Two David Nugent goals reminded everyone exactly why the young striker is coveted by a string of Premiership clubs, as Preston North End's top scorer emphatically pushed his side back into the top six last night.
The 20-year-old moved into double figures this season with deftly taken second-half strikes, as the hosts came from behind to all but extinguish the play-off ambitions of an Ipswich Town side forced to play with a man light for 80 minutes after Richard Naylor's deserved sending-off.
With his first goals for a month, Nugent cancelled out a first-half effort from Jason De Vos as he steered in a 52nd-minute Chris Sedgwick pass, before nine minutes later expertly guiding home another tempting centre from the same team-mate, for his fifth goal in three appearances against the Suffolk club.
Only an awkward-looking slip, which forced him from the fray with an ankle injury, denied Nugent a hat-trick as he made to convert another Sedgwick centre. His absence failed to halt Preston's momentum, as substitute Patrick Agyemang slid in the third from a perfect Paul McKenna pass 20 minutes from time.
In order to secure a play-off place Ipswich had needed a near 100 per cent winning run for the rest of the season, so their dismay was clear when Naylor was shown a red card just 10 minutes into the contest for a clumsy rather than malicious challenge that abruptly halted Brett Ormerod's route to goal as Preston profited from a slip on halfway by Scott Barron.
As the last defender, Naylor's departure was inevitable, and the only consolation Ipswich could draw from such calamitous early events was that McKenna, the Preston captain, struck a post with the resulting 20-yard free-kick.
Shane Supple had been a spectator on that occasion, but the Ipswich goalkeeper proved his worth shortly after, blocking Ormerod's low 15-yard effort after the forward had been put through by a neat Sedgwick pass.
Ipswich rarely looked ill at ease with their numerical disadvantage, and it was by no means against the run of play when they took the a 37th-minute lead. De Vos, who had earlier sent a header wide in similar circumstances, found his range when given a second chance, heading home an Owen Garvan free-kick from close range.
Preston North End (4-4-2) Nash; Mears, Davis, Mawene, Hill; Sedgwick, Jarrett (Whaley, 59), McKenna, Davidson; Nugent (Dichio, 69), Ormerod (Agyemang, 67). Substitutes not used: Neal (gk), Alexander.
Ipswich Town (4-4-2) Supple; Wilnis, De Vos, Naylor, Barron; Currie (Sito, 15), Juan (Westlake, 28), Garvan, Richards; Lee, Fuller (Haynes, 56). Substitutes not used: Price (gk), Magilton.
Referee: E Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).Reuse content