The Footballing gods have conspired to test City’s stunning home record against table-toppers in 2014 once again, just under a fortnight since putting Wycombe to the sword while they were at the summit. Since then City put in a consummate display in seeing off Morecambe and, with but a few injuries to contend with, it’s a confident City that lines up against a side making a welcome return to the Football League after an absence of five years. Paul Tisdale may decide not to change a winning formula, but we all know by now that Tisdale is very much a “horses for courses” type and that starting eleven will be based on what is put in front of him, so don’t rule out any changes!
Luton should never have been a non-league side – given the club’s support base and history – but a series of dalliances with insolvency led to the Football League and FA’s patience snapping and a 30-point deduction in 08/09 that was to prove a bridge too far. While they sorted out their off-field mess (although even 2013’s accounts showed a £1 million deficit underwritten by the board), they were seen as something of a prize scalp and perhaps underestimated the Conference before appointing old hand John Still, whose eye for young talent and experience at that level saw them cruise to the Conference title last season. Expected to challenge for a second straight promotion they haven’t disappointed and, like City go into Saturday’s match in superb form that has seen them creep up almost unnoticed to the top of the pile. While their success has largely been based on a solid defence marshalled by the behemoth that is Steve McNulty, Mark Cullen has been in inspired form at the other end and heads the club’s goalscoring charts with eight, including a hat-trick against Dagenham & Redbridge. Veteran striker Paul Benson has always been amongst the goals but has yet to find the net this season.
With Luton having generally been in the upper echelons of the league until recently, the sides have only met four times since the late 60s. The last time the Grecians and Hatters crossed swords was in that 08/09 season – Luton came to the Park in August and won 1-0 thanks to a future City striker in Sam Parkin, but City gained revenge in March at Kenilworth Road – Stansfield and Sercombe fired City 2-0 up and despite a goal back from Tom Craddock, City hung on for a 2-1 win that would prove vital in their promotion chase. Overall though it is Luton with a healthy head-to-head lead in the Football League with 23 wins to City’s 10 (11 draws).
Designated One Game One Community game – http://www.exeweb.com/2014/10/28/steve-stacey-backs-race-equality-game-this-saturday/
Exeweb’s guide to St James park – http://www.exeweb.com/2012/05/29/the-things-you-need-to-know-st-james-park-exeter/
Last meeting game details – http://www.grecians.co.uk/wordpress/?tb_match=1558