QPR 4 Preston North End 0
By Ben Kosky THIS was unquestionably the high point of Jim Magilton s QPR career to date – and not just because of the one-sided scoreline. More significant was the fact Magilton sifted through a condensed stock of ingredients and came up with a potent co
By Ben Kosky
THIS was unquestionably the high point of Jim Magilton's QPR career to date - and not just because of the one-sided scoreline.
More significant was the fact Magilton sifted through a condensed stock of ingredients and came up with a potent cocktail that blew Preston away from the start.
And it's also worth pointing out that the Rangers manager achieved that even under the baleful gaze of disgraced co-owner Flavio Briatore, who made an unwelcome return to Loftus Road on Saturday.
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It's no coincidence that the Rs' form has really picked up since Briatore took a back seat, but all credit to Magilton and his players - there was no sign of the tension and hesitancy usually generated by the presence of the club's majority shareholder.
Moving Wayne Routledge further forward was a master-stroke from Magilton - Preston struggled to deal with it and afforded more space for Adel Taarabt and Akos Buzsaky to ply their magic.
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It was Taarabt who set the tone with a classy individual strike after 10 minutes, collecting Radek Cerny's clearance on the halfway line, nutmegging Velice Shumulikoski and striding into space to curl a sweet finish past Andy Lonergan.
Rangers could have increased their lead as they continued to exploit the space, with Routledge denied by a last-ditch Neill Collins challenge and then narrowly failing to connect with Taarabt's pass.
Routledge was fortunate not to be booked for an exaggerated tumble over Lonergan, but should have got the better of North End's number one later in the first half, turning onto Buzsaky's pass before firing at the keeper's legs.
Buzsaky sent a screamer skimming just over the bar before half-time and, with Preston producing nothing bar a couple of half-chances for Chris Brown, most observers felt Rangers would find the going tougher after the interval.
They were wrong. Gary Borrowdale and Jay Simpson - who would have done better to pass to Taarabt rather than shoot - both tested Lonergan and, following a brief Preston flurry, the Rs doubled their lead just after the hour.
Taarabt fell flat on his face under Neil Mellor's challenge and referee Russell Booth pointed at once to the spot, from where Buzsaky beat Lonergan - and, even with 28 minutes to play, effectively ended the contest.
A triple change by Alan Irvine had little effect and it was only a question of how many more Rangers could score - Simpson adding to the tally with a tidy finish after Youl Mawene had misjudged Buzsaky's through ball.
And it was Routledge who claimed a deserved fourth with five minutes left, scything through the Preston defence to thump an unstoppable low drive inside Lonergan's left-hand post.
A goal for Rowan Vine - who clipped the crossbar - or substitute Gareth Ainsworth, afforded a rousing reception by both sets of fans, would have been the cherry on the icing. But the cake tasted good enough as it was.