Miller strikes to steal thunder from Preston's nippy Nugent

Preston North End 1 Ipswich Town 1
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The Independent Football

Tommy Miller ground out a precious, but scarcely-deserved Championship point for leaders Ipswich to deny upwardly mobile Preston their eighth victory in 10 matches at Deepdale last night.

Tommy Miller ground out a precious, but scarcely-deserved Championship point for leaders Ipswich to deny upwardly mobile Preston their eighth victory in 10 matches at Deepdale last night.

David Nugent, making his first start Preston since completing a £100,000 move from Bury, gave fourth-placed Preston an interval lead, but Miller struck in the final quarter to extend Ipswich's lead at the summit to six points.

With seven wins and two draws from their previous nine League matches, North End dominated from the outset and their first-half display enhanced their reputation.

However, Preston manager Billy Davies had been dealt a blow prior to kick-off with goalkeeper Andy Lonergan ruled out for at least six months after damaging knee ligaments in a training ground accident. Gavin Ward replaced Lonergan, while Paul McKenna, Callum Davidson and Nugent came in for suspended winger Eddie Lewis and dropped pair Dickson Etuhu and Patrick Agyemang respectively.

James Scowcroft was handed a second debut for the club - replacing injured 15-goal top-scorer Shefki Kuqi in attack - after he rejoined from Leicester on loan earlier in the week.

Nugent's strike partner Richard Cresswell sent a header wide before hooking a shot over after Ipswich failed to clear a corner.

Ipswich remained a threat and Fabian Wilnis' deflected cross almost caught Ward out when it bounced viciously in front of him.

The opening goal came when Brian O'Neil delivered a piercing through ball which sent Nugent scampering away. The youngster showed tremendous speed and outstanding poise to sweep the ball home left-footed past Kelvin Davis from inside the area.

Nugent almost notched a second after combining superbly with Cresswell, but Davis produced a brilliant save to keep out his curling effort

Ipswich equalised when Darren Bent, who had seen precious little of the ball all evening, played Miller in and although Ward blocked his first effort, the Ipswich midfielder followed up to fire the ball home.

Ward was then carried off after a nasty collision with Ian Westlake and his replacement, Chris Neal, saved well from Bent with his first touch before Matt Hill went close for Preston.

Preston North End: Ward (Neal, 83); Alexander, Lucketti, Mawene, Davidson (Etuhu, 75), Sedgwick, O'Neil, McKenna, Hill, Nugent (Agyemang, 75), Cresswell. Substitutes not used: Davis, Smith.

Ipswich Town: Davis; Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Unsworth, Currie (Magilton, 45), Miller, Westlake, Horlock (Bowditch, 45), Bent, Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Richards, Karbassiyoon,Price.

Referee: M Messias (S Yorkshire).

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