An early second half goal for Scott Sinclair was levelled up late on by Luton Town substitute Callum McManaman as Preston North End took a point from their first Championship game after the resumption.
The re-start came after more than three months since the Lilywhites last took to the pitch in a competitive game, on March 7th.
The game was preceded by a minute’s applause to remember all those lost to Covid-19, followed by both teams and the match officials uniting to take a knee after the whistle in solidarity with the black lives matter movement.
As expected, the tempo took a while to get going, but when it did, it was the green-clad away side with the better of the chances.
The first attempt in anger came 11 minutes in, as Sean Maguire, playing against the town in which he was born, saw a shot deflected just past Simon Sluga’s right-hand upright.
The Croatian goalkeeper denied the Irish international in the first really good chance of the game, saving at the feet of the PNE No.24 after he had got in behind the Hatters’ defence following skipper Paul Gallagher’s shot, which ricocheted off Matty Pearson from the edge of the D.
But eight minutes into the second half the deadlock was broken as Tom Barkhuizen won the ball in the middle of the pitch, raced forward, feeding Scott Sinclair, who bore down on goal and fired hard and low into the bottom right hand corner to put North End in front.
It was almost two less than four minutes later as Maguire was cynically fouled by home skipper Glen Rea, who was booked for the tackle on the edge of the box and Gallagher curled a beautiful free kick around the wall that Sluga had to be at full-stretch to get a hand to and push away for a corner.
Nugent – on for Maguire – won a corner with just less than 20 minutes left, which Gallagher put in for Andrew Hughes to flick a header goalwards that needed a big clearance from under the bar by the home side’s defence.
But with three minutes left the home side equalised when substitute McManaman picked up the ball just outside the D, drifted inside to the right and curled a shot that gave Rudd no chance into the top left corner from 18 yards out.
Jayden Stockley and Billy Bodin were added to the frontline in the final added on six minutes with North End pushing for a winner, but the game ended all-square, with the Lilywhites taking a point from the first game back.
Luton Town line-up: Sluga, Cainie (Bree, 75), D Potts, Tunnicliffe, M Pearson (Bradley, 84), Cornick, Rea (c) (Moncur, 75), Mpanzu, Carter-Vickers, Collins (Hylton, 84), Brown (McManaman, 75). Subs not used: Shea, Lee, Shinnie, Butterfield.
PNE line-up: Rudd, Browne, Hughes, Pearson, Bauer, Davies, Barkhuizen (Bodin, 90), Gallagher (c) (Fisher, 77), Maguire (Nugent, 65), Johnson (Stockley, 90), Sinclair (Pott, 77). Subs not used: Ripley, Harrop, Storey, Ledson.
Referee: Mr J Brooks
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