DEJECTED Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert claimed his side's limp display at Preston North End was the worst performance since his appointment in October.

Callum Robinson and Lukas Nmecha both hit doubles as the hosts ended their four-game losing streak in style by comfortably beating already-relegated Town 4-0.

Robinson opened the scoring in the sixth minute before notching his third goal in two games with a superb volley.

The game was made safe when Nmecha scored twice after half-time following assists from the in-form Robinson.

Preston also hit the woodwork twice.

"We never turned up," moaned Lambert, whose side entertain Swansea City in their penultimate home fixture on Easter Monday.

"We didn't play well at all and I thought we looked a yard short.

"It was the most disappointing performance since I've been here.

"We didn't do the ugly side of the game well enough and we can't accept what's happened.

"We need to be better home and away next season.

"Things are sore for us at the moment but we have a young group and we will bounce back.

"We've been playing well but we've not finished off the good work.

"We've drawn too many games and it's killed us.

"In this match, we've not taken our chances and we've not defended well enough when we needed to.

"I'm not sure we could have got any more out of the players; we've done all we can to try and win games.

"That's football and we have to learn from it."

Sean Maguire had a powerful shot saved by Bartosz Bialkowski as the hosts started strongly at Deepdale.

And the early pressure paid off when Robinson rifled home from the edge of the box to put Preston ahead.

Toto Nsiala blocked a Nmecha effort for a corner before Ben Davies headed against the post from the resulting set-piece.

Flynn Downes failed to find target from distance for the visitors and their task got much harder when Robinson doubled his tally with a fine volley into the top corner on 22 minutes.

The lively Nmecha then cleared Luke Chambers' looping header off the line after he got on the end of Alan Judge's corner.

Judge shot just over shortly after, when his own corner fell back into his path and Town survived penalty shouts as Nmecha went down under a Chambers challenge.

Robinson fired straight at Bialkowski after linking up well with Nmecha, while Teddy Bishop had an effort saved by Declan Rudd on 38 minutes, before he flashed an effort narrowly wide on the stroke of half-time.

Bialkowski's brilliant double save firstly kept out Robinson, then Nmecha, in first-half stoppage time as Ipswich made the safety of the changing rooms with just a two-goal deficit.

Maguire headed just wide from Joseph Rafferty's cross shortly after the restart and any hopes of an unlikely comeback were effectively ended when Nmecha slotted home a rebound after Robinson's first effort was saved on 56 minutes.

Kayden Jackson then hit the crossbar after he got on the end of Bialkowski's long clearance following a defensive mix-up between Rudd and Jordan Storey before Storey and Davies produced superb blocks to stop Will Keane getting a consolation goal.

And it was game over when Nmecha found the back of the net after more great play involving Robinson on 75 minutes as the Lilywhites now lie seven points outside the top six with three games remaining.

Preston boss Alex Neil saluted the quality of forwards Robinson and Nmecha.

"We had good quality at times when we needed it and Callum Robinson was involved in all four goals, so I think that shows his importance to us," said Neil.

"He's a good player; he's one of our key players.

"What he did here, not every player can do.

"He had the quality to damage them.

"After the last week it was important we came out and put on a good performance and put things right.

"I felt we played well and, although we were a bit loose at times, we got four goals, so I'm really pleased with that."