QPR v Preston North End
QPR fell to their second defeat in a week, as Preston North End left Loftus Road with a 2-0 victory.
In truth, Rangers weren’t at the races – and were undone by a goal in either half.
Jermaine Beckford’s fortuitous opener handed Simon Grayson’s men a 21st-minute advantage.
And there was no way back for the Hoops once Nedum Onuoha’s unfortunate own goal, seven minutes after half-time, put the visitors two goals to the good.
R’s boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made one change to his side following our 3-2 midweek reverse at Barnsley.
Grant Hall’s dismissal at Oakwell, for two yellow cards, saw James Perch drafted into the team at right-back. So skipper Onuoha moved into the centre of defence to partner Steven Caulker.
In their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Rangers lined up with Alex Smithies in goal, behind a back four of Perch, Onuoha, Caulker and Jake Bidwell.
Once again, Karl Henry and Massimo Luongo took on the defensive midfield roles, with Jordan Cousins, Tjaronn Chery and Yeni Ngbakoto deployed behind striker Seb Polter.
There was little to note inside a rather-dull opening stanza.
The first chance of the contest fell to Perch on the quarter-hour mark, after an Ngbakoto free-kick. The defender stabbed wide following his team-mate’s delivery from the left.
Preston edged in front in the 22nd minute, owing much to a huge slice of fortune.
A ball in from the left was cleared only as far as Paul Gallagher on 10 yards. And his subsequent blast ricocheted off Beckford before trickling over the line – past a wrong-footed Smithies.
The visitors spurned a decent opportunity to add a second goal in the 32nd minute.
Beckford and Gallagher combined once more, with the latter firing over from 20 yards after fine hold-up play by North End’s number 10.
That proved to be the last real opportunity of the first half.
Rangers, shooting towards the Loft End in the closing period, needed to show improvement after the break.
But Hasselbaink’s men fell further behind in the 52nd minute.
Preston broke and when Beckford sent in a low cross from the right for Callum Robinson, Onuoha’s attempted clearance unfortunately flew past Smithies and in.
North End’s Daniel Johnson then curled just inches wide of the left-hand post and, with that, Hasselbaink had seen enough.
Conor Washington was brought on in place of Henry in the 55th minute, as Rangers reverted to playing two up front.
Only the acrobatics of Smithies prevented a third visiting goal, tipping over when Gallagher – from range – returned his short clearance in the 57th minute.
Rangers were on the ropes, and another Preston effort – this time in the 65th minute – only narrowly evaded the bottom right-hand corner following Robinson’s prodded attempt.
But the home side should have pulled one back shortly after.
Chery’s lovely ball over the top freed Washington. But he couldn’t quite get the ball out of his feet properly to trouble Anders Lindegaard, who gathered comfortably when the striker shot.
A second R’s substitution swiftly followed, with Nasser El Khayati replacing Ngbakoto.
Another Washington shot, deflected wide, and his next attempt that led to strong appeals for handball – and a penalty – briefly brought the Loftus Road crowd to life.
Washington fashioned his fourth successive effort in the 80th minute, forcing a smart, low stop from Lindegaard. Luongo then blasted wide from distance when the subsequent corner-kick routine was played out.
El Khayati, meanwhile, displayed fine skill to free himself in the box before blasting handsomely over in the 86th minute.
However, try as they did, QPR never quite looked like breaking Preston down.
Indeed, despite four minutes of time added on at the end, the visitors held on to their two-goal lead to take victory.