How Luton's meteoric rise to brink of Premier League was sparked by victory over Portsmouth and has three former Blues playing key roles

Luton’s meteoric rise through English football has an ex-Pompey trio dreaming of the Premier League.

By Sam Cox
Monday, 21st March 2022, 3:23 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 3:31 pm

The Hatters currently occupy third place in the Championship, after a run of seven wins from their past eight league matches.

For Nathan Jones’ side, their current position continues a remarkable journey from National League champions in 2013-14, to the cusp of hosting English football’s elite in seven years.

And at the heart of their ongoing success are three familiar faces to Blues fans.

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Ex-players Kal Naismith and Sonny Bradley have made 53 appearances between them this term, while previous boss Paul Hart is serving as assistant manager.

Also, Naismith has been a revelation for the Kenilworth Road side this season due to his glistening performances at centre-back.

This will certainly come as a surprise to the PO4 faithful, who saw the now 30-year-old operate as a winger and striker under Paul Cook and then Kenny Jackett from 2015 to 2018.

As for his defensive partner, Bradley, it’s been an up-and-down campaign for the 30-year-old as he’s struggled with injury.

Pompey lost 3-2 to Luton in 2018-19. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

But the former Hull defender – who made more than 30 appearances for the Blues during the 2012-13 season – has still registered 18 outings to date.

After serving as Pompey boss in 2009, Hart linked up with Jones as his number two in 2016, following spells at QPR, Crystal Palace, Swindon Town, Charlton and Notts County in various different guises.

After the success he and Jones initially enjoyed at the club, the former Nottingham Forest midfielder followed his boss to Stoke in 2019, before soon returning to the Hatters, where’ there partnership continues to flourish.

Luton’s fast-tracked rise from League One can also be traced back to a crucial victory over Pompey.

On January 29, 2019, both clubs were occupying the third tier’s top-two places ahead of their meeting at Kenilworth Road.

The fixture lived up to its billing as a back-and-forth occasion ensued, with Luton twice pegged back after taking the lead.

However, the hosts eventually took all three points as George Moncur bagged with four minutes remaining to make the score to 3-2 and open up a five-point lead at the summit of the table.

Following the success, caretaker boss at the time, Mick Hawford, delivered the title, before they established themselves in the Championship under Jones.

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