Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Luton Town - prediction, team news, lineups
Middlesbrough will be hoping to avoid the same fate as Sheffield Wednesday when they host Luton Town on Saturday.by Sean Wilson
The newly-promoted side are 23rd in the Championship table and are seven points from safety, but Boro must guard against complacency if they are to avoid dropping points in a winnable fixture.
Middlesbrough will see this fixture as an excellent opportunity to finally pick up three points, having drawn four and lost two of their last six league outings.
Having prided themselves on their defensive prowess, Boro have failed to keep a clean sheet in that six-game winless run, conceding a total of 10 times in that spell.
Jonathan Woodgate's side are still seven points clear of the dropzone, but the manager will be keen to arrest their recent slide and get into a winning habit to ensure that they are not sucked into a relegation battle.
However, a thrilling 3-3 draw was the outcome the last time these sides met - a result that neither side will be particularly enthused with this time around.
Luton's defensive record never really improved after that goal-filled opening-day clash, and last season's League One champions have already shipped 66 goals in just 32 Championship games so far - the worst record in the division.
That total is eight goals worse than the next highest tally - the 58 conceded by bottom-of-the-league Barnsley.
In fact, Luton have kept just two Championship clean sheets all season, such has been the porous nature of their defence.
However, one of those two clean sheets came in their last game - a shock 1-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday - and they will hope to build on those heroics on Saturday.
Middlesbrough Championship form: DLDDLD
Middlesbrough form (all competitions): LLDDLD
Luton Town Championship form: LLWLLW
Middlesbrough manager Woodgate has a quartet of players missing ahead of Luton's visit.
Patrick Roberts, Daniel Ayala, Anfernee Dijksteel and Sam McQueen are all sidelined for Saturday's fixture.
Luton head coach Graeme Jones has far fewer injury problems to deal with, with Brendan Galloway the only player certain to miss the clash with a knee injury.
However, Martin Cranie is back in training and could be in contention.
Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Pears; Howson, Moukoudi, Fry, Coulson; Saville, McNair, Wing; Morrison; Fletcher, Assombalonga
Luton Town possible starting lineup:
Sluga; Bree, Pearson, Bradley, Potts; Rea; Tunnicliffe, Ruddock; Brown; Cornick, Collins
We say: Middlesbrough 1-0 Luton Town
Neither side is in particularly strong form and, despite Luton's morale-boosting win against Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough could put an end to their winless run with a narrow win on home soil.
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