PREVIEW: Exeter City v Luton Town
Exeter City have had what can only be described as a nightmare campaign at St James Park this term, failing to win a single league game in front of their own fans so far.
It’s not like the Grecians have been hard to beat either, picking up just one point from a possible 24, that a 0-0 draw with Grimsby on October 8, as they have scored a paltry three goals in that time, conceding 13, with the latest reverse coming against promotin-chasing Doncaster Rovers.
The club’s long-suffering supporters have at least witnessed two victories, albeit both in cup competitions, that an extra time success over Brentford in the EFL Cup, plus a 3-1 triumph against Chelsea U23s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
City’s home ground has long since been a fortress too, with Exeter winning just two league games at home since the turn of the year, making it a miserable 2016 for followers of an Exeter persuasion.
That the side aren’t in the bottom two at the moment is due to some excellent away performances. The Grecians recorded a crucial 1-0 success at Leyton Orient on Tuesday night dragging them up to 20th place, their sixth away triumph this term, a return only bettered by leaders Plymouth.
lt has lead to some supporters calling for manager Paul Tisdale to end his decade-long spell in charge recently, with it being reported that Exeter City Supporters Trust have asked the club to serve notice on his two year rolling contract and renegotiate a new deal.
The club might also lose star prospect Ethan Ampadu in January too, with the 16-year-old, who caught the eye against Luton in the FA Cup, tipped by the local press to join Chelsea in a £2m deal.
Team news: Luton are at full strength for the game, with just long-term injuries Danny Green and Nathan Doyle missing.
For Exeter, Troy Archibald-Henville is missing, after picking up a knee injury recently.
Top scorers: Hatters: Danny Hylton (12). Grecians: Ollie Watkins, Reuben Reid, Lee Holmes (4).
Milestones: Midfielder Cameron McGeehan is expected to make his 100th appearance for the club at the weekend. The 21-year-old has netted 29 goals in that time, and is the club’s second top scorer this term with nine already.
Meanwhile should defender Stephen O’Donnell be called on, it will be his 50th game in a Hatters shirt.
Man in the middle: Christopher Kavanagh - Has refereed mainly in the Championship this season, with 57 yellows and no reds yet, his last match a 3-2 win for Blackburn over Brentford on Saturday.
Last Luton game was the 2-0 win over Southend at Kenilworth Road in October 2014, with Alex Lawless and Mark Cullen on target for the hosts.
Also officiated Hatters three times in the Conference, a 1-0 defeat at home to Woking and 1-0 reverse against Southport in the 2013-14 campaign, controversially sending off Steve McNulty at Haig Avenue on the opening day.
Had the whistle for Town’s 1-1 draw at Macclesfield the year before, when he sent off keeper Rhys Taylor on 22 minutes, but despite putting midfielder Peter Winn in goal, Luton couldn’t find a winner.
Assistant referees are Mark Pottage and John Flynn, with fourth official Brett Huxtable, who was in charge for Luton’s 1-0 win over Accrington recently.
In charge: Paul Tisdale, 43-year-old, who was born in Malta, but came through the ranks at Southampton in 1991, although only made 16 appearances for the Saints, before spells at Northampton Town and Hudderfield Town.
Spent time with Bristol City, Exeter, FinnPa (Finland) and Panionios (Greece) before returning to enjoy a year with Yeovil Town, until injury forced him to end his career early.
Took a coaching role with Team Bath in 2000, leaving in 2006, to become Exeter boss. Led the Grecians back into the Football League and has stayed there ever since, currently the second longest-serving manager in English football, behind Arsenal supremo Arsene Wenger.
View from the opposition: Striker Reuben Reid talking to the Exeter Express and Echo - “We need our home win. We need to get our home season off to a good start, as it’s not good enough and that’s clear, obviously.
“Whether it’s Luton after what happened in a previous game, I’m not thinking about it.
“We need to take three points off them basically, and they’ll be trying to do that to us.
“More importantly, it’s a home game that we need to win, not because it’s Luton.
“We know a bit about them now and we know their threats and they’ll probably know a bit about us, so it should bode for a really good game, which it was last time, as, in my opinion, it’s two very decent sides for this level.”
Friendly faces: Hatters boss Nathan Jones spent a brief spell at Exeter City on loan from Southend in the 1997-98 campaign, playing six times and scoring once.
Played for both: Sam Parkin - the striker joined Luton for a fee of £340,000 from Ipswich Town in August 2006, but injury restricted him to 56 appearances, scoring 10 goals in that time, including the winner in a 1-0 triumph at Exeter in August 2008.
A loan move followed to Leyton Orient in October 2008, before Parkin had spells at Walsall, St Johnstone, Queen of the South and St Mirren, eventually heading to Exeter in 2013.
While at the Grecians, he netted three times in 29 games before retiring and is now a presenter for BBC Wiltshire Sport.
One to watch: Reuben Reid. Experienced striker controversially joined Exeter on being released by local rivals Plymouth after a number of spells at Home Park saw him play over 100 times, scoring 50 goals for the Pilgrims in that time.
Took a while to get off the mark, his first goal coming in the 4-1 win at Barnet on his sixth appearance, but has netted four in his last eight games to rediscover his goalscoring touch
Still only 28 years of age, the forward, who began his career at Plymouth, has played for a whole host of clubs since, including Rotherham, Walsall, Oldham and Yeovil to name a few
We’ve got form: Luton have a decent record at St James Park over the years, stretching back to 1908 when the two teams were in the Southern League.
In the 33 previous league and cup meetings, Luton have won 14, drawn eight and lost 11, scoring 53 and conceding 51.
Their worst defeat came back in 1965, hammered 5-1, but on returning the favour in 1967 with a 5-0 victory, Luton are now unbeaten in their last six visits, winning their most recent trip earlier this month, a 3-1 FA Cup triumph.
Last time out (in League Two): Luton won a thrilling contest at Exeter last season 3-2 with a last-gasp goal from striker Paul Benson.
With John Still sacked as manager two days before, development and academy boss Andy Awford took over, as Luton led 2-0 through Cameron McGeehan’s penalty and Danny Green’s volley.
However, Exeter hit back with Tom Nichols (71) and Alex Nicholls (82) scoring, before Benson netted at the end, bundling the ball over the line from close range.
Hatters: Mark Tyler, Sean Long, Jake Howells (Scott Griffiths 65), Scott Cuthbert, Magnus Okuonghae, Olly Lee, Alex Lawless, Cameron McGeehan, Danny Green (Jack Marriott 89), Craig Mackail-Smith (Josh McQuoid 72), Paul Benson.
Subs not used: Elliot Justham, Frankie Musonda, Luke Guttridge, James Justin.