Match Preview: Cardiff City vs. Luton Town
The Bluebirds host Luton Town in their first home match of the 2019/20 Sky Bet Championship campaign.
Luton Town travel to CCS for the first time in their history on Saturday, having last visited the Bluebirds in September 2006 at Ninian Park.
The Hatters were promoted to the Championship from League One at the end of the 2018/19 season, topping the league table with 94 points. During the season, Luton went on a 28-match unbeaten streak, and led at the top of the division from January until the season’s end.
Luton’s top goalscorer in their league-winning campaign was James Collins (pictured above). The striker scored 25 goals in 42 league appearances for the Hatters, and went on to score five goals in three matches in January and February 2019, getting braces against both Portsmouth and Shrewsbury Town.
When they last visited Cardiff in 2006, the Bluebirds defeated the Bedfordshire-based side 4-1 in front of over 14,000 supporters at Ninian Park, with Darren Purse and Paul Parry scoring a goal each, leaving Michael Chopra to score two unanswered second-half goals.
The Hatters opened their first season in the Championship in over a decade with an exciting 3-3 draw against Middlesbrough on Friday, August 2nd. The newly-promoted side were left chasing Boro’s lead throughout the match, with Collins giving his side their third equaliser of the encounter with five minutes of play remaining.
In the hot seat
Graeme Jones is Luton Town’s manager. The 49-year-old former player from Gateshead took over at the club in May 2019, signing a three-year contract at the club.
Having completed his playing career at clubs such as Doncaster Rovers and Wigan Athletic, in March 2007 Jones joined recently-appointed Swansea City manager Roberto Martínez, following the Spaniard to Wigan Athletic in 2009, and later Everton in July 2013.
Jones took up coaching with Belgium’s national team – again with Martínez – in August 2016, before switching to West Bromwich Albion in August 2018, working for the first time as a coach without the Spaniard.
The Hatters' biggest transfer over the summer period has arguably been that of Simon Sluga, who was purchased from Croatian club HN Rijeka. The 26-year-old Croatian goalkeeper made 64 appearances for the club between 2013-19, alongside loan spells at Pomorac, Lokomotiva, and Spezia. He has also made one international appearance for last year’s World Cup Finalists, playing this year in a friendly against Tunisia. Sluga made a number of fine saves during their Championship opener against 'Boro, but will have been disappointed to concede Britt Assombalonga's equaliser late in the first half.
Another notable signing for the club was Callum McManaman. The 28-year-old winger was signed following the expiry of his contract at Wigan Athletic, where he made over 100 league appearances over two stints with the Latics, where he had previously worked with manager Graeme Jones. Additionally, while at West Bromwich Albion, the Englishman made 20 Premier League appearances across two seasons for the Baggies.
Cardiff City's goalkeeping coach, and former player, Andy Dibble will be fondly remembered by our visiting supporters.
Other players to have appeared as both Bluebirds and Hatters include: Ray Daniel, Mark Walton & Mark Aizlewood.
While not on the playing side, Cardiff City FC assistant manager Kevin Blackwell had a spell in charge of Luton Town between March 2007 & January 2008.