Luton Town 3 Preston North End 0

Howard's way keeps Hatters flying high

A result that had looked on the cards from the opening minutes lifted Luton to third place in the Championship - and even more sweetly for them, took them above local rivals Watford, who will need to win at Coventry tonight to regain their position.

In his programme notes, Luton's manager Mike Newell remarked upon the number of people who had complimented his team's style during last Friday's 2-2 draw here against Sheffield Wednesday.

By the time the whistle went in this match, his players managed to surpass their previous week's efforts with a performance worthy of the highest praise.

Certainly, Newell's counterpart, Billy Davies, was unstinting in his admiration while being put out by his own side's showing. "That's as poor as I've seen us play," Davies said. "Our defending in the first 20 minutes was appalling but huge credit to Luton. They deserved what they got. They worked very hard and they outmuscled us."

Newell baulked at the idea that his men were "magnificent" in the first half. "We played some decent stuff," was all he would say. He acknowledged that expectations will rise further after this performance.

"People were saying before the season how great it would be if we could stay in the Championship. After six weeks, they are worried that Reading and Sheffield United are getting away from us at the top. There's a long way to go yet."

The home side imposed their will upon this contest within four minutes as a canny nod forward by Steve Howard caught the Preston defence flat-footed and allowed Howard's striking partner Warren Feeney to scamper through before rolling the ball smartly past the oncoming keeper.

Luton doubled their lead after 11 minutes when a cross from the left wing by Chris Coyne was nodded home at the far post by Luton's Croatian midfielder Ahmet Brkovic as he took advantage of more somnolent Preston defending.

Suitably relaxed, the Hatters proceeded to knock the ball around to the point where a Preston side which also knows how to play a bit began to look demoralised.

Brkovic might have doubled his tally after ghosting through the defence after 24 minutes, but was denied by a save from Carlo Nash.

Luton gained further deserved reward for their superiority after 38 minutes when Brkovic knocked the ball in from the right to Howard, and the strapping centre-forward drove home a shot which deflected off Preston's Paul McKenna.

Something had to change for Preston and they emerged for the second half with McKenna giving way to forward Patrick Agyemang as the formation altered from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2.

It was a positive effort from Preston's manager Davies, but he might as well not have bothered .

Howard had a flurry of opportunities at the start of the half and seemed certain to add his second goal after being put through by Brkovic but allowed the keeper to block his shot.

After 68 minutes, Luton's centre-back Coyne demonstrated his versatility with a foray up field which ended with a drive that battered the bar. Nearly everything was going Luton's way.

Luton Town (4-4-2): Beresford; Edwards, Coyne, Heikkinen, Davis; Brkovic (Keane, 85), Nicholls, Robinson (Holmes, 74), Morgan (Showunmi, 80); Howard, Feeney. Substitutes not used: Perrett, Brill (gk).

Preston North End (4-5-1): Nash; Alexander, Lucketti, Hill, Davidson; Sedgwick, Etuhu, McKenna (Agyemang, 45), Jones, L Neal (Mears, 57); Dichio (Hibbert, 80). Substitutes not used: Lonergan (gk), Nowland.

Referee: C Penton (Sussex).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee