PREVIEW: Luton Town v Doncaster Rovers

Doncaster have swiftly adapted to life in League Two after their relegation last season, quickly justifying their tags as one of the promotion favourites.

Friday, 23rd September 2016, 10:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:33 pm

Although they only took one point from their opening two games, losing at Accrington on the opening day and then drawing against Crawley, they have been pretty much unstoppable since.

Six wins from seven games have been recorded, including a 2-0 victory at Mansfield in the EFL Trophy as well, with a 2-1 defeat at Crewe their only blemish.

Goals haven’t been hard to come by either as Doncaster hammered five at Morecambe in their most recent away game, plus putting four past Yeovil last month too.

Despite dropping into the fourth tier, boss Darren Ferguson didn’t make wholeseale changes at the Keepmoat Stadium over the summer, instead bringing in some solid aquisitions for life in League Two, with the likes of Tommy Rowe, Mathieu Baudry, Matty Blair and John Marquis all joining.

Leaving were Curtis Main and Nathan Tyson, while Ferguson used the loan market to bring in Aston Villa duo Riccardo Calder and Niall Mason plus Jordan Houghton from Chelsea, pouncing on deadline day to snap up former Rotherham United defender Frazer Richardson on a short term deal too.

The Rovers boss didn’t have it quite his own way though, as Greenock Morton rejected a bid from for striker Jai Quitongo after the offer didn’t match their valuation.

Of the new additions, Marquis has certainly hit the ground running, scoring four goals already, bolstering a strikeforce led by Andy Williams, who after notching 16 last term, is up to five for the term, netting a treble in the win over Yeovil recently.

Team news: Luton are without Glen Rea who strained his knee medial ligaments in training recently, while Jack Senior is out too.

Danny Hylton will still need a mask to protect his cracked cheekbone, while Craig Mackail-Smith and Danny Green continue their rehabilitation.

For Doncaster, Mitchell Lund is out for two months with a kidney problem, while on-loan defenders Tyler Garratt (ankle) and Niall Mason (knee) are missing.

Top scorers: Hatters - Danny Hylton (5). Rovers - Andy Williams (5).

Milestones: Jonathan Smith is in line for his 150th appearance in a Luton shirt if selected against Doncaster on Saturday.

The 29-year-old joined Hatters on loan from York in November 2012 and was then snapped up for 50k in January 2013 by former boss Paul Buckle, going on to score 11 goals in that time.

Cameron McGeehan remains one away from his 25th goal for the club too.

Man in the middle: Andy Haines - official has taken nine games so far this season, showing 27 yellows and two reds, with both sendings off coming in his last four matches.

Second Luton game already, as he had the whistle for Town’s 2-1 defeat at Stevenage in August, while refereed Doncaster’s 2-1 EFL Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest too.

Had 27 games last season, showing 85 yellows and five reds, three of those coming in one game.

Officiated Luton four times previously, a 2-2 draw with Grimsby in October 2008, plus a 2-1 win over Hartlepool and 2-0 defeat at Southend during their 2007-08 League Two campaign, along with Hatters’ 1-1 draw at Oldham Athletic the season before.

Referee assistants are Colin Lymer and Dave Bushell, with the fourth official Brian Durie.

In charge: Darren Ferguson - 44-year-old, who started life at Manchester United under his father Alex Ferguson in 1990, but it was away from Old Trafford he went on to make his name, playing for Wolves, Sparta Rotterdam and then Wrexham, where he made over 300 appearances.

Left Wrexham in January 2007 to become player manager of Peterborough United, taking Posh from League Two to the Championship, before leaving in November 2009.

Appointed Preston North End manager in January 2010, but failed to last the year, sacked in December and then returned to Peterborough in January 2011, clinching promotion to the Championship via the play-offs.

Enjoyed two seasons in the second tier before dropping back to League One again as Ferguson left London Road again in February 2015.

Named as Doncaster boss in October last year, although couldn’t prevent Rovers dropping into League Two.

View from the opposition: Darren Ferguson talking to the Star, said: “They’ve (Luton) had a couple of defeats on the bounce so it’s important we start well.

“We have to make sure we manage the early part of the game because they do start with a tempo at home. They fly around the place.

“It’s clearly something they do focus on. There are similarities to ourselves. The early part of the game will be important and probably the first goal as well.

“We’ll be ready for it, we’ll be fully prepared and we have to be.”

Friendly faces: Doncaster Rovers signed former Luton winger Gary McSheffrey on a one-year contract in the summer.

The 34-year-old had two loan spells at Luton from Coventry in August 2003 to December 2003, where he netted nine times in 19 games and returned in September 2004 for a month, scoring once in five games.

Left the Sky Blues to join Birmingham for £4.4million in August 2006 and went on to play for the likes of Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Coventry again and Chesterfield, before settling at Scunthorpe for two seasons.

Loaned to Doncaster last year, scoring once in seven matches and joined in the summer, but is yet to play so far.

Played for both: Mike Newell joined Luton for £100,000 from Wigan in 1986, scoring 19 goals in 68 games, including a hat-trick when Liverpool were beaten 4-1 at Kenilworth Road.

His exploits saw Leicester shell out £350,000 in September 1987, before big money moves to Everton, Blackburn and Birmingham followed.

Ventured north of the border to play for Aberdeen in 1997 but returned to England in 1999 heading to Crewe and then spent time with Doncaster in 1999-2000, netting three goals in 16 games.

Appointed Luton manager in June 2003 as he won the League One title in 2004-05 and then saw them to 10th in the Championship the following season, before leaving the club in March 2007.

One to watch: James Coppinger - 35-year-old recently celebrated his 500th game for the club in some style, scoring in the 5-1 win at Morecambe.

Began his career at Darlington in 1997 and then joined Newcastle before spells at Hartlepool and Exeter, until heading to Doncaster in June 2004 and bar a brief loan spell at Nottingham Forest, has stayed there ever since, now playing 501 games, scoring 54 goals too.

Already beaten his tally of three goals last season with four this term, including a purple patch of three in his last four games.

We’ve got form: Hatters go into this weekend’s with a proud home record against Doncaster, as they haven’t lost to Rovers at Kenilworth Road for over 60 years, the last defeat way back December 1952, when the visitors triumphed 2-1.

Since then, Luton have won five and drawn two, usually with plenty of goals, 4-3 in October 1965, 5-3 in October 1967 and then 4-0 in February 1970 when Malcolm Macdonald scored twice.

In total, Hatters have won seven, drawn two and lost two against Rovers on home soil, scoring 27 goals and conceding 16.

Last time out: Luton were held to a 1-1 draw by Doncaster in their League One during October 2007.

The visitors had led through James Hayter’s 26th minute strike, only for Paul Furlong to ensure a point with his goal just before the hour mark.

Hatters: Ben Alnwick, Chris Coyne (Richard Jackson 32), Alan Goodall, Jaroslaw Fojut, Chris Perry, Steve Robinson, Dave Edwards, Matthew Spring, Paul Furlong, Darren Currie (Paul McVeigh 84), Calvin Andrew.

Subs not used: Drew Talbot, Ahmet Brkovic, Don Hutchison.

Referee: Andy Woolmer.

Attendance: 6,513.