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.
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.
Preston lacked creativity and tempo. Big, big win though. Big up Declan Rudd. Superb. All roads lead to South Wales. Cha. #pnefc
— Adam Salisbury (@AdamSalisbury1) December 14, 2019
Pearo may have got MOM and Stockley the winner but Rudd won us that with the 1 on 1 save. #pnefc
— David Swindells (@swindellsdavid) December 14, 2019
Also where are the Rudd haters now? His save both stopped a goal, and turned the team into a more positive mindset #pnefc
— Jack Cooksey (@triggywiggy) December 14, 2019
Save of the season that by Declan Rudd with his feet from that one-on-one. Always liked my plant-based vegan King #pnefc
— Ben (@BenWignall) December 14, 2019
— Luke Darbyshire (@DarbyshireLuke) December 14, 2019
You can call Rudd all you want but he has kept us in more games than most, the man us preston through and through #pnefc
— 𝕁𝕠𝕟 𝔹𝕠𝕪 (@_Jon_Brown_) December 14, 2019
That save from Rudd not long before our goal was massive. He gets a fair bit of stick at times but he played a massive part in that win, well played Dec 👍❤️ #pnefc
— Stephen Thompson (@PNEste25) December 14, 2019
Massive save from Declan Rudd at 1-1. For all his knockers on here, that absolutely changed the game. Well done fella. #pnefc
— Kipper (@mickkip) December 14, 2019
Think rudd needs a lot of praise after that save 👏🏻 kept us in that game and won it us in a way #pnefc
— PNE home and away (@PNEhomeandaway) December 14, 2019