Championship: Preston North End 1 Queens Park Rangers 0
PUBLISHED: 17:31 04 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:31 04 August 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Steve McClaren suffered defeat in his first competitive match as QPR manager as Alan Browne's second-half header ensured Preston began their Championship campaign with a 1-0 win at Deepdale.
In a game of few clear-cut chances for either side, the breakthrough came via a set-piece as Browne converted Josh Harrop’s delivery.
QPR struggled to test Preston’s defence throughout the match and were denied a late equaliser by a spectacular save from goalkeeper Declan Rudd.
Defeat means The R’s are still winless against Preston since 2010 and their wait for a victory at Deepdale stretches back to 1980 – in the old Second Division.
Preston, who finished seventh in the Championship last season and missed out on the play-offs by just two points, certainly started the brighter.
Callum Robinson curled an effort high and wide from 20 yards after seven minutes before Tom Barkhuizen went much closer five minutes later – whistling a volley inches wide from Louis Moult’s lay-off.
QPR grew into the first half as it progressed. Luke Freeman launched an ambitious effort after 27 minutes that was dragged harmlessly wide from 25 yards.
But Preston went close again in the 38th minute as Barkhuizen drifted in from the right wing and his low 20-yard strike ruffled the side-netting.
It was McClaren’s side who had the best chance of the first half when Jake Bidwell picked out Matt Smith, but the unmarked striker headed wide from 10 yards.
Five minutes after the break, Preston were in front.
Harrop delivered a free-kick from the left touchline which was met at the far post by Browne, whose header looped over goalkeeper Matt Ingram and into the far corner.
The visitors attempted to respond with a set-piece of their own seven minutes later, but Freeman’s strike from 20 yards was easy for Rudd to hold.
Former Manchester United youngster Harrop almost extended the Lilywhites’ advantage after 68 minutes with a dipping drive that passed just over the crossbar.
And it was Alex Neil’s side who continued to look the more likely to find the net as Robinson’s low shot from the edge of the area was palmed around his post by Ingram.
The former Aston Villa forward had an even better chance after 75 minutes when he was played in by Darnell Fisher but hit a tame left-footed shot that was comfortable for Ingram.
QPR pushed for a late equaliser and thought they had got one through substitute Idrissa Sylla two minutes from time.
The ball dropped to the striker after a long ball into the box but his stab at goal from eight yards was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Rudd.
QPR: Ingram, Kakay, Leistner, Lynch, Bidwell, Luongo (Smyth 66), Scowen, Osayi-Samuel (Manning 46), Freeman, Eze, Smith (Sylla 77). Unused subs: Cousins, Washington, Lumley, Baptiste.