BARGAIN BEN ONE OF MICK’S MAGIC TRICKS
FRUSTRATED at Fulham, Ben Pringle’s unlikely journey from mid-table Championship football to play-off pursuit continues to gather pace after he netted his second consecutive winner.
The on-loan winger scored in the 63rd minute as Nottingham Forest succumbed to their fourth defeat on the trot.
The fact Pringle grabbed the game’s only goal, and Kevin Foley was the architect behind the matchwinner, merely boosted Mick McCarthy’s magic trick of plucking players from near obscurity.
Pringle and Foley both arrived at Portman Road in January but it was with more of a whimper than fanfare among sections of the Town faithful, who were calling on the club to match the financial ambition shown by promotion rivals.
But in keeping with McCarthy’s understated stability in Suffolk, the unheralded pair were an integral part of three precious points – Foley capping a man-of-the-match performance by combining tenacity and calmness in teeing up Pringle’s winner.
McCarthy was full of praise for Foley, who has been forced into an unfamiliar central midfield role after joining the club on a free transfer following a spell playing in Denmark.
The Town boss said: “Foles was terrific and showed great perseverance and doggedness in the goal. He is a very competent footballer and he has been excellent in his last two performances.
“They were better than us in the first half and created a few chances, hitting the crossbar and Bartosz Bialkowski making a couple of good saves.
“But we were better in the second half and played some good football. Forest are a good side with good players and we had to work for everything to eke out the win. The upshot of it is that we kept a clean sheet and scored.”
McCarthy was right to highlight the fact that Forest should have gone in at half-time ahead.
Nelson Oliveira was twice denied by Bialkowski, the second a brilliant flying save, while skipper Matt Mills went even closer when he met David Vaughan’s corner but could only head the ball against the crossbar.
The best Ipswich could muster in a first half where they bossed possession rather than chances was through Freddie Sears, whose powerful snap shot was turned around the post by Dorus de Vries. Forest were made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal in the 63rd minute by Pringle who found the corner of the net after Foley had first won back possession and then created some space in a packed penalty area.
What followed was a more stale affair than the lively first half.
The closest anyone came to adding to the total was Ipswich striker Brett Pitman, whose powerful drive was pushed away by de Vries.
Despite an alarming slump, Forest manager Dougie Freedman denied his side were in crisis but admitted he might have to consider a change in approach.
He said: “We had three or four good chances in the first half – we certainly created enough to win the game. But our inability to score is crucifying us right now.
“The second half was more even. We huffed and puffed but couldn’t manage an equaliser.
“I wanted us to give it a go and from a performance point of view, we were on the front-foot. But we probably now need to go back to being resolute and hard to beat.”
CRISP FINISH: Ben Pringle is mobbed by his Ipswich team-mates after scoring the winning goal