Memory match: PNE v QPR

Sean St Ledger celebrates his goal against QPR which put PNE in the play-offs in 2009
Sean St Ledger celebrates his goal against QPR which put PNE in the play-offs in 2009
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Preston North End’s last-day victory over Queens Park Rangers on May 3, 2009, saw them clinch a Championship play-off place in the most dramatic fashion.

It was their fourth win in a row and saw them pip Cardiff for sixth spot by one goal.

How important the sixth goal in a 6-0 hammering of the Bluebirds 15 days earlier proved to be.

North End went into the game knowing that only a win would take them into the play-offs, and it also needed a Cardiff slip-up at Sheffield Wednesday.

Both scenarios happened, sparking joyous scenes at the final whistle as Preston fans swarmed on to the pitch.

It had not been all plain sailing at Deepdale though.

Rangers,managed in a caretaker capacity by former Preston favourite Gareth Ainsworth, pegged PNE back at one stage in the second half. Ex-North End striker Patrick Agyemang was the man with the visitors’ goal but thankfully, PNE hit back to claim the win.

The game had started at breakneck pace, Billy Jones going close for the home side in the first few minutes.

Jones got in on the blindside to meet a Paul McKenna free-kick, his effort blocked by a defender.

Mikele Leigertwood and Rowan Vine had chances for the London side as play went from end to end.

Neil Mellor, Sean St Ledger and Simon Whaley all got in good positions as North End built up some momentum.

That pressure paid off seven minutes before the interval when Alan Irvine’s men took the lead.

QPR centre-half Kaspars Gorkss messed up an attempted back pass, allowing Jon Parkin to steal in and home in on goal.

The ‘Beast’ took the ball past keeper Radek Cerny to the right of goal and then finished with a low shot from the narrowest of angles.

Early in the second half, St Ledger nodded the ball back across goal but Jones was unable to get much power on his header

QPR equalised in the 57th minute, Agyemang turning smartly in the box and rolling a shot across Andrew Lonergan.

That briefly dampened the atmosphere but the volume was soon turned up when news filtered through that Cardiff were losing.

North End went on the attack, Mellor putting two good chances over the bar.

Left-back Eddie Nolan tested Cerny with a free-kick, one which the keeper got his fingertips to. They regained the lead with 15 minutes left.

Parkin launched a long throw into the box, substitute Chris Brown flicked it on and there was St Ledger to send a header into the roof of the net.

North End were not prepared to rest on their laurels, continuing to pile on the pressure.

Parkin put a shot too close to Cerny, after Brown had played him in.

As the clock ticked on, QPR applied some pressure of their own, causing a few anxious moments in the PNE defence and among the crowd.

The blast of the final whistle from referee Michael Oliver brought a mixture of joy and relief.

With it confirmed that Cardiff has lost, North End had sneaked into the top six and set up a two-legged semi final with Sheffield United.