PREVIEW: Cambridge United v Luton Town
It's a very different squad taking shape at Cambridge United this season as boss Shaun Derry begins his first full campaign in charge at the Abbey.
The former Notts County chief has brought a number of players in, the latest being former Watford striker Uche Ikpeazu on a short-term contract this week, after the 21-year-old was released by the Hornets in the summer.
He joins a whole host of new additions, including the likes of Bristol Rovers midfielder Jake Gosling on loan, with the Gibraltar international his country’s leading scorer, netting two goals in 11 appearances.
Two former Hatters are now on the books too with Reading defender Sean Long agreeing a six month loan deal, while striker Joe Pigott penned a one year contract as well.
Meanwhile, Derry also swooped for Portsmouth forward Adam McGurk, along with David Gregory (Crystal Palace), Blair Adams (Notts County), Piero Mingoia (Accrington), George Maris (Barnsley), Medy Elito (Newport County), while also borrowing Brighton’s Tom Dallison and Max Clark from Hull.
The United chief naturally had to let players go, including the likes of James Spencer, Robbie Simpson and Chris Dunn, but the newlook squad is clearly taking time to gel, as the U’s sit bottom of the table with two points from their opening four games.
They are undefeated at home this season though, drawing with Barnet and Carlisle. as both their defeats have come on the road at Doncaster and Colchester.
The U’s have given glimpses of what can be achived though in the EFL Cup, knocking out Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, also in front of their own fans, and then running Wolves incredibly close on Tuesday night, going out 2-1 at Molineux.
Derry now wants his to transfer the cup form into the league as talking to the Cambridge News, he said: “I have to keep stressing the opposition have been very good players and very good teams at our level.
“We’ve drawn two games at home and we’ve lost away twice to teams who have come down from League One.
“It happens and I’m absolutely certain it will change for the better because these boys produced a performance against some really strong opposition from Championship level.
“We gave Wolves more than a game and we put them on the back foot at certain times, so I’m relaxed about a situation that I’m sure will change.”
Team news: Luton aren’t expecting to have Alan Sheehan (calf) available, while although Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Green are closer, they’re not ready just yet.
Uhe Ikpeazu will have to wait for his United debut, as he needs to build up his fitness, while George Maris, Adam McGurk and Harrison Dunk are recovering from injury, but will not be fit in time to face Luton.
Top scorers: Hatters - Cameron McGeehan (4). United - Luke Berry, Piero Mingoia (2).
Milestones: Jack Marriott made his 50th appearance for Luton during their 1-0 defeat to Leeds United in midweek.
The 21-year-old who signed from Ipswich last summer has bagged 17 goals in that time.
Man in the middle: David Webb, refereed six games so far this season, showing 10 yellows, with four in one game, in which he also showed his only red card of the campaign too.
Last term, had 36 games from Championship to League Two, with 110 yellows and seven reds, including four dismissals in his last seven fixtures.
Only other Luton match was back on Boxing Day in 2008, when Hatters drew 2-2 at Chesterfied in League Two.
Tom Craddock levelled for Town after Jamie Ward’s opener, while when Scott Boden put the hosts in front, Ian Roper grabbed a 90th minute equaliser.
Assistants referees are Ravel Cheosiaua and Christopher Kidd, with Aji Ajibola the fourth official.
In charge: Shaun Derry - 38-year-old, who had a lengthy playing career, making over 550 appearances during spells at Notts County, Sheffield United, Portsmouth, Crystal Palace and QPR, before hanging his boots up in 2013.
Appointed Notts County boss in November 2013 and saved the Magpies from relegation, but was sacked in March 2015 with County struggling against the drop yet again.
Named Cambridge manager in November last year, replacing former Luton chief Richard Money and led the club to a ninth placed finish last season.
View from the opposition: United boss Shaun Derry speaking to the club’s official website - “These are great games. There is always an added bite whenever we play Luton Town.
“The players of both football club realise that, as do the supporters. There always seems to be an added incentive to get behind the players.
“I’m sure they’ll be a bumper crowd heading to the Cambs Glass Stadium on Saturday. We’ll need them to be as vocal as they can be because Luton will be travelling with a large following as well.
“It all bodes well for a great afternoon of football. We have to concentrate on our performance levels and if we can match what we showed at Wolves, then we can absolutely give Luton a game.”
Friendly faces: In Cambridge’s squad is popular former Luton midfielder Keith Keane who made 285 appearances for the club, scoring eight times, prior to moving to Preston North End in July 2012.
Joined Cambridge in March 2015 but has only played six times for the U’s, although did start the 1-0 defeat at Doncaster Rovers on August 16 this season.
Right back Sean Long is on loan at Cambridge from Reading, as the 21-year-old had a spell at Kenilworth Road last term, making 11 appearances in total
Joined the U’s in August and has started all four league games so far.
Joe Pigott, 22, spent the latter half of last season on loan with Luton, scoring four goals in 15 games.
Penned a one year deal with Cambridge in the summer, but the 22-year-old hasn’t found the net in his opening six matches.
Defender Greg Taylor who played 43 games for Luton, scoring once, is at United too and has made 126 appearances, with one goal, having signed in June 2013.
For the Hatters, midfielder Cameron McGeehan had an excellent loan spell with Cambridge in the 2014-15 season, scoring three goals in six games, before returning to Kenilworth Road.
Town’s goalkeeper coach Kevin Deraden was with Cambridge on loan from Spurs between March 1989 to May 1989, playing 15 games.
Played for both: Rossi Jarvis - midfielder spent two years at Luton between July 2008-2010, playing 77 games and scoring five goals before moving to Barnet.
From Underhill, he signed for Cambridge where he played 84 times, scoring once as the 28-year-old joined Lowestoft Town in 2013 and remains there now.
One to watch: Tricky winger Piero Mingoia ended three years at Accrington to join Cambridge in the summer.
The 24-year-old began life as Watford, before a loan spell at Hayes & Yeading, but caught the eye with Stanley after some excellent performances as they reached the League Two play-offs last season.
Started life at his new club well with two goals in his first two matches.
We’ve got form: Hatters have been tough to beat on their travels to Cambridge, with six wins, eight draws and five losses in their previous 19 visits, scoring 29 goals and conceding 27.
In fact, Luton haven’t lost a league clash at the Abbey for seven games, the last defeat a Division Two meeting in 2000, when they went down 2-1 .
Then, Mark Stein opening the scoring on 13 minutes for the visitors, but Matthew Spring’s dismissal on the half hour heralded the turnaround as Cambridge won thanks to second half goals from Tom Youngs and Zema Abbey.
Town’s best victory was 3-1 back in Division Two in 1980 thanks to David Moss’ penalty, plus goals from Clive Goodyear and Brian Stein.
The Hatters did enjoy a 4-3 win in 2009, when down to 10 men after Liam Hatch’s red card, they turned a 2-0 half time deficit into a 4-3 victory thanks to goals from Kevin Gallen (2), Rossi Jarvis and Jake Howells, while it was the scene of Mark Cullen’s injury-time Conference title clincher in March 2014 as well.
Last time out: Luton enjoyed a 3-1 win at Cambridge United last season, with the visitors set on their way by a wonderful long range chip from Luke Guttridge.
Leon Legge levelled before the break, while in the second period, the hosts had Harrison Dunk controversially sent off on 64 minutes, picking up his second yellow card for handball.
Luke Wilkinson nodded home the resulting free kick, before Danny Green’s 84th minute strike capped a stunning team move.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Stephen O’Donnell, Scott Griffiths, Scott Cuthbert, Luke Wilkinson, Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee, Luke Guttridge, Danny Green, Craig Mackail-Smith, Josh McQuoid.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Steve McNulty, Magnus Okuonghae, Curtley Williams, Mark O’Brien, Ryan Hall, Pelly -Ruddock Mpanzu.
Referee: Graham Salisbury.