Preston North End slipped to a third defeat in a row after going down 1-0 to Luton Town at Deepdale, in a result that may have Alex Neil fearing for his job.
James Collins scored the winner in the second half – although it went down as a Daniel Iversen own goal – to give the Hatters all three points and pushed them closer to the top half, whilst it plunged PNE into a potential relegation battle despite being 16th in the Championship.
With both teams having not so much to play for, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it would be a free-flowing, attacking game – that wasn’t the case at all.
It was a completely cagey affair for the opening half an hour, with a lot of long balls being played and both defences being on top.
PNE centre-half Liam Lindsay had a shaky moment on the half-hour mark – he dwelt on the ball for far too long which allowed Hatters attacker Harry Cornick to dispossess him.
Luton’s number seven though couldn’t capitalise as his eventual shot was blocked, but it was definitely a warning fired by the Bedfordshire side.
The Hatters had the better chances to end the half, with Elijah Adebayo’s cut-back from the byline being stopped by Daniel Iversen, and then the Dane had to be alert to tip a long-range James Bree shot around the post.
The start of the second 45 minutes was much better with chances coming at either end – Scott Sinclair first mazed his way through the visiting defence and into the box but his shot was blocked by Kal Naismith.
Then up the other end the menacing Adebayo was denied by a top save from Iversen, who got down to deny the 23-year-old from bagging a close-range header.
Following that though the game relapsed into its previous state – a lack of chances and a lot of scrappiness but Luton did press forward though after a number of substitutions enter the fray, which included Tom Ince and James Collins.
The Hatters had multiple chances in one move on 79 minutes to test Iversen, but the likes of Ince kept slicing at the ball which gave PNE a reprieve.
But it wouldn’t be long before Luton got their goal, and it was forced over the line by James Collins, who had come on as a second half substitute.
An inviting cross from Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu was met by the driving run of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, but his effort was saved fantastically by Iversen.
It looked like Collins may have been close to mis-controlling the ball and taking it out of play for a PNE goal kick, but he managed to divert it back across goal and Iversen could not keep it from crossing the line this time, with the goal going down undeservedly under his name.
Luton could’ve doubled their lead in stoppage time as they broke away following a failed PNE set piece, but Sam Nombe decided to go for goal despite the Hatters having a numerical advantage on the attack, and he curled it wide of Iversen’s goal.
North End couldn’t find an equaliser in the final moments as they sunk to another defeat and it could perhaps cost Neil his job at Deepdale.
FULL TIME – Preston North End 0-1 Luton Town