QPR find no answer to Lucas' defence

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The Independent Online

If they had won this game and other results gone their way, Preston could have been top of the First Division this morning, four months after walking away with the Second Division title. However, they had every reason to be grateful for as much as a point in this game but right now QPR seem to be bringing out the best in their opposition.

If they had won this game and other results gone their way, Preston could have been top of the First Division this morning, four months after walking away with the Second Division title. However, they had every reason to be grateful for as much as a point in this game but right now QPR seem to be bringing out the best in their opposition.

After loing to Colchester's Lomana Tresor Lua-Lua in midweek, this time it was the less exotic, but no less gifted, Preston-born goalkeeper David Lucas who blocked, stopped and generally undid QPR in his first league game for a year.

If Preston wanted a good time to come to west London with the hope of getting all three points, then this was it. Riding high themselves in the First Division, to the general surprise of many who tipped them to go straight down, they were up against a QPR side who took a midweek battering in the Worthington Cup and have another 11 players on the treatment table.

QPR were probably relieved to see there were no Zaireans in Preston's line-up, after Lua-Lua proved their undoing in a 4-1 Worthington Cup home defeat in a game in which the QPR defence did a passable impersonation of the exhibits in Madame Tussaud's.

Four days on and against Preston's lively and hard-working, if less flamboyant attack of Jon Macken and Steve Basham, QPR had shaken off some of their more statuesque approach, but shots were still getting through. Two alert saves from Lee Harper, including one after just four minutes from Basham's 20-yarder, kept Gerry Francis' men in the game in the first half. Glad just to hang on after losing their last two games, QPR's attacks were thin on the ground, with midfielder Stuart Wardley going close with two headers.

With 53 minutes there was proof - if any was needed - that this has not been QPR 's week. A rare flowing move saw Wardley and Chris Kiwomya muster three shots between them from inside the penalty box only to be denied by Lucas and their own inaccuracy. But that was not the end of what was becoming an increasingly personal duel between Wardley and Lucas. Seven minutes later the Preston goalkeeper once again denied the midfielder, as Richard Langley swung in a free-kick for Wardley to head goalwards. Two minutes later, with holes opening up in the Preston defence, Wardley tried to side-foot home from short range only for Lucas to pull off another point-blank save.

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