Nugent has the same blend of cockiness and talent as the former Millwall and Manchester United winger Gordon Hill - a similarity that was remarked upon by Preston's manager, Billy Davies, who admitted that he had to speak to the striker after he baited the crowd with an ironic bow after his opener. "It was just stupid, to be honest," Davies said. "He's full of fun but he's got a lot to learn."
Nugent was booked, and regularly booed, after felling the Ipswich defender Luis Castro Sito in the 15th minute and trying to haul him to his feet by his collar. But he showed the other side of his game in putting Preston 2-0 up with two goals in the space of three minutes. Freed for a run on goal just after the half-hour by a perfectly timed pass from David Jones, the 20-year-old midfielder on a season's loan from Manchester United, Nugent beat the oncoming goalkeeper with a dismissive flick of of his right boot. The celebration angered a number of fans, and it appeared as if a bottle arrived on the pitch, although nothing was mentioned in the referee's report.
After 33 minutes, an Ipswich defence in which the 18-year-old Aidan Collins was an unhappy deputy for Richard Naylor, who had been sent off in the 2-1 win at Millwall, allowed Nugent to shimmy through its ranks again before scoring with a low cross-shot.
When Jones claimed his first goal in senior football just before half-time after a smart one-two with Daniel Dichio on the edge of the box, the ground was reduced to virtual silence, and when the substitute Patrick Agyemang sauntered through for number four with five minutes left, the atmosphere was mournful.
Davies has complained this season about losing two key players, Richard Cresswell and Eddie Lewis, and is now keeping his fingers crossed that no one comes in for Nugent before the transfer window closes.
But Royle noted grimly that Ipswich had lost six of their team from last season, and had arrived for this match without Naylor's fellow defender, Jason De Vos, and the forward Nicky Forster. The signing of the Blackburn defender James McEveley on loan was a lone spark in his darkness.
Ipswich Town (4-5-1): Price; Castro, Collins, Wilnis, Richards; Currie, Garvan (Peters, 51), Horlock (McDonald, 39), Magilton (Juan, 51), Westlake; Parkin. Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Bowditch.
Preston North End (3-5-2): Nash; Alexander, Lucketti, Davis; Mears, McKenna, O'Neil, Jones (Etuhu, 56), Hill; Dichio (Agyemang, 82), Nugent (Sedgwick, 74). Substitutes not used: Neal (gk), Nowland.
Referee: B Curson (Leicestershire).Reuse content