Leader Preview: Luton Town v Wrexham FC

Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.

Anthony Stephens_1
Anthony Stephens: suffered a cruel twist of fate on his debut at Luton.

Our recent record against Luton is all a matter of perception. We’ve actually done well against them recently, but the traumatic nature of the defeats we’ve suffered at their hands in the Conference means a game against The Hatters tends to be approached with pessimism by Wrexham fans!

You don’t have to go back too far to find a depressing defeat at Kenilworth Road, of course. In December our defence of the FA Trophy ended in embarrassing circumstances as we fell 2-0 to Luton. A Neil Ashton own goal was the icing on the cake, but by the time he put the ball past Andy Coughlin in the last quarter of an hour the game already felt beyond us as Jay Harris had been sent off and a strong line-up was struggling to cope with a heavily-rotated Luton selection.

Throw in two recent losses in end of season play-offs semi-finals, and a trip to Kenilworth Road holds plenty of negative connotations. Yet we’ve not lost there in the league in our last three visits, and in none of those games did we concede a goal in open play!

Our last two matches there in the Conference saw us keep clean sheets as we drew 0-0 at Kenilworth Road last season and beat them 1-0 the campaign before that, Mathias Pogba grabbing the goal.

The season before that they managed to get the ball past our keeper, but even then they were rather fortunate as an extremely harsh penalty decision against Anthony Stephens allowed The Hatters to snatch an equaliser in the eighty eighth minute of a game which saw both sides rest players ahead of a clash in the play-offs.

For our last defeat there you have to go back to March 2010 when we succumbed 1-0 to suffer our only Conference defeat to The Hatters. At this level we’ve a terrific home record against them of four wins and one draw, and the draw was a goalless affair last season which ought to have ended in victory as a last minute Martin Riley goal was wrongly disallowed for offside! Overall our record against Luton in the Conference reads five wins, three draws and one defeat and if those two controversial refereeing decisions had gone our way we’d have turned two of those draws into wins as well!

We go in search of our fourth league double against The Hatters tomorrow, a feat they’ve achieved just once against us, and our recent superiority in the Conference means we’ve the upper hand in league games between the sides, having won eighteen of our forty clashes to their nine. Overall we’ve lost thirteen and won five games at Kenilworth Road, drawing five. However, three of those defeats came in play-offs or cup competitions.

We played out our first goalless draw in forty two matches against Halifax Town last Saturday, and have played twenty-five away games without a 0-0. As both league games were ended nil-nil last season, perhaps that eleven month run will be broken tomorrow!

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