MATCH REPORT: Preston North End 3 Ipswich Town 2
Preston v Ipswich: Preston super-sub Joe Garner scored a hat-trick to send Ipswich Town crashing out of the FA Cup in last night’s third round replay at Deepdale.
Following a turgid, goalless first 58 minutes, the deadlock was finally broken when Frank Nouble pounced on a mistake by Norwich loanee keeper Declan Rudd.
Preston’s leading scorer Garner was immediately introduced off the bench and within six minutes he had scored twice to turn the match on its head, squeezing a header home from a corner and lashing home within seconds of the restart.
Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy responded by bringing his own top scorer on in the form of David McGoldrick and it took him less than two minutes to head home the equaliser.
Garner was not to be outdone though, the striker winning it for the League One side two minutes from time when curling home after dispossessing Ryan Tunnicliffe in the box.
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Following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to QPR, McCarthy once again used the FA Cup as a chance to hand some his fringe players a game.
Scott Loach, Carlos Edwards, Tyrone Mings, Jay Tabb, Stephen Hunt and Nouble were all promoted to the starting XI, while academy trio Matt Clarke, Kyle Hammond and Byron Lawrence were on the bench.
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Luke Chambers (hamstring), Aaron Cresswell (knee), Cole Skuse (dead leg), Anthony Wordworth (tonsillitis), Daryl Murphy (thigh) and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (hamstring) were all left at home, with all but the latter hopeful of recovering in time for Saturday’s league match at Millwall.
Preston boss Simon Grayson – whose side are fourth in League One – went one further and made seven changes to his team following their 2-0 defeat at Wolves on Saturday.
Rudd, Tom Clarke, Neil Kilkenny and Paul Gallagher were the only players to keep their place, with first team regulars Bailey Wright, Lee Holmes, Garner and Iain Hume all on the bench.
The message was clear – the FA Cup is an inconvenience when the serious (and financially rewarding) business of promotion is still a prospect come the middle of January.
With the 24,500 capacity Deepdale Stadium less than a quarter full, there was a real training match feel to proceedings as two teams full of ring-rusty players struggled to find their touches and provide the match with any real tempo.
Tunnicliffe side-footed a difficult half-volley attempt over the bar after keeper Rudd had punched a corner clear in the 17th minute.
And that was the total sum of efforts on goal in a drab first half played in the freezing cold and relentless rain.
It looked like a long night was in store when the second half started with no sign of any added inspiration or energy.
Then Town broke the deadlock with a goal befitting of the game.
Preston looked in little danger when Anderson looped a cross in from the right, but centre-back Clarke sliced the ball backwards though and keeper Rudd – in an attempt to prevent a corner – ended up stopping the ball on the by-line and sliding off the pitch himself. Nouble pounced, nicking the ball back inside and emphatically firing high into the unguarded net.
Preston boss Grayson responded by bringing on 10-goal top scorer Garner. Less than six minutes later and he had scored twice.
The equaliser was another scrappy goal. Gallagher appeared to lose his footing when delivering a corner from the left, with the ball going into the air. When it eventually came down, Garner nodded the ball back into a crowded area at the back post, with it somehow evading everyone and creeping over the line.
Within 40 seconds he had scored again. Ipswich gave the ball away from the restart, Preston delivered the ball from the left and Garner expertly chested it down, worked half a yard of room in the box before lashing a low shot into the bottom corner.
Blues boss McCarthy responded by introducing his own top scorer off the bench in the form of McGoldrick.
It took him just two minutes to put the ball in the back of the net, the striker nodding home inside the six-yard box following Edwards’ excellent deep delivery.
Both sides went on the front foot in an attempt to win it, with Hunt making one excellent saving tackle in his own box and then coming close to getting on the end of a cross at the other end.
It was Preston who won it though, with former Nottingham Forest striker Garner completing his hat-trick two minutes from time, cutting inside and side-footing beyond Loach after Tunnicliffe had got the ball stuck under his feet.
McCarthy threw on veteran striker Alan Lee when the fourth official’s board showed six minutes of added on time, but there was to be no final chance.
McGoldrick and Mings were both booked in the closing stages as the match fizzled out.
This is the fourth successive season that Ipswich have exited the FA Cup at the third round stage.
Their attentions will now turn to the Championship, with Saturday’s game at Ian Holloway’s lowly Millwall side presenting an opportunity to move back into the play-off places.
PRESTON NORTH END (4-4-2): Rudd; Keane (cpt), Clarke, Huntington, Laird; Gallagher, Kilkenny, Hayhurst (Garner 63), Humphrey (Wright 90+); Davies, Brownhill (Holmes 80).
Subs: Stuckmann, Beavon, Byrom, Hume.
IPSWICH TOWN (4-3-3): Loach; Edwards (cpt), Berra, Smith, Mings; Hyam, Tunnicliffe, Tabb (McGoldrick 73); Anderson (Taylor 73), Nouble, Hunt (Lee 90+).
Subs: Gerken, Clarke, Hammond, Lawrence.
Referee: Mr K Stroud