David Eyres at the double as Preston North End beat Luton Town in November 1999

David Eyres was Preston North End’s matchwinner in their November 1999 clash with Luton Town at Kenilworth Road.

By Dave Seddon
Thursday, 18th June 2020, 3:00 pm
David Eyres scores Preston North End's first goal at Luton in November 1999
David Eyres scores Preston North End's first goal at Luton in November 1999

Eyres struck both goals in the 2-0 victory, extending the Lilywhites’ unbeaten run in the league to 12 matches.

There was some irony about the winger playing such a starring role.

Eyres was three months short of his 36th birthday and was facing a Hatters side which had the youngest average age in the division at the time.

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David Eyres celebrates scoring against Luton

The majority of the home side were aged between 17 and 22, bursting with energy, yet here was the old master showing how it was done.

Both of Eyres’ goals came in the first half, putting North End in a position where they could soak up pressure in the second period.

David Moyes’ men made the trip to Bedfordshire on the back of a disappointing 0-0 draw with Enfield in the FA Cup four days earlier.

Moyes restored strikers Jonathan Macken and Kurt Nogan to the attack, with Teuvo Moilanen replacing David Lucas in goal.

Kurt Nogan rides a challenge in PNE's 2-0 win at Luton in 1999

For Nogan and Graham Alexander, both players were returning to familiar turf having both played for Luton.

Nogan had done so earlier in his career but Alexander’s service had been most more recently.

He had made a £50,000 switch from the Hatters to PNE eight months earlier and was booed by a section of the home supporters throughout the evening.

North End took the lead in the 33rd minute, left-back Rob Edwards launching a cross into the box which Lee Cartwright rose to head down into the middle.

David Eyres scores with a diving header at Luton

Eyres stuck out a foot to knock the ball goalwards.

It was blocked by a defender but bounced back to strike Eyres on the shin and go over the line.

Luton gathered a head of steam in search of an equaliser, with Moilanen having to make a good save from Matthew Spring.

Efe Sodje also headed just wide as a couple of gaps appeared in the PNE defence.

However, Eyres struck again two minutes into time added on at the end of the first half.

Macken’s pass found Sean Gregan down the right-hand channel.

The skipper sent a cross into the box which Eyres flung himself forward to meet and send a diving header past the dive of Hatters keeper Nathan Abbey.

Eyres was not far away from a hat-trick early in the second half, his shot from the edge of the box on target until it clipped a defender and flew wide of the post.

Then when his cross from the left wing looked to be creeping under the bar, it needed Abbey to touch it over.

Macken should have put the outcome beyond doubt in the 67th minute.

Gregan’s inch-perfect pass sent Nogan away on the right.

His low cross found Macken in the middle but from six yards he scuffed his shot and saw it trickle wide.

With 13 minutes to go, PNE put a 17-pass sequence together without a Luton player touching the ball.

In the closing stages the home side pushed forward with one last effort to try and salvage something.

A powerful header from Gary Doherty eight minutes from time was blocked by Moilanen with his legs on the line.

PNE almost had the final say though, Macken getting clear and seeing Abbey block his shot. Nogan’s follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Sodje.