PNE 2 v Ipswich 2 - April 26, 2008

PNE v Ipswich Deepdale 26 April 2008 Neil Mellor scores
PNE v Ipswich Deepdale 26 April 2008 Neil Mellor scores
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Ipswich Town staged a late fightback to deny PNE victory at Deepdale.

Jonathan Walters’ late equaliser kept alive Ipswich’s hopes of finishing in a play-off place.

PNE v Ipswich Deepdale 26 April 2008 Chris Brown acrobatics

PNE v Ipswich Deepdale 26 April 2008 Chris Brown acrobatics

Ex-PNE man Tommy Miller continued to be a thorn in North End’s side as he bagged his ninth goal against the club and put Ipswich ahead with a fine 25-yard strike in the 11th minute.

Chris Brown equalised in the 34th minute as his long range deflected strike flew past Town shot-stopper Stephen Bywater.

Mellor looked to have sealed victory for North End as he directed Simon 
Whaley’s cross home in the 79th minute.

But Walters had the last word, firing home with three minutes to go to bag a 2-2 draw.

Neal Trotman made his full PNE debut and was straight in the action as he flicked a header just wide in the second minute.

In the 11th minute Danny Haynes teed up Alan Quinn at the far post but PNE keeper Andy Lonergan was on hand to push the ball away.

But Ipswich took the lead from the subsequent corner.

The ball was cleared to Miller 25 yards out and the former North End loanee sent a low shot fizzing through a crowd of players and into the back of the net.

The visitors nearly made it two in the 14th minute when Michael Hart was close to diverting Walters’ cross into his own goal. Brown’s tame effort flew straight at Bywater but the Lilywhites nearly levelled in the 31st minute when Brown’s back-heeled effort fell to Mellor. Bywater made an instinctive reaction save to deny the striker from close range. The loose ball ran to Chris Sedgwick, but his shot was diverted wide of the post by David Wright.

Town were lucky to escape but North End finally rippled the back of the net three minutes later.

Brown was found in space by a long ball from defence and his 25-yard strike took a deflection and wrong-footed Bywater.

PNE were in control and should have gone ahead in the 39th minute when Brown missed a golden opportunity. The unmarked striker headed the ball way over the bar from just six yards out.

Pablo Couñago nearly put Town ahead three minutes into the second half as Owen Garvan’s intelligent pass teed him up one-on-one with Lonergan. Couñago beat the advancing keeper but his strike struck the inside of the post, skimmed along the line but thankfully for North End it dribbled out wide past the other post.

Couñago had the ball in the net in the 59th minute but was ruled offside.

Mellor’s shot was easily saved by Bywater and David Wright came within inches of scoring Town’s second of the game, the full-back just failing to get enough on substitute Alan Lee’s cross from the right to divert it into the net.

At the other end, Mellor had another chance but he fired wide from 18 yards out.

But in the 79th minute the front-man finally hit the back of the net.

Substitute Whaley crossed from the left, Town failed to clear and Mellor lashed the loose ball into the top corner of the net.

Town staged a late assault on North End’s goal. Lee fired over in the 84th minute and then three minutes later Walters grabbed the equaliser. He was played through on goal by Garvan and calmly slotted the ball past Lonergan to take Ipswich’s season to the final day and kept them in the hunt for a play-off spot.

But PNE boss Alan Irvine was disappointed North End let victory slip away.

He said after the match: “I’m disappointed we didn’t see the game off.

“We would have been really up near the top of the table had the season started in January. It makes you feel good going into next season.

“But it doesn’t give you any guarantees. There’s a lot of hard work to be done during the summer.”