NEIL Warnock’s return to the QPR dugout ended with a 0-0 Sky Bet Championship draw against Preston North End at Loftus Road.
Warnock, of course, is currently in temporary charge of the R’s, after Chris Ramsey was relieved of his first team duties on Wednesday.
But Rangers were unable to break down a Preston defence who made it six consecutive clean sheets with this stalemate in W12.
Chances really were at a premium – and the hosts had goalkeeper Rob Green to thank for an excellent, point-blank stop from Bailey Wright late on.
Interim head coach Warnock made three changes to the QPR starting line-up following Tuesday night’s 1-0 defeat at Derby County.
James Perch missed out altogether following his red card at the iPro Stadium in midweek, while Daniel Tozser dropped down to the bench. Yun Suk-Young didn’t make the 18-man matchday squad.
So Leroy Fer, Junior Hoilett and Sandro all deputised.
After an impeccably-observed minute’s silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday tomorrow, Rangers enjoyed good possession in the opening stages.
Captain Nedum Onuoha eventually nodded wide from a Matt Phillips free-kick, before it was the latter who was unlucky not to get his head to Hoilett’s teasing cross in the seventh minute, as the ball dropped just wide of the foot of the right-hand post.
Despite Rangers enjoying the better of the play, clear-cut opportunities were scarce for much of the first period. Defences were very much on top.
In the 26th minute, a fine piece of individual skill from Sandro almost ended in what would have been a contender for goal of the season.
Twenty-five yards from the target, the Brazilian produced a 360-degree turn to evade two defenders – before his arrowed shot fizzed inches over.
Nine minutes later, patient approach play from the Hoops ended with top scorer Charlie Austin shooting just past the upright. And, within 60 seconds, Hoilett blazed wide after breaking free of the visiting defence.
Preston’s first – and best – chance of the opening half arrived four minutes before half-time.
From the right-wing position, Marnick Vermijl clipped a ball over the top of the home defence, before Joe Garner crashed an effort just past the post.
The first half ended without a goal.
The beginning of the second period was a bit of a scrap.
Preston, who had recorded five consecutive shutouts in a row before this one, continued to stand firm as Rangers went in search of that illusive clear-cut opening.
The visitors had the half’s first chance on the hour mark, when a weak clearance found Adam Reach on the edge of the box. But he volleyed wide.
Warnock reacted by making an attacking substitution three minutes later. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas replaced Sandro.
But the second half continued to make for a largely-drab affair.
Tjaronn Chery was brought on for QPR’s Hoilett in the 73rd minute, as the frustration grew. Could Rangers find that all-important breakthrough?
Well, it was actually Preston who almost got their noses in front in the 83rd minute – denied only by the reflexes of R’s custodian Rob Green.
Paul Gallagher swung over a corner kick from the left and, when Wright headed towards goal at point-blank range, Green reacted to expertly claw the ball away.
That proved to be the last opportunity of note, despite four minutes of second-half stoppage time.