The Royals are headed back to Kenilworth Road for the second time since the turn of the year, this time for our reverse fixture against familiar faces Luton Town. Ahead of our fifth meeting in the space of a year with the Hatters, we we spoke to another regional journalist who has been covering their team home and away, in order to get the inside scoop on tonight's hosts, 13th-placed Town.
Luton Today's Sports Editor Mike Simmonds gives an insight into the latest from an in-form Hatters camp, as we look go into finish the season on a high, with just three games remaining after our trip to Bedfordshire.
Mike, thanks for agreeing to speak with us, with four games to go, how would you sum up Luton’s season?
Luton’s season has been a superb one, as after only staying up on the final day last year, they are now safe with five games remaining. It has been a terrific effort from the Hatters as they have beaten plenty of top teams like Norwich, Watford and Bournemouth, and they are now looking to finish in the top 10, which would be a terrific achievement.
How has this compared to your expectations at the start of the season?
Although I felt Town would be safe from relegation, to achieve it in such a manner and with some of the performances they have produced has definitely exceeded my expectations. Luton should really be even higher as well, as if they had finished off some of their chances, particularly on the road, they might have picked up some more points.
Since Nathan Jones’s return to the club, the Hatters have proven themselves worthy of avoiding a relegation battle, how do you reflect on his time at the club since he came back?
Jones’ return has been a massive plus for the club as I genuinely don’t think they would have survived last term had he not come back. It’s weird to explain, but he just gets the club, and has managed to build on that momentum this season as well, while masterminding a win over Watford on Saturday has elevated his status even higher.
Last time out Luton pulled off an impressive 1-0 victory over Watford, how did they look in that one?
The Hatters were quite simply brilliant from minute one on Saturday. Against their main rivals, they dominated straight away and at half time should have been ahead. It took a second half penalty from James Collins to claim all three points, but it was fully deserved as they made a side who are looking likely to win promotion back to the Premier League again, very average indeed.
Watching from afar, what have you made of Reading this season in general?
Reading have done excellently this season to not only get up into the play-off places but then stay there for the majority of the campaign. After finishing mid-table last term, I hadn’t expected them to feature so highly and had thought it could be a tough campaign ahead, but have definitely been proved wrong with that call.
Equally, what were your reflections on our last league meeting? A 2-1 win for Reading back in December.
That was one of the low points for the Hatters this term as they were really poor on the day and didn’t ever really look capable of getting something from the game, with some poor defending. It was the end of a poor run of away form for Luton though, whose results on the road have thankfully picked up since then.
Which Hatters players should Reading fans be keeping an eye out for as your biggest assets during the week?
If he plays, striker Elijah Adebayo has been an excellent signing from Walsall in the recent window, scoring four goals already and leading the line with a real element of expertise.
On-loan Leicester midfielder Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall has been another star this term too, with Town hoping to bring him back next year if possible.
Jordan Clark has also impressed since arriving from Accrington Stanley in the summer, while Croatian international goalkeeper Simon Sluga has had a superb campaign between the posts too.
Lastly, what are your hopes for Luton’s final four games?
My hopes for the final four games of the season would be that the Hatters can get a good run and attain the top 10 place they are after. There’s every chance too as they aren’t facing any more of the top six and have been buoyed by a run of six wins from 10 matches.
Mike Simmonds is Sport Editor for Luton Today.