Luton Town 4 Preston North End 0 match report: Horrible night against the Hatters for Ryan Lowe's side

Preston North End turned in a dreadful performance against Luton Town as they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.

By Dave Seddon
Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 9:46 pm

They were outplayed and out fought by the play-off chasing Hatters, too many of the PNE team looking like their minds were on the forthcoming two-and-a-half-week break in action.

The Lilywhites fell behind in the ninth minute to a Luke Berry goal and never recovered, looking anything but a side who had previously lost only two Championship games under Lowe.

Substitute Fred Onyedinma and Berry scored again before half-time, making the second half a damage limitation exercise.

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Preston North End midfielder Ben Whiteman competes with Luton Town's Amari'i Bell

Luton still managed a fourth goal, PNE defender Bambo Diaby heading the ball into his own net.

It was unfortunate on Diaby, a swiped clearance from Daniel Iversen hitting him and rebounding into the net.

Far too many of the visitors’ players were off colours, Diaby pulled all over the place while Iversen struggled between the posts.

Cameron Archer and substitute Josh Murphy had North End’s best chances, Archer when PNE were 1-0 down and Murphy’s at 4-0.

Preston North End's Ali McCann heads clear against Luton Town

The tone for the performance was set by Ben Whiteman’s loose square pass which set the ball rolling for Luton’s ninth-minute opener.

It was intercepted and the ball worked forward down the home side’s right channel, Andrew Hughes getting back to clear the initial danger.

Harry Cornick returned it low into the middle, Diaby misjudged the flight and Berry picked his spot with a low side-foot finish from eight yards.

North End almost conjured up an equaliser in the 22nd minute, Daniel Johnson lifting a pass down the left-wing for Archer to chase with Reece Burke.

Preston North End skipper Alan Browne in action against Luton

When Burke pulled up suddenly with what looked like a hamstring injury, it allowed Archer to cut inside into the box.

The on-loan Aston Villa striker tried to find a gap at the near post with a low shot, Hatters goalkeeper James Shea getting enough on it to take the ball behind for a corner.

Luton’s second goal came in the 28th minute after Hughes had been booked for bringing down Onyedinma on the hosts’ right-wing.

James Bree lifted the free-kick into the middle, Iversen came but couldn’t collect and among a sea of bodies at the far post Onyedinma got the last touch to knock it over the line.

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Iversen dived to push out a close-range header from Amari’i Bell – a yard further either side and it would have beaten the Dane.

But a third Luton goal wasn’t far away, it hitting the net two minutes before the interval.

The home side pressed high to win possession, Elijah Adebayo feeding a pass to Cornick down the right hand side of the box.

Cornick’s cut back found Berry who flicked the ball with his right heal, the spin on the ball totally deceiving Iversen and trickling in at the near post.

As the half-time whistle sounded, Lowe sprinted from the technical area across the pitch to the tunnel, clearly wanting to reach the dressing room to try and bring a semblance of order to PNE’s play.

He made two half-time substitutions, Ched Evans and Murphy replacing Emil Riis and Ali McCann.

During the first half McCann, playing at left wing-back, had needed lengthy treatment to stop a nose bleed.

Evans partnered Archer up front, Murphy played behind the front two, with Johnson moving wide to cover the wing-back area.

It needed a Brad Potts clearance off the line five minutes into the second half to prevent a fourth goal, Potts getting in the way of a header from Peter Kioso.

The rebound fell to Adebayo who lifted it high over the bar.

Evans met a corner from Whiteman saw his header blocked for a second flag kick.

When that was cleared, Luton counter-attacked and scored their fourth goal in somewhat fortunate circumstances.

Bell was played into the box and hit a rising shot which Iversen swiped away but it struck Diaby on the head and rebounded into the net.

Murphy should have reduced the arrears in the 65th minute when Potts got to the byline and cut a great ball back into his path. The substitute couldn’t keep his first-time shot down and saw it clear by the bar by a couple of inches.

He then forced Shea into a diving save at the near post although in truth, he was never going to beat the keeper from there.

Scott Sinclair replaced Potts for the last 10 minutes, it a chance for Sinclair to get a stretch of the legs more than impact the game which was far beyond North End.

This was a reminder of the work which needs doing this summer to turn North End from a mid-table side into one challenging at the top end of the division.

Much to ponder then before PNE return to action against Derby County on April 2 after the international break.

Luton: Shea, Burke (Onyedinma 23), Kioso, Potts, Bree, Berry (Gomes 81), Campbell, Clark, Bell, Cornick (Hylton 76), Adebayo. Subs (not used): Isted, Hylton, Landsbury, Muskwe, Thorpe.

PNE: Iversen, Van den Berg, Diaby, Hughes, Whiteman, Potts (Sinclair 80), Browne, Johnson, McCann (Murphy 46), Archer, Riis (Evans 46). Subs (not used): Ripley, Bauer, Rafferty, Maguire.

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 9,408 (614 PNE)