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First Team News

A Match To Remember: Luton Town

11 December 2020

We go back 21 years for our latest reflection on games gone by, as David Eyres grabbed a brace to defeat the Hatters at Kenilworth Road.

First Team News

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11 December 2020

It was November 1999, as the left-winger again showed that age is just a number, as he struck twice to extend the Lilywhites run in the league to 12 games unbeaten.

It was a very young Luton side, in fact the youngest in the division, the majority of the home team aged between 17 and 22, bursting with energy, yet it was the old master, three months shy of his 36th birthday, who showed how it was done.

Both of Eyres’ goals came in the first half, putting North End in a position where they could soak up pressure in the second period.

Manager David Moyes restored strikers Jonathan Macken and Kurt Nogan to the attack, with Teuvo Moilanen replacing David Lucas in goal.

For Nogan and Graham Alexander, both players were returning to familiar turf having both played for Luton, with the latter, despite his service to the Bedfordshire outfit, being booed by a section of the home supporters throughout the evening eight months after his £50,000 move to Deepdale.

North End took the lead in the 33rd minute, left back Rob Edwards launching a cross into the box which Lee Cartwright rose to head down into the middle. It was blocked by a defender, but bounced back to strike Eyres on the shin and go over the line.

Luton gathered a head of steam in search of an equaliser, with Moilanen having to make a good save from Matthew Spring and then Efe Sodje also headed just wide as a couple of gaps appeared in the PNE defence.

However, Eyres struck again two minutes into time added on at the end of the first half. Macken’s pass found captain Sean Gregan down the right-hand channel. The skipper sent a cross into the box which Eyres flung himself forward to meet and send a diving header past the dive of Hatters keeper Nathan Abbey.

Eyres was not far away from a hat-trick early in the second half, his shot from the edge of the box on target until it clipped a defender and flew wide of the post. Then when his cross from the left wing looked to be creeping under the bar, it needed Abbey to touch it over.

Macken should have put the outcome beyond doubt in the 67th minute. Gregan’s inch-perfect pass sent Nogan away on the right. His low cross found Macken in the middle, but from six yards he scuffed his shot and saw it trickle wide.

In the closing stages the home side pushed forward with one last effort to try and salvage something. A powerful header from Gary Doherty eight minutes from time was blocked by Moilanen with his legs on the line.

PNE almost had the final say though, Macken getting clear and seeing Abbey block his shot. Nogan’s follow-up effort was cleared off the line by Sodje.

After the game, manager Moyes said: “I thought we were very professional in the way we went about our job, particularly when we had got the advantage of a couple of first half goals.

“Luton are among the better sides at this level but we held them when they threatened to stage a comeback and could even have nicked a couple of more goals ourselves.”

Luton Town line-up: Abbey, Doherty, Watts, Sodje, Fraser (Boyce, 75), McLaren (White, 62), Spring, Taylor, George, Douglas, Midgley (McIndoe, 62). Subs not used: Ward, Locke.

PNE line-up: Moilanen, Alexander, Jackson, Kidd, Edwards, Cartwright, Gregan, Rankine, Eyres, Macken, Nogan. Subs not used: Lucas, Mathie, Murdock, Gunnlaugsson, Appleton.

Referee: Mr R Styles

Attendance: 5,124

You can watch this Saturday’s game live on iFollow PNE, with Jonathan Breeze and former North End full back Paul Sparrow on commentary duties from just after 2.30pm. Click here now to sign up for a match pass for just £10.

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