Cup display a bonus for PNE’s Lee Holmes

Get in!: Lee Holmes can't hide his delight as he watches Kevin Davies fire home his perfectly-weighted pass against Ipswich in the FA Cup third round at Portman Road
Get in!: Lee Holmes can't hide his delight as he watches Kevin Davies fire home his perfectly-weighted pass against Ipswich in the FA Cup third round at Portman Road
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Lee Holmes felt that Preston North End gave a good account of themselves in their FA Cup clash at Ipswich and were somewhat unlucky to be facing a replay.

North End looked the better side against their Championship hosts at Portman Road and with a bit better finishing could have booked a fourth round slot.

Ipswich took the lead against the run of play, Paul Huntington’s handball gifting them a penalty.

Declan Rudd dived to parry David McGoldrick’s spot-kick but the striker followed-up to net the rebound.

North End were level within four minutes, Holmes’ through ball slicing open the Tractor Boys’ defence for Kevin Davies to tuck home a calm finish.

The sides replay at Deepdale a week tomorrow for the right to face Nottingham Forest away in the fourth round.

Midfielder Holmes said: “A draw away at a Championship club is a decent result.

“But maybe we were a little bit disappointed because we gave a good account of ourselves and were the better side.

“In the first half we had a good go and created some really good chances.

“Ipswich’s penalty was sloppy from our point of view – Hunts says he got a bit of a shove – but we quickly equalised and got back into the game.

“After the goal and for the first 20 minutes of the second half we attacked well and put them under a lot of pressure.

“Both teams had some good chances towards the end, it was game-on.

“I think the replay will be close and hard to call.

“We are at home but Ipswich are a very good side and from the division above.

“Maybe they will still start as favourites because of being a Championship club.

“But we are at home and fancy our chances going into any game.”

Holmes was pleased to claim the assist for Davies’ leveller, his pass from the middle of the park unlocking the home defence.

“It was nice to set it up and it was a great finish from Kev,” said Holmes. “He was very calm in the box and tucked it nicely past their keeper.

“During his career Kev has done that a few times so I was not surprised to see it go in.

“He is a good player to have in the side, he scores goals and puts defences under a lot of pressure.

“His work rate is excellent, he works his socks off and is a great lad to have about the place.

“Like everyone in the side, Kev gave a good account of himself against Ipswich.”

Holmes, who returned to the PNE starting XI on New Year’s Day against Port Vale, was in the wars on Saturday.

He took a blow to his left eye and just after the interval and played much of the second half with a bandaged head to protect the cut.

Said Holmes: “I got an elbow in the face and it cut just above my eye.

“I had to get it bandaged up to stop the bleeding and I had two stitches put in afterwards.”

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy admitted that his decision to rest some of his first-team regulars had backfired.

He made seven changes to the Tractor Boys side, although brought on top-scorer David McGoldrick in the opening half hour to replace the injured Slyvan Ebanks-Blake.

McCarthy said: “We were poor, as poor as we have been all season.

“But that was credit to Preston, who you have to congratulate for not letting us play.

“I thought they played well and deserved a replay.

“But I also take responsibility. I picked a team with too many players who had not played enough.

“They were not battle-hardened or match-hardened.

“I wanted to avoid a replay and give players a rest.

“But now we have to travel up to Preston – so that didn’t work, did it?”