PREVIEW: Cambridge United v Luton Town

Former Cambridge striker Scott Rendell is now at Luton
Former Cambridge striker Scott Rendell is now at Luton

Town’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round trip to Cambridge United has been given a huge dose of extra spice after the U’s appointed former Town boss Richard Money in charge earlier this month, writes Mike Simmonds.

The 57-year-old became United’s head coach, with former boss Jez George moving to the position of director of football, after an indifferent start to the season.

Money, who had always enjoyed a fractious relationship with the Hatters fans including a number of fall-outs, had been out of work since leaving Kenilworth Road on Mark 28, 2011, where had enjoyed the most successful win ratio of any manager, albeit it with all his matches in the Conference.

The boss admitted it was a cruel twist of fate that had thrown up this meeting with Hatters so early into his U’s stint.

Money, who refused to talk the News/Gazette this week, said: “In terms of playing Luton right now you couldn’t write it, but football has a strange quirk of fate.

“We probably wouldn’t have wished to meet each other at this stage because we both want to go further in the Cup, but we feel we’ve got every chance.

“This is a big competition for clubs at our level because if you get through, the next round is when the League clubs start to join in.

“There are always two dates in the calendar that people are excited about – that’s the first-round draw and third-round draw.

“We’re no different to anyone else and we want to be in those draws.””

The former Liverpool defender, who also played for Town in his career, has made a decent start to life with his new club, beating Mansfield 4-1 in his first game, before losing at Woking and drawing with Gateshead.

The U’s are desperate for a big crowd too as chief executive Dave Doggett said: “It would just be nice if we can pick it up because the more fans there are here, the more chance we’ve got of winning the game.

“With the links with Richard Money, Robbie Willmott and Rossi Jarvis, there’s a bit of extra spice and it’s probably the biggest game we could have had at this stage of the FA Cup.”

Money also urged the Cambridge fans to turn out in their numbers as he added: “We’ll need every single one of them for what’s the tie of the round, no question. I know it’s a 1pm kick-off, which makes life difficult for some people, but I’d urge everyone to come.

“Having experienced it personally, their away support is very vocal and very good, so we need all of our supporters here making it a real crackling atmosphere and if they can do that, I’m sure the team will respond.”

Team news: Hatters are without on-loan trio of Yaser Kasim, Simon Ainge, Connor Essam who are all cup-tied, while there are doubts over Dean Beckwith (groin). Jake Robinson has permission from Northampton to play, but Alex Lacey is out with illness, Danny Spiller still isn’t quite ready, while James Dance and Garry Richards are both out.

U’s boss Money hinted there were unlikely to be many changes from the side that drew with Gateshead, while Harrison Dunk and Scott Garner were both in contention.

Man in the middle: Wayne Barratt – has officiated eight Conference games this season, showing 19 red cards to date and one red.

Took charge the last time the two sides met, when Luton defeated Cambridge 3-2 in September, while reffed one Luton match last season, the 1-1 draw at home to AFC Telford.

Top BSBP scorer: U’s – Tom Elliott (6). Hatters - Stuart Fleetwood (9).

In charge: Richard Money. Well known to Town fans, he started life as a defender with Scunthorpe United, before playing for Liverpool, Luton, Portsmouth and Fulham during the 1970s and 1980s.

While at Liverpool, he was an unused substitute in the 1981 European Cup Final, having played in the semi-final.

Became caretaker player/manager of Scunthorpe at the end of his playing career and was youth coach at Aston Villa before returning to Glanford Park to become manager.

Was coach at Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, before spells as academy director and first team coach at Coventry City.

Has experience all round the globe as took charge of Swedish clubs AIK and Västerås SK, while coached in Australia at Newcastle United Jets.

Returned to England in May 2006 as Walsall boss, before being appointed Newcastle United’s academy director in June 2008.

Joined Luton in October 2009, before leaving in March 2011 and was linked to a host of jobs before being unveiled as Cambridge head coach on October 4.

View from the opposition: Director of football Jez George - “The FA Cup is a massive competition for all clubs at this level and we’re no different.

“We’re desperate to be in the hat for the first round proper and every season you see a club progress further and draw one of the big boys in round three. We want that to be us.

“The club has done everything possible to make it easy and I really hope our fans turn out in force to create the atmosphere that will help us progress into the first round.”

One to watch: Michael Gash - was out of favour at the start of the season with Cambridge, moving to Braintree on loan where he netted just once in six games.

Returned to U’s in September and scored in his first match against Telford, before netting four times in the last seven games.

Now in his second spell at Cambridge after starting life at Cambridge City, the 26-year-old has also played for Ebbsfleet, York City and Rushden & Diamonds.

Friendly faces: Where to start!

Hatter striker Scott Rendell had two prolific spells at Cambridge. First joined the club from Crawley Town in August 2007, scoring 19 goals in 32 games, before moving to Peterborough. He then returned to the Abbey on loan in November 2008 and netted a further 15 times in 28 games.

Assistant boss Paul Carden had a lengthy four-year spell at the U’s, where he clocked up over 100 appearances, and was even number two during Martin Ling’s reign before moving to Town on loan.

Defender Simon Ainge spent a period on loan with Cambridge during the 2008-09 season, as did Dan Walker last season, where he featured six times.

Apart from U’s boss Richard Money, Rossi Jarvis made over 50 appearances for Luton, scoring five times in his two year stint, joining from Norwich on a free in July 2008 and them moving to Barnet in July 2010.

Meanwhile, winger Robbie Willmott played in last season’s play-off final defeat to York for the Hatters, before being released and ending up back at his former club. He played 67 times for Town, netting 15 goals.

We’ve got form: Hatters have been hard to beat whenever they’ve travelled to the Abbey Stadium, losing just three times in 11 visits. They haven’t been massively successful either though, notching up three wins, with the other five matches all ended in draws.

They have never lost in the league at Cambridge since being a Conference club, with their first visit ending in a 4-3 triumph thanks to goals from Kevin Gallen (2), Rossi Jarvis and Jake Howells, all after Liam Hatch had been sent off, with Town trailing 2-0, while the other two visits have ended in draws although they did suffer an FA Trophy reverse in their first season in the Blue Square Bet Premier, going down 3-1.

Town’s biggest win was back in the 1980-81 season in the old Division Two, when they triumphed 3-1, while they are almost on par in terms of goals scored too, netting 17 times and conceding 18.

Last time out: In the league meeting at the Abbey last season, Stuart Fleetwood put Town 1-0 up after 18 minutes, but they couldn’t close the game out and ended up being pegged back on 77 minutes through Liam Hughes’ strike.

Hatters: Kevin Pilkington, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Curtis Osano, Jamie Hand (Adam Watkins 84), Janos Kovacs, Greg Taylor, Alex Lawless, James Dance (Ryan Brunt 78), Stuart Fleetwood, Aaron O’Connor.

Attendance: 4,796.

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