Ipswich 1-1 Preston: Daryl Murphy goal continues unbeaten run
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 16/01/16 6:55pm
Play-off hopefuls Ipswich extended their unbeaten run to six games with a 1-1 draw at home to Preston - but they were pushed all the way by their improving Sky Bet Championship opponents.
The visitors took a surprise lead after just seven minutes when Daniel Johnson claimed his eighth goal of the season after his initial shot was blocked.
Ipswich were out of sorts but equalised before half-time when leading scorer Daryl Murphy found the corner of the net with a well-struck shot.
The second half was fiercely contested with Ben Pearson having a goal chalked off for a debatable offside decision and Luke Hyam denied a penalty after his shot appeared to be blocked by the hand of a grounded Preston defender.
Preston started brighter with little over a minute played when Paul Gallagher tried his luck from 30 yards out and Dean Gerken punched the ball unconvincingly.
But the visitors did not have to wait long to have their bright start rewarded, taking the lead with just seven minutes on the clock.
Eoin Doyle's floated cross into the six-yard area was only partially cleared and Johnson found the corner of the net after his initial shot was blocked by Tommy Smith.
After 13 minutes, Preston went close to doubling their lead when a neat free-kick routine ended with Gallagher curling a brilliant effort just wide of the far post.
Ipswich finally fashioned a chance in the 17th minute when Christophe Berra rose well to meet Ryan Fraser's cross but the centre-back could only head wide.
The home side applied some pressure but Preston almost scored after an excellent build-up involving Gallagher and Doyle ended with Joe Garner stabbing the ball straight at Gerken.
Out of nothing, Ipswich levelled seven minutes before half-time. For the first time in the match, they strung some passes together, ending with Murphy firing low into the bottom corner for his eighth goal of the season.
Less than a minute had been played in the second half when Ryan Fraser produced an impressive run that ended with him shooting straight at Sam Johnstone.
In a tight and often dismal second half, Murphy forced Johnstone to parry away after robbing the ball from Pearson before, shortly after the hour mark, Preston were denied the lead.
Pearson and Doyle exchanged passes for the former to score, but Doyle was controversially adjudged to be offside when he played the decisive pass.
Freddie Sears fired a first-time volley into the side-netting before Preston almost grabbed all three points when the advancing Bailey Wright headed Gallagher's cross just wide.
Ipswich had their own dramatic late moment when Luke Chambers point-blank header was brilliantly blocked by Johnstone before, in the resulting melee, the home side had a decent penalty shout waved away when Hyam's shot appeared to be blocked by a Preston hand.