The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Dave Good­er­ham

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.”

PIC­TURE: Mike Capps

CRISP FIN­ISH: Ben Pringle is mobbed by his Ip­swich team-mates af­ter scor­ing the win­ning goal

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