PREVIEW: Luton Town v Hereford United

Just surviving the season in one piece will be a result in itself for Hereford United this term, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 14th February 2014, 11:51 am

The club appear to have averted a winding-up threat last month by raising the funds to pay an outstanding tax bill of £36,800.

The Bulls had been due in court in London to face a petition from Revenue and Customs over the non-payment, but announced the debt had been settled.

Hereford still need to urgently raise more funds and are planning to cut costs with a club statement trying to increase fund-raising activities to generate an extra £10,000 a month for the remainder of the season, while also trying to improve their average attendance closer to the 2,000 mark.

They continue to cut costs though, having recently made four backroom staff redundant, on top of the enforced January deadline day sale of star midfielder Josh O’Keefe to Kidderminster Harriers.

The club do still have a remaining HMRC debt of almost £25,000, which was due at the end of December, but one piece of good news saw the Bulls signed new leases with Herefordshire Council to remain at Edgar Street, their home for the last 90 years.

After O’Keefe’s departure, two of the Bulls’ FA Youth Cup heroes, Cory Williams and Billy Murphy, who saw the take Manchester City to extra time, have signed professional deals at Edgar Street.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston has received a call up from the England C squad for their friendly match in Jordan and will travel with Hatters’ pair Andre Gray and Fraser Franks.

On the pitch, a mere two away wins all year, the first on the second game of the season at Chester, and the other against Southport back in November has seen Hereford struggle, claiming just 10 points from 42 on their travels.

They currently sit in 15th place, exactly 11 points off both the play-offs and the relegation zone.

It had looked like they were finally starting to put some results together, going five league games unbeaten, but a 3-0 defeat at Woking last time out, put an end to that.

Team news: Hatters are almost fully fit for the clash with only Jonathan Smith and Danny Fitzsimons the long-term absentees.

Meanwhile for Hereford, Joel Edwards is out for two weeks, while Danny Pilkington is also a doubt after suffering a thigh injury.

Dan Walker and Chris Sharp were both due to undergo fitness tests before the postponed match at Wrexham, but both are expected to be fit.

Midfielder Kingsley James is available, with striker Sam Smith back in contention following injury.

Top Skrill Premier scorer - Hatters: Andre Gray (19). Bulls: Michael Rankin (6).

Man in the middle: Darren Handley - has taken 18 games this season, producing 63 yellow cards and five reds.

Has already courted controversy with Hatters, sending off striker Alex Wall for an alleged stamp in the 2-0 defeat at Wrexham, but refereed Town once more in the 1-1 draw against Chester City in November.

Took 26 matches last season, showing 93 yellows and five reds, including the 5-1 defeat for Luton at Gateshead, although did officiate Town’s 2-1 win at Hyde.

The campaign before, Handley had the whistle as Hatters were disappointingly beaten 3-0 at Forest Green.

In charge: Martin Foyle - 50-year-old, who was a dangerous striker in his playing days, scoring 155 goals in 533 league games.

Had spells at Aldershot and Oxford, before becoming Port Vale’s then record signing, as he cost £375,000 in 1991, netting 107 goals, making him the club’s record post-war goalscorer.

Managed the Valiants youth team and in 2004 took charge of first-team affairs, eventually leaving the club in 2007 by mutual consent.

Had a spell as Wrexham caretaker boss, before appointed manager of York City in 2008, leading the Minstermen to an FA Trophy Final and Conference play-off final until he resigned in September 2010.

Was then boss of Northwich Victoria for a three-month spell in February 2012 before being named manager at Hereford United in May last year.

View from the oppostion: Martin Foyle speaking to the club’s official website: “(Luton are) an excellent side, no qualms about it.

“John Still has gone a little bit from the old Luton where they had to play football from the back and be pretty as he knows exactly what the criteria is to get out of this league.

“Fair play to them, they’re doing well. They’ve got a bit of experience in there and a bit of youth in there.

“But what a fantastic game to go and play in. If I was a player thinking to go and play in front of 7,8,000 people with a good hostile environment, we’re going to bring it on and get on with it.

“It will be nice to get a game of football under our belts too.”

Average home crowd: Luton: 6,751. Bulls: 1,702.

One to watch: Striker Michael Rankine is the Bulls’ top scorer with six Skrill Premier goals so far this season

Started life at Scunthorpe and had spells at Alfreton, Rushden and Bournemouth, before York, with Martin Foyle in charge, paid £10,000 for his services.

Also had spells at Aldershot, Grimsby and then York again before reuniting with Foyle in the summer.

Friendly faces: Attacker Dan Walker was used mainly as a substitute at Luton, playing 36 times in total and scoring five goals, as he was loaned out a number of times during his time at Kenilworth Road.

Released in the summer and joined Hereford, making 29 Skrill Premier appearances so far this season, scoring twice, once on the opening day and then also in the 4-1 home win over Southport last month.

Defender Luke Graham was loaned to Luton from Kettering in January 2011, staying for six months.

In total, he made 14 games and netted one goal, that a late winner against Gloucester City in the FA Trophy.

Went to Forest Green on a free and then joined Hereford in July 2012, where he has since made over 50 appearances, and played 26 times this season for the Bulls.

We’ve got form: Hatters have only ever played Hereford twice at Kenilworth Road in their history, winning the first meeting 2-0 back in October 1976 in the old Division Two when Jimmy Husband and Paul Futcher netted.

The only other encounter, last season, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Last time out: Hatters were indebted to a late goal from David Martin to rescue a point against the Bulls, in what was John Still’s first home game in charge.

Hereford had gone ahead when Marlon Jackson scored after 23 minutes, but Martin, who had only been on the pitch 10 minutes, hammered home from outside the box with time running out.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Steve McNulty, Jake Howells, Ronnie Henry, Jake Goodman, Greg Taylor (JJ O’Donnell 73), Alex Lawless, Arnaud Mendy (David Martin 73), Jonathan Smith, Scott Rendell (Alex Wall 62), Andre Gray.

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

Attendance: 6,001.

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.