PREVIEW: Luton Town v Forest Green Rovers

Forest Green Rovers head to Kenilworth Road boasting the best away record in the Blue Square Bet Premier this season, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 9th February 2013, 6:38 am

In their 16 games played so far, Rovers have won eight, drawn three and lost five, scoring 23 goals while conceding 17, to take 27 points from a possible 48.

Forest Green have played six of their last eight matches on their travels too, and given their fine form, it came as quite a surprise that they were beaten by both Braintree and Stockport County.

They did however bounce back by winning at Lincoln in their last trip, while the highlight in the mini sequence saw them absolutely destroy Newport County 5-0 in Wales.

Not content with that, the club are also introducing a new match analysis method to try and find an extra edge over their title rivals, becoming the first non-league side to use Prozone’s Matchviewer system.

The system is used by all Premier League and Championship clubs and manager David Hockaday said: “This will massively improve our post-match analysis, allowing us to look more technically at our performances and see where we can gain those few extra percentage points that can mean the difference between winning and losing.”

Back on the pitch, Rovers have gained plenty of plaudits this season, with three of the squad joining Andre Gray and Simon Ainge on England C duty in the week, losing 1-0 to Turkey.

Eddie Oshodi and Kierson Forbes were both selected, as was Jamie Turley, who completed a hugely successful personal week, being named the England C player of the year at the FA’s inaugural England Awards.

Although not busy on transfer deadline day, Rovers did bolster their squad in January as Gateshead winger Yemi Odubade joined on loan, while the club also snapped up Watford defender Dale Bennett for an undisclosed fee as Chris Todd moved to Eastleigh.

Team news: For Hatters, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner is suspended, while Simon Ainge, Danny Spiller and Garry Richards are all injured. Boss Paul Buckle is awaiting international clearance on new signing Wayne Thomas.

Rovers midfielder Steve Brogan picked up a groin injury this week and misses the trip to Kenilworth Road, as does defender Aarran Racine (hand), while former Luton target Reece Styche is also out with a knee injury.

Man in the middle: Nick Kinseley - has flashed his red card on plenty of occasions this season, with seven dismissals in eight Conference games.

All seven came in the space of just four matches too including three in Wrexham’s 4-2 home defeat to Alfreton and two in Forest Green’s 1-0 win at Dartford, where he dismissed the visitors’ Jamie Turley on just 18 minutes.

Yet to officiate a Luton win this campaign, taking the 2-2 home draw with Gateshead plus the New Year’s Day’s 3-1 defeat at Woking.

Was in charge of this fixture last season, when Luton drew 1-1, but has only reffed one Luton win, the 5-0 thrashing of Kettering last year.

Top BSBP scorer: Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (10). Rovers – Jan Klukowski (9), James Norwood (9).

In charge: David Hockaday. The 54-year-old played for Blackpool as a defender, making almost 200 appearances and then joined Swindon Town where he played over 300 games before spells with Hull City, Stoke City and Shrewsbury Town.

In all, his Football League career spanned 20 years where he won three league title and gained two further promotions via the play-offs.

Started coaching at Cirencester Town where he established the first football academy, before joining Watford as U18 coach, and then became first team coach, before moving to MK Dons, Leicester City, Southampton, Cheltenham Town Wycombe Wanderers and eventually becoming Rovers boss in September 2009.

Relegated from the Conference in his first season, Forest Green were reinstated following Salisbury City’s failing in their appeal against demotion for financial irregularities, before they only survived on the last day in his second campaign.

This year though, he has taken Rovers into the top five, with the club having every chance of winning promotion.

View from the opposition: Striker Reece Styche - “We’ve got 17 games left and maybe the play-offs after that, so it could be an amazing time for us.

“I’m gutted to be missing Luton but I’ve got a good feeling about the game. It won’t define our season but we’re more than capable of winning down there.”

One to watch: James Norwood – although currently on a run of four games without a goal, the striker has found sound some real form recently, netting eight in 10 prior to his mini drought.

Three of them came in a superb 5-0 thrashing of Newport County for the former Exeter forward, who is in his second spell with the club, having moved to Rovers on loan from the Grecians back in the 2010-11 season.

Friendly faces: Forward Stuart Fleetwood had a prolific spell at Rovers in the 2007-08 season, netting 32 times in 44 games, before a move to Charlton Athletic.

Midfielder Alex Lawless spent just under three years with the club, playing over 100 times, while striker Scott Rendell played for Rovers in the 2005-06 season, netting twice in 16 games.

Recent signing Jonathan Smith also spent three years at Forest Green, racking up more than a century of games, before he was snapped up by York City.

For Forest Green, hugely popular ex-Town defender Ed Asafu-Adjaye made 82 appearances in five years at Kenilworth Road, but was released by Buckle and has now played 19 league games for his new side after joining in the summer.

Striker Ben Wright had a loan spell with Hatters in the 2009-10 season, scoring once in his five appearances.

We’ve got form: Hatters have won two and drawn one of their three home matches with Forest Green since dropping into the Blue Square Bet Premier.

The biggest triumph was 6-1 two seasons ago, when Andy Drury, Amari Morgan-Smith, Danny Crow (2), Matthew Barnes-Homer and Dan Walker all scored.

Last time out: Hatters were held to a 1-1 draw by Forest Green Rovers at Kenilworth Road last season. The visitors went ahead on 52 minutes when Charlie Griffin scored, before recently released defender Dean Beckwith pulled Luton level on 70 minutes.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dean Beckwith, Jake Howells, Ed Asafu-Adjaye, Will Antwi, Curtis Osano, Keith Keane, Alex Lawless, James Dance, Matthew Barnes-Homer (Robbie Willmott 63), Aaron O’Connor.

Subs not used: Lewis Kidd, Amari Morgan-Smith, Danny Crow, Adam Watkins.

For all the latest Luton Town FC news, reports, stats, player profiles, live match updates, MOM poll, prediction table and a complete fixture list, visit our Hatters Microsite.