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Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Sunday, 3 May 2009 18:04 UK

Preston 2-1 QPR

Sean St Ledger
St Ledger's goal was his fifth of the season for Preston

Preston squeezed into the Championship play-offs by the narrowest of margins after they beat QPR and Cardiff lost at Sheffield Wednesday.

Both sides end the season on 74 points with a +12 goal difference, but Preston have scored one goal more - 66-65.

Jon Parkin put Preston ahead from a tight angle, but Patrick Agyemang slid in a leveller before Sean St Ledger headed the winner with 15 minutes left.

Preston cleared two QPR shots off the line in injury time as they held on.

But the Lilywhites were not to be denied as they leapfrogged Cardiff, whom they beat 6-0 just two weeks ago, to claim the final play-off spot and set up a two-legged tie against Sheffield United.

They dominated for long periods of the game, but were unable to turn their possession into goals.

Chris Sedgwick did have the ball in the net, but his effort was ruled offside, while St Ledger mis-kicked from eight yards after Neil Mellor's low cross had found him unmarked.


Rangers threatened sporadically with Mikele Leigertwood sending a 25-yard strike narrowly wide, while Rowan Vine shot tamely at North End keeper Andy Lonergan from 12 yards.

But the home side ended the first half strongly and Simon Whaley saw his twice deflected shot loop inches over the bar before Parkin broke the deadlock by seizing on a weak backpass from Kaspars Gorkss and rounding Radek Cerny to score from a tight angle.

Whaley should have doubled the lead but shot straight at Cerny from six yards after after Agyemang and Hogan Ephraim went close for Rangers at the start of the second period, the former - an ex-Preston player - levelled after racing onto a neat through ball from Vine and sliding the ball beyond Lonergan via a slight deflection.

Preston piled forward in response and Cerny kept out a glancing header from St Ledger but he could not keep out another effort from the defender after Jon Parkin's long throw had been flicked on by Chris Brown.

Rangers finished the stronger, however, and the home side were left clinging on as Youl Mawene cleared off his own goal-line in the third and final minute of injury time and, from the resulting corner, Darren Carter kicked Matt Connolly's header out from under his own crossbar with the last kick of the game.

Preston manager Alan Irvine:
"To be honest, I didn't think we'd get in the play-offs, so it's a fantastic achievement by the lads.

"It's amazing to think how far we've come since this time last year, and it's also an amazing response to what was probably the lowest point I've had in my time here (a home defeat to Blackpool in April that looked to have ended their hopes of a top-six finish).

"I don't know how many times a team has won their last four games in the Championship, but it won't have happened many times.

"We've now had a really good season, and it could become a great one."

QPR caretaker-manager Gareth Ainsworth:

"Make no bones about it, we wanted to come here and win the game and finish the season well.

"I think attacking-wise it was probably one of our best displays. We played some really good stuff, and but for our final ball we could have scored a few more.

"We had one cleared off the line in the last minute, and that's testament to how we went right to the end.

Preston: Lonergan, Jones, St. Ledger, Mawene, Nolan, Whaley (Nicholson 79), McKenna, Carter, Sedgwick, Parkin (Elliott 88), Mellor (Brown 61).
Subs Not Used: Neal, Chilvers.

Booked: Jones, St. Ledger.

Goals: Parkin 37, St. Ledger 74.

QPR: Cerny, Ramage, Connolly, Gorkss, Delaney, Routledge, Leigertwood, Mahon (Balanta 83), Ephraim, Agyemang (German 75), Vine.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Hall, Alberti.

Booked: Leigertwood, Connolly.

Goals: Agyemang 57.

Att: 18,264

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Print Sponsor

The Coca-Cola Football League Championship Table
30 January 2010 19:21
    P GD PTS
1 Newcastle 27 27 56
2 Nottm Forest 28 23 52

3 West Brom 27 26 50
4 Cardiff 27 22 45
5 Swansea 27 3 42
6 Sheff Utd 27 4 41

7 Blackpool 27 10 40
8 Leicester 26 2 39
9 Middlesbrough 28 7 37
10 Bristol City 27 -4 36
11 Preston 26 -2 35
12 QPR 27 -4 34
13 Doncaster 26 -1 33
14 Coventry 28 -8 33
15 Barnsley 26 -8 33
16 Scunthorpe 27 -13 33
17 Watford 26 -6 32
18 Derby 28 -11 32
19 Sheff Wed 28 -12 31
20 Crystal Palace 27 2 30
21 Ipswich 27 -8 29

22 Reading 27 -16 26
23 Plymouth 26 -14 24
24 Peterborough 28 -19 18

see also
Burnley 4-0 Bristol City
03 May 09 |  Championship
Sheff Wed 1-0 Cardiff
03 May 09 |  Championship
Championship photos
03 May 09 |  Championship
Ups and downs
03 May 09 |  Football

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