No group of supporters have had it harder than those following Luton Town in the past seven years or so. The club endured a torrid time, relegated three-times in a row before being stuck in the Conference for five long seasons. The downward spiral began back in 2006/07 when the club were relegated from the Championship after a two- year stay.
Financial troubles meant the following season the Hatters were deducted 10-points and were relegated to League Two. A massive – and many deemed unfair – 30-point deduction occurred in 2008 which effectively ended their long stay in the Football League before a ball had even been kicked. They did win the Football League Trophy that same season which was the only shining light in what was a terrible three years for Luton.
Playing in the Conference for the first time in their history, the club found it extremely difficult to get out of it. They failed in three consecutive play-offs, losing twice in the final before finally securing promotion last season. In John Still’s first full season as manager at the club, Luton empathically won the league amassing 101 points and ending their fairly long run in the Conference, with striker Andre Gray played a big part in that success, scoring 30 goals which ultimately won him a move to newly promoted Championship side Brentford.
The revival has continued into this season with the Hatters sitting in fourth position, just outside the automatic promotion places. They were top for a while earlier in the season but are still in with a great shout of promotion to League One which would be a fantastic turnaround.
This season’s successes so far have been down to a strong defensive unit that doesn’t concede many goals. With currently the second best defensive record in the league, it reinforces the fact that clean sheets are so vital especially at the lower end of the Football League.
The experienced Mark Tyler in goal has been a factor to their steady defence, along with the likes of Steve McNulty and young Luke Wilkinson. Wilkinson was signed from Dagenham and Redbridge in the summer and has impressed with his performances so far, picking up League Two Player of the Month for September.
He also brings experience of this level that is needed for a newly promoted team. This is where John Still was smart in terms of his recruitment, adding Nathan Doyle from Bradford and former Luton man Adam Drury from Crawley; these two have been regular players in League One in recent years, and that added bit of quality has been crucial to Luton’s season.
Upfront, Mark Cullen has been a key player scoring nine goals and making the most of being a first team regular. These performances didn’t go unnoticed, winning Payer of the Month for October. Luton will know that Cullen’s goals will prove crucial to any promotion hopes and will hope he can continue his good form for the rest of the season.
With a busy Christmas period coming up, Luton will rely on the experience of key players that know how to win promotion from this league and a manager who has done it before at Dagenham.