PREVIEW: Crawley Town v Luton Town
Crawley Town are still going through the bedding in process under new manager Dermot Drummy after a close season of massive change at the Checkatrade.com Stadium.
With the club taken over by Turkish businessman Ziya Eren back in March, who has targeted becoming a Championship club in the next eight-10 years, former boss Mark Yates was let go in April after a poor run of results saw them slide down the table.
Former Chelsea youth coach Drummy was named the new head coach, signing a two-year contract, although he couldn’t turn around a six game losing streak at first, losing his first two games at the end of last season, as after beating Luton 1-0 at Kenilworth Road, the Red Devils took a measly two points from their next 10 games.
That was ended at the first time of asking this term, beating Wycombe 1-0 on the opening day, as after going out of the Capital One Cup at Wolves, their league form continued to impress, earning a point at Doncaster, winning 1-0 at Exeter, before a 1-1 draw with Barnet.
However, they slipped into bad habits once more, as although Crawley beat Colchester 1-0 in the EFL Trophy, they have suffered three successive league defeats, going down to Notts County 3-1 at home and then beaten on their travels by Portsmouth and Stevenage to sit 18th in the table
Drummy made wholesale changes at the club over the summer, with a whopping 20 new players brought in.
He used his Chelsea connections heavily too, signing Guinea-Bissau international midfielder Aliu Djalo, who had been at Stamford Bridge with Drummy, plus another former Blues youngster in Danny Pappoe, young defender Alex Davey on loan from the Premier League club and goalkeeper Mitch Beeney too.
The Crawley boss hasn’t stopped there either, bringing in former Leyton Orient winger Dean Cox this week, although the ex-Brighton man can’t play until January 2, after signing after the transfer window closed.
Team news: Luton will have Danny Hylton available after he suffered a cheekbone injury against Grimsby last weekend, although the striker will play with a protective mask.
Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Green are the only two missing, with both are making good progress with their injuries.
For Crawley, striker Matt Harrold is definitely out after tearing his Achilles tendon.
Top scorers: Hatters - Danny Hylton (5). Red Devils - James Collins (3).
Milestones: Town midfielder Cameron McGeehan is one away from his 25th goal in Luton colours as the midfielder has netted an impressive 24 in 87 appearances for the club so far.
Man in the middle: Gavin Ward - official was in charge for the league meeting between the two teams last season, as Luton were beaten 2-1, while he also took the Hatters’ 0-0 draw at Portsmouth.
This term, has refereed Luton once, the 3-1 win over Aston Villa in the EFL Cup, as he has had nine matches, showing 29 yellows and one red card so far.
Prior to that, took Town’s 3-0 win over Mansfield in November 2014, and also had the whistle for Luton’s 2-0 FA Cup win at Nuneaton in November 2012, plus in the same competition, a 1-0 defeat at Southampton in January 2010.
Also officiated Luton’s 3-3 draw with Bournemouth in League Two in December 2008 and the 0-0 draw with Carlisle in League One during November 2007.
Assistant referees are Nicholas Cooper and Garry Maskell, with the fourth official Matt Foley.
In charge: Dermot Drummy, 55-year-old was appointed head coach on a two-year contract in April 2016.
Started his playing career with Arsenal, but never made a first team appearance for the Gunners, with his five Football League matches coming while on loan at Blackpool.
Spent time at Hendon, Wealdstone, Enfield, Ware and St Albans City, before he was appointed player manager at Ware in the 1996-97 season.
Left to becoming a youth coach at Arsenal, developing players such as Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere and was then appointed manager of the Chelsea Academy in January 2009, leading the Blues to victory in the FA Youth Cup.
Become reserve team manager in July 2011, staying in charge when it became an U21 league, and also had the U19 squad too, as the Gunners won the U21 Premier League during his time in charge.
Moved to the role of international head coach in June 2014, before he was named head coach at Crawley earlier this year.
View from the opposition: Injured striker Matt Harrold talking to the Crawley Observer: “It is very important we get a positive performance and result against Luton after losing the last three games.
“We can beat them if we play to our potential as a group and I am gutted I can’t play against them as I managed to score three times against them last season.”
Played for both: Luke Rooney - 25-year-old winger joined Crawley on a free transfer from Swindon in August 2013, playing five times, before he was snapped up by Luton in March 2014.
Netted five times in 19 games for the Hatters before he was allowed to leave in March 2015, and after a spell with Ebbsfleet, rejoined Crawley two months later, playing a further 22 times, with one goal.
Left in March 2016 and is is now out in America, where he plays for United Soccer League side Arizona United.
One to watch: James Collins - 25-year-old striker was an impressive acquisition for Crawley in the summer after helping Northampton Town win promotion to League Two during his loan spell, scoring eight times in 21 league games.
Began his career with Aston Villa and had spells at Darlington, Burton, before making his name at Shrewsbury.
Went to Swindon and then earned a £200,000 move to Hibernian, but his stay north of the border didn’t yield as many goals as he would have liked and returned to Shrewsbury where he started finding the net with regularity once more.
Loaned to Northampton last term and on his release from the Shrews was snapped up by the Red Devils, scoring three times in eight games so far for his new club.
We’ve got form: Hatters are yet to win at Crawley in a league clash with two defeats and a draw in their three visits, before last season’s FA Cup triumph.
Luton’s two visits in the Conference saw the Town beaten 2-1 by Ben Smith’s late winner, before drawing 1-1 with Alex Lawless on target for the away side.
In the league last season, Hatters had led through Cameron McGeehan’s strike before a poor second half display saw the Red Devils triumph thanks to goals from Rhys Murphy and Matt Harrold.
Last time out: Luton’s last trip to Crawley was in the FA Cup last season where they enjoyed a 2-1 win thanks to Josh McQuoid’s last minute winner.
The Hatters had led through McQuoid’s strike on 54 minutes, only to see Matt Harrold level the scores soon afterwards, before sub Paul Benson’s cross wasn’t properly cleared, allowing McQuoid to hammer home the decider.
Hatters: Elliot Justham, Sean Long, Scott Griffiths, Scott Cuthbert, Luke Wilkinson, Alex Lawless (Danny Green 69), Jonathan Smith, Olly Lee, Luke Guttridge, Jack Marriott (Paul Benson 60), Josh McQuoid.
Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Dan Potts, Mark O’Brien, Cameron McGeehan, Paddy McCourt.
Referee: Nick Kinseley.