Crawley Town boss Harry Kewell is finding his first venture into management far tougher than he would have wanted.
The former Liverpool, Leeds United and Australia winger was appointed when the Red Devils opted to relieve Dermot Drummy of his duties at the end of last season.
Kewell then had the worst possible beginning, with four defeats from his first four matches, until that run was ended quite spectacularly, with a 3-0 triumph at Swindon Town.
It wasn’t the start of something special for Crawley though as they have managed just four wins in the league so far, leaving them at the wrong end of the table, a mere five points above the drop zone in 19th place.
Any kind of progress has been stunted by some quite horrific home form, as Crawley have managed just one win in front of their own fans this term, that coming on September 2 with a 2-0 success over Yeovil.
The other six matches have all ended in defeat, as Crawley have lost to Port Vale, Cambridge, Notts County, Newport, Carlisle and then bottom side Chesterfield on Tuesday night, with the Spireites’ 2-0 success ending their own terrible sequence of six straight losses.
Bar the Yeovil victory, Crawley have managed just two goals in that time, drawing four blanks as well.
On their travels, Kewell’s side have been better, with victories at Swindon, Barnet and Morecambe, but midfielder Josh Payne knows the home form must improve, as speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “It’s not easy at times like this but we’re in it together.
“We all want to go in the same direction but it is a tough time for us at home at the moment.
“The fans are coming here and wanting us to get results but it just isn’t happening so we have to stick with one another to try and turn it around.”
Meanwhile, boss Kewell has hinted changes may be made when the table-topping Hatters are in town, as after Tuesday’s lost, he said: “It is the first time this season I felt our players didn’t deserve to take anything away from the game.
“If they think they are going to get away with playing football only now and then and not being professional it won’t stand.
“The players that don’t want to work hard will get found out.
“If a player doesn’t make the most of their opportunity then their are others waiting to come in and take it.
“I need to have a very hard think about how we play Luton because it will be a very tough game.”
Team news: Luton are virtually at full strength with the exception of midfielder Alan McCormack who is seeing a specialist about his groin injury.
Top scorers: Hatters - Danny Hylton, James Collins (8). Red Devils – Jimmy Smith (4).
Milestones: Scott Cuthbert is in line for his 100th Luton appearance during Saturday’s match.
The 30-year-old joined in the summer of 2015 from Leyton Orient and has scored three goals in that time.
Man in the middle: Trevor Kettle - Vastly experienced official has taken 12 games this season in League One and League Two, showing 48 yellow cards and two reds.
Refereed Town three times last term, the 1-1 home draw against Exeter, plus 2-1 win at Leyton Orient and 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.
Had the whistle for two Hatters matches in the 2015-16 campaign, with Town winning 3-2 at Oxford United and losing 1-0 at home against Bristol Rovers.
Also had Luton’s 3-3 draw with Bradford in League Two during January 2009, sending off Chris Martin in the 90th minute, while took Luton’s 3-0 victory over Sunderland in the Carling Cup in August 2007, dismissing the visitors’ Greg Halford, plus a 1-0 League One win over Tranmere in December.
Infamously sent off Sol Davis in Town’s Championship 0-0 draw at Stoke City in February 2007, and has had four more Luton matches in his career, with wins over Leyton Orient and Wrexham, plus defeats to Plymouth and Stoke City.
Assistant referees are Paul Kelly and Rob Smith with the fourth official Samuel Ogles.
In charge: Harry Kewell – 39-year-old who enjoyed a high profile playing career both for club and country.
Started life in his native Australia, before he was signed by Leeds United after a trial in 1995.
Spent a successful eight years at Elland Road, then heading to Liverpool in 2003, winning the Champions League with the Reds in 2005, while also appearing in their final defeat to AC Milan in Athens two years later.
Left Anfield for Galatasaray in 2008, enjoying three years in Turkey and he returned home to sign for Melbourne Victory in 2011.
Signed for to Al-Gharafa in the Qatar Stars League for the remainder of the 2012–13 season, but moved to Melbourne Heart in June 2013, where he hung up his boots in March 2014.
During that time, he played 58 times for his country too, including in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, scoring 17 goals.
Appointed head coach of Watford U21s in July 2015, but was sacked in April 2017 and was then appointed head coach of Crawley in May this year.
View from the opposition: Harry Kewell talking to the club’s official website: “Sometimes in football all you’ve got to do is run, tackle, do the nasty things.
“Maybe we have too many ball players, not wanting to play, maybe I need more nasty people.
“There’s moments in football when you’ve got to think, readjust, change things around. There’s a big thing I believe in which they know and maybe they’ll take it onboard.
“If they don’t take it onboard then we’ll find ourselves in these situations again, again and again.
“No-one likes to be in a relegation battle but I think it’s clear to see that we are in a position where we are going to be fighting.”
Friendly faces: Striker James Collins left Crawley in the summer for Kenilworth Road after a fine season with the Red Devils, scoring 22 goals in 51 games.
Meanwhile, former Hatter Warren Feeney is assistant boss under Harry Kewell.
The forward joined Luton from Stockport County for £150,000 during March 2005, having a tough time with the Hatters, scoring just 11 goals in 83 games.
Left for Cardiff City on loan, and then turned the move into a permanent one in June 2007, before spells at Swansea City, Dundee United, Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham, Plymouth and then Salisbury.
Has managed Linfield and Newport County, sacked by the Exiles in September 2016, before joining Crawley in the summer.
Played for both: Craig McAllister – 37-year-old striker joined Crawley on a free transfer from Exeter back in June 2010, spending a year with the Red Devils, scoring 13 goals in 47 matches, including a last minute winner in a 2-1 victory at Kenilworth Road.
Went to Newport and then Luton snapped him up on loan in January 2012, although he managed just one goal in his 17 appearances for the Hatters.
Headed to Eastleigh in July 2012 and is now back at the club once more after spells at Sutton and Eastbourne, playing 13 times this season in the National League, scoring twice.
One to watch: Jimmy Smith - combative midfielder started life at Chelsea, making one sub appearance for the Blues in the Premier League, before heading to QPR, Norwich, Sheffield Wednesday, Leyton Orient and Stevenage, joining Crawley in the summer of 2014.
Has played over 100 times now and is the club’s leading scorer so far this season, with four goals from 12 games, including both in a 2-1 win at Barnet back in September.
We’ve got form: Hatters are still yet to taste that winning feeling in a league clash at Crawley, having been beaten three times, with one draw to their credit from four trips.
They have won in the FA Cup back in November 2015, thanks to a Josh McQuoid double, but it’s been a different story with points up for grabs.
They began with a 2-1 defeat in the Conference in 2010, with Matthew Barnes-Homer scoring, while their only point was a 1-1 draw the season after thanks to Alex Lawless’s goal.
Since returning to the Football League, Luton have lost 2-1, Cameron McGeehan on target and then 2-0 last term.
Last time out: Luton were beaten 2-0 by Crawley during their trip to the Checkatrade Stadium last season.
Manager Nathan Jones’s selection backfired, as he started with Josh McQuoid and Isaac Vassell upfront, when James Collins, now with Luton, put the hosts ahead two minutes before half time.
Although Danny Hylton and Jack Marriott were introduced after the hour, the Red Devils sealed victory through Enzio Boldewijn’s 90th minute strike.
Hatters: Christian Walton, Stephen O’Donnell, Dan Potts, Johnny Mullins, Alan Sheehan, Jonathan Smith (Alex Gilliead 71), Cameron McGeehan, Jordan Cook, Olly Lee, Isaac Vassell (Jack Marriott 61), Josh McQuoid (Danny Hylton 61).
Subs not used: Craig King, Scott Cuthbert, Jake Gray, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu.
Referee: Gavin Ward.