Ipswich Town lost 3-2 at Preston North End yesterday. Stuart Watson reflects on the action.

East Anglian Daily Times: Vaclav Hladky is beaten by Will Keane's deflected effort early on.Vaclav Hladky is beaten by Will Keane's deflected effort early on. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)


Will Keane's shot from close to 30 yards out took a major deflection off George Edmundson to completely wrong-foot Vaclav Hladky for 1-0 in the fifth minute opener. There's a good shout for a foul on Sam Morsy in the build-up too.

The linesman then failed to spot that Emil Riis was a yard offside in the build-up to Edmundson poking the ball beyond his own keeper when it went 2-0 in the eighth minute.

That poor start can't just be put down to bad luck though.

There had been an early let-off when Liam Millar sliced wide down the left side of the box after Ipswich players collectively switched off.

For the opener, Harry Clarke's pass inside wasn't sharp enough, Morsy arguably could have been stronger/more aware and Massimo Luongo didn't quite react quick enough. 

For the second, Wes Burns' pass inside wasn't crisp enough and Conor Chaplin's touch wasn't sharp enough. Edmundson's aggressive high offside trap was risky. He then got himself the wrong side of the attacker when trying to rectify the situation.

The Blues have conceded 48 goals this season across all competitions. Fifteen of them - that's nearly a third (31%) - have come in the opening 15 minutes of matches. 

It's all very well talking about how good Town's comeback record is. There's only so many times you can undo the damage though. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Jeremy Sarmiento is dispossessed by Brad Potts during a poor first half performance for Ipswich at Preston.Jeremy Sarmiento is dispossessed by Brad Potts during a poor first half performance for Ipswich at Preston. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)


Sometimes it just comes down to the basics. Ipswich simply didn't do those well enough in a first half performance that must go down as one of the worst during Kieran McKenna's tenure.

Show desire to be quickest to first and second balls. Be stronger in 50/50 duels. Make sure the first touch is clean. Collectively, Ipswich players didn't do enough of the aforementioned in the face of Preston's aggressive man-to-man press.

When Chaplin won a foul just over halfway, Clarke ran over to spot the ball and start a quick attack. Jeremy Sarmiento tried an unnecessary first time trick though and Town could easily have conceded a third to a counter when Millar's teasing cross just evaded Riis. The Ecuador international needs to learn when to keep it simple.

Millar got the better of Clarke in a shoulder-to-shoulder contest and saw a low shot deflected wide, Burns slashed at a shot from outside the box, Leif Davis' attempt to pick out Chaplin with a low free-kick wasn't accurate enough, while Clarke snatched at a good chance down the right side of the box.

Ipswich tried to do the right things, they just didn't do them very well.

East Anglian Daily Times: Will Keane puts Preston 3-0 up after Vaclav Hladky and Sam Morsy got in a muddle trying to play out the back.Will Keane puts Preston 3-0 up after Vaclav Hladky and Sam Morsy got in a muddle trying to play out the back. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)    


The next goal felt huge. Frustratingly, Preston got it leading up to the break.

I get that this is the way Ipswich play. I get that it's led to far more good than bad. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I'm all for that. Sometimes you've got to recognise the game state though and be smart.

Moments earlier, the Blues had tried to play out the back and been funnelled into a dead end. The home side were pressing with intensity and organisation. Was it a clever, therefore, to try it again as half-time approached? Probably not.

Morsy was too tightly marked when Hladky played him a short pass inside the box. The Town skipper was jumped by Mads Frøkjær-Jensen, couldn't quite rectify the situation and that man Keane was there to score once more against his former club.

At 2-0, Ipswich were in the game with a strong bench to call upon. At 3-0 though, they'd left themselves a mountain to climb. And it was entirely self-inflicted.

Preston could easily have added a fourth after that. Miller almost picked out Riis with a sumptuous outside of the boot ball through the box, Woolfenden was close to joining the own goal club when diverting a ball narrowly over his own crossbar, while Burns was fortunate another slack pass in the final third didn't lead to another counter chance.

This was a bad day at the office for Burns. Let's hope, like Samson, he hasn't lost some of his powers by cutting off the hair.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieffer Moore proved a real handful on his second Ipswich debut.Kieffer Moore proved a real handful on his second Ipswich debut. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)


Poor Kayden Jackson fed off scraps in that first half. He had just eight touches of the ball and only three of them were in the final third. This was not his type of game.

What Town needed was a focal point. What they needed was a battering ram. Step forwards Kieffer Moore.

Within seconds of the restart his 6ft 5in presence was causing carnage in the home box as Ipswich started the second half with real purpose.

There was a sign of what was to come in the 62nd minute when the Bournemouth loanee planted a header just wide following Davis' cross from the left.

East Anglian Daily Times: Kieffer Moore caused Preston no end of problems after coming on at half-time.Kieffer Moore caused Preston no end of problems after coming on at half-time. (Image: PagePix Ltd)

Moments later, the big man backed into his marker to win a foul that led to Luongo drilling a low shot just past the post.

The breakthrough came in the 75th minute when Nathan Broadhead's body swerve and cool pass led to Davis standing up another inviting cross. Moore bulldozed his way onto the ball at the back post to power a towering header into the net and leave Freddie Woodman in a heap, standing over the stricken keeper like Muhammad Ali over Sonny Liston. Have some of that!

As the clock ticked down, Preston, having expended so much energy in the first half, started to get deeper and deeper. Ipswich, with a fresh front five following a series of substitutions, sensed there was still something in the game.

A second goal arrived in the 87th minute. Omari Hutchinson's deep cross was nodded back into danger by Davis, lively new boy Ali Al-Hamadi saw a couple of close-range efforts kept out by Woodman, but Moore was there to force the ball in.

When the board went up to signal four minutes of stoppage-time, the 3,500+ away fans behind that goal gave a roar of encouragement.

Moore, a constant magnet for the ball, had strong penalty shouts when going down under a challenge. He put another headed chance, this time from a Hutchinson cross, just too close to the keeper.

The 31-year-old scored two and could easily have had a hat-trick on his second Town debut. His display, along with the team's collective second half response, is a major positive.

East Anglian Daily Times: Ipswich Town debutant Ali Al-Hamadi is denied by Freddie Woodman just prior to Kieffer Moore scoring.Ipswich Town debutant Ali Al-Hamadi is denied by Freddie Woodman just prior to Kieffer Moore scoring. (Image: Pagepix Ltd)


This result comes off the back of an FA Cup exit to Maidstone United. It's the first time Ipswich have lost back-to-back games since Lincoln and Cambridge United - in League One and the EFL Trophy respectively - back in October 2022.

Town have now won just two of their last 10 games in all competitions. It's one win in eight in the league. 

McKenna's men have now been overtaken by Southampton and Leeds. This is the first time they've been outside the top-two, following a full round of fixtures, since late August.

None of the above makes for good reading. All of the following are also facts though...

Preston have also taken points off Leeds and Southampton at Deepdale this season. 

No team in the league has lost fewer games than Ipswich this season (four).

No player in the league has more assists than Davis (11). He set-up a goal, had a hand in the other and also hit the post with a sublime free-kick. 

The Blues, fresh from four seasons in League One, are 15 points clear of seventh place in the Championship.  

Only three of Town's remaining 17 games are away to sides currently in the top half (Hull, Coventry and Norwich).

Onward together. Next up... West Brom, at Portman Road, fourth-v-fifth, this Saturday.