Tommy is Town's lucky Preston omen

TAKING each game as it comes may be a well-worn cliché in football but for Ipswich Town it is a mantra they need to live by - especially away from home this season.

Derek Davis

TAKING each game as it comes may be a well-worn cliché in football but for Ipswich Town it is a mantra they need to live by - especially away from home this season.

If the Blues believed in omens then they would not even bother going to Deepdale tomorrow, so bad is their record there.

But the beauty with football is that each game starts afresh at nil-nil and when the whistle blows in Lancashire Ipswich have a good chance of winning their fourth away match of the season.

What matters is what they do in the 90 minutes, not what has passed over 43 years.

In that period they have made 11 trips, including two in the FA Cup, but have managed just two wins. The latest was back in January 1980 when, as a Division One side, the Blues beat Second Division Preston 3-0.

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The last, and only, league win, was back in January 1966 when they won by the only goal of the game.

But it is not games gone by that matter - it is the here and now. Even though Town have not won on the road for a month and the only victory in their last five league matches was against a woeful Norwich side, they know their slim hopes of a play-off place will be blown away if they don't get all three points on Saturday.

Ipswich lost 1-0 and 3-1 on their last two visits to Deepdale and the 1-1 draw prior to that was, admitted Joe Royle, akin to a visit by Dick Turpin as Town somehow got away with a point.

Ipswich beat Preston 2-1 at Portman Road last October with Tommy Miller among the scorers.

If you are a believer in kismet, then Miller is the yang, to Preston's ying. Miller has a terrific record of scoring against The Lilywhites, a team, ironically enough, he was on loan with from Sunderland last year.

He is Ipswich's all-time leading goal-scorer against Preston with five goals. Added to that are three when he was at Hartlepool and after his sublime free kick to salvage a point at Wolves last week the midfielder is champing at the bit to get at the Lilywhites.

Even with Hull at home next week, this is must-win game for Ipswich and all negative thoughts from the past will be banished in order to look to the future.

For Preston, Alan Irvine has done his job and Lilywhite's chairman Derek Shaw has made public his appreciation.

Shaw reckons if Preston had slipped out of the Championship it would have cost them £2m in hard cash, never mind how many of the best players would have left.

He said: “For a club like ours relegation would have made things extremely difficult. The turnaround since New Year has been nothing short of tremendous.”