Luton Town recorded a 2-0 win over fierce rivals Watford to further cement their place in the Championship playoff spots. Gabe Osho and Allan Campbell were on target for the home side, who sit fourth in the table.
The Hatters broke the deadlock on 28 minutes with a glorious team move that saw Cody Drameh and Tom Lockyer involved, with Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu’s cross swept home by Osho from close range, retribution for the red card he had picked up in the 4-0 defeat at Vicarage Road earlier in the season.
After the break, Watford started promisingly, Jeremy Ngakia seeing his far-post header bounce wide of the target. Imran Louza had a go for the Hornets too, Ethan Horvath with a simple stop to his left-hand side, while at the other end, Elijah Adebayo could not make the most of Carlton Morris’s dangerous cross.
With an hour gone, Morris went for goal himself, trying his luck from 30 yards but unable to get his shot to come down in time. Strike partner Adebayo also had an opportunity but with the angle against him, Daniel Bachmann was able to block.
Midway through the second period, the Watford manager Chris Wilder made a triple substitution to try and force an equaliser, Ismaïla Sarr, João Ferreira and Britt Assombalonga all coming on. They were soon joined by Yaser Asprilla, but still Watford could not create anything meaningful, João Pedro’s cross-shot gathered by Horvath.
With 10 minutes left, Town almost had the second goal they craved, Adebayo doing terrifically inside the box, his shot too close to Bachmann, while Mpanzu’s effort drew a wonderful block. But any nerves were settled in the first minute of stoppage time, when Campbell prodded into the net from close range to send the home supporters delirious.
In the day’s other early kick-off, Preston secured derby bragging rights with a thoroughly-deserved 3-1 win against Blackpool. Ryan Lowe’s side dominated on their way to a victory that just about keeps their playoff hopes alive.
North End are certainly back in impressive form at the right time, having now lost just once in their last nine games. Blackpool, meanwhile, remain in the relegation scrap. They have not won on their travels since October, and a fifth defeat in seven matches leaves them still four points from safety having played more games than all the sides around them.
Amid a white-hot atmosphere at a packed-out Deepdale, it was the hosts who broke the deadlock in some style after 12 minutes. Andrew Hughes swung over a rather hopeful cross from the left flank, and the ball eventually fell to Brad Potts. The former Blackpool midfielder controlled superbly before drilling an angled strike powerfully past a helpless Chris Maxwell.
The hosts remained on top and their superiority was underlined thanks to a second goal in the 26th minute. It was another disappointing strike from Blackpool’s point of view as Ben Whiteman took aim from a 25-yard free-kick, curling home a near-post effort. Deepdale erupted, and the Seasiders already looked down and out.
Another classy North End goal in the 51st minute sent the majority inside Deepdale into raptures yet again. This time Everton loanee Tom Cannon side-footed home brilliantly from just inside the Seasiders’ box after he latched on to Álvaro Fernández’s short pass.
Jerry Yates’s late tap-in from Josh Bowler’s cross provided a little consolation for the well-beaten Seasiders.