Town deliver little after promising much

Ipswich Town 1 Preston 2AFTER promising so much in rehearsal, the Blues delivered so little when it mattered.They did show they can still as they did so liberally during the warm-up games and Kevin Lisbie proved his pre-season form was no flash in the pan with a debut goal coming inside two minutes.

Derek Davis

Ipswich Town 1 Preston 2

AFTER promising so much in rehearsal, the Blues delivered so little when it mattered.

They did show they can still as they did so liberally during the warm-up games and Kevin Lisbie proved his pre-season form was no flash in the pan with a debut goal coming inside two minutes.


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But the warning given by Premier League side West Ham was not heeded and the defence that yielded five last Monday were again cruelly exposed, only this time by a pretty average Preston side.

Against West Ham it was a steep learning curve with nothing at stake against Preston it was an expensive lesson that shattered the illusion of Fortress Portman Road built up so painstakingly last season when only Watford were able to beat the Blues.

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Leaving out Alex Bruce proved to be a costly decision, whether it was purely a footballing decision only the manager will know but murmurings of dressing room discontent will hardly help matters.

The sooner Ben Thatcher and Ivan Campo are signed the better as a porous defence will prove costly, as it did last year.

Only David Wright looked totally comfortable in the back four and there was little evidence that Richard Wright's using his experience and ability to marshall the defensive line.

While skipper Gareth McAuley looked capable in the air, he lacked the commanding presence associated with the retired Jason de Vos.

Tommy Smith has undoubted ability and as the game wore on he grew but by then the damage had been done. He was not helped by playing alongside another rookie in Pim Balkestein, a centre half playing out of position at left back.

The Dutchman was caught out in the middle of the park as Preston countered, with Barry Nicholson also getting the better of an exposed Alan Quinn.

The ball was moved swiftly to their left flank and Chris Sedgwick was forced to come inside but had time to lay the ball into acres of space vacated my the midfield and with no one closing down Paul McKenna was able to move on to the ball and strike it superbly into a top corner.

As hypnotic as the goal was, it was preventable. Perhaps not as preventable as the second Preston goal that McKenna set up with a spellbinding piece of quick-thinking.

After Balkestein had committed a foul he moved away and turned his back, allowing the Lilywhites' skipper to quickly slip a pass behind him for Billy Jones to run on to and cross at a perfect height for Simon Whaley to get away from his marker and knock in from six yards.

How Magilton must be wishing for a left back of the calibre of a Mauricio Taricco or a Jamie Clapham, both of whom were sat in the directors' box, or even Mick Mills who was in the press box.

It was such a shame too after Town had got off to the perfect start.

Danny Haynes pounced on a Preston mistake and lofted a ball from the edge of the area over the defence for Lisbie to nod over a stranded Andy Lonergan.

And for the next quarter of an hour Town threatened to extend their lead with some fine play but Pablo Counago, way below his best, failed to finish after playing a neat one-two with Lisbie, with the best chance.

Preston went two up front with Whaley joining Mellor and that's when Town's defence were put under pressure.

Whaley hit a long range shot just over, while Mellor forced Wright to get down smartly and save.

Lisbie lashed a couple of efforts wide and almost forced an own goal right on stroke of half-time but Lonergan pawed a ball that rebounded off Nicholson's shins.

Town started the second half brightly with Counago letting fly but his 25-yarder went over bar, while Garvan hit across goal and wide with another shot easy for Lonergan to get down to.

Preston seemed content to absorb the pressure and Lonergan was never seriously tested.

Tommy Miller might have been able to keep up his remarkable scoring record against Preston, and his 100 per cent penalty tally but referee Paul Taylor waved away a last minute penalty appeal by Lisbie who went down under a challenge from Sean St Ledger which both felt should have been awarded.

So, a poor opening day, and Town will look to put things right at home against Leyton orient in the Carling Cup and also hope to reverse the trend of poor away results when they go to Burnley on Saturday.

It's not a great start but there were some bright spots, potential signings on the way and there is still 135 points to play for.

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