Preston got away with one on Saturday afternoon, beating Luton Town 2-1 at Deepdale.

North End were slow and unimaginative, failing to really kick on after an early goal. Preston were given a soft penalty for a foul on Patrick Bauer inside the first few minutes, and Paul Gallagher stepped up to score on the rebound after James Shea’s save.

Alex Neil won’t have been happy with the display after that, and Preston gifted Luton a route back into the game. Bauer’s pass in the middle of the field was intercepted, and Paul Huntington was adjudged to have brought down Callum McManaman inside the box for the second soft penalty of the game. James Collins made no mistake from the spot to bring Luton level.

Preston just couldn’t get going, couldn’t really create great chances against a well-organised Hatters side. With the Deepdale crowd growing restless, one big moment may well have changed the game.

Declan Rudd of Preston North End celebrates. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Ben Pearson was dealing with a bouncing ball heading back towards his own goal, and appeared to lose his footing at the crucial moment, allowing Harry Cornick in on goal. Cornick was unchallenged as he advanced, but Declan Rudd stayed big and pulled off a great save to keep him at bay, before also tipping Pelly Ruddock’s vicious drive over the bar just seconds later.

Preston ended up grabbing the winner just moments later as Jayden Stockley scored from close range, making that Rudd double-save look even more important.

Rudd, 28, has his detractors at North End, and Preston may yet bring in another goalkeeper in January given that Rudd’s deal ends next summer. Yet for now, he is certainly the best goalkeeper at the club, and he came up big on Saturday.

Rudd is often criticised on social media, but that wasn’t the case after Saturday’s win. North End fans took to Twitter to praise Rudd, pointing out his key part in the win and that his great moments should be pointed as just as much as his errors are.

 

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