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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Luton comeback should not be written off in semi-final showdown

Luton lost 3-2 against Blackpool in a feisty encounter on Sunday
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Sky Bet League Two playoff semi-final second leg
Sky Sports 2, 7.45pm Thursday

Luton started the Sky Bet League Two playoffs as favourites for promotion and they can show why that position as market leaders was justified against Blackpool in their semi-final second leg.

The Hatters have been shoved out to 100-30 to be celebrating at Wembley following Sunday's 3-2 loss at Bloomfield Road but back at Kenilworth Road there is still plenty of time for Luton to squeeze through at the expense of Blackpool.

Luton finished the regular table seven points superior to Blackpool, scoring more goals, conceding fewer, winning more games and losing fewer. They won both meetings in the regular season.

Nathan Jones's side looked to be in control of the tie when leading
2-1 on Sunday but they were forced back in the second period and eventually went down to a hat-trick from their former striker Mark Cullen.

However, those opening 45 minutes should have offered encouragement to the Hatters and they look a bet to qualify in a game where home advantage could be key if it goes beyond 90 minutes, which is a real possibility with no away-goal rule.

Jones was at a loss to explain why Luton defended so poorly in the first leg but they are generally a solid unit, having finished the regular season with only 43 goals conceded, second-best in the section below champions Portsmouth.

Blackpool, who lost only five league games in 2017, are tough nuts to crack but the market may have overreacted to what is only a slender advantage.

With 26-goal Danny Hylton in their ranks, Luton are far from out of this tie and should definitely not be written off. They had won five of seven prior to the playoffs and should be dangerous in front of a raucous home crowd.

Luton to qualify
1pt 7-4 general

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Team news
Johnny Mullins and Jordan Cook failed to make the squad on Sunday and remain doubtful. Danny Green lacks match fitness and Cameron McGeehan remains sidelined.

Kyle Vassell is expected to be fit despite being taken off in the first leg. Jamille Matt is available after missing out on Sunday.

Key stat
Both teams have scored in only three of Blackpool's last 14 away matches against fellow fourth-tier opponents.





Blackpool, who lost only five league games in 2017, are tough nuts to crack, but the market may have overreacted to what is only a slender advantage
E.W. Terms
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