Nathan Jones secured his 100th win as Luton Town manager thanks to James Collins’ superb hat-trick as the Hatters were comfortable victors against Preston North End.
The striker scored twice within a nine minute period during the first half, before he added a third midway through the second half in what was a fantastic team performance.
The gaffer – who took charge of his 200th game as Town boss – made three changes to the starting line-up for this afternoon’s game. George Moncur and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall were brought back in to start, whilst Matty Pearson returned from his one-match ban after picking up a red card against Swansea City.
Prior to kick-off, both Luton and the Preston players linked arms on the centre circle to show that we “All Stand Together” against racism and in support of the Rainbow Laces campaign, which today’s match was dedicated to.
2,000 home supporters were treated to a fantastic opening goal, made by the quality of Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s inch-perfect pass.
The midfielder received the ball, looked up and lofted it over the top of the Preston defence to Collins, who calmly chested it down and finished beyond Declan Rudd.
One turned into a two-goal advantage in the 29th minute and the striker had his eighth goal of the season.
Dewsbury-Hall laid the corner short to George Moncur, who crossed deep for Glen Rea, who in turn hooked the ball back across the box, and the Republic of Ireland international headed home from close range.
The away side had made all five substitutes before the hour mark in a bid to try and get back into the contest, but it was the Hatters who had the better chances in the second period.
Collins was initially denied his hat-trick after Harry Cornick crossed deep towards him and Rudd saved from close range, but in the 66th minute, he did achieve that feat for the second time this season.
Cornick did well to win possession on the edge of the box and knocked it forward to Collins, who controlled and then rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
The striker left the field to a standing ovation in the 84th minute, replaced by Sam Nombe for his first appearance at Kenilworth Road.
Shortly after, Tom Lockyer went inches away from his first Luton goal and a fourth of the afternoon, heading Rhys Norrington-Davies’ free-kick just wide of the post.
Town are now four games unbeaten at Kenilworth Road and the three points pushed them up into 11th place in the Sky Bet Championship, ahead of Wednesday’s game against Middlesbrough.
Town: Shea, Pearson, Lockyer, Bradley (C), Potts; Rea, Mpanzu (Tunnicliffe 80), Dewsbury-Hall (Berry 80); Cornick (Clark 74), Moncur (Norrington-Davies 74), Collins (Nombe 84).
Subs not used: Isted, Cranie, LuaLua, Morrell
Goals: Collins (20,29,66)
Preston North End: Rudd; Fisher, Huntington (Storey 45), Davies, Hughes; Browne, Ledson (Johnson 45); Barkhuizen (Maguire 58), Potts (Bayliss 60), Sinclair; Stockley (Jakobsen 58)
Subs not used: Ripley, Earl, Rafferty, Gallagher.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson