Preston 1 Ipswich 0
England boss Steve McClaren was at Deepdale to run the rule over Preston's star striker Dave Nugent.
But the 21-year-old had a largely forgettable night as Preston North End scraped a narrow win to put themselves back into the play-off zone.
Nugent saw one shot turned round the post, but it was an otherwise frustrating night for the Under-21 international who worked hard for absolutely no reward.
He capped a disappointing night's work when he got himself booked for petulantly kicking the ball away when he was flagged offside.
Ironically it was former England international Michael Ricketts, capped just once in 2002, who stole the limelight with a goal after just six minutes to set North End up for victory in the crunch Championship match against Ipswich.
Ricketts, who McClaren bought for £3.5m at Middlesbrough, rose majestically to a Danny Pugh cross to send a powerful header across keeper Lewis Price into the far corner.
But at the other end Andy Lonergan had to fling himself across at full stretch to prevent Danny Haynes levelling the scores just three minutes later, saving one-handed and then pouncing on the loose ball before Jon Walters could bury the rebound.
McClaren went public last month with his admiration of Under-21 frontman Nugent and hinted he could be a young man he turns to for the upcoming Euro qualifiers after losing Peter Crouch through injury.
But North End's top scorer was only given the thumbs-up to play after a late fitness test three days after hobbling off at Hull with a back problem.
He clearly knew the England boss was in the audience and seemed almost too eager to please, blazing his only first-half chance high into the Kop after springing the offside trap and racing clear.
He continued to be frustrated into the second half after Ricketts had been replaced by Danny Dichio. Time and again the ball would not fall for North End's prize asset to add to his 15-goal tally for the season.
Just before the hour mark Preston went close to doubling their lead when Callum Davidson hit a daisy-cutter which crashed against the foot of the right-hand post with keeper Price well-beaten.
And North End were denied two penalty claims within the space of four minutes when first Nugent appealed for handball and then St Ledger appeared to be nudged over as he tried to get on the end of a corner.
While Nugent's presence in the starting line-up was good news for North End - and McClaren - it was the worst possible outcome for Ipswich considering the striker's phenomenal record against the Tractor Boys.
He had scored in all four of his previous games against the side from East Anglia, helping himself to six goals in total, including one on his full debut for Preston two years ago.
Tuesday night's game was also a special occasion for the 21-year-old - the 200th game of his professional career. And he went into the match needing just one goal to complete a half century.
There were milestones also for skipper Graham Alexander - making his 650th league appearance - and Callum Davidson who was playing his 300th game in all competitions.
Manager Paul Simpson left out Pavel Pergl and Neil Mellor through injury. Matt Hill returned at left-back, with Davidson moving forward into midfield. And Franck Songo'o, who looked lively when he was sent on as a substitute for the last half hour at the KC Stadium, was given a start.
Masked striker Brett Ormerod came on to the bench alongside fellow frontmen Patrick Agyemang and Danny Dichio.
Ipswich boss Jim Magilton had to scratch around for for strikers after losing his first-choice pair - Alan Lee and Francis Jeffers - to suspension and injury after Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Southend.
Referee Scott Mathieson showed eight yellow cards, five of them to Preston.