Tommy Miller fails to dent North End play-off push
TOMMY MILLER put the wind up his old club — but Preston had the last laugh
in this battle for the play-offs.
The Ipswich midfielder went on a loan spell at Deepdale while at Sunderland
and was on the verge of joining the Lilywhites permanently. But Town nipped
in and signed him for a third time — and Preston were yesterday almost made
to rue missing out on him.
Miller scored the best two goals of the game, with his first beauty coming
in the 31st minute. Luciano Civelli’s cross gave the Scot plenty to do on
the edge of the penalty box. But Miller deftly turned Sean St Ledger before
finding space to whip in his fifth goal of the season.
His second was a cracking 63rd-minute free-kick from outside the area that
did not give Preston keeper Andy Lonergan a prayer of saving.
Both of Miller’s goals came against the run of play. And Preston weathered
rocky periods following the two strikes as they hung on for a victory that
lifts them to fourth place.
Ipswich boss Jim Magilton said: “We should have got something from the game.
But our application and attitude were first class and we will carry on playing
Town had not won at Deepdale since 1966. And their play-offs hopes have taken
a major dent following their failure to stop the rot.
The visitors shot themselves in the foot when defender Alex Bruce pulled down
Stephen Elliott to gift Preston a sixth-minute penalty. Keeper Richard Wright
dived the right way but failed to stop defender Callum Davidson’s spot-kick
squirming under his body.
Miller got Ipswich back on level terms but it was a blunder by Wright that
handed Preston a 2-1 advantage just before half-time.
The Town keeper was too slow in coming out to collect a speculative Paul McKenna
punt up field and Jon Parkin nipped in to head the ball over him and into
Town’s defence will not enjoy watching replays of Preston’s third goal either,
with Elliott given too much room to head in Ross Wallace’s corner.
Miller burst their bubble almost immediately with his second goal and Preston
looked scared stiff by the introduction of sub Kevin Lisbie.
The livewire striker forced a point blank save from Lonergan, hit the post
and was then denied another chance by a desperate scrambling save from the
But Preston claimed only their second win in seven league games to leave
Ipswich gaffer Magilton dejected. He said: “To say I am disappointed with
their goals is an understatement. All three were really poor.
“We were very good at times but we need to eradicate those type of goals.
Our player got on the wrong side, which is a cardinal sin, and it was a definite
"The second was a poor decision by our keeper and the third came from poor
marking. Those three decisions cost us today because we should have had something
from the game.”
Preston boss Alan Irvine admitted he was worried by Miller and the way Town
refused to stop harrying right to the end. He said: “I thought our third goal
had given us a bit of breathing space to make the rest of the game more comfortable.
“But Miller’s free-kick had me thinking we hadn’t done enough. It gave me
a few grey hairs but I will take another 11 games like that.
“We have just played one of the form teams in the division, with the fourth
best away record in the Championship and we have won so I cannot be unhappy
Irvine laid into his players after last week’s dismal 3-1 defeat at Southampton.
But he was delighted by their response yesterday.
He added: “A lot of harsh words were spoken in the past week but it was a
fantastic reaction by the players. I am delighted to be up to fourth and,
as long as we approach every game like this one, you have got a chance of
Brian Power (News of the World)