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  • Writer's pictureJake Blackwood

A reflection and reminder of Luton's opening games since their return to the football league...

Luton kick off their fourth consecutive season in the Championship today. The Hatters are up against their 'bogey' team from last season Birmingham City. Last season Luton fell to two defeats to the Blues, a shock 5-0 home annihilation and another 3-0 loss. Luton have only beat Birmingham once in six matches since their return to the second tier in 2019, but with Lee Bowyer no longer in charge, Luton fans may feel they have a better chance against the Blues this season.

14/15 vs Carlisle United

Luton's first opening fixture back in the football league was hosted possibly as far away as possible for travelling Hatters, up against Carlisle, Luton came out victorious in their first League Two game in over five years when Mark Cullen scored the only goal of the game at Brunton Park, meaning the 552 round mile trip would be a bit of a relief for the Hatters.

Carlisle Position last season: 20th in League 2

15/16 vs Accrington Stanley

After narrowly missing out on the 14/15 play-offs in their first season back in League Two, the Hatter's first fixture the following season was Accrington Stanley. Another lengthy travel for the travelling fans was redeemed when Jonathan Smith bagged a last-minute equaliser to send the Hatters home with their first point of the campaign.

Accrington Position last season: 12th in League 1

16/17 vs Plymouth Argyle

After a midtable finish, Nathan Jones was ready for his first full season in charge after taking over as head coach midseason in the 15/16 campaign, with club legend John Still heading out the door. NJ released 12 players and brought in 8 new faces for the new season, some of those to leave were Paul Benson and Jake Howells being replaced by Glen Rea, Danny Hylton, Isaac Vassell and many more. A third away fixture on the run saw Luton travel down South to Plymouth Argyle. Nathan Jones' new boys showed their promise in the 3-0 victory as Danny Hylton got his first of many of the season along with Jack Marriot and Jonathan Smith. Plymouth who finished in the play-off positions the season before would go on to be promoted despite their humiliating opening day defeat to Luton.

Plymouth Position last season: 7th in League 1

17/18 vs Yeovil Town

After missing out on promotion in the playoffs against Blackpool, Luton would take their frustration out on an unfortunate Yeovil Town side. The Hatters humiliated the Glovers, smashing them 8-2 in an exciting opening fixture. There was never a dull moment in the game as Yeovil took the lead in the 7th minute of the match. Otis Kahn's 22-yard freekick was met by retaliation from the Luton boys as Olly Lee equalised just five minutes later before James Collins chipped the ball over Yeovil's keeper just minutes later to put Luton ahead. Alan McCormack joined the fun as he registered himself on the score sheet shortly after Collins. Isaac Vassell bagged a brace in just two minutes as Marek Stech saved a penalty just before halftime. Coming out for the second half James Collins completed his hattrick after scoring two more in under ten minutes. Yeovil managed to get a consolation goal in the sixty-seventh minute before Elliot Lee put the icing on the cake by scoring in the last minute of additional time. The win was Luton's biggest victory since 1996 and certainly portrayed the teams ambitions for the following season, which eventually saw the Hatters promoted

Yeovil Position last season: 12th in the Conference

18/19 vs Portsmouth

After promotion from league two, the Hatters started their season away again, this time against a strong Portsmouth side. A difficult tie to begin their step up, Luton lost the game 1-0 as Jamal Lowe scored the only goal of the game after just fifteen minutes played. Although the lost the Hatters showed sparks of promise throughout the game. These sparks of promise turned into fireworks throughout the season ahead as Luton were promoted yet again.

Portsmouth Position last season: 10th in League 1

19/20 vs Middlesbrough

Luton found themselves back in the second tier in English football after back-to-back promotions from league 1 and league 2, now just one tier away from the Premier League the Hatters were matched up against Middlesbrough for their first game of the season. The fixture was the first to be played in the division and was televised on Sky Sports. Luton showed they could put up a fight after coming from behind twice in the game to get a result of a 3-3 draw. Luton saw themselves 1-0 just seven minutes played, but by the twenty-five-minute mark Luton had gone in front after goals from Martin Cranie and Sonny Bradley put them 2-1 ahead. However, the Hatters could not hold onto their lead as Boro not only equalised but took the lead again with just twenty minutes to play. James Collins ensured Luton would begin the season with a point though as he replied in the eighty-fifth minute. The action-packed game showed Championship fans a glimpse of what Luton are made of and what to expect from the hardworking Hatters.

Middlesbrough Position last season: 7th in the Championship

20/21 vs Barnsley

A trip to Yorkshire saw Luton return back to Bedfordshire with all three points as Luton beat Barnsley 1-0, setting Luton off to a steady start to their campaign. A goal from no other than James Collins in the seventieth minute meant Luton's reputation of Yorkshire victories was upheld. After a rocky start to their season, Barnsley didn't have a victory until their eighth game, however, they eventually became the league's dark horse and achieved play-off status.

Barnsley Position last season: 24th in the Championship

21/22 vs Peterborough United

Our latest opening game, a 3-0 win against the newly Peterborough United saw new signing Fred Onyedinma steal the show, the young winger made his debut for the Hatters and registered one goal and two assists in the match. His quick bursts of pace and silky skills impressed the Kenilworth Road fans and hyped up the crowd in the first game back to full capacity. Along with Fred's man of the match performance, Elijah Adebayo and Harry Cornick both opened their chart for the season, the first of many goals between the pair to come. Like in many other opening days, the Hatters certainly used this game as a preview to the fans of what was to expect for the upcoming campaign. The game like the season as a whole was a tale of two stories as Luton came out on top and finished in the playoff positions compared to the Posh who were eventually relegated back to League One.

Peterborough Position last season: 22nd in the Championship

With 8 games played, 4 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws, Luton have amassed a 50% win ratio on the opening day and have not lost a fixture on the opening day since their return to the football league when playing at home. Will that home unbeaten streak continue today against Birmingham? Or will Birmingham's curse continue to haunt the Hatters?

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