Reading head to Bedfordshire on Tuesday night in search of what would be an important three points after recent defeats. Standing in our way though is a Luton Town side with ambitions of a play-off finish this season - something they achieved last term against the odds.
To find out more about how well those efforts are going, we spoke to Hatters fan Matt Storey. You can find him on Twitter @StoreyMatt.
How’s the season gone for you so far?
It has started pretty well, yet it has also been strangely frustrating. After a slow start we’ve picked up and our away form has been very good barring last weekend’s derby defeat. All that is holding us back currently is our form at Kenilworth Road.
Defeats to Wigan Athletic and Preston North End are frustrating in games you mark down as ones you want to win. Then we’ve drawn with Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town, Coventry City and Sunderland. Turn even two of them into three points and we’re flying.
I don’t know what the figure is now, but we’ve thrown away more points from losing positions than anyone else in the Championship. Sitting ninth after 17 games is a fine position, but that is why there is a niggling feeling that it could be better.
Ed’s note: it’s 13 points.
You said in the summer that you’d like to see Luton play a bit more football this season. Has that happened?
No, not really. We are a very, very direct side. We still get the ball forward to our strikers as quickly as possible. I thought maybe NJ would start implementing a shift to a more attractive style, but I don’t think he believe he has anywhere near the budget to be successful doing that.
I don’t think we’re necessarily an unattractive side. We still press from the front, can put together flowing counter-attacks and score some pretty team goals. But if we’re not top for long passes played, or bottom for number of passes per game, we’d be in the top/bottom three.
This could be one of Reading’s last trips to Kenilworth Road, with your CEO saying recently that plans were proceeding for a move to Power Court. How important will that stadium relocation be for the club’s future?
It is the club’s future. We will never be able to compete financially at the Championship while we play at Kenilworth Road, let alone the Premier League. That is where the board want us to get to, yet it is nigh-on impossible without the extra income a new ground would provide.
There is still a long way to go before a move is near though. From what I gather, plenty of little issues are holding it back after Covid obviously delayed it substantially. If we had won the play-offs last year, Gary Sweet (CEO) said the ground would be paid for. It would have set the club up for the next 10/20 years.
Who are the main Luton dangermen that Reading should look out for?
There is only one man to mention here and that is Carlton Morris. I think I picked him out in the season preview as the signing to watch and even a broken clock is right twice a day! He has been outstanding and well worth breaking our transfer record for (we spent £1.7m on him).
He is strong, holds the ball up well, links play nicely and boy can he finish, with eight goals already. With Elijah Adebayo looking close to his best again, Harry Cornick and Cameron Jerome ready to come off the bench and Cauley Woodrow currently injured, our forward line is really very strong.
What weaknesses in this Luton team can Reading get at?
I can say with some degree of confidence that you will attack our left. A friend was in hospitality at Watford last Sunday and sat behind Paul Ince and Alex Rae. They apparently made pretty clear notes that this is where they felt we were weakest and I agree.
Amari’i Bell can be very good but he is inconsistent, and Dan Potts on the left of the back three is not as strong as Kal Naismith last year, or Sonny Bradley. I do think our entire backline is susceptible to a quick forward; we really lack any sort of pace among centre-backs.
How do you see the game going, and what will the score be?
Under Jones, we very rarely go on a bad run of form. We were dreadful at Watford and a lot better against Sunderland, yet still sloppy in some aspects of our play. Depending on what our treatment room is looking like, I think we’ll come out fast and really up for it after two ultimately disappointing results. But at home this term, clean sheets are hard to come by. So I’m going for 2-1 and a nervy end for the Hatters.