Luton – a six pointer

Luton have won three of their last five games. Is this a matter for concern ahead of Saturday's clash at The Valley?

Home wins against Sheffield Wednesday (1-0) and Derby (3-2) plus an away win last weekend at windy Middlesboro (0-1) have lifted The Hatters off the bottom of the table. They certainly seem to have tightened up defensively since signing Cameron Carter-Vickers from Tottenham last month and they have conceded only five goals in the run compared with thirteen in the previous five.

However, another way of looking at it is that they have lost fifteen of their last twenty one games and have the worst defensive record in The Championship (66 conceded, compared with Charlton's 47). They have the worst goal difference (-27) and the most defeats (21). After controversially beating The Addicks at Kenilworth Road in November they went on a run in which they gained just four points in ten games and conceded 27 goals. Those wins over Wednesday and Boro may have garnered them a very welcome six points but Wednesday and Boro are, along with Hull and Swansea, the worst current performers in The Championship.

And don't forget that top of League One Luton arrived at The Valley last April on an unbeaten run of 28 games and were summararily despatched 3-1.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s we had an embarrassing record against Luton. We took the lead at The Valley in December 1975 but were beaten 1-5. In the relegation season 0f 1979/80 they returned to beat us 1-4. And, of course, there was the 1-7 thrashing of September 1977 at Kenilworth Road. The last time they prevailed away from home was during the run-in to the 1986/87 season. A late Ray Harford goal at Selhurst Park gave them a 0-1 win and the defeat meant that we had to beat Newcastle and QPR to avoid automatic relegation and eventually survive in the play-off play-off against Leeds at St Andrews.

But since that May 1987 game Luton have come to The Valley for eight league games. They have lost six of them and drawn two, scoring only two goals in the process. There have been two cup draws - 4-4 in The League Cup (Charlton won on penalties) and 2-2 in the FA Cup (Charlton won the replay 3-1).

Lee Bowyer has reassessed his opinion of last Saturday's disappointing home defeat:

“Overall there wasn’t much in it. We could and should have got back into the game. If we do score early in the second half we probably go and get something from the game. It didn’t look as bad as I first thought watching from the side."

Plus, our friends the bookmakers still don't think Charlton are for the drop. Luton and Barnsley are both now priced 1/4 with Wigan at 5/6. We are a comfortable 9/4.

All of which suggests that we should be confident of winning this game and opening up a nine point gap on Luton. The bad news is that Sam Field is probably out for the season and that Johnny Williams will be missing for two weeks. Darren Pratley is also doubtful because of back spasms. The good news is that Bowyer has four fit strikers to choose from and that McGeady and Oztumer should be available to provide some creativity.