Grant Ward ensures Daryl Murphy's absence not felt by Ipswich
A sweet strike from Grant Ward gave Ipswich Town a much-needed 1-0 win at the expense of plucky Preston.
The Suffolk side went into the match without their main marksman, Daryl Murphy, who is set to join Sky Bet Championship rivals Newcastle.
But that was quickly forgotten thanks to Ward's brilliant half volley after 16 minutes - the game's only goal as Ipswich gained their first win since the opening day of the season.
In a closely-fought encounter, Preston were indebted to centre back Bailey Wright for denying Kevin Bru an early goal after a brilliant clearance from Brett Pitman's dangerous cross.
A gritty opening 15 minutes, which saw Preston lose striker Jermaine Beckford to concussion, ended with Ipswich scoring.
Bru's free-kick was only partially cleared and Ward showed wonderful technique to control the ball and find the corner of the net with a cracking strike.
The home side came so close to doubling their lead in the 21st minute when Freddie Sears, without a goal for 31 matches, was set clear by a brilliant ball from Pitman.
The former West Ham man cut inside but his goal-bound shot was deflected just past the upright, Pitman heading the ensuing corner straight at Anders Lindegaard.
Ipswich were on top and playing confident and enterprising football but it was Preston who almost equalised with their first shot on target in the 37th minute, Callum Robinson cutting in from the left but seeing his powerful striker tipped over by Bartosz Bialkowski.
Robinson again tested the Town keeper in the 43rd minute, though his shot lacked power, as Ipswich ended the half ahead. The hosts went close within minutes of the restart when Sears set Pitman clear down the left but his clever reverse cross was just taken off Sears' toes by Lindegaard.
Just before the hour-mark, a surging run from Preston wing-back Chris Humphrey was thwarted by a brilliant tackle by Christophe Berra when he looked certain to equalise.
It was a scrappy second half with Eoin Doyle going close to getting on the end of Humphrey's long throw but he was blocked off by the impressive Tommy Smith.
The home side had struggled to carve out decent chances but that changed six minutes before the end when Jonas Knudsen burst into the box and laid the ball off to Ward but his shot was high and wide.
Ward, signed in the summer from Tottenham, then spurned another gilt-edged chance to clinch the points when he took advantage of some comical Preston defending to race clear but Lindegaard did well to smother the danger.
At the other end, substitute Liam Grimshaw volleyed just wide from distance as Ipswich clung on to claim a precious win.