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Friday, April 04, 2008

QPR vs Preston Previews...Ex-Preston's Agyemang Profiled


See: Lancashire Evening Post - No Let Up
ALAN Irvine has urged his players not to trip themselves up with the season’s finishing post in sight. The Preston boss wants to cross the line still sprinting after the recent run of six games unbeaten.
And he has challenged the team to go flat out over the final lap of five games, starting against moneybags Queens Park Rangers tomorrow.“I want us to finish the season on a high, not deflated after a run of defeats,” said Irvine....
"...North End travelled to London today as the division’s form team, with 19 points from a possible 24. Irvine may have been narrowly pipped at the post for the Manager of the Month award for March by Hull City’s Phil
Brown yesterday.
But the Scotsman’s record over the last eight games is still better than anyone’s in the Championship. And he wants his side to underline the strength of their
revival with another win against a club with the spending power
to rival anyone across the football world.
Formula One moguls Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore have a bob or two and billionaire Lakshmi Mittal is the fourth richest man in the world, yet
QPR have still not matched PNE’s climb up the table since the turn of the year.... Lancashire Evening Post Previews QPR vs PNE - "No Let Up"

Preston Official Site QPR v Preston North End
North End will be aiming to celebrate Sir Tom Finney's 86th birthday in fine style by stretching their unbeaten run to seven matches on another trip to the capital to face big-spending QPR.
At Loftus Road they come across a side that has undergone radical changes both on-and-off the field this season with Formula One tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore investing heavily in the club. As a result, many new players have signed on including Fitz Hall, Matthew Connolly and Akos Buzsaky.
On Thursday the Hoops were rocked by the news that star forward Rowan Vine has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after fracturing his left leg in training. Therefore, manager Luigi De Canio must find another strike partner for Patrick Agyemang, who left Preston to move to Loftus Road at the start of January.
Alan Irvine is hoping that both Simon Whaley and Callum Davidson are fit to take their places in the starting XI after they were forced to withdraw from the win over Sheffield United prematurely having picked up slight injuries.
Neil Mellor also looks set to keep his place in attack following his two goal heroics last weekend, whilst the match is also set to be Tamas Priskin's last in a North End shirt unless a longer loan deal can be agreed between North End and Watford.
Fans travelling to Loftus Road are also encouraged to take their bowler hats to celebrate the 'Return of the Gentry'. The Gentry have made sporadic appearances at Preston North End games in recent times and this Saturday in London they will be out in force once again in tribute and memory to any Preston North End follower who may have passed away in the last 12 months.

The League Table
If North End take the spoils from their trip to the capital then they will leapfrog their London counterparts. Both teams have currently amassed 53 points, they have a comparable goal difference of minus two, but Rangers pip the Lilywhites to 14th spot because they have scored 13 more goals.

North End can move into the top half with a victory but that would be dependant on a very heavy win over QPR and for Sheffield United to lose at home to Leicester City. Cardiff City aren't involved in the Championship this weekend because of their FA Cup semi-final tie with Barnsley.

North End cannot move down a position this weekend because Blackpool, who lie three points below Alan Irvine's men don't play until next Tuesday when they face West Bromwich Albion.

Ones To Watch Neil Mellor

Neil Mellor

There was no better way for Neil Mellor to prove his value to the North End cause than his performance against Sheffield United last week. Mells was nothing short of sensational and thoroughly deserved his brace of goals and Man of the Match gong.

Two clinical finishes highlighted his goalscoring prowess, especially his second strike in the last minute in which the former Liverpool man ran half the length of the pitch to drill past Paddy Kenny.

Mells had been banging the goals in for the reserves too, finding the net four times in his last two outings for the second string.

Strikers tend to enjoy goalscoring streaks and it wouldn't be a major surprise if the No. 33 continued his rich vein of form with another goal or two at Loftus Road.

Patrick Agyemang

Pat Agyemang

Speaking of players in form, Pat Agyemang has - rather ironically - been banging in the goals for fun since his move from Preston in January.

Although the pacey forward hasn't scored in the last month or so, he has netted nine times for QPR since his £350,000 move to Loftus Road during the opening days of the transfer window.

Pat scored four goals for Preston this campaign prior to his move, his double strike against Southampton being the most notable achievement.

The 27-year-old earned the tag of 'super sub' during his time at Deepdale for his impact when introduced from the bench on many occasions.

The North End backline will know about Pat's attributes and they will be hoping that their knowledge will help prevent him from adding to his tally on Saturday afternoon.

Last Time Out
Preston 3 Sheffield United 1
Preston: Lonergan, Jones, Mawene, St. Ledger, Davidson (Hill 46), Sedgwick, McKenna, Carter, Whaley (Chaplow 82), Brown, Mellor. (Subs Not Used: Chris Neal, Lewis Neal, Priskin.)

Ipswich 0 QPR 0
QPR: Camp, Mancienne, Connolly, Hall, Stewart, Ephraim (Balanta 90), Mahon, Leigertwood (Rowlands 57), Vine (Lee 65), Blackstock, Agyemang. (Subs Not Used: Pickens, Barker)

Head To Head
The history books read that these two teams have only ever met 28 times, with North End just pipping QPR with ten victories in all competitions compared to Rangers' seven. There have been 11 draws in total.

The clubs first met in the old Second Division back in the September of the 1949/50 season when the first game in London finished 0-0 before they returned to Deepdale a week later where North End nicked the spoils in a 3-2 thriller.

In the reverse fixture earlier in the season, the game finished goalless after Paul Gallagher had a first half penalty saved by Lee Grant.

Last Time We Met At Loftus Road.
QPR 1 Preston North End 0
Blackstock 51
03/04/07 - Coca-Cola Championship
Attendance: 11,910

Referee - Mr Clive Penton
Saturday will be the first time that the Sussex-based official will take control of a game featuring Preston or QPR this season.

In the 2007/08 season so far, he has officiated in 26 fixtures, nine of which have been at Championship level. He has flashed 80 yellow cards but only dismissed two players which were Wycombe's Thomas Doherty and Southend's Matt Harold.

His last outing in which Preston featured was a couple of season's ago against Southampton in the 0-0 stalemate at St Mary's.

North End are 11/4 to take the spoils, QPR are priced at Evens whilst a draw is 12/5. Why not take a chance on a scorecast, for example, Billy Jones to score first and Preston to win 2-0 is a whopping 430/1. All prices are with North End's official betting partner, pnebetting.co.uk

Listen Live
Join us on Whites World from 2.30pm where Matt Morris and Robert Urbani will provide all the big match build-up, with Matt Hardman taking over moments before kick-off to provide exclusive full match commentary. Whites World is available now from just £3.99 per month, meaning you can follow North End from anywhere on the globe. Don't forget to send your thoughts and opinions on the game to matchday@pne.com. Preston

See Also Preston Official Site...Preston's Results...Preston's squad See Also Preston's Playing statisics

Lancashire Evening Post/Brian Ellis - Agyemang's no April fool at QPR
April Fools' Day summed up the fairytale that Preston North End's opponents Queens Park Rangers fans find themselves in right now.
Not for them spoof tales of flying penguins or the failure of the spaghetti harvest.
Instead the tales were of Francesco Totti signing from Roma and Microsoft founder Bill Gates becoming the club's latest investor.
And it showed the dreamworld that is Loftus Road this season that many supporters were happy to believe them.
There is, it seems, no end to the ambition – and money – of the people now running Rangers.
Little wonder that Patrick Agyemang, one-time PNE striker, decided to climb aboard the gravy train that manager Luigi De Canio is steering
towards what he hopes will be a place in Europe inside four years.
A four-and-a-half year contract at what is rumoured to be three times his wages at Deepdale helped sway the "Ghanaian Gazelle" into dashing back down the M1 to his hometown.
Joining what is now seen as the richest club in the world as it readies itself for blast-off towards the Premier League and beyond is not a gift-horse many players could look in the mouth.
And first impressions – nine goals in 16 appearances, eight in his first seven – suggest Agyemang is not just happy with the size of his pay packet.
Things have steadied off since with only one goal in the last nine. But he still poses a major threat to defences whether he is getting on the end of chances or creating them for others.
Agyemang is looking forward to showing his old employers what he can do from the off when North End visit Loftus Road tomorrow.
And in a big interview in the matchday programme he pays a fulsome tribute to the manager who sold him.
Irvine admitted at the time he desperately wanted to keep the player, but would not stand in his way if he had a chance of earning such good money.
In return Agyemang describes Irvine as a "great man-manager" an
d a boss who had the respect of the Preston dressing room.
"Alan Irvine really impressed me in the time I played under him," he says.
"There was a lot happening there at the start of the season and, after we had made a poor start, it took a long, long time for us to get out of the rut.
"But Alan came in and he played the game the way it should be played.
"I didn't necessarily think that other managers played to my strengths like he tried to.
"He's a great man-manager and he's got the respect of the dressing room.
"I said to him when I left that I think he'd do a very good job with the squad he had at his disposal and that has proved to be the case so far." Lancashire Evening Post


After a season they'd probably rather forget, the outlook suddenly appears to be a lot brighter at Preston North End Football Club.

The appointment of Alan Irvine in mid-November has breathed new life in to the Lilywhites, who travel to Loftus Road tomorrow (Saturday) seven points clear of the dreaded drop-zone, with 53 points to their name.

The 49 year-old has been instrumental in the Club's bid to beat the drop and although the job is far from complete, Irvine believes his side are close to guaranteeing their Championship status.

North End reached the 53-point mark following the weekend win over Sheffield United and Irvine says the Club's fortunes are now in their own hands.

"I set the target of 54 points back in January," he said.

"That's what we're still aiming for in terms of safety and we're obviously getting close to that total."

Irvine feels improved work-rate has also been a major factor in North End moving out of the bottom three.

"That's been a huge part of their success, we believe that we have to work very hard as a team and if we continue to do that it'll give us a chance of winning games."

It's all a far cry from the day the former Everton number two took over the reigns at Deepdale.

Then, North End were languishing just one spot above the Championship relegation zone, but Irvine - an influential figure at Goodison Park, who also played for Queens Park, Crystal Palace, Dundee United and Blackburn during his career - has transformed the Club's fortunes overnight.

Recent victories against high-flying Charlton Athletic, Wolverhampton Wanderers and more recently, Burnley, shows how far they have come since his arrival at the helm and with just five matches to go, the Deepdale outfit are being tipped for a top-half finish.

Whether that goal is achievable remains to be seen, but Irvine - with 30-plus years experience in the professional game - certainly won't let his players take their foot off the gas, even if they do reach the magical 54 point mark in the weeks to come. QPR

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