Memory Match: Nugent's happy hunting ground

Every time former Preston striker David Nugent walks off the pitch at Portman Road after the final whistle, you can imagine him humming a popular football chant under his breath.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 6:45 pm
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 8:59 pm
David Nugent celebrates scoring the first goal of Preston's amazing comeback at Portman Road.

The ironic and melodic “Can we play you every week?” is often heard around English football grounds every Saturday afternoon.

And the chant carries particular resonance for former Deepdale old boy Nugent, who just loves to come face to face with Ipswich Town.

He has scored 15 goals in 15 appearances against the Tractor Boys during his career – and amazingly has never failed to find the back of the net when he has played at Portman Road.

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Such is the current Middlesbrough forward’s liking for showcasing his talents in Suffolk, perhaps the chant ‘Can I play here every week’ would be more apt.

Nugent’s remarkable goalscoring record against Ipswich first began while wearing the Lilywhite shirt of North End.

After joining the club from Bury in the early part of 2005, he opened the scoring in a 1-1 draw against Ipswich at Deepdale in only his sixth appearance for PNE.

He went on to score four times against the Tractor Boys the following season – including two in a famous 4-0 away victory.

Former Evening Post chief footballer writer Brian Ellis said: “It was uncanny how Nuge just loved playing against Ipswich Town and playing on Portman Road. “I remember writing a piece while he was still with Preston about this remarkable goalscoring record.

“Some players just seem to love playing against a particular club or on a particular ground and for Nugent that was Ipswich and Portman Road.

“I even recall him scoring there for England Under-21s against Moldova in 2006.”

In total, he bagged six goals in five appearances against Ipswich during his time at PNE and has notched 10 times in eight visits over the course of his career, which has also included spells with Portsmouth, Leicester and Boro.

Arguably, the most thrilling game Nugent has been part of at Portman Road came in Octover 2006 when he kick-started a spectacular comeback victory for North End.

Trailing 2-0 at half-time courtesy of a penalty from ex-North Ender Jon Macken and a header by Alan Lee, the visitors stormed back after the break to win 3-2 and take all three points.

Nugent volleyed home eight minutes into the second half and it was 2-2 three minutes later when Liam Chilvers headed home Graham Alexander’s free-kick.

It was Simon Whaley who struck the winner – a fierce 20-yard effort – which arrowed into the top corner.

“I remember that game well,” said Ellis.

“Ipswich were looking good 2-0 up at half-time, but Nuge got us back into it.

“Simon Whaley got the winner with a cracking shot, which is what he could do.

“He was a very enigmatic player, who could go missing for large parts of games but then, out of nothing, would do something like that.

“He was, of course, a big mate of Nuge’s as well – they were very mischievious together.”