Ipswich Town 1 Preston North End 1
Football teams are sometimes moulded in the image of their managers but Ipswich
are still to locate a conviction and mercilessness in winning games which
has characterised the career of Roy Keane.
As a player the Irishman possessed an unquenchable desire for success and
his time presiding over Sunderland's first team at this level provided an
extension of that winning mentality.
Ipswich prey for such magic dust but, scrambling for a foothold and winless
in the Championship, they again lacked crispness in their passing, astuteness
in the tackle and ruthlessness in their finishing.
There are many conundrums for a managerial novice like Keane to solve at Portman
Road. It must have been disconcerting for him to watch Preston, reduced to
10 men after the first half dismissal of captain Callum Davidson, play with
more control, awareness and composure than his players.
Preston manager, Alan Irvine, one of a crop of bright managers in the second
tier, has concocted a blend of resilience, epitomised by the energetic Richard
Chaplow in midfield and Liam Chilvers in defence, with aesthetically delightful
football which should herald another promotion charge this season. They will
measure their considered football at Deepdale against Tottenham Hotspur in
the Carling Cup third round.
Ipswich never lacked endeavour. They simply never had the ingenuity to pick
the lock. Their football was direct but predictable and there was little awareness
or shrewd movement in the final third.
A defensive malaise which has also undermined them took two minutes to emerge,
Pim Balkestein misjudging a bounce and letting in Jon Parkin, whose shot was
saved by Richard Wright.
It was not long before such inhibition cost Ipswich. Alex Bruce, entrusted
with the captaincy by Keane, was beaten by Ross Wallace, who fired in off
The home support tried to rejuvenate their team with belated cries of 'come
on Ipswich' but the players required more than voluble support. They needed
inspiration, a spark. Then the match turned.
Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan dropped a high Jack Colback cross, Liam Trotter
fired the ball goalwards and Davidson blocked with his arms. A red card was
brandished. Irvine disagreed but insisted he would not appeal. Jon Walters'
kick was saved but he netted the rebound.
"Today goes to show why we're desperately trying to add to the squad," Keane
said, hinting at four possible signings before Tuesday's transfer deadline.
"It's early days. I'm certain Roy will do a fantastic job," insisted Irvine,
offering solace. Keane needs performances rather than empathy.
Neil Trainis (Telegraph.co.uk)