David Moyes’ men beat the Londoners 5-0 to help put themselves back into play-off contention.
As the scoreline suggests, it was a one-sided affair with North End clicking into gear after a sticky patch of form.
They had not played at home since an FA Cup defeat to Stockport on January 6, partly because of the winter weather and due to the fall of the fixtures.
The loss to Stockport had come in a run of five straight defeats but they had shown signs of getting back on track the previous week with a 1-0 victory at Portsmouth.
This five-goal hammering of relegation-threatened QPR was proof they had returned to the type of form which had seen them make such a strong impact on the division after promotion the previous May. Moyes fielded a three-man strike force for the clash, with Jon Macken, Brian McBride and David Healy – recently arrived from Manchester United in a club record £1.8m deal – linking up.
The trio all found the net, as did sub Iain Anderson.
North End served notice of their intentions early doors when McBride’s shot from 10 yards came back off the post.
Healy saw a low effort clip off QPR defender Jermaine Darlington and go wide, then Macken was inches off target with a shot from the edge of the box.
It was goalless at half-time, quite amazing bearing in mind the final result.
Moyes’ half-time words had the desired effect as his side turned on the style.
The deadlock was broken in the 51st minute, Macken playing Healy into space down the side of the box and then getting on the end of the Irishman’s cross to net from six yards.
Macken doubled the lead 10 minutes later, Rangers defender Matthew Rose getting himself into trouble as he tried to clear.
The mistake was seized upon by Macken who ran clear to slip the ball into the net past goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko.
McBride got the third in the 67th minute, the United States international’s one goal in Preston colours.
He was on loan with PNE from MLS side Columbus Crew, illness restricting his appearances.
When Lee Cartwright put over a cross from the right, McBride met it on the half-volley to find the net and all but put the game beyond the visitors.
The fourth goal came with 70 minutes on the clock, and it was a very stylish finish from Healy.
Moyes made a triple change in the 76th minute, with Anderson, Brian Barry-Murphy and Bjarki Gunnlaugsson replacing Macken, McBride and Paul McKenna.
Anderson was to make a big impact, completing the scoring with three minutes remaining.
The Scotsman got the ball down the inside-left channel, cut inside and fired a low shot into the net from the edge of the box.
North End won their next game 1-0 against Stockport three days later, getting some revenge for the cup loss.
Their hosts that night finished with 10 men – a certain Simon Grayson sent off in the 85th minute!
Moyes’ men were to reach the play-offs that season, a dramatic night in the semi-final second leg seeing them get the better of Birmingham on penalties.
They lost 3-0 in the final to Bolton in Cardiff.