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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Victory for Queens Park Rangers over Preston


Updated Table
Leicester 39 46
Burnley 39 45
Hull 40 44
QPR 40 43
Barnsley 40 41
Southend 40 39
Leeds 40 39
Luton 40 37

Goals : Blackstock 51

Dexter Blackstock lit up Loftus Road with a goal fit to grace any stadium in the land.

The R's top-scorer bagged a late contender for goal of the season four minutes into the second half, as the R's returned to winning ways in style against promotion-hopefuls Preston North End.

Arriving on to Marc Nygaard's neat through ball, the striker took one touch to cushion the ball beyond Sean St Ledger, before letting fly with a stunning 25-yard half-volley that nestled into the roof of the net.

Victory was no less than the R's deserved, on a night when Adam Bolder and Danny Cullip epitomised the never-say-die spirit which has become a trademark of John Gregory's side in recent weeks.

Blackstock returned to the starting XI at the expense of Paul Furlong, while Steve Lomas slotted in alongside Adam Bolder in the heart of the R's midfield, with Inigo Idiakez sidelined with a hamstring strain.

England hot-shot David Nugent led the line for Preston, alongside former Bolton Wanderers front-man Michael Ricketts.

And it was the England man who squandered the visitors' first opportunity of the half inside the opening 60 seconds.

Nugent seemed to have an eternity as the ball dropped to him inside the 18-yard box, but instead of taking a touch to control, the international hit-man side-footed his right footed volley wide of Lee Camp's right hand post.

Play soon switched to the other end, with Marc Nygaard nodding on to Blackstock at the second attempt. The former Southampton striker wasn't about to pass up the effort to fire a shot on goal, volleying a yard over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box.

Buoyed by that opportunity, Lee Cook's ninth minute in-swinging was met by Gareth Ainsworth, whose deft header flew a yard wide.

There was a brief scare for the R's on 14 minutes, when Cook required lengthy treatment from the Rangers physiotherapy team. Thankfully, the winger was okay and while he was waiting to be waved back on by referee Mr Stroud, Blackstock met Michael Mancienne's up-and-under, only to head wide of the near post.

Neither the R's nor Preston failed to build on their positive start though, with misplaced passes in the final third proving both sides' downfall.

Nugent's class was clear for all to see and when he pick-pocketed Mancienne in the 26th minute, the ball eventually reached Simon Whaley, whose back post header was superbly palmed to safety by Camp.

Whaley was enjoying a productive evening from the left flank and when he cut inside yet again a minute later, Camp had to dive full stretch to deny the roaming midfielder.

But despite the visitors' decent spell, it was Rangers who should've taken the lead ten minutes before the break.

Ainsworth was again at the heart of the move, firing a shot on goal, which was deflected into the path of Nygaard.

The Danish front-man reacted first to the loose ball, only to get his effort horribly wrong from just inside the six-yard box, miscuing his volley high and wide.

Rangers were often guilty of over-playing in the final third, with first Ainsworth, and then Blackstock, passing up the opportunity to pull the trigger when in sight of goal.

Bolder's efforts could not be faulted, with the former Derby midfielder orchestrating proceedings superbly from the middle of the park as the half reached its conclusion.

Rangers were forced into a double change at the break.

Mancienne - who received a hefty boot in the face from Michael Ricketts midway through the first half - made way for Pat Kanyuka, while Rohan Ricketts replaced Cook, whose knee injury appeared to cut his evening short.

The double change breathed fresh life into the R's and when Nygaard flighted an inch-perfect ball into the path of Blackstock 30-yards from goal, the outcome was quite sensational.

Having taken one touch to cushion the ball, the R's top-scorer smashed an unstoppable 25-yard left footed volley into the roof of the net, beyond the despairing dive of Lonergan.

The celebrations told their own story, as the nervous tension around the ground was suddenly replaced by a crescendo of noise.

Undeterred, Preston responded superbly and when Danny Cullip was penalised for a foul on Nugent on the edge of the penalty box, Ricketts' curling free-kick flew inches wide, with Camp seemingly beaten all ends up.

Long range shooting was certainly the order of the day for the R's, with Nygaard firing an ambitious 30-yard strike a yard over on 68 minutes.

Paul Simpson's last throw of the dice appeared to be the introduction of Daniele Dichio 15 minutes from time, as the Lillywhites switched to a four-pronged front-line.

However, it was another Preston sub - Patrick Agyemang - who tested Camp a minute later, with the Derby loanee on hand to dive full stretch to tip the strikers' goal-bound glancing header to safety.

The R's almost grabbed a second in the second of five added minutes, but Lonergan was on hand to produce a stunning save after sub Jimmy Smith slid in Blackstock following a sensational Rangers counter-attack.

QPR: Camp, Bignot, Cullip, Bolder, Ainsworth, Lomas, Cook (Ricketts 46) (Smith 82), Stewart, Nygaard, Blackstock, Mancienne (Kanyuka 46).

Subs: Cole, Furlong.

Scorers: Blackstock 49

Bookings: Blackstock 50, Cullip 54, Bolder 73

Red Cards:

Preston North End: Lonergan, Alexander, Pugh, Sedgwick, Ricketts, Nugent, St Ledger, Chilvers, Whaley (Dichio 75), Hill (Wilson 77), Songo'o (Agyemang 61).

Subs: Henderson, Nowland.


Bookings: St Ledger 8

Red Cards:

Referee: K P Stroud

Attendance: 11, 910\QPR: Camp, Bignot, Cullip, Bolder, Ainsworth, Lomas, Cook, Stewart, Nygaard, Blackstock, Mancienne.

Subs: Cole, Kanyuka, Furlong, Ricketts, Smith.

Preston North End: Lonergan, Alexander, Pugh, Sedgwick, Ricketts, Nugent, St Ledger, Chilvers, Whaley, Hill, Songo'o.

Subs: Henderson, Agyemang, Dichio, Nowland, Wilson.

North End's automatic promotion hopes took a huge dent, as they succumbed 1-0 against struggling QPR at Loftus Road thanks to Dexter Blackstock's superb second half strike from 30 yards out.

Manager Paul Simpson was without the services of Brett Ormerod (Quad) and Callum Davidson (groin); and decided to make four changes to the side that had lost to David Healy's late goal at Leeds the previous Friday.

Graham Alexander and Matt Hill replaced Kelvin Wilson and Pavel Pergl in the full-back positions with Simon Whaley returning for the first time since the 'coffee table incident', playing on the left hand side of the midfield four.

It could have been a real firework start for North End, as 50 seconds in and the yellows had a real chance to take the lead. Matt Hill fired over a cross from the left hand side and Nugent on the penalty spot caught the ball on the volley with his left foot, but only directed it just wide of the right hand post of Lee Camp.

The Hoops first chance fell to Dexter Blackstock, also on the volley in the fourth minute; six foot five inch Marc Nygaard having flicked on Lee Camp's long punted free kick, but the forward couldn't test Andy Lonergan between the sticks for Paul Simpson's side.

North End had the first player to go in Keith Stroud's book on eight minutes, when Sean St. Ledger blocked off a run from Adam Bolder 30 yards out. From Lee Cook's cross Michael Ricketts needed to head behind for a corner., the first of the game. From the right wing delivery it was ex-PNE man and self proclaimed 'wild thing' Gareth Ainsworth who rose highest, but his header flashed wide.

The home side's second corner arrived on 21 minutes after a slip on the wet surface by Sean St. Ledger. The ball was a good one into the box, but a foul on Lonergan quickly brought a halt to play.

It wasn't long after that the yellows had their first corner, won by David Nugent on the right. Danny Pugh delivered and the ball came out to Franck Songo'o 25 yards out. The Frenchman connected well with the shot and cries for handball rang around Loftus Road, but Mr Stroud saw nothing.

27 minutes and on the break North End almost had the lead. Nugent ran through onto a long ball from Whaley and fed Ricketts on the right flank. His ball infield found an onrushing Graham Alexander, restored to the captaincy; the Scottish international then picked out Matt Hill's back post run to perfection, but Lee Camp did brilliantly to stop the Bristolian's header from finding an unmarked David Nugent five yards out.

With nine minutes of the half left Marc Nygaard saved North End! Gareth Ainsworth had capitalised on a poor clearance by Liam Chilvers and hit a powerful shot that had come off Danny Pugh, The wicked deflection seemed to have beaten Lonergan and was heading into the net, Mac Nygaard then appeared to direct the ball to what seemed a certain goal, but actually put it over the bar much to the relief of the vocal North End contingent at the other of the pitch.

Pat Kanyuka was a half-time change for the home side replacing Lee Cook who had needed first half treatment from the QPR physio. North End started the second half period brightly and won an early corner on 48 minutes.

The deadlock was broken on the 50 minute mark and it was Dextor Blackstock with a stunning 25 yard strike that did it. A long ball over the top found the forward who turned inside Liam Chilvers to find space and hit a half volley past Lonergan and into the top left hand corner with real power.

Michael Ricketts was clean through on goal in the 54th minute after an excellent flick on from David Nugent; the last man was Danny Cullip, but he escaped somehow with a yellow card. The free kick was 19 yard out in the 'd' and a group of players hovered over it. Ricketts it was who took it and got some real power on a low curling show, but it whisked past the right hand post and left the front man holding his head.

North End's first change came minutes as Patrick Agyemang replaced Franck Songo'o. in an attacking move from Paul Simpson wanting to get back into the game.

A first booking for QPR for Bignot for kicking the ball away on the 74 minute mark as the home side looked to run the clock down and were doing it successfully as North End failed to create any clear cut chances on Lee Camp's goal.

A fierce reception for Danny Dichio as he came on with a quarter of an hour to go, replacing Simon Whaley, North End now with a 4-2-4 formation. Kelvin Wilson was also thrown on for Matt Hill with 12 minutes to go and North End were going to throw everything at the home side.

North End should have had a penalty for clear hand ball in the Hoops box after a corner when North End packed men in the box. A corner found Wilson free and he lifted the ball into the box and as it was headed goal wards by Ricketts a QPR hand batted it away.

The pressure was really on now as Lee Camp turned away another effort and claimed a Danny Pugh corner under a lot of pressure from yellow shirts. The proverbial kitchen sink was being thrown at the home side.

Five minutes of stoppage time was shown by the fourth official, much to the chagrin of the home side during which Sedgwick had a free kick deflected for a corner. QPR broke and Lonergan was forced into a wonderful save as North End kept their chances of a point alive, but the game came to an end and North End suffered on the road again.

PNE line-up: Lonergan, Alexander, Hill, St. Ledger, Chilvers; Songo'o, Sedgwick, Pugh, Whaley; Ricketts, Nugent. Subs not used: Henderson, Wilson, Nowland, Agyemang, Dichio.

QPR line-up: Camp, Bignot, Cullip, Bolder, Ainsworth, Lomas, Cook, Stewart, Nygaard, Blackstock, Mancienne. Subs not used: Cole, Kanyuka, Furlong, Ricketts, Smith.

Referee: Mr Keith Stroud


John Gregory failed to hide his delight after the R's stunning victory against play-off hopefuls Preston North End.

Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk after Dexter Blackstock dented Preston's promotion push with a match-winning wonder-goal, Gregory said: "I'll let you know how big the result is in a couple of week's time. Tonight is a night to remember, but we're far from over the finishing line.

"The match-winning goal was worthy of a better match, but there's so much at stake at this stage of the season.

"The lads were magnificent. It wasn't pretty, but we got the job done. We've played better than that and had nothing to show for our efforts.

"The atmosphere in the dressing room afterwards was fantastic, but there's still a long way to go. The passion and the attitude was first class. They just kept running and kept going and got the result they fully deserved.''

Gregory heaped praise on Blackstock, whose stunning 54th minute strike proved to be the match-winner.

"Dexter's first touch was immaculate and the second was incredible. It was a worthy match-winning goal.

"His all-round display was magnificent.''

Gregory added: "It's given us a little bit of breathing space. We're four points clear and with our goal difference being superior to others at the bottom, http://www.qpr.premiumtv.co.uk/page/Match/ManagersComments/0,,10373~1006202,00.html really five.''


QPR 1-0 Preston
Dexter Blackstock's brilliant volley lifted QPR's survival hopes and dented Preston's bid for promotion.

Blackstock broke the deadlock after 51 minutes, controlling Marc Nygaard's pass on his chest before firing in his 11th goal of the season.

England striker David Nugent wasted an early chance to put Preston in front when he shot wide from eight yards.

QPR keeper Lee Camp denied Danny Dichio, while Blackstock saw a late effort saved by Andy Lonergan.

QPR manager John Gregory:
"Dexter's goal was probably worthy of a slightly better setting and a slightly better game.

"His goal was truly outstanding, and his first touch was sublime. To score 11 goals in a struggling team is a very commendable effort.

"The hardest thing is to settle everyone down, because there is still a lot of work to be done.

"Saturday's defeat by West Brom was a massive punch on the nose, but it shows the character that we have in the dressing room."

Preston boss Paul Simpson:
"QPR have been one of the whipping boys for the promotion-chasing sides this season, but we could not do it tonight.

"As a group of forwards, we did not have the quality.

"We've not done ourselves any favours by losing at Leeds and here, and we have to win six out of six to reach automatic promotion," he said.


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