Luton might be sitting in the Premier League relegation zone, but there have certainly been positives to take from their 2023-24 campaign thus far, with Rob Edwards’s side showing that they can compete at the top level.
A record of four wins, three draws and 12 defeats from 19 league matches has brought them 15 points, which is only enough for 18th position in the table, but they are just one point behind 17th-placed Everton and have been victorious in two of their last three league encounters during a strong festive period.
Luton will enter their FA Cup third-round fixture with Bolton off the back of a 3-2 home loss to Chelsea in the league, with Edwards’s side scoring twice in the final 10 minutes to threaten a late comeback, but the hosts were ultimately unable to register a third despite a host of pressure.
The Hatters have never won the FA Cup, but they famously reached the final in the 1958-59 season, suffering a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at Wembley.
Luton were beaten by Grimsby Town in the fourth round of last season’s competition, and they will be bidding to avoid what would be a surprise elimination in the third round of the 2023-24 tournament.
These two sides have actually not locked horns since 1997, when Bolton recorded a 6-2 victory over Luton in an FA Cup third-round replay, and the visitors are unbeaten in their last six matches with the Hatters.
Indeed, Luton have not beaten Bolton since a Division Two clash in November 1981, and Ian Evatt’s side will enter this match in excellent form, winning each of their last four games in League One.
The Trotters finished fifth in League One last season but were beaten by Barnsley in the semi-finals of the playoffs; they are currently in an automatic promotion spot in 2023-24, sitting second in the table, boasting 51 points from their opening 24 matches of the campaign.
Bolton are actually only two points off leaders Portsmouth and have a game in hand, but it remains to be seen whether they can maintain their strong form for the remainder of the season.
Evatt’s team have had to win two games to advance to this stage of the FA Cup, beating Solihull Moors 4-0 and Harrogate Town 5-1 at home, and the Trotters are four-time winners of the FA Cup, lifting the trophy in 1923, 1926, 1929 and 1958.