Ipswich suffer tame defeat at Deepdale

IPSWICH Town's hopes of moving significantly clear of the drop zone in the Coca-Cola Championship were dwelt a blow when they suffered a frustrating defeat at Deepdale.

Elvin King

Ipswich suffer tame defeat at Deepdale

IPSWICH Town's hopes of moving significantly clear of the drop zone in the Coca-Cola Championship were dwelt a blow when they suffered a frustrating defeat at Deepdale.

Substitute Neill Collins headed home in the 64th minute to liven up a game after a dreary opening period. Danny Welbeck added second goal in the 84th minute with a delightful chip.

Earlier Tamas Priskin had missed one great chance, and was denied putting Town ahead by a lineman's flag with Ipswich working hard against an ordinary home team that only came to life after their goal.

Town's failure to find the net again let them down as they slipped down the table with their first league defeat since Boxing Day - two defeats in their last 16 league games.

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Town made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 with West Brom at Portman Road on Tuesday. Balkestein replaced David Wright at left back while Priskin played up front on his own after replacing Counago.

It was Priskin's first start since the away win at Cardiff at the end of November - with Stead playing on the right ahead of the same midfield four that turned out against Albion.

Quinn was included on the bench ahead of Martin, with John also one of the substitutes despite being set to return to Crystal Palace when his loan ends this weekend.

The visiting party had flown from Cambridge to Blackpool early yesterday afternoon and were flying back to East Anglia tonight.

Preston had no place in their squad for ex-Town player Shumulikoski despite the Macedonian international being fit. Davidson missed out after taking a blow on the head in the 1-0 win at Peterborough in midweek with Welbeck - on loan from Manchester United - leading the attack.

This was Preston's first home league game since the middle of December having thrashed Colchester United 7-0 and lost 2-0 to Chelsea in the FA Cup at Deepdale.

Since Town's last visit further work has been completed on the one stand that needed redeveloping with the lower section in use and still work to be included on the executive boxes that will fill the higher part of the stand.

The sun was out but the pitch was 90% in shadow at kick-off after a heavy overnight frost. There was a hint of white in the colour of the grass with conditions likely to get a bit slippery as the game wore on.

Ipswich were again well represented in the stands with Lee-Barrett in the goal in front of Town fans in the opening half. Within a minute Lonergan was in trouble before touching a Colback free-kick off the head of Priskin. A raiding Rosenior then shot over from a slick Town move.

Town won their fifth corner in the eighth minute with Priskin offside after Norris put the ball back into the danger zone.

Preston slowly but surely got into the game, but from their first chance Mellor shot wildly over in the 18th minute.

It was more like an end of season 'nothing' game with home fans jeering their side's lack of poise, and Ipswich unable to step up a gear after their bright start.

Lonergan had to stop a Norris shot after a bright Town counter attack in the 35th minute involving Stead and Colback. It was a simple save, but at least a keeper had been brought into action.

Three minutes later, Lee-Barrett pushed away a Jones header following a corner with Balkestein clearing when the ball dropped into the six yard box.

Chaplow shooting way off target and into the hands of a Town fan in row H summed up a thoroughly inept first period when all both teams had to offer was hard work.

Ipswich had a great chance in the 49th minute after a quick decisive break up field. Rosenior put Priskin clear with only Lonergan to beat from a slight angle. The Hungarian placed his shot a yard over the bar when he should have at least tested the keeper.

Town won their eighth corner soon afterwards - to Preston's one - with the visitors starting the second half as they had the first.

Priskin headed powerfully into the net in the 55th minute following a Leadbitter free-kick. It was a well-taken 'goal' but a flag was up for offside and Town's celebrations were stopped in their tracks although it looked a debatable decision.

Preston took the resultant free-kick early and Mellor ran through to go round Lee-Barrett and net. But the referee called play back because the ball was rolling when the free-kick was taken.

Collins replaced Mawene after 58 minutes, and six minutes later he scored his first goal for Preston. Town only cleared a free-kick as far as Chaplow, and he had time for a perfect cross that saw Collins head home from in front of goal.

Ipswich replied with substitute Counago setting up Stead for a 16 yard shot that Lonergan saved comfortably.

Substitute Garvan was booked for a foul as Preston broke dangerously with Leadbitter joining him in the book for saying too much to the referee.

Town already looked beaten by the time Balkestein played Welbeck on side in the 84th minute and he strode on to a pass to chip the ball into the net over an exposed Lee-Barrett from 18 yards.

Teams

Preston North End: Lonergan; Hart, Mawene (sub Collins 58 mins), St Ledger, Nolan; Mellor (Parkin 83), Jones, Chaplow, Wallace (Carter 86); Brown, Welbeck. Substitutes: Henderson, Chilvers, Barton, Mayor

Ipswich Town: Lee-Barrett; Rosenior McAuley, Delaney, Balkestein; Peters (Garvan 63), Leadbitter, Norris, Colback; Stead (John 78); Priskin (Counago 65). Substitutes: McLoughlin, Wright, Quinn, Edwards.

Referee: Mr J Moss (Yorkshire)

Attendance: 12,087.

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