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League 1 Spotlight: Luton Town

Tom Hancock profiles the Hatters.

23 July 2018

After topping the table at the halfway mark and looking like strong favourites for the title, Luton ultimately had to settle for the League Two runners up spot last time around, finishing five points behind champions Accrington.

The Hatters undoubtedly played some fine football in 2017/18, and their eight defeats were the fewest in the the division, but too many draws cost them in the end.

The bar of expectation will likely remain high in 2018/19, in spite of the step up in level. Given what Luton have been through over the last decade or so – relegations, points deductions and four years in the Conference – it's understandable that they'll be eager to return to the Championship.

However, while back-to-back promotions from the fourth and third tiers are by no means unheard of, and no one will be hugely surprised if they do pull it off, it won't be as easy as the bookies’ odds seem to suggest it might.

Last season: 2nd in League Two

In charge: Nathan Jones
Appointed to the job in January 2016, Jones has improved Luton’s fortunes season upon season so far. A mid-table finish in 2015/16 was followed by reaching the play-offs a year later, before the success of the campaign just gone.

Aside from a brief stint in caretaker charge of Brighton in 2014, this is the 45-year-old Welshman’s first managerial role, after a playing career that took him from Merthyr Tydfil to Luton – where he was signed by David Pleat in 1995 – Southend, Brighton and Yeovil. He also spent a short time in Spain.

Star player: Danny Hylton
Luton’s top scorer in each of the last two campaigns – passing the 20-goal mark both times around – Hylton has established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in the lower leagues. He's averaged better than a goal every other game in his two seasons with the Hatters, netting 50 times in 90 appearances in all. His pantomime villain reputation precedes him, but his quality remains unquestionable.

Key ins: Midfielder Andrew Shinnie, who spent last season on loan at Kenilworth Road, has signed a two-year deal after being released by Birmingham. Exciting winger Jorge Grant has come in on a season-long loan from Nottingham Forest, having bagged 19 goals in 2017/18 while on loan at Notts County. Defenders Matty Pearson and Sonny Bradley have joined from Barnsley and Plymouth respectively.

Key outs: Centre-backs Scott Cuthbert – who captained the Hatters on their way to promotion – and Johnny Mullins were among five players released; the former has since joined Stevenage, the latter Cheltenham. Midfielder Olly Lee – who won the EFL’s Goal of the Season award for his screamer from inside his own half against Cambridge – has also departed, moving to Hearts.

EFL head-to-head
Meetings: 24
Wycombe wins: 5
Luton wins: 10
Draws: 9

First meeting: 07/09/1996 (League One): Wycombe 0-1 Luton

Last meeting: 30/01/2018 (League Two): Luton 2-3 Wycombe (Wycombe scorers: Paris Cowan-Hall, Nathan Tyson (2))

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