Emil Riis’ first-half double in the week he signed a new contract with the club secured Preston a convincing 2-0 victory against Luton.
Nathan Jones’ high-flying Luton came into the game full of confidence and unbeaten in five games, while Preston beat Coventry last time out at home in the Sky Bet Championship.
The game took a while to get going with Tom Barkhuizen’s volley the closest that either team got to scoring early.
North End had plenty of possession that often ended with a diagonal ball up to Riis and Sean Maguire sniffing around for knock-downs.
The lack of goalmouth action in the first half-hour mattered little at Deepdale when Riis opened the scoring with a thunderbolt after 27 minutes.
The Dane was slipped a pass on the right side of the penalty area by Barkhuizen and, when most thought he would cross, he slammed a shot into the top left-corner from an acute angle.
The home side should have gone 2-0 up when Riis teed Maguire up on the edge of the area, but his effort was deflected wide.
Only moments later the Hatters’ Tom Lockyer was lucky to stay on the pitch when Preston captain Alan Browne went over, and Lockyer shoved him to the ground twice, sparking a melee.
To the surprise of most in the ground, referee Dean Whitestone proceeded to book both players rather than show Lockyer a red.
That incident lit a small spark under Luton, with Glen Rea’s header and then Kai Naismith’s efforts blocked at close range by the underworked Preston keeper Daniel Iversen.
But to cap Preston’s dominance, Ali McCann was clipped in the penalty area by Sonny Bradley after he had just released the ball with Riis converting the spot-kick for his second in first-half stoppage time.
Luton had offered very little and the two-goal deficit at the break did not flatter Preston, so Jones made a double change, captain Bradley and Rea the casualties.
The team in orange nearly hit back straight away, substitute Admiral Muskwe saw a sharp effort well saved by Iversen. Luton had clearly had a rocket by Jones and were a markedly different team after the break.
But that energy was short-lived and, at the other end, Simon Sluga did well to tip a goal-bound Patrick Bauer header over the crossbar. Riis had come close to his hat-trick moments earlier, Scott Sinclair should have notched and Iverson produced a stunning save from a Cameron Jerome effort.
The hat-trick never came for Riis, who has signed until 2025 and missed a header late on, but he still put in a man-of-the match performance against a severely lacklustre Luton.