Meet the Opposition | Luton Town
As Swansea City prepare to welcome Luton Town to the Liberty on Saturday, here we take a closer look at the Hatters.
What’s their story?
Luton’s story is one that has provided many ups and downs over the years.
FA Cup finalists in 1959 – the year after finishing eighth in the First Division – the Hatters had slipped into the bottom tier of the Football League just six years later.
Over half a century on, back-to-back promotions have led to their return to the Championship – just over a decade since severe financial difficulties and subsequent points deductions culminated in three successive relegations that saw them drop out of the Football League.
The eighties provided Luton with arguably the most successful period in the history.
They spent a decade in the top flight under the likes of David Pleat and Ray Harford – recording their highest-ever finish of seventh during the 1986-87 season, before lifting the League Cup after victory over Arsenal at Wembley the following year.
How’s their form?
Not too bad. They may be five points from safety at the bottom of the Championship table, but Luton’s last seven games have yielded just a single defeat.
The Hatters also demonstrated good character to earn a morale-boosting point against play-off chasing Preston on their return to action last weekend, thanks to Callum McManaman’s late equaliser.
In the bottom three since Christmas, one of Luton’s main weaknesses of this season has been their form on the road.
They have lost 12 of their last 14 away from Kenilworth Road, although they did halt a run of a dozen consecutive defeats on their travels shortly before the season was suspended in March.
Who’s the boss?
Nathan Jones. Last month saw the Welshman return to the club who he had guided to League Two promotion and the top of League One just 16 months previously.
After beginning his coaching career at Charlton and Brighton, it was Luton who gave Jones his senior managerial break in January 2016.
Just two seasons later, he guided the club to the League Two title before departing for Stoke - with the Hatters on course for a second straight promotion - the following January.
However, Jones was unable to enjoy similar success at the bet365 Stadium, with just six wins from 38 games before his departure last November.
Fast forward seven months and the 47-year-old is back at Kenilworth Road, where he will be desperate to secure Championship football for next season.
A former defender, Jones turned out for Southend, Brighton and Yeovil in the Football League during his playing career, while he also spent time in the Spanish second and third tiers with Badajoz and Numancia.
Who are the key men?
Just like last season, striker James Collins leads the goalscoring charts at Kenilworth Road.
The Republic of Ireland international has netted 11 times in the Championship this term, while former Yeovil frontman Harry Cornick has contributed a further eight for the Hatters.
On the wing, Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown boasts plenty of EFL experience having turned out for Rotherham, Huddersfield and Leeds, as well as appearing in the Premier League for Brighton.
Brown has racked up six assists for Luton this season, while another four have come from James Bree – currently on loan from Aston Villa.
The defence is headed by Matty Pearson – formerly of Accrington and Barnsley. The ex-England Under-18 international has not missed a single league game since arriving at Kenilworth Road in June 2018.