Preston North End 0-2 QPR: Smyth and Willock guide Rangers to scrappy win at Deepdale

Both teams came into this Friday night clash at Deepdale seeking points, but under different circumstances. Ryan Lowe’s Preston had lost four of their last five and looked to catch up to their fellow promotion-chasers, while Marti Cifuentes’ 22nd-placed QPR were rapidly improving and arrived in Lancashire on the hunt for a second win in a row; a win that would see them move closer to Huddersfield in 21st. 

PNE: Woodman; Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Ramsay, Whiteman, Browne, Jensen; Holmes, Keane, Evans

QPR: Begovic; Cannon, Clarke-Salter, Dunne, Paal; Colback, Field, Willock; Dozzell, Smyth, Dykes

A bitterly cold evening at Deepdale started with both sides looking to catch each other out early on, with QPR’s Lyndon Dykes impressing inside the opening minutes. 

The first real chance of the game didn’t arrive until the 15th minute, as Ched Evans’ tame shot from an Alan Browne cross was collected comfortably by Asmir Begovic.

Lyndon Dykes could have considered himself lucky not to be sent off for an elbow on North End defender Andrew Hughes halfway through the first half, but the referee only saw the offence worthy of a yellow card.

There had been a severe lack of chances in the first half, but that was before a dominant Preston North End team almost fell behind to a QPR side who hadn’t been in the game until now. A one-two between Jack Colback and Chris Willock saw the latter squirm his way to the edge of the Preston box and curl an tempting effort just wide of the far post.

Embed from Getty Images

The second half performances from both sides, however, were far better, and QPR showcased their improvement by finally breaking the deadlock in this game; albeit with a little help from North End goalkeeper Freddie Woodman. Substitute Ilias Chair had made a big impact on QPR’s general play since coming on, and his excellent cross in was steered into the net by Paul Smyth, with Woodman failing to keep the ball out.

Ilias Chair almost made QPR’s night even better as his effort from long range was heading towards goal, but Freddie Woodman collected the Moroccan’s shot comfortably. Andre Dozzell also saw a fierce attempt from long range saved well by Woodman.

With six minutes to go, QPR substitute Elijah Dixon-Bonner took aim from range and almost caught out Woodman in the Preston goal, but the young goalkeeper was alert and tipped the ball over the bar.

Marti Cifuentes would have been pleased with his side’s second half showing, and that feeling was solidified as the away side grabbed their second goal. Kenneth Paal’s ball forward found Ilias Chair down the left hand side, and with a burst of pace, beat his marker and squared the ball across to Chris Willock, who directed the ball home at the far post to seal the Hoops’ second win in a row – and Preston’s third successive defeat, with pressure beginning to ramp up on Lilywhites boss Ryan Lowe.

Both sides are next in action on December 9th, where Preston North End head down south to take on Norwich City, and QPR welcome Liam Rosenior’s Hull City to Loftus Road – both 3pm kick-offs.