Harper on the Hatters: Saturday promises to be another memorable top of the table battle!

It is first against second at Kenilworth Road on Saturday afternoon when the Town take on Accrington Stanley, and when thinking about the match, my mind can’t help but think back to similar tussles in previous promotion campaigns, many of which still live long in the thoughts.

Admittedly I don’t have the greatest memory so the first one which stands out in my mind was the clash with Plymouth Argyle in the 2001-02 season. We met them at Kenilworth Road on February 2 with both sides looking odds on to get promoted.

In front of a packed house at Kenilworth Road goals via Kevin Nicholls from the penalty spot and Steve Howard earned the Town a 2-0 win. Ultimately it was Plymouth who went on to win the League 2 title that season but we were promoted too. Hopefully that is an omen!

Perhaps my favourite one of those matches I’m talking about came in 2005 when Hull City were the visitors to Kenilworth Road. Again this match took place in February and the situation was exactly the same as Saturday.

Luton were top of League One with Hull a point behind. It was a packed house at the Kenny and a nervy, tense match looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw but Ahmet Brkovic had other ideas, and his header in the final minute lifted the roof off the Kenilworth Road stand. The celebrations that ensued were ones that will forever live in the memory.

Although slightly different, another match of this kind was when we went to Cambridge around this time in the Conference promotion season in March 2014. The Town were well clear of their opponents on points, but any pessimistic fan still had it in their minds that a Cambridge win on the night could have seen a late season turnaround.

To be fair those fears might have been about to begin to be played out when Cambridge took the lead but Mark Cullen hadn’t read the script. His wonderful swivel and volley from Cameron McGeehan’s knockdown levelled the scores, sent over 2,000 Town fans wild, and guaranteed to everyone that our exile from the Football League was about to end.

That brings me on to Saturday. There are a lot of similarities in the three matches I’ve recalled and the one we are about to embark on. The key in those three successes was the atmosphere created by the Town fans, and that is going to be important again against Accrington.

As Danny Hylton told me when I chatted to him for the LTST podcast in midweek, there will be times Accrington have the ball and chances to score, that’s football, but it is important we in the stands don’t panic when this happens, don’t get uptight and anxious.

Instead let’s get even louder like only we can at Kenilworth Road. Let’s make it an atmosphere to remember, and when the final whistle blows we might just have another wonderful afternoon to look back on in years to come, like those that have gone before.

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