Blues hopes hit in five-goal thriller

IPSWICH's play-off hopes suffered a setback as they went down fighting in a five goal thriller at Deepdale.

Preston 3 Ipswich 2

IPSWICH's play-off hopes suffered a setback as they went down fighting in a five goal thriller at Deepdale.

The match was billed as a must-win six pointer for both teams, but Town suffered an early setback when the hosts were awarded a controversial penalty.

Alex Bruce chased Stephen Elliott to the by-line and both players tumbled over. The referee was happy with a goal kick, but he changed his mind when his assistant put a flag across his chest to signal a spot kick.

Town protested but there were no bookings before Calum Davidson shot left-footed under Richard Wright - the ball entering the net off the body of the keeper.

Ipswich reacted well to going a goal behind so early and just minutes later Moritz Volz got away down the right and crossed for Jonathan Stead who was unable to direct the header on target.

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North End were struggling to cope with Stead's aerial threat and the tall striker found space in the box once again from Alan Quinn's corner but his header was well saved by Lonergan.

The Tractor Boys pressed for an equaliser and they had it on the half-hour mark when Sean St Ledger gave the ball away to Luciano Civelli who played in Miller and he finished superbly from inside the box.

However just before the break Ipswich conspired to undo all their hard work when Wright and Bruce failed to cope with a long ball and Parkin capitalised to head in.

The visitors made a bright start to the second half and Counago's header was tipped over by Lonergan before the Preston keeper made another excellent save to deny Civelli.

Preston gradually found their rhythm again and with 61 minutes gone Ross Wallace whipped in a superb cross from the right which Wright got nowhere near and Elliott was on hand to finish at the far post.

Two minutes later Eddie Nolan fouled Lisbie and Miller stepped up to curl home a superb free-kick from 20 yards and give Ipswich hope again.

Jim Magilton's side were buoyed by the goal and came agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser when Lisbie cut in from the left and drove in a fierce effort which cannoned off the inside of the post.

With minutes remaining Lonergan came to Preston's rescue once again with an excellent save from Lisbie's overhead kick as Ipswich failed to find a way back.