For only the second time since March, Preston North End will play in front of supporters as we face Nathan Jones’ Luton Town. There will be 2,000 Hatters fans in attendance to watch the game but sadly, as there are no away fans allowed in stadiums just yet, there will be no North End fans.
North End come into the game on the back of a 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough with a very convincing performance, and scoreline to match, something that we haven’t seen all too often at home so far this term. Luton on the other hand were held to a scrappy goalless draw away at Coventry City.
The last time the two faced each other was the first game back after lockdown when the last campaign was resumed. A cool Scott Sinclair finish was cancelled out by a fantastic finish from Luton Town substitute Callum McManaman in the 87th minute which set us off on a poor run of form and culminated in us missing out on the play-offs.
The two sides are separated by a single place in the Championship table heading into the weekend with both clubs sitting on 23 points hoping to add another 3 to the tally. But that won’t be an easy task for the Lilywhites with Nathan Jones’s side being well-drilled and unbeaten in their last 3 home games, the previous being a convincing 3-1 win over Norwich City.
Luton however have seen goals hard to come by with only 14 scored this season compared to North End’s 25, with the majority of North End’s coming on the road so far this term.
The first Luton player I would pick out as being a worry is Irish international James Collins. The striker scored 14 goals last campaign and someone who I have personally liked since he boosted Luton to promotion from League 1 a couple of seasons ago.
He is a big, physical striker and a real poacher in front of goal, and will be looking to add to his tally of 3 goals this campaign, this weekend.
Collins usually plays as a lone striker which hopefully means we can isolate the Irishman but last time out Luton went with 2 up front with Harry Cornick assisting the talisman up top so it will be interesting to see how the Hatters line up.
Secondly, I would pick out Leicester City loanee Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. The midfielder has been very impressive so far in his loan spell and has made quite the impression on the Luton faithful.
After being named man of the match again in the 3-1 win against Norwich City, it’s no surprise he’s quickly becoming a fans favourite. He can play in the centre of midfield as well as in more of a defensive role and has impressed. There have even been whispers of big premier league clubs being interested in the 22-year-old.
However, we will have more options available in the midfield area at the weekend with Daniel Johnson coming back from suspension to add to the options of Alan Browne, Ryan Ledson, Tom Bayliss, Josh Harrop, and Brad Potts who had an excellent game on Wednesday night. So here’s to hoping that we will have enough to keep the loanee quiet.
For the game at Kenilworth Road, I don’t think any game against a Nathan Jones’ side is ever an easy one. His teams are well organised and drilled defensively, and I’m sure we’ll see more of their attacking capability as the season progresses.
For a score line I’m going to go with a narrow 2-1 win. I’ll back mid-week goal scorers Scott Sinclair and Emil Riis to score again at Kenilworth Road.
I don’t think Alex Neil will change many things from the stellar performance under the Deepdale floodlights on Wednesday night with potentially Emil Riis to replace Jayden Stockley after the great dane got an assist and a goal despite being on the pitch around 20 minutes.
We may also see a start for Josh Earl if Andrew Hughes needs a little longer recovery time but I felt Hughes did a great job on Wednesday night with one of his better games in my opinion.
For a starting XI I will go with: Rudd; Fisher, Huntington, Davies, Hughes; Browne, Ledson; Barkhuizen, Potts, Sinclair; Riis.
Hopefully, we can continue our little unbeaten run of 4 games and get a few more goals to better that goal difference. The fans may well play a part but we seemed to cope well when playing in front of fans earlier in the season away at Norwich so hopefully we can have a similar sort of reaction.
Finally, I hope that we get to see a crowd back in Deepdale very soon.
Don’t forget to follow us on twitter – @fromthefinney. You can also listen to the mid-week episode of the From the Finney podcast below before today’s game. It’s less than 30 minutes long too so plenty of time to fit it in.