Match Reports

Outplayed on the day.

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Mike Newell gave David Bell his starting debut in place of Enoch Showunmi in midfield, but there was no place for the in-form Dean Morgan. Paul Underwood was not risked, but Sol Davis took his place on the bench despite his lack of match practice.

Preston began in confident mood as befits a team who had not lost a league game for 20 matches since Luton beat them in late September.

Lewis Neal gave the Hatters warning of his pace and incisiveness on a few occasions early on and fired over the bar on 17 minutes. Luton failed to heed the warning and Neal jinked past Coyne and Keane to score from just inside the penalty area two minutes later.

Luton were not seeing much possession and had to defend stoutly to avoid going further behind, but it did not look too good when Coyne landed awkwardly, after his challenge in the Preston box, and had to be replaced by Leon Barnett after 42 minutes.

Mike Newell had been trying to bring him on for several minutes, but the fourth official apparently did not facilitate the change quickly enough for Newell and was the subject of some harsh words from the Hatters boss. The referee was called over and he banished Mike Newell to the stands for his comments.

Just before half time, Marlon Beresford left himself stranded out of goal and Neal tried to shoot into the empty net from way out, but he did not possess the finesse of Alonso and put the ball high, wide and certainly not handsome.

Luton had a golden opportunity to equalise when a free kick was taken by Foley and dropped right on Ahmet Brkovic?s head, but although he got decent power behind it, the ball fell comfortably for Nash to save.

Luton would have been relieved to be only one goal down at half time, as Preston had had 63% of the possession in the first half, and, after half time, they came out and began to play some good football.

Luton unfortunately found Carlo Nash in excellent form in the Preston goal and a Vine shot from almost 20 yards brought the best out of the home keeper. Luton had enjoyed a period of domination and looked as though they might get back into the game, however, Sedgewick got past Keith Keane and crossed perfectly for David Nugent to head Preston into a 2-0 lead.

Luton continued to attack and worked very hard to try to pull a goal back but, on each occasion they got a shot on target, Nash came out on top with some very good saves.

Steve Howard and Rowan Vine suffered good saves by Nash, then Leon Barnett shot from close in after good work by Brkovic, but his firm volley was saved by Nash who got his legs behind the ball and conceded a corner kick. From the corner, Brkovic made one of his aerial kicks but hit the cross bar. His disappointment was only short-lived however, when it ended up in the back of the net off Ty Mears.

Mears? disappointment was also short-lived as, less than two minutes later, he got forward to get on the end of Agyemang?s cross to restore the two-goal advantage. It seemed to be the terminal blow for the Hatters, but there was further heartache to come.

Mears got into the penalty area again got to the ball ahead of Marlon Beresford, who made a slight contact with the striker. A penalty kick was the correct decision, but referee Drysdale then sent Marlon off for a professional foul, much to the displeasure of the Luton boss, and which was a totally incorrect decision according to the laws of football. Since Mears had already clipped the ball over Beresford with some force and could not have caught up with the ball, which was going into goal before it was hooked clear by Keane, Beresford did not prevent an obvious goalscoring opportunity, therefore the penalty kick should have been sufficient punishment, and no card should have been awarded, yellow or red! Luton Town should have appealed against the sending off on the grounds of the decision being contrary to Law.
This was a problem for Luton, as they had used their allocation of three substitutes and Kevin Nicholls donned the gloves to be sent staggering the wrong way by Sedgewick from the spot.

Still more pain was on the way, Agyemang?s shot was well saved by Nicholls, but it fell kindly to Davis who scored easily to make it 5-1.

Preston thoroughly deserved the win, but 5-1 was a more than flattering scoreline. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say, we were beaten by the better side on the day.

Next up is Cardiff City at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday evening, but with Beresford suspended and Coyne added to the injury list, Luton face a tough task.

Manager Rating
Mike Newell: 7 – I felt he should have started with Dean Morgan, but he seemed to have rallied his troops at half time and got them playing better in the second half.

Opponent Rating
Billy Davies: 9 – didn’t have much to do. When it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!

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