QPR 3 Preston North End 2
PUBLISHED: 13:03 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 24 August 2010
GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICS
By Ben Kosky PRESTON must be sick of the sight of Dexter Blackstock – the striker has now wrecked their last three trips to Loftus Road. Two years ago, Blackstock destroyed North End s play-off chances with an unforgettable winner, and last season he and
By Ben Kosky
PRESTON must be sick of the sight of Dexter Blackstock - the striker has now wrecked their last three trips to Loftus Road.
Two years ago, Blackstock destroyed North End's play-off chances with an unforgettable winner, and last season he and Gareth Ainsworth scored in added time to overturn a 2-0 deficit.
And Rangers' top scorer did it again, coming on as substitute to settle an exciting contest five minutes from time - nudging Preston out of the top six and the home side closer to them.
"It's great for me to nick a goal off the bench - it seems to happen every year against Preston!" Blackstock observed
"We've got a great team spirit among the lads - we all fight for each other and it's no surprise that we didn't let our heads drop when Preston came back."
This may prove a significant result some months down the line - what matters now is that QPR are no longer solely reliant on Blackstock for goals.
Heidar Helguson's first-half double to put the home side in front twice made it only the SECOND time in over three months that more than one Rangers player had found the net in the same match.
But the Icelander was indebted to Lee Cook, who revelled in his new role behind the front two and might have opened the scoring himself as Rangers began at a frantic pace.
Cook's sizzling drive stung Andy Lonergan's palms, but the goalkeeper did extremely well to recover and deny Patrick Agyemang from the rebound.
It was Cook's nifty footwork that created the opener on 15 minutes as he eased away from Paul McKenna and sent in a perfect cross for Helguson to head in from close range.
But Preston's 28th-minute equaliser was almost a mirror image. This time McKenna floated the ball into the box and Chris Sedgwick stole in front of Peter Ramage to direct his header beyond Radek Cerny.
Yet it took the Rs only five minutes to regain the lead as Agyemang headed down Cook's corner and Helguson reacted quicker than any Preston player, poking the ball over the line.
A superb save from Lonergan denied Agyemang on the volley just after the break, but the visitors were handed a lifeline on the hour when Cerny appeared to trip Sean St Ledger inside the penalty area.
Callum Davidson drilled in the spot-kick and there were chances at both ends, with Chris Brown's overhead kick looping over and Hogan Ephraim rifling a long-range opportunity wide.
Rs boss Paulo Sousa boldly switched to a 3-4-3 formation as he sent on Blackstock - and, although their penalty appeal was waved away when the new arrival went sprawling under Youl Mawene's challenge, the gamble did pay off.
Cook was brought down on the left flank and Rowlands delivered the free-kick for Blackstock to guide into the roof of Lonergan's net with a superb glancing header.
QPR: Cerny; Ramage (Blackstock 80), Stewart, Gorkss, Delaney (Hall 80); Ephraim, Mahon (Leigertwood 62), Rowlands; COOK*; Helguson, Agyemang. Subs not used: Ledesma, Di Carmine.