Preston North End 3-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 3rd Feb 2024 16:02
Former Town frontman Will Keane has netted twice and George Edmundson has scored an own goal to give Preston North End a 3-0 half-time lead over the Blues at half-time at Deepdale.
New striker Kieffer Moore and Ali Al-Hamadi were named on the bench as manager Kieran McKenna made two changes from the last league game, the 1-1 draw away to leaders Leicester.
Skipper Sam Morsy returned in midfield following his suspension with Lewis Travis dropping to the subs, while Jeremy Sarmiento was handed his full league debut with Marcus Harness also on the bench, alongside Moore, Al-Hamadi and Nathan Broadhead.
Preston made one change from their 1-1 draw at Millwall last time out with skipper Alan Browne returning to the starting line-up for Ryan Ledson, who was among the subs.
Former Blues striker Keane started and ex-Town keeper Dai Cornell was on the bench.
The home side created the first chance just over a minute after the game got under way, Town, wearing their orange away kit, looking to have been caught cold as Liam Millar was found on the left of the box but fortunately the Canadian international screwed his volleyed shot well wide.
But in the fifth minute, the Lilywhites were in front. Town were closed down as they sought to play out from the back and the ball fell loose to Keane in space 25 yards out after Morsy had looked to clear. The former Blues striker took it forward and struck a shot which caught Edmundson, wrong-footed Vaclav Hladky and beat the Czech keeper to his right.
Three minutes later, it was 2-0. Emil Riis was played in on goal by a defence-splitting Keane pass, took it on into the area and Edmundson inadvertently stabbed past Hladky as he looked to take it away from the Preston striker. Video evidence suggested Riis was offside when the pass was played.
Having had a nightmare start, the Blues set about getting themselves back in the game but made little progress against a determined Preston side with their tails up.
On 23, Millar ran from deep - with Town having failed to track runners on a number of occasions - and wafted over a cross from the left which was just too far in front of his teammates.
A minute later, Millar cut in from the left and hit a shot which deflected wide off Luke Woolfenden. Harry Clarke complained to referee Graham Scott that he’d been fouled but to no avail.
Town had a spell where they began to put passes together as the half moved into its final 10 minutes but without threatening and Preston quickly got on top with a third home goal looking more likely than the Blues pulling one back. On 37, Hladky was forced to palm away a dangerous cross from the right.
And on 39, it was 3-0 after Town were again undone passing it out from the back. Woolfenden played it to Hladky, who passed forward to Morsy just inside the box but Mads Frokjaer behind him forced the ball away from the Town skipper, who slid in to tackle as it reached Riis, but it ran to Keane, who stroked his second of the game into the empty net.
The shellshocked Blues, who had only found themselves 3-0 behind once before in the league this season, at Leeds just before Christmas, looked to find a foothold in the game. On 42 a free-kick was played short to Burns, but his low strike was blocked.
Play very quickly returned to the other end and Millar, who had caused Town problems down the left all half, crossed and Brad Potts hit a low cross-shot off Leif Davis and out for a corner, following which Woolfenden turned another effort from a low angle wide.
Town managed their first serious shot of the half with the half already deep in four minutes of injury time, but Clarke’s stabbed effort from the right of the area flew well beyond home keeper Freddie Woodman’s right post.
Earlier in the move, Burns had found himself in space just outside the box but opted to look for Jackson rather than shooting with his pass running behind the striker before Conor Chaplin picked it up.
There were boos from the Town support at the whistle after perhaps the most frustrating 45 minutes of the Championship season so far.
The Blues were slow out of the blocks and might have conceded within the first 70 seconds and were still trying to find their feet when Preston did go ahead in the fifth minute as Town’s usually controlled passing out from the back let them down.
The second goal had more than a hint of offside about it but with Town still trying to get going, then the third goal was much the same as the first with Preston continuing to press the Blues in their final third and cause errors.
Town have been the comeback kings so far this season but it will take an effort beyond anything they’ve achieved so far to get anything out of this. Changes, including the introduction of new recruit Moore, seem certain ahead of the second half.
PNE: Woodman, Whiteman, Lindsay, Keane, Browne (c), Frokjaer, Storey, Hughes, Riis, Millar, Potts. Subs: Cornell, Cunningham, Brady, McCann, Ledson, Woodburn, Mawene, Whatmough, Osmajic.
Town: Hladky, Clarke, Woolfenden, Edmundson, Davis, Morsy (c), Luongo, Burns, Chaplin, Sarmiento, Jackson. Subs: Walton, Tuanzebe, Travis, Humphreys, Harness, Hutchinson, Broadhead, Al-Hamadi, Moore. Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
Photo: Matchday Images
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