it seems as though the jump from League 1 to the Championship is almost in the same ballpark now. I’m going to take a look at the finances and see how the newly promoted League 1 clubs (Luton, Barnsley and Charlton) could fair in the battleground that is the English Championship.

Let’s take wages as an example. The average basic wage in the Championship is around £330,000 a year, working out at about £6,300 a week. While this is nowhere near the dizzying heights of Premier League wages, it makes the £70,000 a year average for League 1 look rather small. That works out at £1,346 a week: a significant gulf is starting to emerge. The same can be said for agents’ fees. Last season, League 1 clubs paid a total of £2,611,647 to agents in a bid to sign players. That sounds like a lot money doesn’t it? So, what if I told you Aston Villa alone spent £5,510,180. That’s more than double the League 1 figure. So how can clubs be expected to thrive in the Championship on a League 1 Budget? I’m going to have a look at some past examples to see how clubs have fared making that jump.

In 2015-16, Wigan Athletic won League 1 to secure promotion to the Championship. By the end of the next season, they had regained their League 1 status, finishing 9 points adrift of safety. Then the next season, they were back up again. What does this yoyo tell us about the difficulty clubs have in maintaining themselves at Championship level?

It is obviously not impossible though. Some teams promoted from League 1 in recent memory include Wolves (Premier League), Bournemouth (Premier League), Huddersfield (Championship) and Brighton (Premier League). So it can be done. The newly promoted teams will face a level of competition and finances that they are not used to, so how will they get on?

Luton Town

Luton’s story has been quite remarkable. From the infamous -30 points season of 08/09, to near bankruptcy and then to 3 promotions in 6 years (going up from League 2 and League 1 in successive campaigns). They came into League 1 with a decent budget, but there were limited expectations. The budget and spending placed them around the playoffs, so to go on and win the league was a massive achievement. They are a prime example of how important good ownership is to a football club, and so my predicted finish for The Hatters in the Championship is 15th.

Barnsley

Barnsley have Championship experience as recently as 2017-18, being relegated after some ownership problems led to the selling of 80% of the club and the sacking of Assistant Manager Tommy Wright. New ownership gave the club momentum, as did the appointing of manager Daniel Stendel. Given the calibre of player that Barnsley have (some were retained from the Championship), my prediction for the Tykes is 13th.

Charlton

Charlton’s promotion was thanks to a unified group of players and management, and in spite of their owners. Protests continue against the owners off the pitch, but on it they were one of the best footballing sides in the league. The troubles with the owners may well make it difficult to make quality signings and investments, so a lot of trust will have to be put in the players that got them into the Championships to keep them there. My predicted finish for the Addicks is 18th.

Why has Jorge Grant failed at Mansfield Town?

When Jorge Grant signed for the Stags back in January on a loan deal till the end of the season, the transfer was met with much praise from Mansfield fans and left other League Two clubs envious of the shrewd business that the Nottinghamshire-based side had done to acquire the talents of Grant. However, after four months at the club, it appears Grant has split options at the One Call Stadium with some fans smitten by his skillful on-the-ball ability and dead-ball prowess. On the other hand, some of the Mansfield faithful have questioned his commitment and attitude towards playing for the Stags.

Grant joined Mansfield back in January on a loan deal until the end of the season from fellow Nottinghamshire-based club, Nottingham Forest. Grant had started the season out on loan at newly promoted Luton Town. However, after failing to establish a first-team spot in Nathan Jones’ side, Grant was recalled back to Forest who wanted to send the 24-year-old attacking midfield out on loan to gain key crucial game time.

Mansfield, along with a plethora of other suitors in both League One and Two, wanted to sign the midfielder, however Mansfield acted swiftly to secure the signing. The Stags also had the help of another Forest loanee and friend of Jorge Grant, Tyler Walker. Walker convinced the Banbury born midfielder to sign for the Stags and it seemed to fans and pundits that this could be the golden combination to help Mansfield achieve promotion to League One.

The first few games for Grant were stupendous with the attacking midfielder showing his range of talents that he has at his disposal. In Grant’s first five games for the Stags, the on-loan Forest midfielder contributed to six goals. (4 goals & 2 assists) Fans couldn’t believe their eyes and felt Grant was the missing piece in the Mansfield promotion puzzle.

However, after a tremendous start, Grant would fail to provide a goal or an assist for 533 minutes of football and would see an increasing amount of criticism head his way. Grant eventually broke his dry spell with a corner ball that found the head of EFL team of the season member Krystian Pearce. However, Grant’s game wasn’t remembered for his assist rather for throwing a childlike strop as he was substituted after 59 minutes.

But why has Grant failed to fit in at Mansfield? It appears that Grant is a highly talented individual who has the ability to turn a game on its head however it appears Grant doesn’t fit in the Mansfield system when playing better quality opponents. Under David Flitcroft, Mansfield have played a 3-5-2 system or a 3-4-1-2. In this system, Grant plays the furthest forward midfielder who drifts wide allowing wingbacks to cut inside and allowing midfielders Bishop and Mellis space to run into.

This system when playing an inferior opponent suits Grant to a tee with the midfielder allowed a free role allowing him to find space and time on the ball. However, when playing a higher class opponent or one that overloads the midfield similar to the tactics adopted by Oldham on Easter Monday, it means Grant has to track back and drop back into a flatter midfield three.

Grant has struggled to do this job. It just doesn’t suit his play style and leads to Mansfield being overrun in the middle of the park and the Stags being forced to carry a man for large parts of the game. If David Flitcroft wants to accommodate Grant into his side he would have to change from the reliable 3-5-2 and 3-4-1-2 that he has used all season and play Grant in either a left or right midfield role that Grant is much more accustomed to playing.

Case in point last season, the Banbury born midfielder racked up an impressive 19 goals and 9 assists playing for local rivals Notts County. During his loan spell with the Magpies Grant was deployed predominantly on the left side of midfield but also being used on the right.

With a wider role, Grant’s defensive responsibilities were reduced meaning he could concentrate on his attacking output however some County fans did question his effort during games starting at times that Grant was reluctant to track back.  

It’s clear to see Grant is a highly talented individual who can enthrall fans with his ability but lacks the correct attitude and defensive abilities to play in certain systems.  

Why do you think Jorge Grant has failed at Mansfield?

Luton Town surely on the way to the Championship, despite Nathan Jones departure.

Since gaining promotion from the Blue Square Premier in the 2013/14 season and having a sustained growth in League 2 for 4 seasons, Luton Town are finally back where many people would agree, at the top of League 1 and look destined to join the big boys in the Championship.

2018/19 Season

August didn’t start as according to plan for the Hatters, losing on the opening day 1 – 0 to Portsmouth, exiting the league cup in the first round losing to the same score line against West Brom and not picking up the first win of the season until they beat Southend United 2 – 0. However, since September, Luton have really hit the ground running and sit deservedly at the top of League 1 whilst on a current 22 unbeaten streak of games in the league collecting a heroic 75 points from their 35 games this season whilst scoring a total of 69 goals, the best of League One so far.

Star Man

20 of these 69 goals have come from their Irish striking superstar, James Collins. Starting his career at Aston Villa, Collins moved North of the border to Hibs in the Scottish Premiership and is enduring his most successful stint with the Hatters. Scoring a total of 39 goals in 77 appearances over 2 seasons has made him a certain fan favourite. The inform striker has definitely got the Luton Town owners rubbing their hands especially after signing him on a free from Crawley Town who currently sit 18th in League Two.

Recent Form (WWDWW)

Since the start of February, the Hatters have scored 11 goals with 6 of these coming from two 3 – 0 wins against Shrewsbury Town and Wycombe Wanderers in a week with a battling draw coming against Coventry City on the 24th.

Nathan Jones departure and the remaining games left for caretaker boss Mick Harford

The opportunity to manage a Championship side in Stoke City was too good to turn down in the end, which came of a bit of a surprise for me personally but also left a sour taste in the mouths of the Luton faithful. With a record of 87 wins, 46 draws and 37 loses, saw his team under his reign score 301 times and conceding 174 goals. The Welshman however seems to be struggling at Stoke with only winning just 2 games so far and losing 5. Spiteful fans hope he may regret his move but we are yet to find out with only 10 games in charge and a summer transfer window coming up to get his tactical approach across. Despite this, the club looks like he never left and has carried on in the way that the players and the fans can be very proud of. Jones, who left the club in second position, was on a 13 game unbeaten run in which they took 33 points from a possible 39 and has ultimately paved the way for current caretaker manager Mick Harford to take over the reigns and steer his team to glory. With 11 games remaining in the season to which 7 of these games to be played against teams in the bottom half of the table, it appears on paper that their most toughest games left come against Charlton (5th), Doncaster (6th) and Blackpool (8th) which will all be pushing for those play-off positions. Luton Town will play Oxford United on the last day of the season at home who currently sit 19th and may find themselves trying to escape relegation on the last day.

But who else will join the Hatters in the Championship and how will they bode next season?

Written by Jordan Smart

Up and down in League Two

The basement division of the Football League, League Two, is highly competitive year in year out with teams ensuring they don’t fall through the trap door and into non-league football at one end and at the other, teams desperate for promotion and the opportunity to play some well established and reasonably sized clubs in League One.

Some big clubs have fallen out of the Football League and struggled to come back with the likes of Wrexham FC, Stockport County and Macclesfield Town to name a few still plying their trade in the non-league side of the game.

With this in mind, we take a look at the clubs who look like getting promoted this season and those who unfortunately look like falling out of the Football League.

Firstly at the bottom end of the table, Barnet FC who currently occupy the last place are going to need a miracle to survive. The ‘Bees’ find themselves 7 points adrift of safety and with just 1 win in their last 5 games, they look a team bereft of confidence. The club did this week part company with manager Graham Westley and immediately after announced that Martin Allen would be back in the hot seat for the FIFTH time.

Whether Allen can provide the great escape remains to be seen, but with the club still having to play teams around them this could provide them with a platform for that escape.

The other team in desperate trouble at the wrong end of the table are Chesterfield FC, who like Barnet have gone through a change of manager this season as they bought Jack Lester in to replace Gary Caldwell in September. Despite the change of management the ‘Spireites’ still find themselves in trouble as they are 6 points adrift of Grimsby Town who are just above them in the league table, and with the two sides locking horns in early April it could be the decider as to who ends up going down.

At the top end of the division sees the side with one of, if not the smallest budget in the league flying high. Accrington Stanley finds themselves top of the league 3 points clear of Luton Town with a game in hand and on a run of 9 games unbeaten.

John Coleman’s men have surprised many to be sitting top of the league with just 9 games to go, but having played some attractive attacking football and having 3 players in double figures with goals its hard to deny ‘Stanley’ top spot in the league table. If they can continue the terrific run they have been on then come May they will be lifting the league title.

Luton Town were the early pace-setters in the league but recent form has seen them slip to second place and on a run of 5 games without a victory it will be cause for concern for the ‘Hatters’ supporters, as they would prefer to go up automatically rather than via the playoffs.

If the club can rekindle some of the form that they were in at the start of the season then there is no reason why they can go up automatically and also push Accrington all the way to the wire in terms of who will win the league title.

Wycombe Wanderers occupy the final automatic promotion spot in League Two and find themselves 3 points ahead of the chasing playoff pack. ‘The Chairboys’ have plenty of firepower in their team with Craig Mackail-Smith, Nathan Tyson and Adebayo Akinfenwa but indifferent form in recent times hasnt helped the club consolidate a strong automatic promotion spot.

Just two wins in their last five games will be cause for concern for the Wycombe supporters but with the playing staff they have access to and the fact that they are the leagues second highest goal scorers behind Luton, they will be hoping that they can fire themselves to promotion.

League Two fans let us know who you believe will go up and unfortunately go down this season in the comments section…