PREVIEW: QPR v Luton Town

QPR have made a promising start in their attempts to finally finish in the upper reaches of the Championship this season.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 3:02 pm
Hatters head to QPR tomorrow
Hatters head to QPR tomorrow

After finishing exactly half-way in the 2015-16 campaign, positions of 18th and 16th followed, with the former Premier League side as low as 19th last term, although still some 11 points clear of relegation.

The Loftus Road club are under new management once more, with Steve McClaren paying for a run of one win in 15 league matches back in April, sacked after less than a year in charge, Mark Warbuton appointed as his successor in May.

The former Brentford chief became Rangers sixth boss since Harry Redknapp left in February 2015, with Chris Ramsey, Neil Warnock, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Ian Holloway and McClaren all failing to engineer a change of fortunes.

Warburton hasn't had a great amount of funds to play with either, making a smattering of permanent signings, experienced duo Geoff Cameron from Stoke and Bournemouth's Marc Pugh the two stand-outs.

He has utilised the loan market impressively though, bringing in West Ham's Jordan Hugill and Nahki Wells from Burnley, also borrowing Matt Smith (Manchester City) and Luke Amos (Spurs).

QPR did lose imposing forward Matt Smith to Millwall, while skillful midfielder Luke Freeman headed to the Premier League, snapped up by Sheffield United.

With a greater emphasis on youth it appears, with talented duo Ilias Chair and Eberechi Eze both getting regular game time, Rangers started well, winning 2-1 at Stoke City on the opening day.

They then drew with relegated Huddersfield Town, before successive defeats to Bristol City and Swansea City.

However, a 3-1 home win over Wigan got them back on track as QPR made it two from two, winning 2-1 at Sheffield Wednesday in the last game before the international break.

Team news: Martin Cranie is back in training now after hurting his knee ligaments, but not expected to feature. Danny Hylton (knee), Glen Rea (knee) and Jake Peck are still absent as well.

For Rangers, Lee Wallace (hip) and Olamide Shodipo (knee) are both edging close to returning to full fitness.

Top scorers: Hatters: James Collins (3). Rangers: Jordan Hugill (5).

Milestones: James Collins will play his 100th game for the Hatters if selected tomorrow. The Republic of Ireland international joined in the summer of 2017 from Crawley Town and has netted an impressive 48 goals in that time.

Man in the middle: Jeremy Simpson - has taken just two games so far this season, Preston's 3-0 win over Wigan in the Championship and Exeter's 3-1 victory at Carlisle in League Two.

Officiated 40 matches last term though, mainly in the Championship, as he showed 163 yellows and seven reds in total.

The Lancashire referee isn't afraid to get his cards out either, with 10 dismissals the campaign before, including two in a game twice, making it 37 in his last five seasons.

Saturday will be his first Luton game since the 3-2 League Two win at home over Cambridge United in January 2015.

Also took Town twice Blue Squar Premier in the 2011-12 season, the 0-0 draw at Gateshead and then 2-1 defeat to York City in the play-off final, allowing Matty Blair's clearly offside goal to stand.

Assistant referees are Michael George and Nigel Lugg, with the fourth official Josh Smith.

In charge: Mark Warburton – 57-year-old who was a right back in his playing days, featuring in non-league for Enfield and Boreham Wood.

Began his coaching career in the academy at Watford and named first team coach at Brentford in February 2011, moving to sporting director in the summer when Uwe Rosler took over.

Became the Bees boss in December 2013 when Rosler left for Wigan Athletic, winning promotion to the Championship at the end of the season.

Left Griffin Park in the summer of 2015 with the highest win percentage of any boss, and was appointed Rangers manager in June 2015.

Lost the 2016 Scottish Cup Final to Hibernian, leaving the club in February 2017, although wasn't out of work long, named Nottingham Forest chief in March, but was sacked on New Year's Eve with the club 14th in the table.

Out of work for 18 months, before getting his chance at Loftus Road, signing a two year contract on May 8 of this year.

View from the opposition: Rangers boss Mark Warburton: “Our job is to be better at our job than they are at theirs.

“We have got to make Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium a very, very tough place for an opponent to come to.

“We have got to play our game at our tempo, our intensity, move the ball about quickly and get the rewards.

“If we do that we are a very tough team to beat, a good team. If we don’t, if our standards drop slightly, we become a very average team, very quickly.

“Our responsibility to our supporters is to make sure they enjoy coming to watch their team.”

Friendly faces: Defender Martin Cranie had a brief loan spell at Loftus Road when signing from Portsmouth in October 2007, playing six times in the leaue, Rangers unbeaten in five of then

Attacker Kazenga LuaLua has had two spells with QPR earlier his career, joining on loan from Brighton in January 2017 until the end of the season.

Played 11 times, scoring once, before returning at the start of the following campaign, with a further eight appearances, although just four over the two stints came from the start.

Town's head of recruitment and former boss Mick Harford was assistant and then caretaker twice at Loftus Road.

He was number two to John Gregory in June 2007, taking charge when Gregory left, leading them to two wins, two draws and one defeat in his five games.

He was back with Rangers in December 2009, second in command to Paul Hart, taking over when Hart resigned, as he won one, drew one and lost six of his eight matches, replaced by Neil Warnock.

Luton's first team coach Inigo Idiakez was on loan at QPR from Derby for the end of the 2007-08 season, playing five games, scoring in the 3-1 win at Leicester.

For Rangers, midfielder Marc Pugh had a brief loan spell with Luton in the 2008-09 season after signing from Shrewsbury Town.

He played three games in League Two with one win, a 3-1 success over Aldershot, before moving to Hereford and then going to Bournemouth in June 2010, where he spent nine years.

Joined QPR in the summer and has played five games so far.

Played for both: Tony Thorpe. Forward moved to Luton after leaving Leicester City in 1992, having a hugely successful first spell, scoring over 50 goals for the Hatters.

Snapped up by Fulham for £800,000 in February 2008, joining Bristol City for £1m four months later.

Had two loan spells back at Town during his four years at Ashton Gate, returning to Kenilworth Road on a free in June 2012.

Notched another 19 goals, before with Luton in financial difficulties, he joined QPR for just £50,000 in a move which angered the Hatters' fans, leaving the club with 84 strikes to his name from 192 matches.

Scored 11 goals in 46 games for Rangers and then wound down his playing days with spells at the likes of Swindon, Colchester and Stevenage.

One to watch: Jordan Hugill. Striker joined on a season-long loan from West Ham United in the summer and has made a fine start to life at Kenilworth Road.

Netted on his debut in the 2-1 win at Stoke City, going on to score five in his first six league games, including four in his last three, two in the 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday.

Started out at Port Vale, but it was with Preston that he made his name, netting 30 goals in four years at Deepdale.

Earned an £8m move to West Ham in January 2018, but only made three sub appearances for the Hammers, spending last season on loan with Middlesbrough, netting seven goals in 41 matches.

We've got form: The Hatters have a quite shocking record at QPR in their history, starting with an FA Cup replay defeat in December 1899, losing 4-1 with Walter Fairgrieve on target.

They won their first Southern League clash, 3-1, before a seven game losing streak, with just a 3-3 draw until they won 3-0 in 1915, although that was followed by a 4-0 defeat, their third such loss in six games.

Things didn't get much better in the Football League, losing their first Division Three trip 4-1 in 1920.

They then went won just once in their next 19 visits, before a 3-0 triumph in December 1948.

Still it got worse though, a 7-1 Division Three thrashing in 1964, before keeping a clean sheet on their next trip in 1970, a 1-0 win through Mike Keen.

Town did put on a three game winning run together from 1981 to 1984, plus a 1-1 draw in 1986 seeing them four games unbaeten

However, they have not won since 1984, Paul Elliott, Steve Elliot and Brian Stein on target in a 3-2 victory, a run spanning 15 games, with eight draws and seven losses, including a 6-1 Division One defeat in 1990.

In total, the Hatters have gone to QPR 66 times, victorious on just 11 occasions, with 15 draws and 40 defeats, scoring 68 goals but conceding a massive 131, at an average of just under two per match.

Last time out: Luton let a 2-1 lead slip in the final 10 minutes to lose 3-2 at QPR on their last visit, a Championship clash in April 2007.

Dexter Blackstock had put the hosts in front on 41 minutes, before Chris Coyne levelled on the stroke of half time.

David Bell's penalty then put the visitors in front after six minutes of the second period before Blackstock (81) equalised and former Town striker Paul Furlong won it at the death.

Hatters: Dean Brill, Chris Coyne, Drew Talbot (Besian Idrizaj 85), Lewis Emanuel, Matt Spring, Markus Heikkinen, Keith keane, Steve Robinson, Ahmet Brkovic (Dean Morgan 41, Richard Langley 67), David Bell, Calvin Andrew.

Subs not used: Kevin Foley, Russell Perrett

Referee: Clive Penton.

Attendance: 14,360.