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Saturday, December 20, 2008

QPR Narrowly Beat Preston

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QPR 3 Preston 2
With two goals from Helguson and a late winner from Subtitute Blackstock, QPR moved up to 36 points from 24 games - Updated Table

Can read Preston's excellent Minute-by-Minute blogging

QPR v PNE: Minute-By-Minute
QPR 3 PNE 2 (Helguson 16, 33, Blackstock 86; Sedgwick 28, Davidson 60 pen)

90+4 mins: That's it - we've lost, but I hope the players aren't too disheartened despite the crushing manner of defeat, because they've given their absolute all here. On another day we may have taken one or two of our other chances, but it just wasn't to be. Here's hoping for an immediate bounceback as Derby head to Deepdale on Boxing Day. We'll be there with you once again that day, so don't miss out (unless you're able to join us in person at the home of football!). Merry Christmas to one and all from everyone at PNE - just a shame that late heartbreak has struck once again at Loftus Road to steal what would have been a nice present of a point.

90+3 mins: Just 20 seconds left as I make it, and we can't get the ball back until it's pumped into Lonergan's hands

90+2 mins: Agyemang tries to play out time by running it into the corner but its nigh on impossible to see where he's gone as everyone to my left rises to their feet. Still incredibly tense.

90 mins: Substitution for PNE - Whaley for the impressive Sedgwick. There will be four minutes of added time. Come on PNE!

88 mins: Helguson and Blackstock exchange a one-two which St. Ledger and Lonergan put to a last ditch halt, smothering the former as he prepared to pull the trigger from six yards.

87 mins: Sedgwick's snapshot at the far post is spilt round the post by Cerny who had initially appeared to have it under control. That could have gone anywhere. The tension is remarkable.

86 mins: Goal for QPR! Martin Rowlands curls a beauty of a free kick into the centre of the box and supersub Dexter Blackstock leaps higher than anyone around him to flick the ball towards the top corner, meaning that even a full stretch Lonergan can't do much more than help tip it on its way. This is heart-stopping. 2-3

83 mins: Mawene challenges Blackstock who goes over in the box as the ball rolls out of play. Nothing doing says the ref as the blood pressure rises once again.

81 mins: Utter chaos all over the park - it's just one of those games. Blackstock, straight into the action, draws a clearing header from Mawene, but just as the danger looked to have gone, a return ball into the box seems to make time stand still as everyone awaited someone to nod it in, but Lonergan got their first.

80 mins: Double substitution for QPR - Hall and Blackstock for Ramage and Delaney.

78 mins: Ephraim gives the home support something more positive to mull over as his 30-yard shot misses the upright by a matter of inches. That one certainly fizzed past the frame of the goal at some pace.

77 mins: Another 50/50 free-kick goes our way - the officials might need a bit of assistance from the security staff after the game as the crowd bays for blood.

72 mins: Chris Brown - keen not to be outdone by Parkin, who's appearing here there any everywhere - tries his luck with an overhead kick as the ball is pumped into the R's box, but his acrobatics amount to nothing as the ball clears the bar.

70 mins: PNE are penning QPR back in their own half and it's not being met with much glee from the home fans. Good stuff, lads.

68 mins: Wallace's cross from the right finds Parkin, but he can't direct it inside the post and the home defence breathes a sigh of relief.

63 mins: A good advantage from the referee as he lets Nicholson play on after a foul, but gives the free kick as the Scot can't keep his footing. After his call a few minutes ago, you can understand that the home fans don't like that very much.

62 mins: Substitution for QPR - Gavin Mahon off, Mikele Leigertwood on.

61 mins: What a game this has been so far!

60 mins: Goal for PNE! Cerny dives to the left but Callum Davidson's penalty went hard and low, evading the keeper's toes as it's power made the support structure at the bottom of the goal frame lift from the ground. With Cerny having appeared to have got quite a lot of the ball as he took out St. Ledger, the home fans don't like the decision at all, and most of the media around us agree. 2-2

59 mins: Penalty to PNE! St. Ledger brought down by Cerny after Parkin poked the ball back into the box having done very well indeed to win it back as a set piece broke down.

56 mins: There's no logic to the game at the moment. It's all kamakaze dribbling on the edge of your own area or square balls to no-one, but it's no less compelling for that.

53 mins: Great passing and movement from Preston. Parkin flicks a ball across the face of goal which is just beyond the point at which Sedgwick can convert, but he holds it up until Davidson joins the attack, and the left-back's shot probably would have blown a hole through the net had it not struck a hooped shirt and bounced to safety. The home supporters appear restless after a mere couple of minutes on the back foot, with one local hot-head screaming to his side: "Look - that's the goal. Yes, that one over there to the left!".

52 mins: 14,103 inside Loftus Road see Eddie Nolan strike the ball high over the bar with his left foot after Parkin headed Wallace's corner back into a dangerous position.

51 mins: Yellow card - no sign of any after-effects from the now treated Wallace, as his jinking run draws a foul, and a booking, from Delaney.

50 mins: Ross Wallace is down on the near side with a head injury so play is brought to the inevitable halt.

48 mins: Lovely move, started and nearly finished by Agyemang. His interplay in midfield allowed Cook to pick out Helguson on the left, and the return ball into the middle was met by a rampaging Pat, whose volley was well pummelled away by Lonergan, low to his left.

46 mins: An early test for Lonergan. I couldn't see whose shot it was because I was busy typing, but he saved it anyway to spare my confusion.

1605: Agyemang's shirt will do for now, and we're playing again.

1604: The players return, with the line-ups appearing to be unchanged. Patrick Agyemang clearly forgot to dress himself in the 15 minutes available to him for any wardrobe-related changes, as he struggles to get his jersey on just moments before the whistle.

1549: The half time whistle blows. There will be a break in proceedings from me as I head over to Whites World duties with Steve Cowell.

45+2 mins: Yellow card - Sedgwick the offender for taking out Ramage near the corner flag.

45+1 mins: Ephraim plays a nice through ball for Agyemang on the overlap - luckily Callum is there to cut it out and concede one of a growing number of QPR corners.

45 mins: There will be two added minutes after this.

44 mins: The livewire Cook hits the top of the crossbar with a right wing cross. He's a threat to be looked at keenly.

42 mins: Agyemang slips it through for Cook, but luckily Cook himself then slips, leaving Mawene with the relatively simple task of whacking it clear in no nonsense fashion.

37 mins: Parkin outmuscles Stewart well as he battles for Youl Mawene's pitched ball into the box, but the referee stops him from continuing the battle for a demeanour unseen by most. The Beast is certainly not amused.

35 mins: No let up with the effort from Preston - they continue to bombard the goal away to our left.

34 mins: Chris Kamara nearly loses his headphones in the excitement of describing the goal to the Sky audience.

33 mins: Goal for QPR! A brave header from Eddie Nolan denies Gavin Mahon from heading home at the far post, but it only delays the inevitable. The resulting corner is worked towards goal by Agyemang (I typed too soon) and Helguson swirls on the spot to turn in his and his side's second from just inches away. 1-2

31 mins: Stick for Agyemang as he stabs a cross straight into St. Ledger's path with all the sensible options a good ten yards away.

30 mins: One very nearly became two as PNE suddenly find a new lease of life. Nicholson's corner is flicked on by Parkin at the near post, and the lurking Youl Mawene's volley clears the bar by a fraction of an atom.

28 mins: Goal for PNE! A quality leveller with similarities to the opener. Wallace, giving the defenders something to think aboute having switched to the right, was unfortunate to slip as he tried to play his cross in, but quick thinking allowed him to stab the ball back to his full-back, Nolan, whilst prone on the floor. The young Irishman's cross - with the left foot - was precise to a tee, and Chris Sedgwick showed great athleticism and bravery to stretch and head the ball into the bottom right hand corner ahead of his marker. 1-1

24 mins: The home fans express their disgust as PNE win a debatable free-kick on half way. Fair call, if you ask me!

22 mins: North End are looking to Parkin a lot as the man to hold up the ball and create openings, but there's not much room within which to work in and around a crowded box.

19 mins: The sun is setting in the west behind the away fans in the School End - not a particularly forgiving angle, therefore, for seeing what's going on at that end from the press box vantage point. The view is generally good apart from the sun, the aforementioned near touchline problem, and a couple of pillars in either corner - we're nice and high, level with the half way line in a generally ideal spot.

16 mins: Goal for QPR! The hosts are in front via the most logical method of scoring at this tight ground - whip in a perfect cross for the big man to head in. Lee Cook is the provider from the left, Heidar Helguson the man that doesn't miss from six yards. 0-1

14 mins: I've just realised that I can't see the near touchline at all so I can't see what amused the home fans as PNE line up a throw in just beyond the dug outs.

13 mins: Chris Kamara's face has just appeared on the Sky Sports News monitor hanging from the stand roof - the original (and arguably best) in vision reporter is here at Loftus Road today.

12 mins: Nice to see Parkin bossing his marker as his strength wins a corner from Gorkss. St. Ledger fires over as Nicholson's delivery is flicked to him at the back post via Mawene.

10 mins: Good start for ex-North End duo Sam Allardyce and Neil McDonald at Blackburn - they lead Stoke 1-0 thanks to a Benni McCarthy penalty.

9 mins: A handy looking deep cross from Nolan is aimed towards Parkin but he elects to leave it for the runner who doesn't come with the ball a little too high for The Beast to reach.

8 mins: St. Ledger beats Gorkss to a header as PNE defend Lee Camp's corner in front of the 600 or so PNE fans in the School End Upper Tier.

6 mins: North End currently camped in the QPR half (can't make a pun about being camped in Camp's half with Rangers' second choice keeper Lee Camp not selected), but the general pattern of play is a bit scruffy as both sides go direct at present.

3 mins: Our old media colleague Rob Urbani will think he's still feeling tipsy from last night's PNE Media night out as he witnesses the events surrounding his new employers Bolton - they're 2-0 up against Portsmouth after just three minutes!

2 mins: Squeeky bum time! Lee Cook's piledriver is blocked by Andy Lonergan, but he can't hold on and it lands right onto the toes of Patrick Agyemang, who scores a dream goal against his former club... or not. Lonners with a top drawer block denies Pat an almost inevitable opener from point blank range. Astonishing stuff.

1 mins: Adam Cottier of Radio Lancashire warned me that on his last visit to this venue he found the red numbers on QPR's blue and white hooped shirts pretty tricky to depict, and he's not wrong. They're awful.

1501: The game is underway.

1458: An interest sight during our World broadcast - Derek Shaw deep in conversation with Bernie Ecclestone. Maybe Derek has eyes on entering a team to replace Honda on next year's F1 circuit?

1457: Back from an enjoyable Whites World stint with Jonathan and Steve (eventually!) who were both in good form, but the teams are now out so you have my full undivided attention - unless we're hit by technical difficulties at any point!

1428: Time to head onto World duties. Join me, Jonathan Breeze, and hopefully Steve Cowell once he gets here, as we bring you all the action courtesy of PNE Live on Whites World. Just waiting for the pasta to settle - I don't really like pasta but that's all they serve at this Italian-owned club and to be fair they did an excellent job as I actually found it quite edible.

1420: The team news is in. There are a number of changes to the North End team as the games come thick and fast. Missing out are Richard Chaplow and Stephen Elliott - two men you would have otherwise expected to have seen on the team sheet (the former said to have been unwell in recent days) - so in come Barry Nicholson and supersub Jon Parkin. There's a welcome return too for Billy Jones on the bench.

There's a familiar face up front for the R's but there's no room in the 16 for the legend that is Gareth Ainsworth.

PNE: Lonergan, Nolan, Mawene, St. Ledger, Davidson, Sedgwick, Nicholson, McKenna (capt), Wallace, Brown, Parkin. Subs: C Neal, Hawley, Carter, Whaley, Jones.

QPR: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Mahon, Agyemang, Gorkss, Rowlands, Ramage, Cook, Ephraim, Helguson. Subs: Hall, Leigertwood, Blackstock, Ledesma, Di Carmine.

1351: Right, off in search of food - and hopefully some early team news.

1349: I always like to rate the ground I visit based on the quality of their musical output, and while I'm not eagerly excitied by The Hooisers, I was heartened by the retro Manic Street Preachers and Lightning Seeds classics that appeared at the start of the playlist.

1347: The North End players have just arrived, with some taking a chance to check out the pitch facilities. Chris Neal and Stephen Elliott seem to be the most interested in the surface itself, with Ross Wallace and Jon Parkin having a good read of the programme while Simon Whaley and Darren Carter chat away on their mobiles. With The Hoosiers blaring out of the PA system at full blast, I can't imagine they're finding it that easy to hold a conversation.

1344: Having just come back from a mini tour of the South Africa Road Stand's facilities, I'm pleased to say that our hosts have done a very good job of modernising the interior of their ageing showpiece stand. The press box seems to have been given a striking re-fit in keeping with the all-black theme that seems to run through many of the rooms in the area, with executive lounges that look very 'Footballers Wives'. There's even a boutique downstairs, selling R's related merchandise to any WAGs or celebs that turn up last minute without the required blue and white hooped gear.

1340: I've just heard that the brand new Westfield Shopping Centre - which is literally round the corner - is the biggest in Europe (London trying to steal our thunder yet again having seen the success of the Trafford Centre?). Having earlier taken a mere 45 minutes to complete the entire circuit (on two main floors with a sort of mezzanine level above) and visit every shop I took an interest in, I am prepared to dispute the accuracy of that particular accolade.

1338: Good afternoon and welcome to all the minute-by-minute action from a mild but breezy Loftus Road. This is a game being described by the man from BBC London as "the battle of the acronyms", which I liked, but he then mentioned that Preston don't travel well, which I didn't like. Let's hope we don't live up to the billing. Well, except the acronym bit.

By Adrian Ward Preston

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