Below-par Luton see their five game unbeaten run ended with tame Preston defeat

Championship: Preston North End 2 Luton Town 0

By Mike Simmonds
Saturday, 30th October 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Sunday, 31st October 2021, 4:54 pm
Town were beaten at Deepdale this afternoon
Town were beaten at Deepdale this afternoon

Luton saw their five game unbeaten run ended in tame fashion as they produced a disappointing performance in falling to a 2-0 defeat at previously struggling Preston North End this afternoon.

The visitors could just never find their A-game at Deepdale, a number of players well below their best, as in the end they were comfortably beaten, making a similarly dramatic fall out the play-offs to their rise into the top six last weekend, slipping from sixth ahead of kick-off, to 10th.

Hatters boss Nathan Jones made three changes for the clash, Luke Berry and Elijah Adebayo missing out due to the injuries picked up at home to Hull City last weekend, and their absences, particularly Adebayo's, were keenly felt at Deepdale.

Fred Onyedinma also dropped to the bench, in coming Kal Naismith, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and Cameron Jerome, with Danny Hylton and Henri Lansbury among the substitutes too.

A scrappy opening 15 minutes saw neither side do anything worthy of mention, barring one long throw apiece, as even the hosts' first effort moments later was barely worth recording, Tom Barkhuizen's ambitious volley flying well over the bar.

The hosts then took the lead out of absolutely nothing on 27 minutes, as a ball into the box was well cleared by Tom Lockyer, only for Amari'i Bell to be caught in possession, Emil Riis found unmarked inside the area, the angle appearing against him.

However, the Lilywhites top scorer showed just why he had 23 per cent record of his shots resulting in a goal this term, absolutely hammering a stunning effort into the top corner, with the home crowd almost shocked into celebration with a finish that was far in keeping from what they had previously witnessed.

Preston went close to a second shortly afterwards, as this time Riis turned provider, feeding Sean Maguire whose effort was charged down by Sonny Bradley.

Centre half partner Lockyer was then involved in a flashpoint on 38 minutes, as clearly annoyed by a challenge on him by Alan Browne, he reacted by shoving his opponent to the floor as both sets of players were involved in a melee, leading to yellows shown to Welsh international as well as the home skipper.

Although Iversen was the busier keeper, it was more often than not collecting Town's misplaced or overhit balls forward, as they could never link defence with attack, unable to really gain a foothold in proceedings.

They should have pulled one back with five minutes to go until half time, when James Bree's free kick was met by Glen Rea, heading straight at keeper Daniel Iversen, who also denied Naismith from the rebound too.

Rather than going in at 1-1, the visitors found themselves 2-0 down in first half stoppage time as Bradley made a rash and needless sliding challenge on Ali McCann, taking man and not ball, Riis stepping up to beat Sluga, just, from the spot.

After sprinting down the touchline to get his players in, Jones responded to the opening 45 minutes by making two changes, Lansbury and Admiral Muskwe on for Bradley and Rea, the latter almost pulling one back immediately, his snapshot excellent tipped behind by Iversen.

Bree hammered over on the angle after a spell of pinball in the area, while Riis finally had his percentage record dented when slipped through on the right, skewed wide of the target.

Now at least on the front foot, the Hatters were giving themselves half a chance of rescuing something, but Preston gradually regained the ascendancy, Sluga keeping the visitors in the game by blocking Barkuizen's close range shot and then tipping Patrick Bauer's header from the resulting corner over.

Midway through the second period, Jones brought on Onyedinma, but a point was beginning to look beyond the Hatters on this occasion, despite their previous successful attempts at hitting back from behind on the road this term.

In fact, the hosts continued to look the more likely, Barkhuizen picking out the unmarked Riis who put his header over the top, Ben Whiteman's 25-yard free kick not missing the bottom corner by much.

Sluga then ensured Town's goal difference didn't take any more of a hit, standing up well to prevent Scott Sinclair from making it 3-0 when he went through.

Luton almost maintained their record of scoring in every away game this season, when Naismith's hopeful 25-yarder was deflected, Iversen pulling of a quite stunning save, somehow flipping it over the bar.

From the corner, Onyedinma pulled off at the back post as his downward header flew inches wide of the target, Town unable to manage a late consolation.

Lilywhites: Daniel Iversen, Sepp Van Den Berg, Ben Whiteman, Patrick Bauer, Alan Browne ©, Ali McCann (Ryan Ledson 90), Andrew Hughes, Emil Riis (Brad Potts 90), Sean Maguire (Scott Sinclair 75), Tom Barkhuizen, Josh Earl.

Subs not used: Declan Rudd, Greg Cunningham, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Storey.

Hatters: Simon Sluga, James Bree, Tom Lockyer, Sonny Bradley © (Admiral Muskwe 46), Kal Naismith, Amari'i Bell, Glen Rea (Henri Lansbury 46), Jordan Clark, Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, Harry Cornick (Fred Onyedinma 70), Cameron Jerome.

Subs not used: James Shea, Danny Hylton, Reece Burke, Allan Campbell.

Bookings: Bell 24, Lockyer 38, Browne 38.

Referee: Dean Whitestone.