PREVIEW: Luton Town v Nuneaton Town

Nuneaton’s plans for their trip to Kenilworth Road this weekend suffered a major blow as goalkeeper Kelle Roos joined Championship side Derby County for an undisclosed fee on Thursday, writes Mike Simmonds.

The 6ft 4in 21-year-old, who is an ex-PSV Eindhoven youth player, had only signed for Nuneaton two months ago, keeping five clean sheets and also recently spent a week at Liverpool, before impressing the Rams on trial.

On his departure, Boro chief executive Ian Neale said: “He really has been in demand.

“Just two months ago when he signed for us, not many English clubs knew much about him.

“Kelle will be missed at the club, despite him only being with us for a very short time. He has every chance of having a brilliant career.”

After making his debut against Chester in November, Nuneaton had won four from nine games since Roos was between the posts, but boss Kevin Wilkin has no worries about putting James Belshaw back in after he made 15 league appearances before losing his place.

He told the Nuneaton News: “It’s a chance for James to come back in.

“He was unfortunate to drop out when he did and he’s already shown he’s a good goalkeeper so I’d have absolutely no worries whatsoever about putting him straight back in.”

On the pitch, Nuneaton were in stunning form at the start of the campaign winning seven out of nine games as they were the one of the early pacesetters.

The bubble had to burst at some stage though as they then went nine games without a win, losing five of them.

Such is the nature of their up and down campaign, Boro then won four in a row, before another tough period of five winless games.

They did help Luton out with a 0-0 draw against Cambridge at the end of 2013, with Hatters moving top, before earning their first win since December 7 on Saturday, defeating Macclesfield 1-0.

Away from home the visitors have impressed too, winning five, drawing four and losing five, while they have conceded just 20 goals during those 15 matches.

The future for Nuneaton Town will be changing soon too as owner Neale is planning to step down after six years in charge at Liberty Way.

He took over as chairman in April 2008, just prior to their old club Nuneaton Borough’s liquidation.

After being demoted to Southern Football League Division One Midlands, Boro then went on to win promotion three times in four seasons to return to Conference.

If the club are to have any realistic ambition of progressing further, Neale realises the need for far greater investment as he added: “I believe that to continue progressing, and certainly to reach League Two, the club needs to make the transition from part time to full time and to continue upgrading Liberty Way to a standard which meets the club’s aspirations.

“And, for that, it needs some serious investment.”

Team news: Hatters boss John Still will include new signings Fraser Franks and Cameron McGeehan in the squad for Saturday’s match.

Andy Parry and Alex Lacey are both back in training, but unlikely to be involved, while Jonathan Smith and Danny Fitzsimons are out for the long term.

Winger Shaun Whalley has left on loan too, joining the likes of JJ O’Donnell, Alex Wall and Jim Stevenson who are at Gateshead and Dartford.

For Nuneaton, central defender Delroy Gordon has returned to full training after a hip injury.

He could be on the bench though, along with midfielder James Armson who has also been suffering with a hip injury.

Top Skrill Premier scorers - Hatters: Andre Gray (14). Boro: Louis Moult (12).

Average attendances: Town: 6,708. Boro: 1,166.

Milestones: Town defender Steve McNulty will make his 50th appearance tomorrow if selected. The crowd favourite has scored two goals for Hatters in his 49 games so far.

Man in the middle: Adam Bromley - Taken nine games Skrill Premier games this season, showing 15 yellows and three reds, including two dismissals in his last two matches.

Officiated Luton’s 3-2 win over Lincoln and Nuneaton’s 4-1 home defeat by Gateshead.

Last season, he showed 39 yellows and one red in 16 league games, and was most well known for helping clear the pitch of snow so that Town’s 0-0 draw at home to Tamworth could go ahead.

In charge: Kevin Wilkin, 46-year-old who started his career with Cambridge City, before moving into the Football League with Northampton Town.

Also had spells with Rushden and Diamonds, Nuneaton Borough, Cambridge City again and Grantham Town, before returning to Nuneaton as player/assistant manager to Roger Ashby in 2004.

Following the sacking of Ashby in 2006, he was appointed caretaker manager and then given the job on a permanent basis.

After Nuneaton Borough were liquidated at the end of the 2007–08 season he was appointed manager of the reformed club, now known as Nuneaton Town.

Guided them through the Southern League Division One Midlands and Southern League Premier Division, plus the Conference North to move back to the Conference after a nine-year absence.

One to watch: Louis Moult - Boro’s leading scorer had a magnificent start to the season, netting nine in his opening 10 games.

As Nuneaton’s form dropped off, so did his, as he has notched just three goals in his last 18 league games and hasn’t scored during his last six appearances

The 21-year-old began life at Stoke, making his Premier League debut at Burnley,

Had loan spells at Bradford, Mansfield, Accrington, Alfreton, Aldershot and Northampton, before joining Nuneaton on loan, but signed permanently in the summer.

From the dug out: Kevin Wilkin told the Nuneaton News - “Luton have improved this season gradually and are now playing with a lot of confidence.

“Kenilworth Road is a difficult place to go, especially now considering their form.

“There is no reason to think we can’t get something though.

“We certainly won’t be going there to play for a point.

“Like I’ve often said, we’ve shown all season that on our day we can give anyone in this league a good game.”

We’ve got form: The two clubs have met twice at Kenilworth Road in their history, first a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup last year when Scott Rendell scored to secure a replay, and in the league too as Town are unbeaten on home soil against their opponents.

Last time out: The boos were starting to ring out around Kenilworth Road with four minutes to go before midfielder Alex Lawless took aim from 25 yards and thundered in a superb drive.

He then added another on the whistle to complete a 2-0 victory.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, Jake Howells, Simon Ainge, Connor Essam (Dan Walker 63), Ronnie Henry, Alex Lawless, Jon Shaw, JJ O’Donnell, Scott Rendell, Andre Gray (Janos Kovacs 89).

Subs not used: Dean Brill, Matt Robinson, Jake Robinson.

Attendance: 6,148.

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