Four talking points from Preston North End's 2-1 victory over Luton Town

Preston North End made it back-to-back home wins as they beat Luton Town at Deepdale, the first meeting between the sides for more than 13 years.

Sunday, 15th December 2019, 6:00 am
Paul Gallagher is congratulated by his team-mates after giving Preston early lead against Luton at Deepdale

Alex Neil’s left it late to claim victory, substitute Jayden Stockley finding the net in the 84th minute.

That came after Paul Gallagher had given PNE a fourth-minute lead, James Collins equalising at the end of the first half.

Here are some of the talking points from the clash.

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PNE substitute Josh Harrop takes on Luton's Jacob Butterfield

1. There are different ways to win matches.

Luton and Fulham have both been beaten at Deepdale 2-1 in the last few days but the games were very different.

While last Tuesday’s win over the Cottagers was done in a more expansive way, the three points were collected from Luton through grit, determination and a heavy helping of patience.

The Hatters dug deep to try and halt a long run of away defeats and until the 84th minute were succeeding.

PNE right-back Darnell Fisher tracks Luton winger Kazenga Lualua at Deepdale

North End struggled to inject too much craft into their play, unable to pick gaps in the Luton backline to create many chances.

In the end a cross into the box and a game of football pinpoint in the goalmouth saw Stockley keep his cool to net the winner.

The records will show a 2-1 win and three points, not how it was achieved.

2. Once again penalties played a key role in the game, that a regular feature this season.

While Gallagher saw his early spot-kick saved by Luton keeper James Shea, he scored from the rebound.

It was the ninth penalty awarded to North End this campaign, Saturday’s being the first one missed.

But at least Gallagher was able to be first to the rebound to score. At the other end, Luton’s equaliser came from the spot and Collins made no mistake with it.

That was the fourth penalty awarded against PNE in the last five games.

Before that run, the only spot-kick Preston had given away this season was in the League Cup tie with Hull City in August.

This was one soft to say the least, Paul Huntington penalised when Callum McManaman went down.

3. Alex Neil has had to chop and change in the right-back position regularly this season and will have to do so again in the next two games.

Darnell Fisher returned from a four-game injury absence against Luton but his needless second-half yellow card was his 10th of the season, triggering a two-game suspension.

For Fisher to collect double figures of yellow cards in just 16 appearances - in one of those he came on as a substitute - is astonishing.

With Joe Rafferty having two more games of his ban remaining, it leaves PNE short for the away games with Cardiff and Leeds.

So expect to see Tom Clarke summoned for duty after his recent return to fitness.

4. Declan Rudd deserves a pat on the back for his part in this victory.

The Preston goalkeeper saved in a one-on-one situation with Luton sub Harry Cornick, then tipped Kazenga Lualua’s follow-up effort over the bar.

That was a key moment, with Stockley scoring the winner just four minutes later.

By the nature of their position, goalkeepers tend to have more than their fair share of critics.

So they deserve the plaudits for the good things they do, Rudd's save from Cornick a prime example.