Memory match: Preston North End’s comeback win at QPR in 2005

David Nugent was a rookie teenage striker when Preston faced Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in February 2005.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:45 am
Preston skipper Chris Lucketti is piled on by team-mates after scoring PNE's winner at Queens Park Rangers in February 2005

It proved to be a big day for the 19-year-old, with him coming off the bench to score his first PNE goal and help turn the game in their favour.

North End were trailing to a first-half goal from Paul Furlong when Nugent and Paul McKenna were let loose from the bench by a far from satisfied Billy Davies.

The Lilywhites manager had already stripped a layer of paint off the away dressing room wall during half-time in a bid to shake his side into life.

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That was part one of the revival, the second was the double substitution.

Nugent had made four previous appearances as a substitute as Davies eased him into Championship life after his £99,000 move from Bury the previous month.

Him getting off the mark in West London was the start of a beautiful relationship with North End, one which he was to resume this summer when he rejoined for a second spell.

This was the first time PNE fans had celebrated Gentry Day and the victory helped the occasion go with a swing.

In the first half though, things threatened to go flat as QPR bossed proceedings.

They created eight good chances but only took one of them, Lee Cook’s cross finding Furlong who headed past Andrew Lonergan from eight yards.

Davies turned on the hairdryer during the break and got exactly the response he wanted.

Early in the second half, Patrick Agyemang powered his way past Danny Shittu and lobbed keeper Simon Royce, only to see his effort drop a yard wide.

Agyemang gave way to Nugent in the 57th minute and McKenna replaced Dickson Etuhu.

With 10 minutes Nugent pulled Preston level.

McKenna let fly with a shot which Royce couldn’t hold and Nugent darted in to clip the ball into the net.

Eight minutes later, North End went ahead as a spell of pressure paid dividends.

When the second of two successive corners was cleared out of the box, winger Chris Sedgwick returned the ball into the middle.

Nugent was inches away from connecting, it struck Richard Cresswell on the leg and bounced into the path of Chris Lucketti.

The skipper needed no second invitation to lash the ball into the net from 10 yards.

Seeing the game out wasn’t straightforward for Preston in terms of keeping a full complement of players on the pitch.

In the 81st minute, Eddie Lewis got his marching orders for two bookings in the space of two minutes.

The first was for a rash challenge on Marc Bircham, that possibly an act of retribution on the American’s part after Bircham had left Cresswell with a bloody nose.

Then Lewis went in late on Gino Padula, referee Lee Probert pulling out a second yellow card followed by red.

With 10 men though, PNE kept the back door shut to stretch their unbeaten run to a ninth game.

After the game, Nugent said: “It was a fantastic feeling to score my first goal for Preston. I got a few at Bury but this one was special.

“I know I’ve only been on the bench so far but this is a winning team and I can’t expect to walk straight in.”

Nugent was to score nine goals for North End in that half season as Davies’ men made the play-offs where they were beaten in the final by West Ham.