Preston NE 5 Luton Town 1: Nugent gives Preston golden touch

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The Independent Football

It is almost five months now since Luton Town beat Preston North End and the Deepdale club have not lost since in any competition.

They exacted revenge in the reverse fixture yesterday in some style as a breathless late flurry saw them score five goals for the first time this season.

Lewis Neal, David Nugent, Tyrone Mears - atoning for the own goal he had scored just two minutes earlier - Chris Sedgwick from the penalty spot and Claude Davis were all on target as Preston extended their unbeaten run to 24 games and consolidated their position inside the Championship play-off places, overtaking Crystal Palace in the process.

Luton's consolation came courtesy of Mears, who was helpless when Ahmet Brkovic's acrobatic scissors kick rebounded off the crossbar on to his leg.

Marlon Beresford, the Luton goalkeeper, was then sent off for bringing down Mears when through on goal and that completed a wretched afternoon for Mike Newell. The Luton manager had been ordered to the stand in the first half by Darren Drysdale for persistent heckling of the fourth official, Steven Cummins.

"I cannot handle incompetence and arrogance and that's what made me lose my cool with the officials," said Newell. "I just can't suffer those things. I don't see the point of fourth officials. All they do is cause trouble. This one couldn't even do his job. It took him five minutes to get my sub on.

"But at the same time I don't want to take anything away from Preston. They are one of the best sides we've played all season." Luton have now lost nine of their last 11 games away from Kenilworth Road but they started brightly yesterday until Preston seized the lead.

Nugent flicked the ball on to Neal and his first touch took him past Keith Keane before Beresford was beaten with a neat finish.

Luton almost drew level immediately after the restart with Rowan Vine drawing the first of two stunning saves from Carlo Nash.

Preston doubled their lead minutes later when Nugent, a constant threat, met Chris Sedgwick's right-wing cross with a deft header.

The frantic closing stages saw Mears' goals at either end before the same player was brought down for the penalty that Sedgwick converted. Davis, a late substitute, added the fifth in injury time.

"It was a big result and there were some terrific performances as well," said a delighted Billy Davies, the Preston manager.

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