QPR’s winning run was checked by Preston as an entertaining Championship clash ended 0-0.
Mark Warburton’s men had won their previous four games – and six of their last seven – but they could not find a way through the hosts’ resolute defence.
Preston – who had stuttered to four losses in their previous five – are still without a home win in 2021.
North End were in the ascendancy in the early stages at a wet and windy Deepdale.
Only a couple of minutes had passed when Scott Sinclair fired wastefully off target after being smartly teed up by Ched Evans.
It did not take long for in-form Rangers to get into their stride, however. Lyndon Dykes fluffed a terrific chance, lashing straight at goalkeeper Daniel Iversen from 12 yards after meeting Todd Kane’s lofted through-ball.
Back came the hosts, and Everton loanee Anthony Gordon curled in a well-struck 25-yard free-kick that Rangers goalkeeper Seny Dieng was alert to palm behind.
Gordon was already proving a real handful, and he then twisted and turned smartly before being denied by another impressive stop from Dieng.
North End were starting to turn the screw a little by the first half midway point, and Liverpool loanee defender Sepp van den Berg saw a well-directed header tipped over the top by Dieng.
Brad Potts then blazed over from just 15 yards after Gordon’s corner-kick was not cleared.
Alex Neil’s men were not looking like a team who have been struggling on home turf of late, but still a breakthrough proved elusive as the interval approached.
North End were almost punished in the 36th minute when Moroccan midfielder Ilias Chair went on a smart run into the box before whipping an angled strike narrowly over the top.
Seconds before the break, Evans drilled inches off target from 18 yards as the impressive North End ended the half on top.
Into the second half and it was Rangers who threatened first when Chair’s whipped-in corner reached Charlie Austin at the back post.
But the experienced hitman lashed disappointingly wide from just outside the six-yard box.
As the hour mark passed this game was still very much up for grabs, and it was North End who rallied briefly.
Again Gordon was at the heart of the next opportunity, as his cross was met by Sinclair, but he frustratingly side-footed a shot over the top from inside the Rangers box.
The pendulum swung back into Rangers’ favour again with 15 minutes to go, and it was Austin again who saw a thumping strike parried by Iversen.
Preston’s Potts missed the best chance to snatch a late winner when he dragged an effort harmlessly over the top from 15 yards, with the game ultimately ending in a stalemate.
What the managers said…
Preston’s Alex Neil: “It was a big improvement from Cardiff. That was a really difficult performance to describe, we missed two penalties and it just wasn’t to be for us. I thought we definitely lifted the level of performance, so I’m pleased with that. We were more aggressive, offensive, and at the end of it we just lacked that bit of quality you need.
“We enjoyed the bulk of the possession, but we just didn’t manage to take our opportunities when they came our way. We should have landed the first blow, but we didn’t. We got into some great areas, and we looked a real threat at times. Over the piece, I think if any team had deserved to go on and win the game, it was us.”
QPR’s Mark Warburton: “That was a hard-earned point for us. We came here for a midweek game against a Preston side who will have been smarting. They had a bad defeat at the weekend, so we knew it would be tough here. There was a real challenge to be met here, and I thought we did that.
“The second-half performance was much better than the first, and I was
delighted with the way our wing-backs got forward. I think it says a lot that the lads are really disappointed back there at only coming out of this game with a point. This is a tough place to come, and it was an energy-sapping pitch out there.
“The lads showed terrific character throughout and stood up to the challenge. It’s another clean sheet for us, and that belief is still growing in the camp.”