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A nuisance Call for Neil.

Byline: IAN WINROW at Kenilworth Road

LUTON 1 McManaman 87 PRESTON 1 Sinclair 52 FOR 87 minutes it looked as though Nathan Jones had reason to be grateful his reunion with angry Luton fans has been put on hold.

The new Hatters boss is desperate to build bridges with supporters who were left fuming at his abrupt departure from Kenilworth Road for Stoke last January.

VITAL STATS It seemed as though Scott Sinclair's 52ndminute strike meant Jones' return would end in misery.

LUTON 1 .. .Shots on 2 ..Shots off 5 .Corners ..9 Fouls..1 . Offsides. 65.5 Passing 342. Total 44.2 .Possession 46.6 .Territorial Then with three minutes remaining, Luton substitute Callum McManaman struck to ensure Town avoided defeat.

But it wasn't enough to prevent them dropping to the foot of the Championship table - and the chances of them closing a five-point gap to safety look remote.

Jones could at least be pleased that his side had shown the character to come back after appearing to be out on their feet.

Jones said: "We finished strongly at the end and that was what I was really pleased with. It was a wonderful finish. We didn't create enough chances today and that was something we will have to work on."

For Preston boss Alex Neil, McManaman's late equaliser came as a hammer blow as his side attempted to breathe fresh life into their play-off bid.

Four defeats in five games before the season was suspended had left Preston looking over their shoulders in sixth place.

Swansea's emphatic win at Middlesbrough earlier in the day did nothing to ease the sense that the chasing pack was closing in.

Neil had said North End were entering a nine-game shoot-out - and will be concerned they fluffed the first test. He said: "It was two points dropped in terms of the game. Our biggest concern was breaking the deadlock and once we did that we looked comfortable.

PRESTON Target 4 Target 6 ..7 ..7 . 0 Success %..73.4 Passes..433 % ..55.8 Adv % .. 53.4 "It was a real kick in the teeth to concede the goal the way we did."

Neither team could shake off the inevitable signs of ring-rustiness during a first half.

The visitors had the better of the opening half - but failed to create enough clear chances to force the opening goal.

Sinclair slotted home with a low shot in the 52nd minute after being played in by Tom Barkhuizen.

But Luton stepped up the pace late on, with McManaman firing across Declan Rudd to level.

VITAL STATS LUTON PRESTON 1 Shots on Target 4 2 ..Shots off Target 6 5 .Corners ..7 9 Fouls..7 1 . Offsides. 0 65.5 Passing Success %..73.4 342. Total Passes..433 44.2 .Possession % ..55.8 46.6 .Territorial Adv % .. 53.4 LUTON: Sluga 6, Cranie 6 (Bree 74, 6), Pearson 6, Carter-Vickers 7, Potts 6, Tunnicliffe 6, Rea 6 (Moncur 74, 6), Mpanzu 7, Collins 6, Brown 7 (McManaman 74, 6), Cornick 5. Subs not used: Shea, Bradley, Hylton, Lee, Shinnie, Butterfield.

PRESTON: Rudd 6, Browne 7, Bauer 7, Davies 6, Hughes 6, Pearson 8, Gallagher 7 (Fisher 77), Barkhuizen 6, Johnson 6, Sinclair 7 (Potts 77), Maguire 6 (Nugent 65, 6).

Subs not used: Ripley, Harrop, Storey, Ledson, Stockley, Bodin. MAN OF THE MATCH: Ben Pearson. The midfielder was solid in the holding role and gave Preston the platform to push forward.

REFEREE: John Brooks 7.

CAPTION(S):

DEADLY SIN Scott Sinclair (right) scored Preston's goal
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Author:IAN WINROW at Kenilworth Road
Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 21, 2020
Words:587
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