Luton fall flat at Deepdale
Luton saw their five-game unbeaten run ended in tame fashion as they produced a disappointing display during a 2-0 defeat at previously struggling Preston on Saturday. The deadlock was broken after Town failed to clear a corner and the Hatters were also architects of their own downfall in first half stoppage time, giving away a needless penalty.
Head coach Nathan Jones made two changes at the break - taking off Sonny Bradley and Glen Rea for Admiral Muskwe and Henri Lansbury - and saw his side go close through Muskwe and then Kal Naismith's late deflected effort but the Luton boss admitted his team didn't deserve anything from the contest and never looked likely overturning the deficit.
Jones said, "We didn't really look like scoring today as we didn't do the basics well enough. We were then petulant and had a lack of discipline, so there was no control today and we were second best all over. I've got no complaints and I can't remember one person playing well today, I really can't." Luton are hoping to have Elijah Adebayo back this midweek.
Middlesbrough slump to disappointing defeat
Middlesbrough's three-match winning run came to an end at The Riverside on Saturday as a calamitous start to the second half saw Birmingham run out 2-0 victors. Having recovered from a slow start, Boro had the better of the opening 45 minute. But the Teessiders then gift-wrapped two goals to the visitors in the space of three minutes after the interval.
Eight minutes into the second-half Birmingham went ahead with their first attempt on-target, Marc Roberts heading into an empty net after Boro goalkeeper Joe Lumley charged out but missed Jordan Graham's free-kick. And Scott Hogan quickly doubled the lead, running on to a simple ball over the Boro defence before coolly slotting past Lumley.
Boro boss Neil Warnock felt his side threw away a game they should have won. He said: "It's disappointing. I didn't think they beat us, I thought we beat ourselves. We never looked like scoring though. I think we could still be playing now and we wouldn't have scored. We have to score when we're on the front foot - we didn't do that and consequently got punished."
Injuries continue to blight Middlesbrough. Dael Fry, Marc Bola, Grant Hall and Marcus Browne all look unlikely to feature this midweek but Anfernee Dijksteel could be involved after making the bench at the weekend.
Luton and Middlesbrough have rarely locked horns over the past 45 years with the duo meeting just 10 times in league action during that time. The pair can't be split during that sample, with each side earning three wins, with the duo also playing out four draws. At Kenilworth Road, the Hatters boast a W2-D3-L0 recent head-to-head return against Boro.
Luton 2.3211/8 have proven a difficult team to overcome this term, particularly on home soil. Town have posted W3-D3-L1 at their Bedfordshire base, and rank third for Expected Points (xP) per-game as hosts. The Hatters have earned a 66% non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) ratio across those seven Kenilworth Road games, as well as five home clean sheets.
Middlesbrough 2.9215/8 sit just three points outside of the top-six with the majority of the Teessiders' best work coming against the league's lesser lights. Boro have bagged W6-D1-L3 when taking on bottom-half dwellers but Neil Warnock's men remain winless at top-half opposition this season (W0-D2-L3). The visitors have been nilled in four of seven away days.
Neither Luton nor Middlesbrough have been prolific in the Over 2.5 Goals 2.206/5 market thus far, with Boro's road trips proving particularly stingy, averaging only 1.57 goals per-game. However, there's a better value option to oppose goals and that's taking the 1.855/6 available on 'No' in the Both Teams To Score market on the Sportsbook.
Collectively, Luton and Boro have seen BTTS No bank in 19 of their combined 30 Championship contests, with a cumulative 13 clean sheets kept, as well as nine occasions where either Town or the Teessiders have fired blanks. When viewing just the respective home/away records, this wager has collected in 12 of 14 Luton and Middlesbrough matches.