Critchley makes winning start as QPR boss with victory over Preston
Neil Critchley enjoyed the perfect return to Championship management as Jimmy Dunne’s second-half strike fired QPR to a much-needed 1-0 win at Preston.
Dunne’s 58th-minute goal proved the difference between the two sides as Preston were continually frustrated by the visitors.
The result marked the best start possible for former Blackpool boss Critchley, who replaced Michael Beale in the QPR hotseat after his high-profile departure to Rangers last month.
Preston came into the game on the back of a resounding 4-1 victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park and were looking to make it four straight wins in the league.
But QPR were aiming to resurrect their early-season form, with Critchley taking charge of his first game after being appointed – following a brief spell as Aston Villa assistant – during the World Cup break.
It was a cagey opening and Preston’s first half-chance came on 10 minutes when Ryan Ledson played an excellent long ball to Brad Potts but his volley was mis-hit and went well wide.
Minutes later, Ethan Laird created a moment of promise for QPR, cutting into the box before Tim Iroegbunam’s shot went wide.
Iroegbunam then had a more convincing effort as his long-range strike hit the post, with the home fans turning rather hostile.
QPR exposed Preston’s defence with Lyndon Dykes getting plenty of time in the box before giving the ball to Sam Field whose shot was blocked.
Three minutes before half-time, Ben Whiteman came close for the hosts with his shot coming off the foot of a QPR defender and out for a corner, which came to nothing.
QPR had the first real chance of the second half after 52 minutes with Albert Adomah breaking free on the right-hand side before putting in a pinpoint ball across the box to Chris Willock, who volleyed over.
The visitors took the lead after 58 minutes when the unmarked Dunne nudged the ball home in off the crossbar on the end of a corner.
Preston should have equalised six minutes later when Ched Evans played an excellent lay-off to Ben Woodburn, who was through on goal but his shot one-on-one was saved by Seny Dieng.
The hosts put the pressure on towards the end and Potts’ shot after 78 minutes led to calls for a penalty as there appeared to be a possible handball but the appeals were waved away by the referee.
Five minutes later, the visitors came close with Iroegbunam’s effort being tipped over by Freddie Woodman in the Preston goal.
Ryan Lowe’s side had a very good chance to equalise after 89 minutes but Potts’ volley went just wide and the visitors held on for a hard-fought win.