Preston North End 2 Queens Park Rangers 1 - Dave Seddon's verdict: Hard-fought victory to follow-up Blackpool win

Post-Blackpool, the visit of Queens Park Rangers to Deepdale had the potential to be a tricky assignment for Preston North End.

By Dave Seddon
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 8:00 am

For spells of the game, the opening half hour especially, that proved to be the case as ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ syndrome struck.

It took them more than 30 minutes to create a chance, their passing was ragged and the whole atmosphere was flat – in contrast to the boisterous, vibrant place Deepdale was the other night for the derby victory.

Thankfully North End shook themselves into life, scored goals either side of half-time and competed in a lively second half where chances came at both ends at regular intervals.

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Cameron Archer scores Preston North End's second goal against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale

Emil Riis and Cameron Archer were PNE’s goalscorers, Andre Gray netting a QPR consolation from the penalty spot late in stoppage-time.

The reason substitute Gray’s spot kick counted for nothing was the performance of Daniel Iversen.

Over the course of the game the Dane made six saves, further underlining how important he’s been to the Lilywhites over the last 15 months.

Iversen’s second loan from Leicester City has five more matches to run before a crossroads is reached when it comes to where the goalkeeper’s career heads next. Another loan spell with PNE or back to the East Midlands to be part of tLeicester’s first-team squad?

Emil Riis turns to celebrate giving Preston North End the lead against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale

If it is to be the latter, North End will have their work cut out in the summer to find a replacement of similar talent.

There could be the same scenario with young Archer who has had a splendid few days. The winner against Blackpool brought him hero status, his goal against QPR the seventh of his loan spell.

Do Aston Villa loan him out again or keep the striker for themselves?

Ryan Lowe and Peter Ridsdale could well have to be at their persuasive best in summer talks with Villa and Leicester.

Preston North End manager Ryan Lowe checks on Emil Riis as he comes off injured against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale

Let’s for now enjoy them for the final run-in, see what June and July bring. The same with Sepp van den Berg who is approaching the end of a season-and-a-half on loan from Liverpool.

Whatever the manner of Saturday’s victory, the fact they managed to follow-up the Blackpool win was laudable.

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Player Ratings: Preston North End 2-1 Queens Park Rangers

It was only the fourth time this season North End had put together back-to-back victories, the last pair of wins being in Lowe’s opening two games in charge.

Preston North End left wing-back Greg Cunningham gets to grips with with Queens Park Rangers' Moses Odubajo

Victory could have come at a cost in the shape of a hamstring injury Riis suffered scoring the opener or in the seconds immediately after doing so.

That strike, put down as an own goal by some statistic spoilsport but one the striker is rightly claiming, was Riis’ last involvement before limping off before half-time.

His substitution brought Sean Maguire into the action, the Irishman catching the eye with his build-up play and passing in this extended run out.

He set up chances for Archer and Alan Browne, as well as seeing a shot of his own saved by QPR’s debutant goalkeeper Murphy Mahoney.

The Londoners have a long list of keepers on the injured list and Keiran Westwood joined them half an hour before kick-off after being taken ill in the dressing room.

That meant 20-year-old Mahoney being promoted from the bench, QPR having no cover on the bench should anything untoward befall him.

Preston North End striker Cameron Archer tries to give Queens Park Rangers' Dion Sanderson the slip

He couldn’t have asked for a quieter opening half hour to his bow in Championship football as PNE struggled to get up to full pace after the exploits of last Tuesday night.

That spell of the game had very much an end-of-season feel to it, QPR attempting to build a head of steam on the back of four straight defeats without looking a massive threat.

It still needed Iversen to make two of his half-dozen saves by the half-hour mark, spreading himself to block Andre Dozzell’s shot and then getting enough on an Ilias Chair shot to take it beyond the far post.

Alan Browne’s shot, lifted over Murphy but cleared by Moses Odubajo near the line as it travelled towards goal, was a sign that North End were emerging from their Blackpool hangover.

The first time they put in a decent cross did the trick in terms of fashioning a breakthrough, Andrew Hughes running on to Ben Whiteman’s pass down the left-wing and putting over a low centre.

Riis and Jimmy Dunne moved to meet it at the near post, the Danish frontman’s flick touching off Dunne and across Mahoney.

He pulled up after climbing off the floor to celebrate and it was a sad sight to see him go off. Hopefully the injury won’t deny him the chance to hit his 20-goal target which is just two away.

The second half was less than six minutes old when North End scored again, Daniel Johnson’s pass finding Archer a few yards outside the box. As he moved forward, he attempted to go on the outside before checking inside.

That took him on to his left foot, his shot clipping a QPR foot and rocketing into the roof of the net.

Play changed from end to end, it probably far too open for the liking of Lowe and Hoops counterpart Mark Warburton who would have wanted more control.

It was entertaining stuff though, Archer twice denied by Mahoney after Maguire set him up, with a third chance for the Villa loanee cleared off the line by Odubajo.

QPR put their mark on the scoresheet with three minutes of stoppage-time almost up, Johnson’s tug on Sam Field’s shirt giving away a soft penalty, Gray finally getting the better of Iversen by sending him the wrong way from the spot.

A good few days then for North End as they look for a strong finish to the campaign.