Town’s play-off opponents remain a mystery

Hatters boss Nathan Jones has no idea who his side will end up facing in the play-offs
Hatters boss Nathan Jones has no idea who his side will end up facing in the play-offs
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With Luton now assured of a play-off place this season, thoughts are quickly turning to who it is they will meet in their two-legged affair later this month.

Hatters should tie up fourth spot on Saturday, as fifth place Exeter would need a five goal swing in their favour, when they entertain Carlisle United.

Scott Cuthbert scores against Wycombe Wanderers

Scott Cuthbert scores against Wycombe Wanderers

That result could have a major impact on who Town face as if the Cumbrians lose or draw, with a goal difference of zero, there is every chance they will be overtaken by a whole host of teams.

Seventh-placed Blackpool, whom Luton are currently due to face, are at home to already relegated Leyton Orient.

A victory should see them leapfrog the Cumbrians, if they fail to win, opening up seventh spot for the likes of Stevenage, Cambridge, Colchester, Wycombe Wanderers and even Mansfield back in 12th, who all have a chance.

Stevenage are level on points with the Tangerines, but with a worse goal difference, as they host Accrington, now with nothing meaningful to play for after Luton ended their hopes of a top seven finish.

Cameron McGeehan celebrates his goal at Blackpool

Cameron McGeehan celebrates his goal at Blackpool

Cambridge travel to direct rivals Wycombe, while Colchester host Yeovil, leaving who Town will actually come up against, anyone’s guess.

Boss Nathan Jones was non the wiser too, saying: “What we’ve said, is secure fourth, as apart from sending Mick Harford to watch the ones we think we’re going to have, that’s impossible, because there are about six or seven sides who can still get in that seventh place.

“Whoever we get, we get. We know about every side in there and sides know about us, so if we’re at it then we’ll be a tough opposition.

“I’ve made it clear to my players and everyone around it, there’s no lethargy. I understand Huddersfield for example have rested lots of players (on Saturday), I’m not one to do that.

“I’ve been in the play-offs, I’ve won and lost in the play-offs and I’ve had both (been rested and played beforehand), and I know what I preferred as a player.

“I wanted to hit the ground running, wanted to be in a good vein of form and as long as we don’t get any injuries, that’s the way to go into it.”

The News/Gazette have had a in-depth look at just how Luton have got on against their potential play-off opponents this term.

Carlisle United

The two sides drew 1-1 at Kenilworth Road in December as the visitors led through Jason Kennedy’s goal on five minutes, before Danny Hylton levelled five minutes later.

The Cumbrians had Michael Raynes sent off for a foul on Hylton with eight minutes to go, but Luton couldn’t snatch a winner.

Both teams then played out a goalless draw when they met at Brunton Park in March.

Blackpool

Jack Marriott and Cameron McGeehan netted in a 2-0 win at Bloomfield Road back in December, while Ollie Palmer’s stoppage time winner secured a 1-0 win at Kenilworth Road last month.

Stevenage

Luton found themselves on the end of a last-gasp goal at the Lamex in August condemned to their first defeat of the season, as Matt Godden scored for the hosts.

Cameron McGeehan’s deflected 15th minute effort had been cancelled out by Connor Hunte early in the second half.

Boro went on to do the double over Luton too with a 2-0 win on their travels in March, as former Hatter Luke Wilkinson scored early on, with Ben Kennedy’s fine strike sealing the points in the closing stages.

Cambridge United

Town eased to a 3-0 win at Cambridge in August, sent on their way when Josh Coulsen put through his own net on the hour mark, while Jack Marriott and Danny Hylton added to the tally.

They were then 2-0 winners at Kenilworth Road in January too, as Isaac Vassell scored on the half hour and Jordan Cook’s late penalty doubling Luton’s advantage.

Colchester United

The second team that Hatters could come up against who have done the double over them as Craig Slater’s 83rd minute strike took the points at Kenilworth Road on Boxing day.

Chris Porter’s first half double then put United 2-0 ahead at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in March, with Vassell’s 90th minute strike a mere consolation.

Wycombe Wanderers

Town ran riot over Wanderers back in September, winning 4-1 as Danny Hylton hit a hat-trick with Jordan Cook also on target, Matt Bloomfield replying for Wycombe.

In the away fixture, Luton were in control thanks to Scott Cuthbert’s first goal for the club, before Johnny Mullins saw red with 15 to go and Adebayo Akinfenwa netted on 82 minutes to salvage a draw.

Mansfield Town

Town needed an equaliser from Cameron McGeehan to rescue a point at Kenilworth Road in October after Matt Green put the Stags in front on nine minutes.

Just last month, the two teams finished 1-1 once more, Danny Hylton’s penalty early in the second period ensuring a point after Alfie Potter put the hosts in front during the first half.