|Preston North End 0 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 24th February 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Preston North End 0-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 24th Feb 2018 16:56
Mustapha Carayol’s full debut goal saw Town to a 1-0 victory over Preston North End at Deepdale, only the home side’s second defeat in 18 league games. The Blues might have led by more after the first half, the January signing netting what proved to be the winner on 21, before comfortably seeing out the second half, their match-winner, who had been ill earlier in the week, having been subbed at the break.
Carayol was handed his first Town start having recovered from illness and Joe Garner was passed fit to face his old club following a knee problem as the Blues made five changes from the team which lost 1-0 at home to Cardiff on Wednesday.
Manager Mick McCarthy stuck with his three-man backline of Cameron Carter-Vickers, skipper Luke Chambers and Adam Webster ahead of keeper Bartosz Bialkowski with Dominic Iorfa taking over from Jordan Spence at right wing-back and Jonas Knudsen continuing on the left.
Cole Skuse and Callum Connolly were in their usual central midfield roles with Carayol, who had previously made one sub appearance after joining Town in January, on the left of a front three with Garner - who was back at Deepdale for the first time since leaving the Lilywhites in the summer of 2016 - in the middle and Martyn Waghorn on the right.
Bersant Celina joined Spence, Luke Hyam, Grant Ward and Freddie Sears in dropping to the bench having started on Wednesday.
For Preston, Calum Woods came into the side for the suspended Darnell Fisher, while Paul Gallagher returned to the 18 after injury and John Welsh was back from a ban.
Full debutant Carayol should have put the Blues in front in the eighth minute having been sent away on goal by Waghorn after a Preston corner had been cleared.
The former Forest man broke quickly into the Lilywhites box, cut inside a defender before hitting a shot which keeper Declan Rudd did well to save. The ball looped up, Carayol won it in the air six yards out and it dropped to his feet. He seemed certain to score but somehow stroked the ball the wrong side of the post.
But Preston had most of the ball in the opening minutes and went close to going in front themselves in the 17th minute when Ben Pearson sent a dangerous low ball across the Town six-yard box but no one was able to get a touch.
Preston players claimed Callum Robinson had been pulled back as it came across, while the Blues argued that referee Scott Duncan, who waved away the penalty protests, ought to have awarded a goalkick rather than a corner.
The home side continued to put Town under pressure, winning two further corners from which Alan Browne headed over.
But in the 21st minute the Blues took the lead. Carayol quickly closed down Woods on the Preston right and took the ball off the ponderous full-back and on into the area before slipping it confidently to Rudd’s left before celebrating his debut goal with the small Town following behind the goal.
On the half hour, Carayol almost created Town’s second of the afternoon. The Gambian international left two Preston players for dead down the left before cutting the ball back to Waghorn, whose goal-bound effort was blocked by Lilywhites skipper Greg Cunningham and fell to Rudd.
Browne headed Callum Robinson’s corner over on 31, then four minutes later man of the half Carayol was again involved as Town once more came close to doubling their lead.
The former Middlesbrough and Bristol Rovers man played a clever reverse pass in for Waghorn, who crossed towards Garner at the far post but the former Preston striker was muscled away from the ball, which reached Iorfa, who took a touch and smashed a shot from a tight angle off the bar.
Skuse hit a subsequent effort through to Rudd from the edge of the box, prior to Preston making a double tactical substitution on 38 with Carayol and Waghorn having caused their backline problems throughout. Woods and Robinson made way for Josh Earl and Josh Harrop.
Moments later, Billy Bodin sent over a dangerous corner from the right which bounced across the six-yard box without anyone getting a touch.
Skuse was shown the game’s first yellow card in the 43rd minute for felling Tom Barkhuizen as he broke towards the box.
Harrop’s freekick was blocked and Town broke, Waghorn catching the hesitant Ben Davies in possession just inside the Preston half. As the former Rangers man tried to break away with a free run on goal, Davies hauled him back.
Referee Duncan showed a yellow card - Waghorn and his team-mates evidently felt it ought to have been a red - Davies presumably saved by Pearson quickly retreating back as cover.
That was the last action of an entertaining first half in which Town might well have been even more than a single goal in front.
Carayol should have scored prior to his opener, while Waghorn also went close to breaking his 14-game run of games without a goal and Iorfa was unlucky to strike the bar.
That Preston manager Alex Neil made his double change before the break was a measure of the threat from the Blues going forward, Carayol in particular.
At the other end, the Lilywhites’ biggest threat had come from corners - they had forced nine - sent deep towards the far post, but so far without anyone having been able to find the target.
Match Gallery: 6 photos
Carayol failed to reappear for the second half, presumably due to his recent illness, with Hyam taking his place in the Town side. The midfielder took up a role ahead of Skuse and Connolly but behind front two Waghorn and Garner.
Four minutes after the restart, the Town number 14 was booked for a late tackle on Harrop, much to the delight of his old fans.
Cunningham hit a shot straight at Bartosz Bialkowski on 54, before Iorfa sent over a dangerous ball from the Town right which was nodded behind ahead of Garner.
North End swapped Bodin for Daryl Horgan on 67, then on 70 Garner, who had taken a knock, was replaced by Sears. The ex-Preston striker was warmly applauded off by his old fans.
Preston had rarely threatened since the break but on 71 Earl hit a shot from distance which Bialkowski saved down to his left.
At the other end, Waghorn headed a difficult chance over at the far post from Knudsen’s cross from the left.
As the game moved into its final quarter of an hour, Connolly headed wide at the near post from Waghorn’s freekick on the left after the striker had been fouled by Browne.
Waghorn was booked for throwing the ball away having been flagged offside for umpteenth time during the half.
In injury time, with Preston showing little sign of getting on terms, Spence replaced the Town number nine.
Having been the better side in the first half and deserving more than just the one goal, the Blues saw out a second half of few chances very competently, Preston never seriously looked like levelling, to claim a well won three points and take their unbeaten away run to four games.
The win, Town's sixth away victory of the season, moves the Blues back up to 13th, six points off Bristol City - who play at Cardiff tomorrow - in the final play-off place.
Preston: Rudd, Cunningham (c), Pearson, Browne, Woods (Earl 38), Davies, Moult, Huntington, Barkhuizen, Robinson (Harrop 38), Bodin (Horgan 67). Unused: Maxwell, Spurr, Welsh, Gallagher.
Town: Bialkowski, Carter-Vickers, Chambers (c), Webster, Iorfa, Skuse, Connolly, Knudsen, Waghorn (Spence 90), Garner (Sears 70), Carayol (Hyam 46). Unused: M Crowe, Celina, Ward, Gleeson. Referee: Scott Duncan (Northumberland). Att: 11,511 (Town: 474).
Photo: Action Images
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