James Collins' 11th goal of the season made it two wins in two for the Hatters heading into the international break.
In a tightly fought game at Deepdale where the Hatters created the better of the chances, after saving well from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s effort, Preston keeper Daniel Iversen was unable to prevent Collins’ shot from deflecting into the net late on.
Manager Nathan Jones named an unchanged side from Tuesday night’s victory over Coventry City, moving Glen Rea into midfield and switching to a diamond formation.
The game lacked rhythm in the opening exchanges, with both sides struggling to build any pressure or take control of proceedings.
The Hatters had the first half-chance of the game as Harry Cornick caught Preston centre-back Liam Lindsay in possession, but his route to goal was cut-off by a covering Lilywhites defender and Luton’s frontman was denied the opportunity to shoot.
With the help of the superb Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu, Luton gradually started to take control of the game. Ten minutes before the half-time break, Mpanzu picked up a loose ball on the edge of the box and fired towards goal, with the deflection taking it just wide of Iversen’s right post.
Luton continued to get into good positions without threatening the Preston goal, with Elijah Adebayo charging to the by-line but being unable to find an onrushing Luton player in the box.
The Hatters did come close to opening the scoring through James Bree just before the half-time whistle. After opening his account for the Hatters in Tuesday night’s victory over Coventry City, the right-back strode into space on the edge of the box, unleashing a low shot that was saved well by Iversen diving to his right.
That would prove the last of the action in a half where the Hatters started to gain control, with neither side carving out any clear-cut chances of note.
The home side started the second-half the stronger, enjoying an extended spell of pressure around Luton’s box, with Kal Naismith blocking well and Luton eventually clearing their lines without Simon Sluga being called into action.
At the other end, Iversen was once again called into action. The Hatters switched the play to Bree who delivered into Adebayo at the back-post, with Preston’s ‘keeper saving well as Luton’s January signing headed across goal.
In a disrupted second-half where knocks to Adebayo, Sluga and Joe Rafferty disrupted the flow of the game, manager Jones introduced a fresh front three late on in Tom Ince, Sam Nombe and Collins in an attempt to give the Hatters some more forward thrust.
Once again Bree was released to the by-line down the right, clipping back towards Ince who miskicked from inside the box and Collins being unable to connect cleanly.
As the game ticked down into the final ten minutes, the Hatters took the lead. The impressive Pelly Ruddock-Mpanzu drove forwards down the right, delivering a wonderful cross that Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall turned towards goal. Iversen saved brilliantly, with the rebound falling to Collins who fired towards goal at an acute angle with the ball bouncing off the prone Preston stopper and into the net.
Soon after, Simon Sluga saved well to ensure the Hatters retained their lead. Tom Barkhuizen’s long throw from the left was flicked towards goal, with the Croatian international saving well high to his left.
The Hatters should have doubled their advantage in stoppage time as the Hatters broke away at speed, creating a 3v1 with Nombe cutting in from the left and curling just wide of the far post.
It wouldn’t matter though, as the Hatters saw out the remaining minutes and sealed a brilliant away victory, heading into the international break having reached 50 points and sitting in 13th place.
Town: Sluga, Clark, Naismith, Pearson, Bree, Rea (C), Mpanzu, Tunnicliffe (Ince 70), Dewsbury-Hall, Cornick (Collins 77), Adebayo (Nombe 77).
Goals: Collins (83)
Subs not used: Shea, Cranie, Berry, Lockyer, LuaLua, Morrell.
Preston: Iversen, Rafferty, Lindsay, Storey, Van den Berg, Whiteman, Ledson (Gallagher 86), Gordon (Barkhuizen 67), Johnson (C) (Bodin 81), Sinclair (Maguire 67), Evans (Potts 81).
Subs not used: Jakobsen, Molumby, Huntington, Ripley.