PREVIEW: Luton Town v Accrington Stanley

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Accrington Stanley are currently proving just why they can be considered one of the more dangerous opponents for League Two sides with real ambitions of promotion.

The Lancashire outfit ended leaders Burton Albion’s lengthy 13 game unbeaten run on Tuesday night, winning 1-0 at the Crown Ground.

Two games before that, Stanley picked up another excellent victory, triumphing 2-1 at Southend, as they are enjoying one of their best spells of the season, with three wins from four games, gleaning 10 points from a possible 12.

That form is in direct comparison to an awful run of five straight defeats suffered beforehand though, which saw them drop closer and closer to the relegation zone.

However, on their travels they have proved time and time again to be more more than a match for any side in the division, with victories at Exeter City, (2-1) and Portsmouth (3-2) under their belts.

They’ve also done what Luton couldn’t do, winning at Mansfield earlier in the campaign, while triumphing 5-4 at Northampton back in September.

Despite the five victories, Stanley do tend to concede goals away from home turf, with the 30 shipped the worst in the division, as they don’t do draws either, picking up just the one, while falling to defeat 10 times.

Boss John Coleman credited their recent upturn due to other sides believing they will be a simple opposition too, telling BBC Radio Lancashire: “Teams look at us and think ‘that’s an easy game.’ We hope to shock them.

“When we’re expected to win, sometimes we take our foot off the gas. But we’ve proved we can compete with the best.”

One thing Coleman would like is more supporters through the gates though after the Football League’s lowest crowd for 13 years, just 919, watched their excellent home win over the Brewers.

He said: “The fans who came and supported us were fantastic, we just wish there were more of them.

“The people who came and paid their hard earned money were treated to a really hard working and spirited performance.”

Coleman has been busy in recent weeks, strengthening his side for the run-in as free agent Matt Crooks, a 21-year-old midfielder penned an 18-month deal after his release from Huddersfield.

Accrington also extended the loan spell of West Ham striker Sean Maguire until the end of the season, after four goals in 22 appearances.

Meanwhile, on transfer deadline day, Coleman acquired three players, with former striker Terry Gornell returning, ex-Real Madrid and Liverpool midfielder Gerardo Bruna agreeing a short term deal and goalkeeper Scott Davies joining on loan until the end of the season, becoming Stanley’s eight stopper used this term.

The club did lose defender Tom Aldred though as he joined Championship side Blackpool on an 18-month loan deal.

Striker James Gray is still at the club too as after joining Conference side Southport on loan, returned to Stanley after just one training session.

Team news: Hatters are without Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, Paul Benson and Curtley Williams for the match, while Steve McNulty sits out the final game of his ban, although Luton can welcome back Luke Wilkinson, with keeper Mark Tyler likely to return too.

Top goalscorer: Hatters: Mark Cullen (12). Stanley: Shay McCartan (6).

Milestones: Defender Alex Lacey is in line for his 50th appearance for the club, while manager John Still completed two years in charge at Kenilworth Road on Thursday.

Should Jake Howells feature, he will move to 20th in the all-time list of Hatters appearances as he is currently tied on 306 games with John Moore.

Man in the middle: Lee Collins - has taken 21 games so far this season, showing 75 yellow cards and six reds.

Brandished an astonishing 10 yellows at Portsmouth earlier in the campaign and has made four sendings off in his last three games, with two of them coming at Fratton Park as well.

Has taken Luton once this year, the 1-0 win over Tranmere, booking Paul Benson, and also reffed Accrington once, a 3-1 home defeat to Carlisle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy

Assistant referees are Ian Fissenden and Dean Treleaven with the fourth official Darren Blunden.

In charge: John Coleman - 52-year-old who had a long playing career, mainly in non-league football for Kirkby Town, Burscough, Marine, Southport, Runcorn, Halton, Macclesfield Town, Morecambe, Lancaster City and Ashton United, plus a spell in Wales.

One of the most prolific non-league goalscorers in history, with over 500 goals to his name in a career spanning almost two decades, he became Ashton United player boss in 1997, before a move to Accrington two years later.

Spent over 12 years in charge, leading Stanley to three promotions, including to the Football League in 2006 and was the third longest serving boss, until leaving to join Rochdale in January 2012.

Had his contract terminated at Spotland just ahead of completing a year in charge, and returned to management as Southport boss in December 2013, but left in April and became Sligo Rovers boss for a short period in June 2014.

When James Beattie left Accrington in September last year though, Coleman was confirmed as manager for his second spell.

View from the opposition: John Coleman speaking to the club’s official website - “John (Still) is a good manager with plenty of experience. Luton have a good fanbase and good players – but they should have.

“They have had a bit of a hiccup but they are firm favourites for promotion and it will be a difficult game for us – although we generally do well against teams like that.

“Both John and I know this league well which gives us a chance, we know what to expect from the opposition and our own players and have a feel of how to win games at this level.

“I have had some great games against John and I get on well with him – but I hope we beat him.

“We would have to go on an unbelievable run but I haven’t ruled out competing for a play-off spot.”

One to watch: Striker Terry Gornell. 25-year-old is enjoying his second spell at the club after joining on deadline day from Cheltenham.

One purple patch at the Robins this season, in October/November, scoring five times in six games, but wasn’t wanted by former Town boss Paul Buckle and joined Stanley.

Netted twice in five games already, including a last-minutes winner against Oxford.

Began his career at Tranmere, before moves to Accrington, Shrewsbury, Rochdale and Cheltenham, as he is approaching 50 career goals, inclduing scoring the decider when Stanley were last in Bedfordshire.

Friendly faces: Shaun Whalley - Town’s winger joined Accrington from Chester in August 2006, spending two years with the club, netting five league goals in over 50 appearances.

Left Stanley in June 2008 when he was released and went on to sign for Wrexham.

Last time out: Luton have only ever played Accrington once at home, suffering a 2-1 defeat in the League Two back in October 2008, as they are yet to taste victory against their Lancashire opponents, in their three previous meetings.

The visitors were ahead through Paul Mullin’s 16th minute strike, before Asa Hall levelled for Town.

Accrington won it in the second half when Terry Gornell bagged the winner in the 54th minute.

Hatters: Conrad Logan, Harry Worley, Jake Howells, Asa Hall, Ian Roper, Michael Spillane, Garreth O’Connor (Wayne Andrews 24), Rossi Jarvis (Paul McVeigh 71), Keith Keane, Chris Martin, Tom Craddock.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Sol Davis, Jordan Patrick.

Referee: J Singh.

Attendance: 5,492.