Result is most important thing for Royle

IT may not have always been pretty but it was effective and for Blues boss Joe Royle it was all about another three points at home, writes Derek Davis.

IT may not have always been pretty but it was effective and for Blues boss Joe Royle it was all about another three points at home, writes Derek Davis.

Royle said: "The result is everything. We have played better this season and lost.

"You have to feel for Preston, they were depleted by a lot of suspensions and injuries but they came here and made it very hard for us.

"They do have their problems and it was a good time to play them. They will be a good side when they get all their players back.

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"The players that came in rallied round and worked hard for Craig but even Arsenal would struggle with five suspensions and so many injuries."

Patient Ipswich took half an hour to finally crack the under-strength Preston when Marcus Bent headed in a Jim Magilton free-kick.

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Substitute Darren Bent added two more in the second half to boost Town's all-important goal difference to plus 10.

Royle said: "They were three very good goals, a terrific leap by Marcus Bent for the first, a great delivery from Darren Ambrose for the second from a corner and then a very good pass from him and an excellent finish by Darren Bent.

"That was harder than any of those he missed at Burnley."

The introduction of Bent and then Ambrose from the bench was too much for the tiring Lilywhites and Town took full advantage.

Royle added: "Substitutions are good when they work. With his first kick of the ball Darren Ambrose has put in an incredible corner and we have scored. Then he has put the other Darren through and he has tucked it away. It must have been Craig Brown's worst nightmare when he saw someone as quick as Benty come on as a sub when their legs were getting tired.

"Darren's a good goal-scorer, although you wouldn't have thought that at Burnley last week when he did everything he could to keep the ball out of the net, but by and large he is an excellent finisher.

"He has got pace, good finishing, he is willing to learn and has a tremendous leap. We have high hopes for him and Ambrose.

"They are a joy to work with, they put in so much extra time on the practice pitch when you have told then to go home."

Marcus Bent snatched his second goal in four games and completed 90 minutes on a heavy pitch as he looks for complete recovery after a groin operation. His return has eased Town's goal-scoring problems.

Royle said: "That was Marcus' third full game and he was looking tired but I wanted to leave him to get him even fitter and he is looking sharp.

"From a team that couldn't buy a goal we suddenly have a lot of options with Darren sharp again, Martijn Reuser is available and we have Richard Naylor too."

Royle has steered Town away from the threat of relegation and up to 11th place but possibly one win away from going into the top six.

He said: "We have gone beyond 40 points, are in the top half of the table and two points off the play-offs. It is another little barrier we have cracked. It has taken a long time to get there but we are through that now."

It was not vintage Ipswich but they were never really threatened and Royle was relieved to see a below-par performance be converted into three points.

He said: "It is good to win games when you are not at your best. The pitch was a bit sticky, which is no criticism of the groundsman as there will be a lot worse than ours after the weather we have had, but it was cutting up and that made it hard to pass the ball and we did keep on trying to play it.

"There was one skirmish in our six-yard area but we were relatively unchallenged at the back."

Town are in FA Cup action next Saturday and return to the league the following week with a trip to Bradford City.

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