Queens Park Rangers 2 Preston North End 0 - Match report as the Lilywhites suffer a fourth straight defeat
Preston North End suffered a fourth defeat on the bounce as they were beaten by Queens Park Rangers at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
They haven't scored in any of those losses either and in West London never really looked like finding a way through a resolute QPR defence.
Two goals from Ebere Eze gave the home side a deserved win, the talented midfielder firing them in front in the 17th minute at the second attempt after Declan Rudd had parried his first shot.
Eze got the second goal from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, Rudd having brought down Marc Pugh in the box after Andrew Hughes had tried to cut out a cross but succeeded in knocking the ball towards his own goal.
North End's best chance came from substitute Billy Bodin 12 minutes from time, his shot from the edge of the box pushed away by QPR keeper Joe Lumley.
The feelgood factor of a month ago has quickly drained away and there is not doubt that Alex Neil's men have missed key players.
Daniel Johnson added his name to the injury list for this clash, joining Paul Gallagher, Patrick Bauer and Ben Davies - all important figures this season.
North End's side had shown oce change from last Monday's home defeat to West Bromwich Albion, with Hughes returning in place of Johnson.
Hughes had missed six weeks with a fractured foot and the Welshman came in at left-back which allowed Joe Rafferty to move to right-back - releasing Alan Browne to switch into midfield.
Johnson was missing with a knee injury sustained against West Brom but there was a seat on the bench for Tom Clarke after more than three months out.
Inside the first two minutes Browne hit a shot with the outside of his right boot from the left hand side of the box, one which flew across the goal and out for a throw-in on the far side.
At the other end Rudd was off his line quickly to save at the feet of Bright Osayi-Samuel who had burst into the box to meet a through ball.
QPR opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a goal which North End should have defended better against.
Geoff Cameron lifted a pass over the top of the defence, no one tracking Eze's run from midfield to get in behind and meet it.
Eze's first shot was parried by Rudd, the midfielder collecting the lose ball, taking a touch before firing home the rebound.
North End enjoyed a brief purple patch just beyond the half-hour mark.
Browne hit a fiorst-time shot from 20 yards which dipped over the bar, before their best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute.
Ben Pearson broke-up a QPR attack deep and surged forward from his own half before feeding Sean Maguire with a pass.
Maguire raced through to meet it but his shot was taken behind by a sliding block from a QPR defender.
North End had more urgency about them at the start of the second half and a couple of early attacks offered promise.
However, Rudd was called into action at the other end to dive and parry a 20-yard shot from Eze.
Maguire met a Rafferty cross in the 56th minute and saw his header deflect for a corner.
Alex Neil made his first change just after that chance, Bodin replacing Stockley.
And five minutes later, Josh Harrop and David Nugent were introduced for Tom Barkhuizen and Brad Potts.
Before the changes could have any effect though, QPR doubled their advantage from the penalty spot.
Eze took possession 20 yards out and played the ball into the box, Hughes sliding in to try and clear but succeeding only in knocking the ball into the path of Marc Pugh who was clipped by Rudd as he dived at his feet.
Referee Andy Davies pointed to the spot but then went to consult with his assistant on the far side. After a brief chat, Mr Davies stuck with his decision and booked Rudd.
Eze stepped up to roll the penalty into the bottom corner.
North End saw plenty of the ball after that but were rather predictable with their attacking.
In the 78th minute, the ball bounced off Nugent into the path of fellow sub Bodin who hit a first-time shot from the edge of the box which keeper Joe Lumley dived to his left to push away.
QPR: Lumley, Kane, Hall, Leistner,, Manning, Osayi-Samuel,Camerson, Eze (Amos 86), Pugh, Wells (Scowen 68), Hugill. Subs (not used): Wallace, Smith, Ball, Chair, Barnes.
PNE: Rudd, Rafferty, Huntington, Storey, Hughes, Pearson, Barkhuizen (Nugent 62), Potts (Harrop 62). Browne, Maguire, Stockley (Bodin 57). Subs (not used): Clarke, Bayliss, Ledson, Hudson.
Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)
Attendance: 12,179 (1,305 PNE)