Tractor Boys grind out draw
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Ipswich extended their advantage to six points at the head of The Championship, but had to come from behind to claim a point in a 1-1 draw at in-form Preston.
The Lilywhites - who are still unbeaten since early December - will feel they could have taken more from the game having created much the better chances, but Ipswich battled hard to earn a share of the spoils in the second half.
David Nugent capped a terrific first-half display by putting the hosts ahead ten minutes before the break, but Tommy Miller struck midway through the second to level matters up.
Preston's Paul McKenna had the first real chance of the evening on nine minutes, but volleyed wide after Chris Sedgewick's left-flank had corner caused problems.
The midfielder was presented with another opportunity on 18 minutes when the lively Nugent pulled a ball back into his path following a pacey run into the visitors' box, but McKenna's shot was blocked by a combination of David Unsworth, Richard Naylor and Jason De Vos.
Nugent then saw a penalty appeal turned down when he tangled with De Vos in the box, but the hosts did finally take a lead their efforts deserved on 36 minutes.
Brian O'Neil threaded a delightful through ball to Nugent from inside his own half that caught Ipswich square, and the striker kept his composure to slot past Davis with his left foot for his second goal in two games since his move from Bury.
The hit-man almost made it three in two shortly afterwards; collecting a cute ball from Richard Cresswell, he turned quickly in the box and got away an instant shot that Davis tipped around for a corner at full stretch.
The hosts continued to press after the break and only a crucial header from Fabian Wilnis denied Cresswell from meeting an inswinging Callum Davidson corner, and Naylor then made a controversial intervention to deny Nugent inside the box with ball clearly striking the defender's hand.
Ipswich keeper Kelvin Davis had to be alert to push a Davidson volley from range wide just before the hour mark, but Ipswich finally started to get into the game as an attacking force.
They fashioned an equaliser on 69 when Wilnis released Miller with a neat ball inside Matt Hill, and although the midfielder saw his first effort pushed out by Gavin Ward, he shovelled in the rebound with his left foot.
Ward was forced form the pitch on 78 minutes after being caught by sliding challenge from Ian Westlake and was replaced by teenager Chris Neal.
The youngster's first contribution was to make a smart stop from Darren Bent after a Wilnis cross found its way to the hitherto anonymous striker at the far post.
Substitute Dickson Etuhu and Chris Sedgewick both went close to winning it for Preston with long-range shots, but despite five minutes of injury time for Ward's injury, neither side could find a winner.