Kieffer Moore scores twice on Ipswich Town debut but Preston North End hold out for 3-2 victory at Deepdale
Kieffer Moore’s two debut goals were not enough to prevent Ipswich Town from dropping to fourth in the Sky Bet Championship following a 3-2 defeat to Preston North End at Deepdale.
Former Town striker Will Keane scored twice in a disastrous first half for the Blues that saw them trail 3-0 at half-time before Moore’s introduction offered some hope.
But defeat means the Blues have won just one of their last eight league matches to leave them two points outside the automatic promotion places following Southampton’s 2-0 victory at Rotherham United.
Town boss Kieran McKenna reverted back to a similar side that played the last league game at Leicester City, making two changes with captain Sam Morsy returning from suspension and Jeremy Sarmiento making his full league debut.
Lewis Travis and Marcus Harness dropped to the bench, while new signings Ali Al-Hamadi and Moore both featured among the substitutes.
The injured Jack Taylor, along with Dominic Ball and Sone Aluko, dropped out of the match-day squad.
As for Preston, manager Ryan Lowe’s only change from the Lilywhites’ draw at Millwall last weekend came in midfield, with skipper Alan Browne replacing Ryan Ledson.
The hosts had the first sight of goal after just one minute, when Liam Millar met Mads Frokjaer’s pass but slashed his volley wide.
Preston then took an early lead a few minutes later. Keane’s effort from 25 yards took a heavy deflection off George Edmundson, wrong-footing Vaclav Hladky and finding the opposite corner.
Then, instead of an instant response, the Blues and Edmundson’s afternoon got worse as the hosts struck again after just eight minutes.
This time, Keane turned provider as Emil Riis evaded a tight offside trap to be played through on goal. From there, just as the Dane looked destined to slot home, Edmundson lunged in and turned the ball into his own net.
That took the Suffolk side’s tally of goals conceded in the opening 15 minutes to 12, the most in the Championship.
Town looked to settle after their disastrous start but struggled to find the final ball as Preston continued to look the more dangerous when they ventured forwards.
Midway through the half, Millar saw a strike blocked off Luke Woolfenden after dispossessing Harry Clarke, who was adamant he was fouled as the Blues became increasingly frustrated by experienced referee Graham Scott.
While clear-cut chances were few and far between, Town had offered very little and Preston were looking the more likely to score the third goal.
That goal came through Keane again on 39 minutes as the Blues were caught playing out. Morsy, having received the ball by Hladky, lost the ball on the edge of his penalty area and the Lilywhites’ top scorer was on hand to finish.
Preston’s dominance did not stop there though. Millar, who was having plenty of joy down the hosts’ left, crossed to the back post where Brad Potts’ effort deflected behind.
In stoppage time, Sarmiento’s ball fortuitously landed at the feet of Clarke, but the Blues full-back flashed wide of the post before the referee brought to a close a half to forget for Ipswich.
McKenna made a rare half-time change to bring on deadline day signing Moore for Kayden Jackson up front.
Town immediately looked better in the opening minutes of the half, Moore already causing problems against goalkeeper Freddie Woodman before Sarmiento and Conor Chaplin had shots blocked.
The Blues were inches away from a goal back when Leif Davis struck the post from a free kick just outside the penalty area. Preston managed to clear the resulting danger moments before Moore headed wide.
On the hour mark, Woodman was tested for the first time when Sarmiento curled a strike at the goalkeeper from outside the area.
The Blues, looking to utilise their aerial presence, saw two headers go wide. First, Moore met Davis’ looped delivery, then Sarmiento’s corner was attacked by Clarke.
A quick switch from Wes Burns allowed Luongo to fend off Liam Lindsay and Potts to strike at goal, but his ambitious effort was dragged wide.
As the game entered the final quarter, the Blues swapped Sarmiento and Chaplin for Nathan Broadhead and Omari Hutchinson.
Hladky was fortunate to escape punishment for a backpass after miss-controlling the ball facing his own net. The Czech scrambled to claw away the danger with the hosts furious nothing was given.
With 15 minutes to go, Town’s most likely route to goal was rewarded. Broadhead laid off to Davis, who chipped a high ball towards the back post where Moore was on hand to head home in trademark fashion.
Almost instantly, Burns met another Davis ball into the box but headed straight at home keeper Woodman.
The Blues then made their final two changes, introducing Al-Hamadi for his Town debut and Harness for Burns and Luongo.
With Town pushing for a route back into the contest, Preston went close to a fourth goal when Lindsay headed at Hladky and Milutin Osmajic found the side-netting on the break.
On 87 minutes, the Blues struck again to set up a grandstand finish. Davis headed back across goal and, after Al-Hamadi and Moore both had pokes saved, the Bournemouth loanee slammed home his second goal of the afternoon.
Moore was close to writing the perfect script in the second minute of injury time, but his header from Hutchinson’s deep cross was kept out by Woodman to prevent the striker a memorable hat-trick.
The Blues pushed incredibly hard for a leveller but gave themselves too much to do and fell to their fourth league defeat of the season.
Town return to Portman Road next Saturday for the televised visit of West Bromwich Albion (12.30pm).
Preston North End (3-5-2): Woodman; Hughes, Lindsay, Storey; Millar (Brady 78), Browne (c), Whiteman, Frokjaer (McCann 70), Potts; Riis (Osmajic 70), Keane (Woodburn 90). Subs: Cornell, Cunningham, Ledson, Whatmough, Mawene.
Ipswich Town (4-2-3-1): Hladky; Davis, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Clarke; Luongo (Harness 81), Morsy (c); Sarmiento (Broadhead 67), Chaplin (Hutchinson 67), Burns (Al-Hamadi 81); Jackson (Moore 46). Subs: Walton, Travis, Humphreys, Tuanzebe.
Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire).
Attendance: 17,313 (3,435 Ipswich).
SuffolkNews Man of the Match: Kieffer Moore.No question about this one as 45 minutes was all the Welshman needed to show what impact he can have on this team. Caused a nuisance in the Preston box and led to him scoring twice on his second debut for the club. Unfortunately, it proved too little after the first half.