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Preview: Luton v Blues

Our match preview ahead of tonight's trip to Kenilworth Road to take on Luton Town (7pm kick-off).

Blues make the trip to Bedfordshire aiming to make it three straight wins over the Hatters having recorded a league double last season – both by a 2-1 scoreline.

A late Lukas Jutkiewicz strike helped secure victory at St. Andrews Trillion Trophy Stadium in October 2019 whilst Gary Gardner’s low drive earned Blues all three points on the road back in January. Remarkably, it was Blues first win at Kenilworth Road since 1979.

Aitor Karanka’s side will head south aiming to build on Friday’s draw with Coventry City. Blues ended a run of back to back defeats with a well-earned point at St. Andrew’s and but for a fingertip save, could and perhaps should have taken all three.

The result means Blues sit in 17th position at this early stage in the season and will turn their attentions to closing the gap on Luton Town who have enjoyed a solid start to their second campaign back in the Championship.

OUR OPPONENTS:
Despite those two victories, tonight’s opponents finished a point and place above Blues last year. Three wins in their final five games helped Nathan Jones side surpass the 50 points mark to secure another term in the Championship.

After a shortened break they picked up where they left off, winning their first four games in all competitions and currently occupy 10th place in the division above the likes of Brentford, Preston, Blackburn Rovers and of course Blues.

At home, it’s been a case of mixed fortunes. Two early victories over Derby County and Wycombe have been offset by defeats to Stoke and Brentford and further draws with Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers last time out.

Luton have addressed a defensive fragility on the road which plagued them last season and have discovered a steeliness over the summer, conceding just four goals in seven games.

Goals have been shared around the squad with Berry (2), Ruddock (2) and Collins (2) leading the way whilst the latter has found the net more frequently in cup competition.

It’s a fixture that’s averaged nearly four goals a game in recent times but the Hatters have shipped just 11 goals in as many games this season.

Whilst far from free-scoring, Jones side clearly don’t conceded many either which makes for an intriguing battle with Blues this evening.

LAST TIME OUT:
Blues were held to a goalless draw at stadium sharing Coventry City on Friday night. Despite carving out the clearer of the chances, Blues were denied all three points as Lukas Jutkiewicz saw his second-half header crash off the underside of the bar. Karanka’s side applied late pressure in search of a breakthrough but Coventry defended resolutely to earn a share of the spoils in an otherwise scrappy affair.

Meanwhile Luton extended their unbeaten stretch to three games with an entertaining 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers. Luke Berry gave the hosts the lead with just over 20 minutes remaining but former Blues striker Sam Gallagher came off the bench to equalise three minutes later. Both sides had chances to win it late on but neither could find an all-important second goal.

WE MEET AGAIN:
Luton Town 1-2 Blues, 11 January 2020

Blues had not won at Luton in seven previous attempts and they went into the match desperate to shore up defensively having conceded 16 goals in the last six games, five of which ended in defeat.

Lukas Jutkiewicz put Blues into an early lead at Kenilworth Road and they seemed well set.

But a penalty by James Collins provided Luton with hope and Blues had to show great powers of recovery as well as resolve.

That they did, and Gary Gardner started and finished a move to restore the advantage in the 69th minute with what proved to be the decisive strike.

Blues had to negotiate a tense finale, though, as Harlee Dean was harshly sent-off in the 86th minute by Graham Scott, for a second yellow card.

BLUES TEAM NEWS:
Adam Clayton (ankle) and Zach Jeacock (ankle) remain unavailable. George Friend returned to action against Coventry City, whilst Kristian Pedersen (head), Jake Clarke-Salter (calf) and Josh McEachran (knee) are all available. New signing Alen Halilović is not eligible for the game.

HEAD-TO-HEAD
Blues wins: 30
Draws: 19
Luton wins: 12

LAST FIVE MEETINGS
Championship 11 Jan 2020 – Luton Town 1-2 Blues
Championship 26 Oct 2019 – Blues 2-1 Luton
Championship 29 Dec 2006 – Blues 2-2 Luton Town
Championship 14 Oct 2006 – Luton 3-2 Blues
Division 1 13 Apr 1996 – Blues 4-0 Luton

BLUESTV
Tonight's game is exclusively live on BluesTV. Roger Johnson joins Olly Clink on commentary at Kenilworth Road. Buy your pass for £10. 

NOTE: There is NO red button coverage this evening.



MATCH OFFICIAS
Referee – David Webb
Assistant Referee 1 – Ian Cooper
Assistant Referee 2 – Nigel Lugg
Fourth Official – Joshua Smith

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