Preston North End edge Ipswich Town in five goal thriller as Kieffer Moore scare survived

Will Keane of Preston North End celebrates Will Keane of Preston North End celebrates
Will Keane of Preston North End celebrates | Getty Images
PNE led 3-0 at half time but substitute Kieffer Moore came off the bench to score twice for Town

North End were on home soil for the first time in three weeks - and with almost four thousand away fans making the long trip over from East Anglia, the scene was well set on a sunny afternoon in Lancashire. If the Lilywhites needed any added motivation to start on the front foot, Ipswich's all orange strip ought to have given them it. Club captain Alan Browne was back in the side and geeing his team mates up ahead of kick off, after a presentation to mark his 400th appearance for the club last weekend. Back in October, Preston were edged in the six goal clash at Portman Road and the expectation was that Ipswich would, again, attack right from the off.

There was a potent feel to PNE's team too, though, with Will Keane, Emil Riis, Mads Frokjaer and Liam Millar all retaining their places in the side. And indeed, it was the former Tractor Boy who gave the home side lift off after just five minutes, as Keane ignored strike partner Riis and took aim from distance. The Dane may have been stood in disbelief at that decision, but he was wheeling away with Keane seconds later - as the number seven's strike took a wicked deflection and nestled in the bottom left corner. An ideal start for North End, but things were to get even better three minutes later - with Keane turning provider.

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The explosion of Emil had been dearly missed in his year on the sidelines. Riis has devastating pace and power which PNE can utilise in behind - and the hosts did just that, as Keane sent the number 19 through on goal and exploited Ipswich's high line. Riis will have dreamed of such a moment during the lonely days training solo. His first goal of the season looked imminent, but as his eyes lit up and he prepared to pull the trigger, the finish was taken care of by the retreating George Edmundson. Ipswich's centre-half was hurtling back and it was he who applied the finishing touch - firing the ball into his own net, past the helpless Vaclav Hladky.

When North End are at their best they are extremely intense as a unit - aggressive in the duels, first to the ball and attacking at speed, in numbers. While there were slices of fortune about both of Preston's goals, they had been the better side and earned their luck. Limiting a side of Ipswich's quality to, pretty much, no first half opportunities will have been a major positive for Lowe. If the Tractor Boys were rocked at two-nil, they were left shell-shocked on 39 minutes - as PNE robbed the ball back in the final third and Keane pounced for his 11th goal of the season. A sensational first half display, which even the most optimistic supporter had surely not expected.

While his team had taken Ipswich to the cleaners, Lowe's message at the interval must've been easy: that the game was not done and dusted for one second. Ipswich have scored goals for fun all season long and the away side had to throw the kitchen sink at Preston in the second half, to stand any chance of coming back from the dead. Deadline day recruit Kieffer Moore was sent on at half time and his imposing presence caused PNE some problems immediately. Ipswich packed out Preston's box in the opening exchanges of the second half; it was a storm North End had to weather. And that little bit of luck was on their side once again, when Leif Davis whipped his free kick around the wall and saw the ball crash back off the post.

Both sides were going toe-to-toe and the travelling Ipswich fans had not given up hope. They may well have done, though, had a big call from referee Graham Scott gone PNE's way mid-way through the half. Hladky dawdled on the ball in his own six yard box and was robbed of possession by Frokjaer, who looked to have a tap in - only for the Town shot stopper to bundle the ball away from the Dane. With the ball having been passed back to Hladky there were understandable, major appeals for handball. Ipswich may have felt luck had eluded them up until that point. And few minutes later, they found a way through as Moore headed home at the back post.

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With 15 minutes to go, a nail biting finish was suddenly on the cards. Lowe turned to his bench and North End looked to be managing the game effectively and professionally. There has been far too much late, unwanted drama for Preston's liking this season and the closing stages were made uncomfortable again - when Ipswich kept the ball alive in the box and Moore eventually slotted home his second in the 87th minute.

Ipswich, all of a sudden, had set up camp in North End's half and the sea of orange shirts could sense the opportunity to strike again. The monstrous Moore did call Woodman into action as the game entered injury time - but his effort was held. The referee's eventual full time whistle was met with a sigh of Deepdale relief, but also celebration of a hard earned and perhaps pleasantly surprising, three points. The first of February's five games looked to be Preston's toughest and Lowe - once his heart rate has come back down to normal - will be more than content with his team's start to a crucial month.

Attendance: 17,313 (3,435 away) PNE starting XI: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Potts, Whiteman, Browne (c), Millar, Frokjaer (McCann 70'), Keane (Woodburn 90+'), Riis (Osmajic 70') PNE unused subs: Cornell, Cunningham, Whatmough, Ledson, Mawene.

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