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Saturday, August 19, 2006

QPR Draw 1-1 at Preston - Reports & Comments

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Rangers were unable to hold on to a lead that practically lasted the entire game after Gareth Ainsworth had put Rangers ahead early on.

The former Preston man gave Rangers the lead in the fourth minute after the visitors had enjoyed the opening exchanges and were looking particularly lively.

His conversion of Lee Cook's corner was no more than Rangers deserved based on their early work rate.

But Preston began to take hold of the game and Paul McKenna's late header was a cruel blow to Rangers after having led for so long, but in truth, gave a more realistic scoreline to the proceedings.

Gary Waddock named an unchanged side for the Championship fixture against Preston North End.

Rangers flew out of the traps, failing to hide their intentions that they were here for a win.

Gareth Ainsworth steamed down the right wing of his old stomping ground, robbed his man of the ball and whipped a telling ball into the box.

There was no one there to meet it on this occasion, so the winger took matters into his own hands moments later when he put Rangers in the lead.

With just four minutes on the clock, Ainsworth scurried into as much space as he could muster and jabbed home Lee Cook's corner.

But jubilation turned to despair minutes later when Martin Rowlands went to ground unchallenged and signalled to the bench immediately.

Steve Lomas replaced the midfielder and set to commanding his area straight away.

The balls were flying in to the Preston 18 yard box; this time Cook whipped it in and forced Carlo Nash to fly off his line and punch away.

And when Nick Ward let fly from outside the area, the Preston fans voiced their frustrations at their team. At the other end of the field however, "We are QPR" could be heard ringing around the ground.

Any previous fears of Ward being unable to adapt to the tough tackling Championship were proving to become more and more unfounded as the game progressed. In fact, the Australian seemed to be relishing the physical side of football.

Preston then enjoyed their spell in the sun, but squandered their best chance of the game when David Nugent blasted over the bar.

Mauro Milanese then had to be on his guard to head over a Simon Whaley cross as Preston continued to push Rangers at the back.

But when Ray Jones was pushed flat on his face 20 yards out, Rangers were able to regain their composure and enjoy a breather before Cook's free kick.

Although his effort beat the wall, the midfielder also cleared the cross bar.

Preston then suffered an injury worry of their own when Kelvin Wilson was stretchered off, forcing Alan McCormack to take his place.

That led to five minutes of injury time being played out at the end of the first half, which brought on a few jangling nerves as if it were the end of the full 90.

Rangers didn't rest on their lead though and Dexter Blackstock fired a 25 yard shot into the arms of Nash.

Play immediately swung to the other end and Preston had looked certain to equalise when David Nugent's header made its way towards goal, only to be tipped round the post by Paul Jones.

That man Nugent was again causing chaos at the back for Rangers when he ran on to a Matty Hill cross, and despite looking certain to score, he blazed his shot over the bar on the stroke of half time.

With the second half only a minute old, Whaley showed what Preston's intentions were when he sent a low drive straight at Jones.

But in keeping with the theme of this end to end game, it was then Rangers who were on the attack as Ward put his low effort wide of the post.

The second half certainly didn't have as much pace as the first, but considering the Preston pressure Rangers had recently been subjected to, the visitors looked glad of the respite.

Jones was again called into action when Danny Pugh shot from outside the box, but it was bread and butter for the Welsh international.

He was however tested further when Pugh again got his shot in after pushing his way through a crowded six yard box.

Luckily for Rangers, he was again without his shooting boots and the visitors were handed a let off.

The only Preston man who didn't seem to have any haste about him was Carlo Nash, who was only too happy to take his time over free kicks and goal kicks - much to the Rangers' delight.

Ainsworth then almost scored a copycat goal when once again he was on the end of a knock down from a Cook corner.

But a deflection saw his effort land on the roof of the net.

Jason Jarrett then stormed through the Rangers midfield, only to waste his possession by skying his effort into the stand.

With ten minutes left to go, Rangers upped the ante in a bid to secure the three points and exerted yet more pressure on the Preston goal.

And then the tide turned and it was Rangers who were under the kosh, fielding strike after strike from Preston before conceding a free kick which Pugh had deflected over the bar.

A knock to Ray Jones then saw Kevin Gallen replace the youngster as Rangers looked to fend off the late pressure from the home side.

Immediately he set to work on his task of making the ball stick at the 'correct' end of the field, firing a shot wide of the upright.

Patrick Agyemang then had Rangers fans catching their breath, only to slip in the box.

But there was no stopping Paul McKenna when he rose up in the box to head past Jones late, late on.

It was cruel for Rangers, but in truth, no more than Preston deserved.

Shabazz Baidoo then replaced the Rangers goalscorer, but even his super sub presence couldn't help find a way back for Rangers.

Preston: Nash, Pugh, Jarrett, Sedgwick (Agyemang 85), Nugent, St Ledger, Chilvers, Whaley, McKenna, Hill (Neal 78), Wilson (McCormack 40)

Subs: Lonergan, Stock

Scorers: McKenna 87


QPR: P Jones, Milanese, Stewart, Rehman, Rose, Ainsworth (Baidoo 90), Ward, Rowlands (Lomas 10), Cook, R Jones (Gallen 86), Blackstock

Subs: Cole, Kanyuka, Baidoo

Scorers: Ainsworth 4,


Att: 11,879

Ref: M Pike


A Paul McKenna goal four minutes from time gave North End a well deserved point and they could so well have taken all three after having the better of the chances against Gary Waddock's QPR.

The goal cancelled out an early strike by former Preston man Gareth Ainsworth who opened the scoring after just five minutes but there was more injury drama as Kelvin Wilson was stretchered off in the first half

North End started brightly, with a new look pairing of Nugent and Whaley in attack, it wasn't new to the players though who started plenty of games together as they both came through the ranks at Bury.

With Danny Dichio ruled out through injury the goascoring mantle was on the shoulders of the two youngsters and Chris Sedgwick was handed his first start of the season on the right wing.

After the impressive 3-1 win at Wolves just over a week ago confidence was high in the squad but it was the visitors who were ahead after just five minutes, Gareth Ainsworth scoring against his former club.

The Rangers midfielder, who spent three separate spells at Deepdale was on the end of a flick on by Jones, from a left wing corner, to stab the ball past Nash. There was plenty of pushing and shoving in the area while everyone waited for the corner to come in and Ainsworth certainly looked to be holding off Hill as he netted the opener.

The visitors were forced into an early change when Martin Rowlands limped off after just 11 minutes, to be replaced by Steve Lomas.

It was the visitors who were asking all the questions early on and Nicky Ward went close with a shot that whistled just wide of the left hand post on 16 minutes.

Just seconds later North End won their first corner of the match, Nugent putting Rehman under pressure but they didn't make it count and the effort was cleared at the first attempt.

Jason Jarrett decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck on 27 minutes, after period of sustained possession by North End. The former Norwich man picked the ball up 30 yards from goals and went for it weaving his way into the area before his deflected cross was put behind for a corner.

North End were certainly beginning to dominate after settling down and playing the ball around on the floor but despite the possession Paul Jones, in the QPR goal, was a virtual spectator.

Paul McKenna was the first man in the book a minute later, booked for a late challenge on Blackstock, which left the former Southampton man in a heap on the floor.

Things went from bad to worse for Paul Simpson on 39 minutes when Kelvin Wilson was stretchered off, with his leg in a brace, and with no other defenders available Alan McCormack came on at right back.

Five minutes of injury time was played at the end of the first half and North End could have gone in at the break 2-1 up.

First of all McCormack, playing in an unfamiliar role at right back, linked up well with Sedgwick and whipped in an excellent ball for Nugent in the middle, he rose well to send a header towards the bottom eft hand corner but Jones made a superb save to tip the ball round the post.

With half time edging closer Nugent had another excellent chance, this time the ball coming in from the left, where Hill and Pugh were beginning to form a good partnership. It was Pugh who drilled the ball in and beat two men at the near post before Nugent blazed the ball over the bar.

A snap shot from Whaley, just 45 seconds after the restart, tested Paul Jones in the visitors net but the veteran keeper got down quickly to make the save.

A long range effort from Pugh on the hour mark, was the next action of any real note in a game where conditions of teaming rain did little to help the quality. The former Leeds winger hit a left footed shot from the edge of the area but Jones made the save with relative ease.

Pugh, almost got the home side back on level terms a minute later after some terriorlike play from Nugent, the North End front man was being marked by as many as five Rangers players at times but he did well to shake the majority of them off before laying the ball back for Pugh, he hit a first time effoty which finished just wide of the right hand post.

Lewis Neal replaced Matt Hill on 73 minutes and Agyemang replaced Sedgwick just minutes later as Preston tried in vain to get something out of this one.

North End were camped in the Rangers third as they desperately went in search of the equaliser, from a corner the left Sean St Ledger went close to netting his first for North End. The first ball in was half cleared but Paul McKenna played it back into the mix, it was missed by everyone in the area, including Paul Jones and St Ledger did well at the far post to keep the ball in but he couldn't make it count.

Paul McKenna got North End back on level terms in fine style on 86 minutes, with his first of the season.

Lewis Neal hit a superb first time cross with expert precision to pick out to inrushing Paul McKenna who powered a header beyond Jones into the bottom right hand corner.

In the end a hard fought point at Deepdale to keep the momentum going and now attentions turn to the League Cup and a trip to Port Vale on Wednesday.

PNE LINEUP: Nash, Wilson (McCormack 41), Hill (Neal 73) Chilvers, St Ledger, Sedgwick (Agyemang 80), Jarrett, McKenna, Pugh, Whaley, Nugent

Subs: Lonergan, Agyemang, Stock, McCormack, Neal

QPR LINEUP: Jones, Milanese, Rehman, Rose, Ward, Ainsworth (Shabazz Baidoo 89), Rowlands (Lomas 11), Cook, Stewart, Jones (Gallen 82), Blackstock

Subs: Cole, Gallen, Lomas, Baidoo, Kanyuka



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