PREVIEW: Luton Town v Stockport County

Stockport County head to Kenilworth Road still struggling badly with the threat of relegation, writes Mike Simmonds.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th March 2013, 12:12 pm
Janos Kovacs goes close against Stockport last season
Janos Kovacs goes close against Stockport last season

Since the defeat against Luton at Edgeley Park in John Still’s first game in charge on March 2, they have picked up just four points from their next five games.

A point at Dartford followed the 1-0 reverse to Hatters, before County were hammered 4-1 by title-chasing Mansfield

The Hatters picked up a valuable three points with a 2-0 triumph at fellow strugglers Barrow, but Saturday’s 3-1 home reverse to Braintree sees them peering over their shoulders in trepidation, just three points and two places above the drop zone.

Stockport’s fans certainly are far from impressed with the club’s plight and have made their feelings known, as chairman Lord Snape said in an official statement on the club’s website: “Whilst the Football Club Board and Club’s employees fully understand the anger and frustration of many of our supporters and their disappointment with recent results, we are not prepared to accept the abuse, foul language and threatening behaviour aimed at the Directors’ Box following the last home game.

“When collectively we find it unsafe to bring our partners, children or grandchildren to home games because of this behaviour we are entitled surely to ask ‘is it all worth it?’ When some internet sites carry death threats against particular individuals, it certainly isn’t.

“The Board is grateful for the support and patience of the vast majority of our fans whose behaviour is exemplary and who, like us, want only the best for our club and its future.”

County’s away form since the turn of the year hasn’t been too bad though, with two wins, two draws and three defeats from the seven games played.

Stockport boss Darije Kalezić has been trying to change things around in the last month, as number two Stuart Watkiss left the club by mutual consent.

His departure means Alan Lord will be on the bench tonight as he has returned to the club as head of development but will be assisting on match days for the rest of the season.

The manager is also utilising the loan market to bring in a host of new faces, with Fleetwood Town defender Kieran Charnock joining until the end of the season, as has Rotherham winger Danny Schofield.

County also brought in York midfielder Lee Bullock for the remainder of the campaign and utility player Javan Vidal, who began his career with Manchester City, was snapped up on a free transfer too.

Top BSBP scorer: Hatters: Andre Gray (11). County: Danny Hattersley (10).

Man in the middle: Dean Treleaven – official has shown 40 yellow cards and one red during his 10 Blue Square Bet Premier games this season, but will be the first time he has taken either side so far.

In charge: Darije Kalezić – Bosnian born 43-year-old who divided his playing career between his home country and Holland, with spells at FK Velež Mostar, FC Den Bosch, RKC Waalwijk, AGOVV Apeldoorn and De Graafschap, before retiring in 2006.

He became De Graafschap reserve/youth team coach from 2006 to 2008, and was later promoted to assistant boss.

Became interim manager in February 2009 and despite relegation, was confirmed as head coach for the new season, leading the side back into the Eredivisie as champions.

Saved the team from relegation in 2010–11, but left the club at the end of the season, taking over as Belgian Pro League club Zulte Waregem, in June 2011.

Was fired at the end of that year due to unsatisfactory results and appointed Stockport County in January.

View from the opposition: Boss Darije Kalezić - “The fans are very proud to the club and want to see a squad who is on the level of the crowd – and this squad is not on a level of the crowd.

“We have the best crowd in the league, definitely, but this is the situation.

“But we are looking forward to work from this situation until the end of the season – we have nine finals and every game is important.

“That is the conclusion – that we are not good enough to run away from this area. We have to fight until the end of the season to stay in the league.”

One to watch: Danny Hattersley – County’s top scorer this season with 10 league goals to his name.

Burst on to the scene last season, scoring six times in eight matches after making his debut in March, and has enjoyed a decent first full campaign too, reaching double figures.

We’ve got form: Hatter haven’t lost at home to Stockport in over 46 years, since the 3-0 defeat in the old Division Four back in September 1966.

The other nine matches have seen Luton win six and draw three, scoring 22 goals and conceding 12, with the the biggest win coming in the old Division Two in January 1938, when they triumphed 6-4.

Last time out: Hatters picked up a 1-0 win over Stockport County last season thanks to a penalty from Aaron O’Connor on 73 minutes after Adam Watkins was felled in the area.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, Dan Gleeson, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Janos Kovacs, Greg Taylor, Alex Lawless, James Dance (Robbie Willmott 46), Danny Crow, Stuart Fleetwood (Aaron O’Connor 46), Adam Watkins.

Subs not used: Mark Tyler, Alex Lacey, John Paul Kissock.

Attendance: 5,588.

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.

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.