PREVIEW: Luton Town v York City

York are reduced to 10 men at Kenilworth Road last season
York are reduced to 10 men at Kenilworth Road last season

York City boss Russ Wilcox is remaining defiant over his ability to turn round a poor start to the season despite coming under increasing pressure from Minstermen fans in recent weeks.

With City picking up just two victories in League Two so far and currently on a five game winless run, home supporters have been calling for the ex-Scunthorpe boss to go.

However, speaking to the York Press, Wilcox said: “I’ve never thrown the towel in during my career or in life. It’s the fans’ prerogative to say whatever they want to say.

“Whilst everyone in football would like a bit more understanding at times, it’s not there in the modern game. But I will be staying strong because I am the leader and I have to lead this group of players and my staff.”

Meanwhile, striker Michael Coulson admits the abuse has affected players, as he told the same paper: “It’s horrible, really, hearing them singing about that all the time. You can’t blank it out because you can hear it all, but I suppose that’s football.

“I won’t criticise the fans because they pay their money and are entitled to their opinion but I think there’s a time and place for it and that’s not when we’re still playing because that has a negative affect on everybody.”

After finishing 18th last year, just 11 points above the relegation zone, another campaign of struggle appears on the cards after York’s tough start.

The Minstermen suffered a 3-0 defeat to Wycombe on opening day and lost at home to Hartlepool, before picking up their first success, beating Yeovil.

A decent draw at Exeter followed, while the 2-1 home loss to Mansfield was swiftly forgotten thanks to 3-0 win at Newport on September 5.

However, Wilcox’s side haven’t tasted victory in the league since, claiming just three points from a possible 15 with three draws and two defeats, as they let a 2-0 lead slip in their last match with Cambridge, drawing 2-2.

York did claim a confidence boosting 2-0 win over League One Doncaster Rovers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night though, a result Wilcox hopes they can build on at Kenilworth Road, as he said: “The most important thing was to get back to winning ways and bring a feelgood factor back into the club again.

“I’m very pleased to get a win and a clean sheet against a good Doncaster side who had nine players from the team that beat Barnsley at the weekend.”

The boss made only minimal changes to his squad during the summer, with Crewe striker Vadine Oliver and Hartlepool keeper Scott Flinders amongst the new additions.

Wilcox has utilised the loan market since though, signing Michael Collins from Oxford last week and also bringing in Oldham’s Rhys Turner as well.

Team news: Luton will be without Paul Benson (neck) once more, along with Stephen O’Donnell (ankle), while Paddy McCourt is away on international duty.

Craig Mackail-Smith remains a doubt too after his hamstring injury picked up against Hartlepool last week.

York aren’t expected to make any changes from midweek, meaning the new-look strikeforce of Vadine Oliver and Michael Coulson will remain in place.

Rhys Turner is available after being cup-tied for the JPT, but Eddie Nolan and Luke Summerfield are both out.

Top scorers: Hatters: Jack Marriott (6). Minstermen: James Berrett, Vadaine Oliver, Rhys Turner, Luke Summerfield (3).

Milestones: If selected, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu will play his 50th game for Luton, while captain Steve McNulty is in line for his 125th appearance.

Man in the middle: Darren Handley. Referee has had eight games so far this term, already showing 31 yellows and two reds in that time, while he officiated 26 games last season, with 83 yellows and eight reds.

First time has has had the whistle for a Hatters league game since the Conference season of 2014-15 when he took three matches

Most recent was the 7-0 win over Hereford in February 2014, while Handley was also in charge for the 1-1 draw at Chester and the 2-0 defeat at Wrexham, sending off Alex Wall.

Before that, he officiated the 2-1 win at Hyde, plus the defeats to Gateshead (5-1) and Forest Green Rovers (3-0).

Assistant referees are Timothy Wood and Amy Fearn with the fourth official Anthony Da Costa

In charge: Russ Wilcox - 51-year-old, who had a playing career spanning over 20 years at Doncaster Rovers, Cambridge United, Frickley Athletic, Northampton Town, Hull City, Preston and Scunthorpe United.

Became assistant to Brian Laws at Scunthorpe after retiring and had the same role at Sheffield Wednesday, Burnley and Bournemouth before returning to Glanford Park once more.

In December 2013, Wilcox succeeded Laws as manager of the club, and broke the record for the longest unbeaten run at the beginning of a managerial reign, going 28 games without defeat.

Despite winning promotion to League One, he was sacked by Scunthorpe in October 2015, only to be appointed York boss a week later following the resignation of Nigel Worthington.

One to watch: Vadaine Oliver - 23-year-old striker who signed for the Minstermen after leaving Crewe in the summer.

Struggled in front of goal at times this season, with one in his first 10 games and was sent off in the 2-2 draw with Carlisle. However, he netted both goals as York knocked Doncaster out of the JPT on Tuesday.

Spent time on loan with Mansfield last term, where he managed to score seven times in 30 games for the Stags.

Friendly faces: Alex Lawless - spent 18 months at York from July 2009 - January 2011, making 58 appearances, scoring four times and was part of the City side who beat Luton in the play-offs.

Left York for Luton on loan in November 2010 and then made the deal permanent in January 2011.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Smith was with York for the 2010-11 season, making 43 appearances and scoring four goals.

Sent off at Luton in the 5-0 defeat back in January 2011 before being snapped up by Swindon for £30k in June 2011.

Played for both: Striker Jason Walker had a brief spell with Luton during 2011, as he was best known for missing the crucial penalty during the play-off final defeat to AFC Wimbledon.

He was then sold to York, scoring 27 goals in 73 games but courted controversy for holding up a controversial sign on an open bus parade after his side had beaten Luton in the play-off final.

We’ve got form: Hatters have struggled in recent years against York at home, winning just one of their last six matches since 2002, and although it was 5-0, visiting goalkeeper Michael Ingram had been sent off after 20 minutes, with York eventually reduced to nine men late on.

Before that though, Luton were unstoppable, winning their first seven meetings, with a 5-1 triumph in 1967 the biggest win, thanks to goals from Bruce Rioch (2), Fred Jardine, Keith Allen and Baker’s own goal.

Overall, Luton have won eight, drawn three and lost two of their 13 encounters, scoring 31 goals and conceding 11.

Last time out: Luton fought back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw against York City at Kenilworth Road last season.

All the action came in the second half as the visitors led through goals from Josh Carson (55) and Emile Sinclair (59).

However, Jake Hyde was then sent off as sub Mark Cullen popped up to equalise with goals on 65 and 71 minutes.

Hatters couldn’t find a winner though and were reduced to 10 men themselves late on when Steve McNulty was dismissed.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Michael Harriman, Jake Howells, Steve McNulty, Luke Wilkinson (Alex Lacey 53), Jonathan Smith, Andy Drury (Mark Cullen 58), Nathan Doyle, Ryan Hall (Shaun Whalley 64), Nathan Oduwa, Jayden Stockley.

Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Luke Guttridge, Matt Robinson, Alex Wall.

Referee: Charlies Breakspear.

Attendance: 7,763.