No beating around Shepherd’s Bush with this performance from North End as we completely brushed aside Steve McClaren’s Queens Park Rangers in an emphatic 4-1 victory.
The best performance of the season came on a chilly January day in West London but oh how the players, staff and fans enjoyed this one. Goals from Stockley, Storey, Browne and Potts secured all three points as North End won the midfield hands downs with an outstanding performance from Pearson breaking up the Rangers play at every available opportunity.
From back to front PNE looked solid and in control and on the evidence of this game the centre-back pairing of Ben Davies and Jordan Storey could be there for many years to come. Preston started the game with four changes to the team that started against Swansea last week. In came Fisher, Gallagher, Davies and Maguire with all four making big contributions to what was an excellent overall team performance.
North End seemed to be playing more of a 4-1-4-1 but there was plenty of interchanging in midfield as we started the game right on the front foot.
It only took the boys quarter of an hour to take the lead as Alan Browne hassled the QPR defence from a short goalkick and when the ball fell to Stockley on the left he hit a magnificent curling shot into the right-hand corner to give North End the lead.
North End were dictating play and without making a multitude of first-half chances were always in complete control. After the break PNE carried on where they had left off by closing QPR down and playing some intricate football in midfield.
Smith came on for the home side as Rangers went more ‘route one’ but we seemed to cope with all they threw at us. With just over 20 minutes to go North End won the game when a Gally free-kick was headed on for Storey to smash home at the back post.
It was all Preston now and when Browne made it 3-0 with a header at the back post we began to wonder how many North End might get.
Smith did pull one back for the home side with a trademark header but this only inspired PNE to attack even more and it was no surprise when Potts finished well to make it 4-1.
Clearly North End had a game-plan to stop QPR feeding their frontmen through midfield and the boys executed the plan to the letter. It would be slightly premature to say all our troubles are over after this one game but what these 90 minutes did show is the potential of the group.
Some of these boys were playing together for the first time and you could forgive the odd misplaced pass. But for me there were very few negatives on an afternoon when North End produced their best performance of the season and gave the impression that there was plenty more in the tank.
Finally a word for the magnificent support in the capital as the 1,272 travelling fans turned Loftus Road into a White City.