Match report: PNE 1 QPR 0

Preston North End left it late to beat 10-man Queens Park Rangers and record their first victory at Deepdale since September.
Alex NeilAlex Neil
Alex Neil

The Lilywhites scored the game's only goal in the 88th minute, Jordan Hugill latching on to a Paul Gallagher through ball to slide a shot under goalkeeper Alex Smithies.

In terms of possession, it was no more than North End deserved, however at times they frustrated the home supporters as they struggled to find a way through a stubborn QPR side.

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The visitors went down to 10 men in the 22nd minute, winger Jamie Mackie shown a straight red for a challenge on returning PNE skipper Tom Clarke.

There was to another red card after the final whistle for ex-PNE loanee Alex Baptiste for raising his arm in the direction of Ben Pearson.

North End's last home win had been the 3-0 success against Cardiff City on September 12, the five game since producing three draws and a two defeats.

This was a fourth game unbeaten for Alex Neil's men, their fortunes improving as players return from injury.

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Neil had made two changes to the side which started last week's 1-1 draw at Norwich, Clarke replacing Calum Woods who was injured in training during the week and Pearson returned from suspension to replace the banned Daniel Johnson.

Clarke partnered Paul Huntington in the centre of defence, with Ben Davies moving out to left-back to fill the vacancy created by Woods' absence.

QPR had the contest's first sight of goal, Josh Scowen sending a free-kick too high - it was a foul on Scowen by Paul Gallagher which led to the free-kick being awarded.

A double chance fell Alan Browne's way in the fifth minute, the midfielder's shot from the right hand side of the box catching a deflection and forcing Smithies to dive and parry it away.

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When Callum Robinson returned the ball into the mix, Browne met it with a header which went over the bar at the back post.

Paul Huntington got up highest to meet a Gallagher free-kick in the visitors' box, his downward header going past the outstretched foot of Tom Barkhuizen who was trying to divert it on target.

QPR went down to 10 men in the 22nd minute, referee Jeremy Simpson quick to produce the red card to punish Mackie's challenge on Clarke as they both went for a ball in the Prestin half.

North End switched to a 4-4-2 to try and take advantage of their numerical advantage, Barkhuizen moving up front alongside Hugill with Gallagher going out to the right-wing.

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Their main threat for the remainder of the first half came from set pieces though, with them having plenty of the ball but always in front of the London visitors.

Clarke sent a header wide after meeting a Gallagher free-kick, then when another Gallagher delivery was cleared out of the box, Pearson drove a shot wide off target from 25 yards.

At the break PNE made a double change, Josh Harrop and Kevin O'Connor replacing Browne and Clarke, the system reverting to 4-2-3-1.

In the 48th minute, Darnell Fisher's cross from the right was met on the volley by Barkhuizen, keeper Smithies twisting in the air to glove the ball up in the air and then pushed it over the bar.

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At the other end, a low shot from the diminutive Ilias Chair nicked off a Preston foot and went behind for a corner.

As North End started to up the pressure, Robinson saw a shot in the goalmouth blocked by former PNE loanee Alex Baptiste, while Pearson saw a shot loop off a Rangers defender and into the keeper's gloves.

With 67 minutes on the clock Gallagher struck a low shot from 25 yards, one which slipped from Smithies' grasp before the keeper grabbed it at the second attempt.

Robinson's inswinging cross from the left was then met by Hugill with his back to goal, the striker flicking a header too high.

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Chair's free-kick from the left channel caused an anxious moment when it travelled across the box without anyone getting a touch and dropped just wide of the far post.

North End finally made the breakthrough in the 88th minute, Gallagher slipping the ball through the QPR back line to put Hugill clear on goal.

Hugill took a touch which was quite heavy but still had the room to poke it under the ball under Smithies as he came to the edge of the box to try and smother.

In the third minute of stoppage-time, Chris Maxwell did well to dive and parry a swerving shot from QPR centre-half Jack Robinson after he had burst up field.

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PNE: Maxwell, Fisher, Clarke (O'Connor 46), Huntington, Davies, Pearson, Gallagher, Barkhuizen, Browne (Harrop 46), Robinson, Hugill. Subs (not used): Boyle, Horgan, Pringle, Welsh, Rudd.

QPR: Smithies, Wszolek, Baptiste, Robinson, Bidwell, Wheeler (Smith 73), Scowen, Luongo, Chair, Mackie, Washington. Subs (not used): Cousins, Manning, Goss, Smyth, Sylla, Lumley.

Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Carnforth)

Attendance: 11,290 (518a away)