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15 September 2018 Venue Kenilworth Road Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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Focus On: Luton Town

14 September 2018

By Gerry Prewett.

Having already secured a 3-point haul earlier in the season in Buckinghamshire (at Wycombe), Rovers will be hoping to repeat the performance when they visit Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road on Saturday.

Hotly tipped as one of the promotion contenders after their strong season in Division Two last season, the Hatters have not yet hit their stride and their early season form has been a little patchy.

As Rovers kept their first clean sheet of the campaign in a  0-0 draw with Plymouth, Luton went down to a 2-1 defeat at Doncaster. Goals from Matty Blair and Ben Whiteman helped Doncaster to a first win in seven matches as they overcame Luton.

Much of the pressure came from visitors Luton, who equalised once through Elliot Lee but could not find another.

Matty Blair opened the scoring for Doncaster with a superb individual effort just six minutes in. Starting from halfway, he was allowed to surge forward before slamming a well placed shot into the top left corner from the edge of the box.

Luton responded well and piled on the pressure with Elliot Lee, James Collins and Jorge Grant all going close to drawing them level. They got their reward in first-half stoppage time when Lee headed in from close range from a Dan Potts knock-back.

But just 35 seconds into the second half Doncaster were back in front. A shot from Blair was blocked out only as far as Ben Whiteman, whose low strike from 20 yards was diverted into the corner of the Hatter’s net. Luton again had the more threatening play with chances for Potts and Pelly Ruddock but they could not break Doncaster's resolve.

Boss Nathan Jones was disappointed with the result and the way his team allowed Doncaster an early lead, "We keep saying it. We're controlling games, we were pretty dominant first half. We started the second poorly. We work on starts, we work on what we have got to do, maybe we shouldn't, maybe we should just let them get on with it. 

"After the goal I thought were excellent, chance after chance, opportunity after opportunity. We controlled the game. They are a very good footballing side, all our reports came back and we were watching games, they cause sides real, real problems.”

"We caused all the problems, they changed their shape at half-time, we come in at half-time right after scoring, thinking all the momentum is with us. One ball into the box, it's not even a good ball into the box and our six-foot left-back who is very good in the air doesn't win his header, it drops, we don't get on the second, we don't get on the third. Then you've got another mountain to climb.” 

"We're having to show a lot of character lately, but the reason we're having to show a lot of character is because we are giving goals away and it's poor. Our structure going forward, the way we play and how we cause problems is very good, it's excellent. But at the moment we're not keeping clean sheets and if you don't keep clean sheets then you don't win games."

Rovers have a long history of games against Luton Town going right back to the inaugural Division Three Season. Rovers won both those games, 2-1 (goals by Sid Leigh and an o.g. by Fred Tirrell for Rovers and Allan Matthieson for the home team) at Kenilworth Road on New Years Day 1921 and 5-0 at Eastville on 29 March with Leigh (penalty), Ellis Crompton, Bill Palmer, and Harry Boxley (2) scoring Rovers goals.

In fact, despite meeting every season it wasn’t until 26 September 1925 that the Hatters recorded their first victory over the Pirates, a 1-0 win in Bedfordshire at the 11th attempt.

Without doubt the most notable match between the teams occurred on 13 April 1936 and it was certainly an unlucky day for Rovers. Town’s Joe Payne notched up a record 10 goals that day as his team recorded a 12-0 win over the hapless Rovers. Payne later recalled that one of those goals even went in off his backside! The teams had met 3 days before at Eastville and fought out a 2-2 draw, but there was no Joe Payne in the Hatters line-up. The previous January Rovers had gone down 6-2 at Kenilworth Road.

In the game at Kenilworth Road on 19th February 2000 Phil Gray gave the home team a 1-0 lead on 13 minutes, but goals by Jason Roberts (27 and 90 mins) and Jamie Cureton (38 and 58 mins) secured a memorable 4-1 win.

On 8 September 2007 Rickie Lambert scored a stunning volley at Kenilworth Road as part of a double to give Rovers a 2-1 victory. The Boxing Day fixture at the Mem finished 1-1, with that man Rickie Lambert scoring a penalty and a David Edwards goal for the away team.

The last times the teams met in Bedfordshire there was a dramatic homecoming for Stuart Sinclair. On the Hatters books since a youth player and having been released before making a League appearance he was picked up by Darrell Clarke at Salisbury and had been Rovers talisman. In only his 3rd Football League appearance Sinclair popped up with the only goal of the game in the last minute of the game played on 18 August 2015.

There hasn't been much to separate the teams down the years, but the Hatters do slightly have the upper hand, winning 36 games, losing 31 with the other 24 drawn. Luton have faced Rovers in the Luton 43 times and have an impressive record, winning 28 games, losing 10 and drawing 9.

In a pre-season interview Manager Jones gave to the BBC he spoke of how his Christian beliefs shaped his football thinking, "I have a philosophy of the way I do things that is deep-rooted within me. It stems from my upbringing, my Christian faith, and my beliefs in football - all of those values I put into management."

"I think we're a wonderful side to watch," he adds. "A lot of people say varied things about us, good and bad, but I know what I see. Not many people will remember me as a footballer, but as a manager I believe in what I do and I know I'm a far better coach than I ever was a player.”

"I believe the work I do, tactical awareness I have, the way we train, I don't think there's many doing better work than we do. That's a bold thing to say, arrogant maybe, but we change lives her

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Match Reports

Match Report: Luton Town 1-0 Bristol Rovers

15 September 2018

Andrew Shinnie's goal on the hour mark proved to be enough to separate the two sides at Kenilworth Road on Saturday afternoon.

After a number of bright first half saves from Jack Bonham, Shinnie bulleted a low volley home on the hour mark, as the hosts claimed all three points on offer and condemned Rovers to a first defeat in the month of September.

Named in Rovers starting eleven was three changes to the side that faced Plymouth last weekend. With his return from international duty, captain Tom Lockyer slotted straight back into the heart of the Rovers defence, while both Joe Martin and Ed Upson returned to the fold. 

In the early flurry, a free header from Matty Pearson from a corner rose steeply over the Rovers goal - as the attempt didn't cause too much concern from Jack Bonham, who was able to watch the ball sail high and wide. 

Bonham was called into further action inside the opening fifteen minutes, as a searching cross from the left meandered into the Rovers area. The delivery found Jorge Grant, who was able to leap in the air to steer a powerful header towards goal, which was met by a strong save by Rovers 'keeper, who managed to push the ball away from danger. 

There were anxious moments to come for Rovers, who had to withstand pressure from the hosts, as Luton managed to get the ball into the net thanks to Jack Stacey poking home a cross at the far post. The was goal quickly ruled out by the officials, as it was deemed that Stacey pushed Tony Craig in his attempts to connect with the delivery.

As the half-hour mark approached, Tom Nichols was introduced from the bench, replacing Sam Matthews, in what was a tactical switch. 

For the second time during the opening forty-five minutes, Rovers had to rely on a smart stop from Bonham to keep the scores level. The move was instigated by Elliot Lee, who managed to create a shooting angle after cutting inside from the left. With an obstructed view of goal, Lee attempted to curl an effort to the far post, which was met by a strong hand from Bonham to push the attempt away from danger.

Moments later, Luton again threatened, as deep cross wrangled its way to the unmarked Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu. From close-range, the midfielder connected with a first-time volley that boasted a lot of power, but Bonham had his near post covered to make a routine stop. 

As the clock ticked down as the interval approached, the busy afternoon for Bonham continued. The Rovers shot-stopper was alert to dash off his line to close down the shooting angle for Mpanzu, with Bonham deflecting the midfielder's goalward effort, with Glen Rea ballooning the rebound high over the target.

After the break, Rovers started in a positive fashion. A direct forward run from Chris Lines allowed the midfielder to draw in a number of defenders, before guiding a pass to Ollie Clarke. Clarke was able to win a corner, which Lines was tasked with taking, as his inswinging delivery narrowly avoided Tony Craig inside the six-yard box.

There were encouraging signs for Darrell Clarke's side, as an efficient break forward lending the opportunity for Kyle Bennett to slide a pass through towards Tom Nichols. The striker held his run to stay onside, but the pass from Bennett was a touch too heavy and ran into that grateful arms of Luton goalkeeper, James Shea.

While creating chances at the other end, Rovers did had to be alert in defence. A quick venture forward from the hosts led to the ball falling to the feet of Mpanzu, who saw his fiercely struck strike deflected away from goal by a brave block from Ollie Clarke, who threw his body at the attempt from ten yards.

The deadlock was broken on the hour mark, as a free-kick from the right was only half-cleared by the Rovers defence, with Andrew Shinnie rifling home a driven volley to open the scoring.

Rovers looked to respond and a flighted set-piece from Chris Lines asked questions of the Luton defence. The delivery sailed to the far post where an array of players lept to meet the ball, with Tom Lockyer winning the aerial duel, but could only force his header past the goal frame. 

The advantage for the hosts could have been doubled and the game entered the final twenty minutes. A winding run from Elliot Lee saw the striker break into the Rovers area and was able to steady his balance to produce a low shot towards goal the saw Bonham dive to his left to tip the shot wide.

As the contest wound down to the final ten minutes, there was a lengthy break in the action as Eunan O'Kane was injured after a clean tackle but an awkward collision with James Clarke; after lengthy treatment, the Luton substitute required a stretcher to leave the field of play. 

With eleven minutes of stoppage time signalled as a result of the delay, it was Andrew Shinnie who again troubled the Rovers defence, as the attacking midfielder broke into the area and forced Bonham into making a save down low.

Rovers did muster a late chance, as a well-aimed cross from Tom Lockyer narrowed missed Gavin Reilly, who saw the cross header away from him as he poised himself to head towards goal.

Rovers XI: Jack Bonham (GK), James Clarke, Tom Lockyer (c), Tony Craig, Joe Martin, Ollie Clarke, Chris Lines, Ed Upson, Sam Matthews (27' Tom Nichols), Kyle Bennett (72' Alex Jakubiak), Stefan Payne (52' Gavin Reilly).

Subs: Adam Smith (GK), Tom Broadbent, Daniel Leadbitter, Stuart Sinclair, Alex Jakubiak, Gavin Reilly, Tom Nichols.

Luton XI: James Shea (GK), Dan Potts, Sonny Bradley, Matty Pearson, Jack Stacey, Elliot Lee, Andrew Shinnie, Glen Rea (c), Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Jorge Grant (74' Eunan O'Kane (87' James Justin)), James Collins.

Subs: Harry Isted (GK), James Justin, Alan McCormack, Harry Cornick, Aaron Jarvis, Eunan O'Kane, Alan Sheehan.

Attendance: 8,912 (519 away)

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Ticket News

Ticket Update: Luton Town

14 September 2018

Updated ticket information for Saturday's fixture at Luton Town.

Darrell Clake's side head to Kenilworth Road on Saturday, 15th September - kick-off 3pm.

Tickets are no longer available from the Club's outlets at the Memorial Stadium.

If supporters have missed the deadline for advance tickets - then we have had confirmation from Luton that Rovers fans can call 01582 416976 to purchase tickets. This number will be operational until 5pm on Friday and will be open until 12:30pm on Saturday.

There will be no cash turnstiles on the day of the fixture and tickets will only be available by calling the number above.

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