A late goal by Callum McManaman saw Luton Town draw 1-1 with Preston North End in the first game of the Championship’s restart.
The former Wigan player’s goal 3 minutes from time saw the Hatters take a point off the promotion chasers from Lancashire, as Nathan Jones took a point on his first game back in charage.
Scott Sinclair had put Preston in-front a few minutes into the second half, but Preston couldn’t take add to it and it allowed McManaman to strike and secure Luton a point.
A victory for Barnsley at QPR means Luton end the day bottom, but they do reduce the deficit to safety to 5 points after Middlesbrough and Hull both lost their games.
The game was Luton’s first since a 0-0 draw with Wigan Athletic on March 7th, and their first with Jones in charge since January 2019, with the club confirming yesterday (19/06) that Paul Hart has returned to the club as part of Jones’ backroom team. The match was played behind closed doors, with some cardboard fans dotted around the stadium.
Before the game began, as has been seen at closed door games in England so far, there was a pre-game tribute to the NHS and key workers, and all players took the knee as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A scrappy first half of few chances saw the best opportunities fall for Preston, with Sean Maguire seeing one effort go wide and another saved by Simon Sluga.
The visitors would take the lead in the opening moments of the second half, as Tom Barkhuizen was able to cue up Sinclair, who tapped the ball home.
Things could’ve got worse for Luton later in a similarly quiet second period, as Sluga had to deny Paul Gallagher.
But the deficit remained at one going into the latter stages, and Luton would grab themselves the equaliser. Substitute McManaman received a through pass by James Bree, and lashed it past Declan Rudd.
It could’ve been even better for Jones, as Ryan Tunnicliffe bent a long-ranger just over moments later.
But it was only to be a point for the Hatters, who will face testing trips to Swansea and Leeds in the next two games of the second part of their season.