Preview: Luton Town v Wycombe Wanderers
Wycombe Wanderers travel to Luton Town on Tuesday evening hoping to take full advantage of their game in hand on most of their promotion rivals.
Things couldn't be much tighter at the top of League Two, and while a Wycombe victory on Tuesday evening would cement their position in the automatic promotion places with only two games remaining, a two goal defeat for the Chairboys would see Bury leapfrog them into 3rd place on goal difference without even playing.
Luton Town have already been relegated from League Two and will play in the Blue Square Premier League next season.
Subjected to a massive 30 point penalty prior to the season starting, The Hatters knew they only had a slim chance of survival before a ball was even kicked.
The league-table currently shows them in 24th place with 25 points but that's not a true picture of how they've performed this season.
On the field of play Luton have actually picked up 55 points from 43 games, 28 of those points having been collected at Kenilworth Road.
They would be 15th in the table and well clear of the relegation places if they had started the season with a clean slate.
If every cloud has a silver lining, then its the Johnstone's Paint Trophy which has given Hatters' fans something to smile about this season. Two weeks ago they won the trophy at Wembley by beating League One play-off hopefuls Scunthorpe United 3-2 after extra time.
It was a thoroughly deserved victory for Luton in front of a 55,000 crowd mainly consisting of their own supporters. During the game they had to come from behind and also recover from the agony of conceding an 88th minute equaliser in normal time. Some of the football the Hatters played that day made a mockery of their current league position.
Despite having already been relegated, Luton are unlikely to roll over for any of the three sides they face before dropping out of the Football League altogether in two weeks time.
Recent League Games
Morecambe (Away).....2-1 Win
Rotherham (Home).....4-2 Loss
Lincoln (Away)............0-0 Draw
Chesterfield (Home)....0-0 Draw
Barnet (Away)............1-1 Draw
Luton Goal Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....57
Home Goals Scored....33
Total Goals Conceded....61
Home Goals Conceded...32
17 different players have scored for The Hatters in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Chris Martin...........13
Midfielder: Asa Hall.............11
Striker: Tom Craddock........11
Striker: Sam Parkin..............4
Defender: Michael Spillane....4
Wycombe Wanderers are currently 3nd in the league with 74 points from 43 games, 32 of those points having been won away from home.
They are 5 points behind league-leaders Brentford having played the same number of games, and 1 point behind 2nd placed Exeter having played 1 game less.
Saturdays' results have all but certainly ensured that Brentford will be playing League One football next season and have realistically ruled Rochdale out of the chase for automatic promotion.
That leaves Exeter, Wycombe, Bury and Gillingham to battle it out for the remaining two automatic spots.
The Chairboys have played one game less than all three of their rivals and this Tuesday's clash with Luton Town is their all-important game in hand.
It didn't look quite so likely a month ago, but after 3 wins in their last 4 matches, the Chairboys have given themselves a superb chance to finally say goodbye to the basement division.
The maximum number of points closest rivals Bury can achieve this season is 80, which leaves Wycombe knowing that two wins and a draw from their final three games will give them an unassailable 81 points and Guarantee them a place in the top three.
On Saturday, even in the absence of Doherty, Harrold, Johnson and Zebroski who would all normally feature on the teamsheet, Wycombe looked a balanced side with plenty of attacking options as they overcame Aldershot in the first of their final four hurdles of the season.
The Chairboys have had difficulty beating Luton Town in the past, but never have the stakes been so high as they are on Tuesday evening.
Barnet (Home)...........1-1 Draw
Darlington (Away)......2-1 Win
Gillingham (Home).....1-0 Win
Exeter (Away)...........1-0 Loss
Aldershot (Home).......3-0 Win
Wycombe Goal Stats.
Total Goals Scored.....51
Away Goals Scored....20
Total Goals Conceded....30
Away Goals Conceded...16
15 different players have scored for the Chairboys in all competitions.
Top Goal Scorers
Striker: Matt Harrold.........12
Midfielder: Chris Zebroski...7
Striker: John Akinde...........6
Midfielder: Matty Phillips.....4
Striker: Jon-Paul Pittman....3
League Form Guide
Wycombe:....Played:-20, Points:-28, Average:-1.4 Pts per game.
Luton:..........Played:-20, Points:-26, Average:-1.3 Pts per game
Last Five League Games
Luton:...........WLDDD - 6 points
Wycombe:...DWWLW - 10 points
Last Five Home Games
Luton:.....LWWLD - 7 points
Last Five Away Games
Wycombe:...DLDWL - 5 points
Against Top-Half Opposition
Luton:.....Played:- 21, Won:- 6, Drawn:- 7, Lost:- 8, Points:-25
Against Bottom-Half Opposition
Wycombe:....Played:- 21, Won:- 10, Drawn:- 7, Lost:- 4, Points:-37
Earlier this season the two sides played out a goalless draw at Adams Park.
History shows that Wycombe have an atrocious record against Luton Town having only beaten them once in 16 attempts. However, that single victory did come at Kenilworth Road, with Andy Rammell scoring twice as the Blues ran out 2-1 winners in January 2001. The overall record between the two clubs shows 8 wins for Luton, 1 for Wycombe and 7 draws.
Previous Meetings at Kenilworth Road
League One 2003/04 : Luton 3 Wycombe 1
League One 2002/03 : Luton 1 Wycombe 0
League One 2000/01 : Luton 1 Wycombe 2
League One 1999/00 : Luton 1 Wycombe 1
League One 1998/99 : Luton 3 Wycombe 1
League One 1997/98 : Luton 0 Wycombe 0
League One 1996/97 : Luton 0 Wycombe 0
The Referee for this match is Mick Russell from Hertfordshire.
Mr. Russell has been a National List Referee since 2004 and is also a licensed FA Coach. His last match in charge of Wycombe was a 1-0 defeat at Lincoln City in December 2006. So far this season he's refereed 26 games and has issued 53 yellow cards and 4 reds.
Wycombe Team News
Tommy Doherty is a slight doubt.
Chris Zebroski is out injured.
Matt Harrold is out injured.
Leon Johnson is out injured.
Wycombe's game in hand was always going to be an important factor in their final push for promotion, but they couldn't have picked trickier opposition than the Hatters.
A draw would be a perfectly acceptable result, a defeat would cause massive anxiety and a win would see Wycombe fans really start to believe that this is the year they go up.
Luton 1 Wycombe 1
Midweek Rivals Watch
Brentford (1st) are away to Dagenham (9th).