By Ben Reardon – reporter
Preston North End salvaged a dramatic late point, coming from behind to draw 1-1 against Queens Park Rangers at Deepdale on Saturday afternoon.
Sebastian Polter’s header from a corner inside the opening five minutes looked to be the winner, but Eoin Doyle glanced beyond Smithies in the 92nd minute to snatch a draw, in dramatic circumstances – a point which keeps them 10th in the standings, while QPR remain in 11th place.
Having recorded an impressive Gentry Day victory away at Bolton Wanderers last weekend, North End manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged side for the fixture against Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s Hoops.
Meanwhile, Jermaine Beckford, was named amongst the substitutes for the first time, after recovering from a long-term injury.
With the game just five minutes old, North End found themselves behind, courtesy of Polter, who connected with Alejandro Faurlin’s corner from the right to divert a header beyond a static Anders Lindegaard.
Adam Reach glanced a header over the crossbar, before Greg Cunningham had a go himself, seeing his deflected strike worry Smithies in the Rangers goal.
Junior Hoilett was the next player from either side to try his luck, concluding his mazy-run with a daisy cutter, which was comfortable for Lindegaard.
In the dying embers of the half, PNE pressed to find a leveller, but when Paul Gallagher’s out-swinging corner found its way to Ben Pearson, the latter could only scuff a drilled shot past the post.
Into the second half, swift counter-attacking moves from Tjaronn Chery and Hoilett almost caught Preston off guard, thankfully, the West Londoners were fruitless on those occasions.
Preston were fortunate not to concede a second on the hour mark, the impressive Polter collected a pass from Hoilett to wriggle his way to the byline, with his shot flashing across the face of goal.
Gallagher again whipped a corner into a crowded area, though Hugill couldn’t keep his header down, as North End huffed and puffed.
QPR had late chances to wrap up the three-points, Chery’s dipping free-kick landing inches wide, while the same player was denied by Lindegaard minutes later in a one-on-one situation.
Eoin Doyle was the hero of the hour in stoppage time, heading Cunningham’s cross past Smithies to salvage a point.
The Irish striker missed the opportunity to head in the winner for his side a minute later, directing the ball straight at Smithies.
Conceding an early goal was a setback, but PNE made a good response and eventually reaped the rewards by earning a point, according to manager Simon Grayson.
He was also pleased to see Beckford make his first appearance for the club in six months.
PNE: Lindegaard, Cunningham, Clarke, Wright, Pearson (Doyle, 60) Johnson, Gallagher, Woods, Hugill, Reach (Beckford, 85) and Robinson (Welsh, 79). Subs not used: Kilkenny, Smith, Kirkland and Vermijl.
QPR: Smithies, Onuoha, Hill, Chery (Hall 89) Mackie (Luongo, 78) Faurlin, Henry, Hoilett (El Khayati, 93) Perch, Angella and Polter. Subs not used: Washington, Tozser, Ingram and Petrasso.
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northants)
Attendance: 11,322 (675 QPR fans)