Ipswich 1-0 PNE

Grant Ward's early goal was enough to inflict a fourth defeat in their opening five Championship games on Preston North End.

Saturday, 27th August 2016, 4:11 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th August 2016, 6:16 pm
Grant Ward celebrates scoring what turned out to be the winner.

The winger pounced to fire home a half-cleared free-kick beyond Anders Lindegaard on the quarter hour as Ipswich entered the international break on a high.

In a game where clear-cut chances were few and far between, Callum Robinson produced North End’s best bit of play just before the interval, bringing a sharp save from Bartosz Bialkowski.

But Simon Grayson’s men didn’t apply the necessary pressure after the break to take a point back north.

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The PNE boss had reverted back to the side that served him so well at Queens Park Rangers seven days earlier.

Six changes from the EFL Cup win at Oldham meant returns for Anders Lindegaard, Bailey Wright, Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson, Jermaine Beckford and Robinson.

The first opening of the game went to the hosts but after Brett Pitman had broken in behind Wright was in the right place at the right time to block his pull back and prevent Kevin Bru from having a glorious chance inside the six-yard box.

PNE soon grew into the game but after a couple of decent moves came to nothing they lost Beckford to injury, the striker failing to recover from an earlier head clash.

Substitute Jordan Hugill was straight into the action but he could only head Bru’s free-kick into the path of Ward on the edge of the area, the former Tottenham youngster firing a shot past an unmoved and unsighted Anders Lindegaard on the half-volley.

It was nearly 2-0 midway through the half. Pitman found Freddie Sears with a fine pass, the wide man jinking past Tom Clarke before being denied by an excellent Lindegaard stop from 15 yards.

PNE’s first real attempt in anger came on 29 minutes. Robinson took in Chris Humphrey’s crossfield pass and drove in from the left, beating a couple of challenges before a stinging right-foot shot was helped over the bar by Bialkowski.

The former Aston VIlla youngster came close again two minutes before the interval but after Hugill had nodded down Daniel Johnson’s cross his shot was tame and easily held by Bialkowski.

Having finished the first half as the stronger of the two sides North End were nearly further behind in the early stages of the second period but Lindegaard did well to get down and grab the ball off the toes of Sears as he tried to latch onto a Pitman pass.

Grayson made his first significant move 10 minutes into the second half as Eoin Doyle replaced Tommy Spurr, PNE shifting to four at the back.

In what continued to be an even game, Humphrey had an excellent opening for PNE on the hour but after gliding into the area his left-footed shot from 12 yards was blocked.

But a scrappy second half was low on chances, Doyle nearly getting on the end of a Humphrey long throw 12 minutes from time.

Ward then had a chance to seal the victory on 82 minutes but could only slice horribly wide after good work from Jonas Knudsen.

The former Rotherham loanee was then denied in on goal by Lindegaard in stoppage time after a comedy of errors in the PNE defence had allowed him to break in behind.

In reality North End rarely looked like finding an equaliser, Liam Grimshaw’s shot that went a couple of yards wide late on being the closest they came.

Ipswich Town: Bialkowski, Chambers (capt), Smith, Beer, Knudsen, Skuse, Douglas, Bru (Bishop 75), Ward (Webster 90), Sears, Pitman (Varney 82). Subs not used: Gerken, Digby, Dozzell, Kenlock.

Booked: Skuse

Preston North End: Lindegaard, Clarke (capt), Wright, Cunningham, Humphrey, Welsh, Johnson (Grimshaw 75), Gallagher, Spurr (Doyle 55), Robinson, Beckford (Hugill 14). Subs not used: Maxwell, Browne, Makienok, Huntington.

Booked: Spurr

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 15,296 (297 away)