PREVIEW: Luton Town v Nuneaton Town

Goals had followed newly-promoted Nuneaton Town around since their return to the Conference this season after a nine-year absence, writes Mike Simmonds.

Starting with a thrilling 5-4 home defeat to Ebbsfleet, they were then hammered 4-0 at Newport County, before other results included a 2-2 draw with Cambridge United followed by a 3-1 victory over Telford.

Woking dismantled them 6-1, while Town picked up points with 3-3 and 2-2 draws against Macclesfield and Hyde respectively.

The Woking annihilation has started something of a downturn in form, as like Tuesday night’s opponents Braintree, they come to Kenilworth Road on a run of no win in seven, with four draws and three defeats.

Nuneaton seem to be cutting out the goal-laden matches too, after successive goalless draws at home, including taking points off both Wrexham and Hereford, proving they can be a tough nut to crack at times.

They have already shipped 29 goals in 14 Conference games though, the second worst in the Conference, as they sit third from bottom.

The club are trying to improve the playing personnel though and are looking to keep former Scotland international David McNamee at the club.

The 32-year-old played four times for his country, including against Bulgaria and Japan and has helped shore up the Lions back-line, but manager Kevin Wilkin is still uncertain as to whether he’ll be in the squad for the trip to Kenilworth Road.

He said: “You can see his influence and leadership. It can’t be underestimated. I’ve been trying to get him in for a few weeks but we’ve not had the funds.

“If we can keep him for longer he’ll have a major effect on our season.”

One of the club’s major summer signings was expected to be striker Kyle Perry, who not too long ago, was banging the goals in for Tamworth.

A move to Lincoln never really worked out and he is yet to score for his new club too, but will be remembered by Town fans for the incident that saw Dean Beckwith sent off for an apparent elbow last season when the Imps were in town.

Perry’s signing followed the arrivals of Danny Newton, Danny Sleath, Delroy Gordon, Jon Adams and Ben Ford .as Nuneaton looked to ready their squad for the step up this season.

Town have also seen changes off the field as Ian Neale stepped down as chairman after four years earler this campaign.

He took over in 2008 during the club’s reformation from Nuneaton Borough and oversaw promotion to the Conference, as vice chairman Neil Hodgson became acting chairman.

Team news: Hatters are without striker Stuart Fleetwood after his sending off against Braintree Town, but Scott Rendell is back. Defenders Alex Lacey (illness) and Dean Beckwith (groin) are doubts, while James Dance, Danny Spiller, Alasan Ann and Garry Richards are still a while away.

Nuneaton central defenders Gaz Dean (dead leg) and Gavin Cowan (thigh strain) are both rated doubtful, while goalkeeper Neil Collett (knee), right-back Neil Cartwright (leg), captain Mark Noon (broken leg) and forward Kyle Patterson (ankle) are all out.

Top BSBP scorer: Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (9). Nuneaton - Adam Walker (7).

In charge: Kevin Wilkin – had spells with Cambridge City, Northampton Town and Rushden & Diamonds amongst others during his playing career, while also spent time with Nuneaton Borough.

Returned to Nuneaton as player/assistant manager in 2004 and following sacking of Roger Ashby in 2006 became caretaker and then permanent boss.

After Nuneaton Borough were liquidated at the end of the 2007–08 season he was appointed manager of the reformed club, guiding them from Southern League Division One Midlands in the play-offs and then from the Southern League Premier, also via a play-off triumph.

Completed a hat-trick of play-off wins after a 1-0 triumph over Gainsborough Trinity saw them back into the Conference last season.

View from the opposition: Kevin Wilkin: “They lost on Tuesday so we’ve got to beware the backlash. They’ll want to pick up the pieces from that.

“It’s a game to relish though. When you get a chance to play a club as big as that you’ve got to embrace it.

“It’s great to think that four years ago we were playing clubs in this neck of the woods in the Southern League Midland Division.

“We’ve come along so we’ve got to enjoy it, the best way to enjoy it is by winning.

“Last time we were in the Conference you didn’t get sides like Luton, now you have several, but I would say they are they are biggest.

“I’m sure no one expects us to get anything so it would be nice to get something.

“This isn’t a game you would earmark to pick up points from so it would be a bonus, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”

One to watch: Adam Walker - 21-year-old midfielder has been something of a star since signing from Coventry City in the summer, where he made two appearances in the Championship, netting seven times for his new club already.

Friendly faces: There are no current players to have played for both sides, but Hatters do have links with Nuneaton over the years, the main one, manager David Pleat, who was on the coaching staff at Nuneaton Borough, before moving to Town in 1978.

Pleat also brought Kirk Stephens to Kenilworth Road with him and he went on make over 200 appearances for the Town.

We’ve got form: Hatters have never come up against Nuneaton in a competitive fixture before.

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