Harford warns Hatters: Underestimate Rochdale at your peril

James Shea played a starring role in Town's 0-0 draw at Rochdale earlier in the season
James Shea played a starring role in Town's 0-0 draw at Rochdale earlier in the season

Hatters boss Mick Harford has instructed his players not to underestimate this afternoon’s opponents Rochdale despite their lowly league position.

The visitors go into the game third from bottom in the table, having lost eight out of their previous 10 games and are now involved in a relegation battle to retain their League One status.

However, Dale gave Town one of their hardest tests of the campaign at Spotland back in November when they drew 0-0, with Luton keeper James Shea the stand-out performer, making a string of fine saves.

Harford said: “We’ve got the utmost respect for Rochdale, as it was one of our toughest games of the season.

"We went up there and drew 0-0, James Shea was excellent on the day, so we will not be underestimating Rochdale at any extent.

"They’ve got a very good manager, who will set up the team well and come and have a go at us.

"So if we underestimate them it could be at our peril basically, so we’ll be fully prepared and fully focused for what’s going to be a good challenge.”

His views were echoed by centre half Sonny Bradley, who said: "For me, there’s that game, Rochdale away, Barnsley away, for me, probably Rochdale was our toughest game of the season so far.

"I think we were pretty lucky on that day to get a clean sheet and it was thanks to James Shea, so we’re expecting a really tough test.

"I know a lot of people will be saying, because we’re top and Rochdale are struggling a little bit, that we should win the game, but we certainly don’t see it that way.

"The way we see it is we really have to be in good form and be at the top of our game if we want to achieve maximum points and that’s what we’ll be looking to do."

When asked whether he is happier to be facing a team nearer the bottom end of the division rather than one going for the promotion or play-off spots, Harford added: "Any game in this league is a tough game and we’re expecting until the end of the season every game will be a tough one and a hard game.

"Rochdale are going to be hard, we know what they’re all about, then we’ve got two long journeys to Plymouth and Bradford, so it’s going to be challenging.

"I wouldn’t be disrespectful and say I’d rather play teams down the bottom as they’re just as hard, than rather play the likes of Sunderland or Barnsley, or whoever’s near the top.

"Every game’s a challenge for us and every game is a challenge we face and put a team out to try and win the game."