Town throw away two-goal lead

WHILE the first half was every inch the reaction expected after Saturday's hammering, the second half encapsulated the lack of belief and confidence this Ipswich side has.

By Derek Davis

WHILE the first half was every inch the reaction expected after Saturday's hammering, the second half encapsulated the lack of belief and confidence this Ipswich side has.

Two goals to the good through a Jon Macken penalty and an Alan Lee header, Town were well in control until a mad three minutes cost them.

Preston got back into the game through a couple of defensive howlers, with David Nugent and Liam Chilvers getting them back on level terms before Simon Whaley hit a sensational winner.

Ipswich were in typical Jekyll and Hyde mood with a wonderful first half and an appalling second 45 minutes.

The honeymoon is well and truly over for Jim Magilton as Town stumbled to their third defeat in a row and, while they showed glimpses of how good they can be, they once more showed how vulnerable they really are.

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As promised, Magilton rang the changes, with four players losing their places. Fabian Wilnis made a welcome return at right back, with Alex Bruce shuffling across to centre-half at Richard Naylor's expense.

Jaime Peters, like Wilnis, was not even in the 16 on Saturday but got the nod at right wing, with Mark Noble moving into centre midfield as on-loan Simon Walton was axed instead of permanent signing Sylvain Legwinksi.

Darren Currie was also left on the bench, with Matt Richards starting on the left side of midfield.

Town started well, knocking the ball around confidently and Alan Lee at least made Carlo Nash stretch when he headed a Richards cross, following good work from Dan Harding.

The pressure was rewarded in the 10th minute when Noble was brought down by Matt Hill as he chased a Lee flick-on.

Macken sent Nash the wrong way as he stroked the penalty home in front of the South Stand for his first goal in an Ipswich shirt. He now has the honour of claiming the 3,000th home goal for Ipswich Town in all competitions.

Nash made a good save to push away a left-footed Richards drive.

Richards had been shamelessly booed by sections of the Town crowd in recent weeks and responded magnificently with plenty of quality (except in his finishing), added to his usual hard-working efforts.

The home-grown player might have covered himself in glory when Nash made a hash of a Noble cross and Richards cut inside but his side-footed shot was blocked by Chilvers.

A better chance fell to Richards five minutes before the break when he did well to carve out an opening but shot wide from 12 yards, with his right-foot.

He had to settle for making the delivery that put the Blues two up.

Legwinski ambled forward before spreading the ball wide to Richards, who delivered the perfect ball for Lee to power home a header from six yards, and take his personal tally to four goals in five Championship games.

De Vos even tried his luck from long range but his shot took a deflection and it went over the bar.

For all their goal-scoring prowess Preston didn't really threaten until they were gifted a 53rd-minute goal.

Nash had collected a Richards shot at the second attempt. His long clearance was missed by Nugent and, as it bounced up, Wilnis headed back towards his keeper but before Price could gather, the England Under-21 striker nipped between time and poked the ball in.

Three minutes later North End were level and again it was from a direct route. A Graham Alexander free kick from the half-way line picked out an unmolested Chilvers and the former Colchester United defender nodded over Price, who was caught in no-man's land.

Alexander had rung a warning bell earlier when a long free-kick almost caught out Price, who was happy to guide it wide. Preston's third was alarming in that Whaley had been allowed to run unchallenged from inside his own half, with Peters nowhere to be seen, and, after cutting inside Wilnis, drilled a 25-yard shot past Price.

A double substitution inspired the Blues to a fighting finish, with Billy Clarke and new loan-signing Gary Roberts going on for the last 10 minutes.

The 22-year-old from Accrington Stanley impressed with his first touch as he sprinted down the left flank before delivering a good deep cross.

Brett Ormerod had the chance to make it four for Preston at the death but blazed over the bar but by then the beaten Blues had been well and truly shot down.

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