Memory Match: When PNE beat Terry Venables' QPR

PNE striker Paul McGee on the attack against QPR in 1980
PNE striker Paul McGee on the attack against QPR in 1980

Willie Naughton had a game to remember when Preston North End beat Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale in November 1980.

The rookie front man was handed a start in place of the injured Alex Bruce and went on to score twice in the 3-2 victory.

Willie Naughton rides a challenge against QPR

Willie Naughton rides a challenge against QPR

Naughton went on to make more than 160 appearances in a PNE shirt but this was one of his early appearances.

Only 19 at the time, he took the chance given to him by Nobby Stiles with two goals to help see off QPR who were managed by Terry Venables.

The win stretched North End’s unbeaten run in the Second Division to five games.

It also helped them get some measure of revenge for a 3-0 loss to QPR the season before – a game shown on Granada’s Sunday highlights programme.

Paul McGee puts in a tackle

Paul McGee puts in a tackle

Naughton got the nod to start from Stiles to start on the morning of the game when Bruce failed a fitness test on a thigh strain which had dogged him for a while.

There were chances at both ends early on, North End’s Paul McGee shooting wide from 20 yards while Roy Tunks saved from QPR’s Dean Neal.

The rebound from that save fell to Glenn Roeder, his low shot cleared off the line by Simon Westwell.

Simon Stainrod, recently arrived at QPR from Oldham, looked a threat up front for the visitors.

North End went close to taking the lead when Andy McAteer’s cross was punched clear by Rangers goalkeeper Chris Woods.

It came to Brian Taylor who’s volley was blocked on the line by Steve Wicks.

Preston went ahead in the 32nd minute, McGee’s cross flicked on by Steve Elliott to Naughton who headed home.

The visitors equalised nine minutes after half-time, Roeder scrambling the ball over the line after a corner.

North End complained that Roeder had handled the ball to control it but the goal was given.

The home side regained the lead in the 63rd minute.

Francis Burns’ corner from the right was cleared out of the QPR box but back into the path of Burns.

The former Manchester United midfielder lifted the ball into the middle where centre-half Mick Baxter rose to guide home a header.

In the 72nd minute, North End made it 3-1 with a third header of the contest.

McGee, who was facing his former club, got room on the right-wing and crossed.

In a carbon copy of the opening goal, Elliott flicked it on and Naughton headed home.

The pair were the first goals at senior level for the young Scotsman.

QPR cut the deficit within a minute, Neal firing home a low shot in the box after the Preston defence gave him too much space.

North End managed to hold on to their slender lead to secure victory.

The only disappointment of the afternoon was a crowd of a little more of 6,000.

Delighted PNE boss Stiles said: “It was a magnificent game and I would give it nine out of 10 from both sides for entertainment.

“I thought we played well and I was pleased to win it.”

QPR manager Venables said: “It was a good game but our mistakes in defence gave Preston the win.”

Naughton was a regular fixture in the PNE squad for the next few years, mainly playing on the left-wing.

He departed Deepdale in 1985 to join Walsall for who he made 151 appearances in the league.

Naughton played later in his career for Shrewsbury and Chorley.