Preston NE 0-1 Ipswich Town: Carayol wins it for Blues with superb first-half finish
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Mustapha Carayol’s goal on his full Ipswich Town debut was the difference as the Blues shut up shop in the second half to leave Deepdale with a 1-0 victory.
The winger tucked the ball into the back of the Preston net on 22 minutes, capping a first half in which he worried the Preston defence whenever he got the ball, to the extent home manager Alex Neil hauled off right back Calum Woods just after the half hour.
But the winger, who had suffered with sickness and diarrhoea in the lead up to the game, was mysteriously replaced at the break, after which what had been an entertaining Blues display disintegrated into a fractured, battling one as they saw the game out and secured the points.
Once again McCarthy rang the changes, this time making five as he changed his entire front three, giving Carayol his full debut, brought Dominic Iorfa back into the side at right back and restored Callum Connolly to the middle of midfield.
Three of those players combined in the eighth minute for the first real chance of the game as Connolly cleared a Preston corner which Waghorn won and freed Carayol down the right. He superbly beat his man and cut inside before his first shot was saved by Declan Rudd before the rebound fell to the winger with the goal gaping, but he somehow poked the ball wide.
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The Blues were knocking it around nicely but, when the hosts moved the ball into wide areas they were able to threaten, with a neat cross into the box just evading Callum Robinson and then another being headed over by Alan Browne.
But Ipswich were having the better of things against a Preston back four which was constantly pulled out of position, and Carayol soon made amends for his earlier miss as he beat Calum Woods to a Cole Skuse hook forward, nodded it on and tucked a neat finish past Rudd.
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He threatened to break out a dance in celebration in front of the travelling Ipswich fans, and they were nearly celebrating soon after when Waghorn’s cross into the box landed at the feet of Iorfa, who rattled the bar with his effort.
Waghorn then had a near-post effort blocked as he connected with a Carayol cross, as the Blues looked to add to their lead before the break.
They had to make do with one before the break, after which Carayol mysteriously failed to reappear and was replaced by Luke Hyam.
The homegrown youngster tucked into midfield, with his introduction having the desired effect as the game descended into a physical battle, with few clear cut chances which Ipswich ultimately hung on to win.
The hosts, who had lost just once in 17 games since losing at Portman Road in November, offered little in the second period but threw men forward in the final minutes, but the visitors stood firm.
PNE: Rudd; Woods (Earl 38), Huntington, Davies, Cunningham; Pearson, Browne; Barkhuizen, Robinson (Harrop 38), Bodin (Horgan), Moult
Subs: Maxwell, Spurr, Welsh, Gallagher
Ipswich: Bialkowski; Iorfa, Carter-Vickers, Chambers, Webster; Knudsen; Connolly, Skuse; Waghorn (Spence 90), Carayol, Garner (Sears 69)
Subs: Crowe, Hyam, Gleeson, Ward, Celina