Blues boss Gareth Ainsworth says his side are looking forward to the challenge facing them at a sold-out Kenilworth Road on Saturday, and knows they cannot afford to make mistakes as they bid to continue their own excellent form by upsetting the league leaders.
Luton are unbeaten at home all season, and haven’t lost in the league since October, showing no signs of relenting their progress since manager Nathan Jones departed for Stoke City in January, with caretaker boss Mick Harford continuing their momentum in stylish fashion.
Wanderers have already felt the force of the Hatters, going down 2-0 in the Emirates FA Cup tie in November, and Ainsworth says his team must learn lessons from that encounter if they’re to stand a chance this time around.
“We were beaten by the better team on the day,” he admitted. “One goal was well-taken, the other was a mistake from us, and we never looked like winning it. But we’re working on being more solid this time around, and we haven’t been turned over in a long time. We’ve kept three clean sheets in four, and we’re always in games, right up until the last minute. If you can do that, you’ve always got a chance of getting something.
“It’s always a highly-charged atmosphere at Luton,” he added. “We’ve had some really good battles in the past with some astonishing results for both sides, and twists and turns in games. But I have to take my hat off to Luton - they’re flying high and that’s testament to what Nathan put together and what Mick has carried on. I’m sure many people expect a home win because of their record, but we like to turn the form book on its head and I believe that with hard work and careful planning, we can be a match for them.”
It’s a venue where Ainsworth has enjoyed memorable victories in three of his four visits in league matches as a manager, and the big-game feel generated by the electric atmosphere inside Kenilworth Road remind him of why he fell in love with the sport many years ago.
“As a footballer and a football manager, when you pull up on the coach and see all the fans in the different shirts around the ground, and feel the atmosphere – that’s why you do the job. That’s why people who play on park pitches on a Sunday would love to be doing what we’re doing, in a full stadium with the fans singing, and we love it. Once that dies in me, I might as well give it up.
“We’re looking forward to it. There’ll be plenty of passion, lots of ups and downs, but it’ll be fantastic to go to Luton and have a go at the team that’s top of the league and flying.”