PREVIEW: Luton Town v Hyde
Hyde couldn’t be heading to Kenilworth Road this evening in a worse run of form than they are currently in, writes Mike Simmonds.
Six straight defeats have seen the club drop into the bottom four as they are now firmly entrenched in a relegation battle.
Hyde had looked like they were going to enjoy a relatively safe first ever season in the Conference as despite taking until September to register a victory, the back end of the year saw them win eight, draw one and lose two out of 11 matches.
But 2013 has been nothing short of awful though as four successive defeats was broken by a draw against Macclesfield and win at Telford, before the six recent losses.
Goals have been in drastically short supply too as the Tigers have failed to score in five of their last six, netting just six from their last 12 in total.
The club have tried to improve the squad, signing striker Scott Hogan from Ashton, while Robbie Williams (Colwyn Bay) and Ben Dennis (Bolton Wanderers) both rejoined Hyde.
Young Blackpool striker Louis Almond has been brought in for a month, while Burnley forward Shay McCartan extended his loan until the end of the season and Jamie Milligan rejoined the club on a one-month loan from Fleetwood Town, almost a decade on from the midfielder’s first spell at Ewen Fields.
Team news: For Town, Janos Kovacs and Jon Shaw both miss out, while Wayne Thomas is free from suspension and Scott Rendell is a doubt after a blow to the face against Hereford.
Both Danny Spiller and Garry Richards have undergone surgery and are out for the season.
Man in the middle: Rob Whitton - Has taken 19 games this season, showing 63 yellows and three red cards.
Tonight will be his third visit to Kenilworth Road this campaign, after the 4-1 win over Macclesfield and 1-1 FA Cup draw with Nuneaton, while he was in charge of the 5-2 defeat at Newport.
Town have never lost when Whitton is in charge at home either, with a 2-0 win over Bath City and 5-0 defeat of Kettering last season.
The 2010-11 campaign saw them beat AFC Wimbledon 3-0, while in 2009-10 they defeated Crawley 3-0 with Whitton holding the whistle.
Top BSBP scorer: Hatters – Andre Gray (11). Hyde – Phil Jevons (15).
In charge: Scott McNiven – 34-year-old Scottish footballer who started his career at Oldham Athletic in 1995, making over 200 appearances before moving on to Oxford United in 2002.
Spent two years with the U’s before spells at Mansfield, Chester, Morecambe, Fleetwood and Guiseley.
Became assistant manager at Hyde in October 2010 and then took over as joint player-manager with Steve Halford.
Replaced by Gary Lowe at the start of the 2011-12 season, but when Lowe resigned after a year, took over as permanent boss in May 2012.
One to watch: Phil Jevons - Vastly experienced striker who has scored an impressive 15 league goals this season, including four when Woking were hammered 7-0 back in December.
The 33-year-old enjoyed a purple patch at the time, netting seven in four games, but has since scored just one in eight during 2013.
Jevons started his career at Everton, before a £250,000 move to Grimsby and has scored 130 goals in over 400 league games.
Most famous for netting an injury time winner in the 2-1 League Cup victory at Liverpool back in 2001.
Since the Maringers, he has had spells at Hull, Yeovil, Bristol City, Huddersfield, Bury and Morecambe before signing for Hyde in the summer.
Friendly faces: Matthew Blinkhorn - played three games as a substitute for Town while on loan from Blackpool in the 2004-05 season, a Carling Cup 4-3 defeat at Boston United, plus a 3-0 loss at York and a 4-0 home win over Bradford.
Since then, he has had spells at Bury, Morecambe, Sligo Rovers and York before singing for Hyde in the summer and has netted four league goals in 19 appearances this season.
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