Championship: QPR 1 Preston 2
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
Queens Park Rangers let a lead slip as Preston kept their play-off hopes alive with victory at Loftus Road.
Callum Robinson equalised in first-half injury-time after Matt Smith’s 13th-minute goal had put the home side ahead.
And Rangers struggled in the second half, with Preston having a goal disallowed for offside when Tom Clarke’s header from Paul Gallagher’s free-kick was touched over the line by Robinson.
But there was no let-off for Rangers in the 74th minute, when another Gallagher free-kick similarly led to Robinson touching the ball in, this time after a header from Alan Browne.
Browne’s header to the far corner was going in and might have crossed the line before Robinson added the final touch, leaving North End three points off the top six.
Target man Smith’s 10th of the campaign had put QPR in the driving seat when Ryan Manning’s free-kick from the left was cleared straight back to the Irish youngster and he volleyed the ball high into the box where it dropped to Smith, who stabbed it past goalkeeper Declan Rudd from close range.
The same pair combined again when Smith nodded Jake Bidwell’s cross back towards Manning, whose header was tipped over by Rudd.
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The inclusions of Manning and Smith were among five changes made by Rangers boss Ian Holloway, who recalled Massimo Luongo and Ebere Eze and also played keeper Matt Ingram.
Ingram was shown a yellow card eight minutes before half-time for fouling Browne after the Preston midfielder had charged down his clearance.
From the resulting free-kick from the right-hand side, delivered by Billy Bodin, Paul Huntington’s goal-bound header was hacked away by Bidwell.
However, neither Ingram nor Alex Baptiste were able to prevent Robinson’s tap-in crossing the line after Darnell Fisher had pulled the ball back from the right.
Manning’s weak shot was comfortably gathered by Rudd as both teams initially struggled to create chances after the interval.
But as Rangers ran out of ideas, Preston were able to impose themselves and Robinson secured a second win in four days.
Ingram denied them a third goal when he saved from Tom Barkhuizen in stoppage time.
QPR: Ingram, Furlong, Baptiste, Robinson, Bidwell, Cousins (Freeman 73), Luongo, Manning, Eze, Osayi-Samuel (Smyth 63), Smith (Sylla 62). Unused subs: Smithies, Scowen, Wszolek, Kakay.