Preston North End 4-0 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Friday, 19th Apr 2019 16:57
Callum Robinson and Lukas Nmecha each scored twice as Preston North End beat Town 4-0 at Deepdale, the already-relegated Blues’ heaviest defeat of the season. Robinson netted on six and 22 to give the Lilywhites a comfortable half-time lead and Nmecha sealed the Lancastrians’ comprehensive win with his brace in the second half. The jaded-looking Blues, who never looked like getting anything from the game following a slow start in which Robinson netted the opening goal, went closest to scoring when Kayden Jackson hit the bar in the second half.
Idris El Mizouni was handed his full debut and Corrie Ndaba was named on the senior side’s bench for the first time as manager Paul Lambert made four changes.
The Tunisia U23 international, 18, came into the side on the right of the front three with Jackson starting in place of Collin Quaner, who was left out of the 18. Will Keane was on the bench for the first time since suffering his hamstring injury at Wigan in February.
In midfield, Flynn Downes returned in place of Andre Dozzell, who was a substitute, while at the centre of the defence Toto Nsiala replaced James Collins, who was missing from the squad.
Jon Nolan was back on the bench having overcome his achilles injury, while there were no loanees in the XI but Keane was joined by Trevoh Chalobah and James Bree among the subs.
For Preston, who went into the match having lost their last four, Joe Rafferty was handed his debut with Callum Robinson and Sean Maguire returning to the starting line-up. Ex-Blues keeper Michael Crowe was on the bench.
The home side started the game the brighter, skipper Paul Gallagher hitting an early freekick into a Town wall, then in the third minute Maguire struck a low effort which Bartosz Bialkowski claimed with ease.
However, the Lilywhites only had to wait until the sixth minute before they went in front. Robinson was fed on the edge of the area where he turned Nsiala and smashed a shot to the static Bialkowski’s left as skipper Luke Chambers dived in to block.
Having gone behind the Blues briefly took the game to the home side but without creating an opportunity.
However, in the 13th minute Preston threatened again when Lukas Nmecha was played through on goal, however, Nsiala did well to get back to slide in and divert his shot wide.
North End went close again from the resultant corner, Gallagher’s ball in from the right reaching Ben Davies, whose header beat Bialkowski but struck the post before being hooked away.
Town subsequently began to pass the ball around with more confidence in a game being played between two sides whose seasons are over in virtually a pre-season atmosphere at a warm and sunny Deepdale.
Downes shot over from distance on 18 after a promising El Mizouni ball in from the left had been cut out. Then on 21 Nsiala headed a Judge corner from the left to Declan Rudd in the Preston goal.
But in the 22nd minute the Lilywhites doubled their lead. Rafferty's cross from the right was headed away but only to Robinson on the left of the box from where he took a touch before shooting back across Bialkowski into the top corner of the net for his second goal of the game and his 13th of the season.
On 30 the teams went over to the touchline for a drinks break, adding to the game’s pre-season feel.
Five minutes later, a Chambers a looping header following a Judge corner on the left was cleared away from the line but with the Blues still not looking overly convincing.
A minute later Preston claimed a penalty when Nmecha went down as Chambers challenged but referee Stephen Martin waved away the protests which in the main came from the stands.
Preston had looked a big threat on the break all game with Nmecha getting behind the Blues’ backline on a number of occasions. This the on-loan Manchester City man did again on 37 before hitting his shot from the right of the box straight at Bialkowski, much the busier of the two keepers in the first half.
A minute later, Teddy Bishop hit a deflected shot through to Rudd, then on 43 the academy product turned his man on the edge of the area to the right before curling a shot just wide.
But the home side continued to present the more potent threat and in the final scheduled minute of the half went close again. Bialkowski did superbly to save Robinson’s shot but the ball looped into the air and reached Nmecha but the keeper had got back and was able to block his header as well.
In injury time a Downes shot was deflected over, then from the corner on the left taken by Judge seconds before the whistle Chambers headed goalwards but Rudd did well to palm the ball behind.
Town could hardly complain about the half-time scoreline with Preston having had chances to increase their lead with Nmecha not having made the most of his opportunities and Bialkowski having made his excellent late double save.
The Blues had found themselves behind before they had got going and even though they had had spells in control, had never really looked like getting back into the game.
Double-goalscorer Robinson may well have gone off at the break recalling last season’s corresponding fixture when he was one of two Preston players subbed in the 38th minute after Town, who went on to win the game 1-0, had dominated.
The Blues swapped Emmanuel for James Bree at half-time while Keane also appeared close to being introduced having warmed up with his match shirt underneath his bib.
Maguire flicked a header wide in the opening minute following the restart with the second half continuing in the understated manner of the first.
Preston increased their lead in the 56th minute. Maguire brought the ball forward from deep unchallenged and laid it to Robinson to his left from where he hit a low shot which Bialkowski saved but couldn’t hold and Nmecha rebounded home from close range.
El Mizouni, who will have benefited from further experience of first-team football, was swapped for Keane in the 59th minute.
Two minutes later, the Blues came close to pulling a goal back. Jackson seized on a mix-up between keeper Rudd and a defender as the ball was played through the middle. The striker did well to find himself space but his shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced out, rather summing up the summer signing from Accrington’s season.
Keane’s shot was blocked with Town seeing more of the ball in the Preston half but with a comeback looking unlikely. On 71 Preston switched Gallagher for Louis Moult, prior to the second drinks break of the afternoon, then in the 74th minute Josh Ginelly took over from Maguire.
The game, which had hardly been an enthralling fixture from the outset appeared to be petering out, but in the 75th minute the home side netted their fourth of the afternoon.
A low ball from Robinson on the left found Nmecha coming in at the far post from where the on-loan Manchester City striker slammed the ball past Bialkowski.
Town, behind by four goals for the first time since the Aston Villa defeat a year ago on Monday, withdrew Bishop, who like the rest of the team had had a frustrating afternoon, for Chalobah.
After Kenlock had been booked for an off the ball clash with Ryan Ledson, Preston sub Jayden Stockley forced Bialkowski into another impressive save late on with the home side looking more likely to add to their lead than the Blues were to reduce it in the closing stages.
Referee Martin brought the game to a close after two minutes of injury time with virtually all 428 travelling Blues supporters having stayed in their seats despite another very disappointing afternoon, even if they were unsurprisingly subdued by recent standards.
It was a Town side lacking in intensity from the off, looking like it had had much of its fight knocked out of it by last week’s confirmation of relegation.
After Preston had scored their opening goal in the sixth minute there was never any real doubt which side would go on to win with the Lilywhites showing the sort of clinical finishing that the Blues could have done with this season with the scoreline hardly flattering them.
Town will hope to be a lot better when they host Swansea City at Portman Road on Easter Monday.
Preston: Rudd, Fisher, Davies, Storey, Rafferty, Ledson, Gallagher (c) (Moult 71), Robinson (Stockley 76), Johnson, Maguire (Ginelly 74), Nmecha. Unused: Crowe, Earl, Huntington, O’Reilly.
Town: Bialkowski, Emmanuel (Bree 46), Chambers (c), Nsiala, Kenlock, Skuse, Bishop (Chalobah 76), Downes, El Mizouni (Keane 59), Judge, Jackson. Unused: Gerken, Nolan, Dozzell, Ndaba. Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire). Att: 12,546 (Town: 428).
Photo: Action Images
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