Royle's tribute to striker

IF a team is judged by the strength of its bench then Ipswich Town were always going to beat Preston North End.The quality of the home substitutes was not matched by the opposition.

By Dave Allard

IF a team is judged by the strength of its bench then Ipswich Town were always going to beat Preston North End.

The quality of the home substitutes was not matched by the opposition.

"It must have been Craig Brown's worst nightmare to see a player with the pace of Darren Bent come on when his men were getting tired," said Town manager Joe Royle.

"I have high hopes for both the Darrens, and it is nice when substitutions work.

"They are a joy to work with and don't like leaving the training ground. They have a thirst to learn as much as they can.

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"Darren Bent scored two good goals, assisted by Darren Ambrose and the second was harder than the four he missed the

previous week at Burnley.

"That happens and as long as he gets into scoring positions, Darren Bent is doing well."

Royle gave an honest appraisal of the 90 minutes after Town's 3-0 win extended their unbeaten run to nine games.

"We have played better and lost," he said.

"The result was everything and we scored three quality goals. This takes us beyond the 40-point barrier, which has been a long time coming.

"We have left the bottom of the table and are now two points off the play-offs. The table is very tight with few points between a host of sides, but we are going well.

"Apart from one skirmish at the start of the second half, we were in no trouble and it was a good time to play Preston. You have to feel for them in their current

situation.

"Jim Magilton was very influential again and he is important to us and it was a plus when he passed a lunchtime fitness test."

Brown, the former Scotland manager now in charge of Preston, did not admit it, but he is beginning to feel the pressure.

His moan about six 'criminal' refereeing decisions that lost his side points earlier in the season smacked of sour grapes.

However, there is no denying he had to field a weakened side with inexperienced youngsters on his bench.

"Seven or eight players who would have started today were either injured or

suspended," he said. "I had to play

youngsters and they will benefit."

Preston have now lost their last five league games, but Brown insisted: "I am confident I can stop this run. We will come through and stabilise.

"I am not saying that we will make the play-offs, but we will keep away from the foot of the table.

"The scoreline flattered Ipswich although they just about shaded the game, and probably deserved to win.

"If we had scored just after the interval it could have made all the difference.

"The first goal came from a 50-50

challenge that went Ipswich's way for a free-kick and having seen the video the

second goal was handball.

"All credit to Ipswich. They got us at the right time and enjoyed the breaks in the game, but they are a good side."

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