Preston reach play-offs
Lilywhites make final day surge into top six
Last Updated: 03/05/09 3:54pm
Parkin: Opened the scoring
Preston North End reached the Championship play-offs on the last day of the season following their 2-1 over Queens Park Rangers.
Jon Parkin opened the scoring on 37 minutes with his right foot finish from six yards to send Preston in at the break with hope of making the top six with matters out of their own hands.
Their hopes were dashed with news of Burnley leading and Cardiff City drawing at half-time and they suffered a further blow when Patrick Agyemang equalised for QPR on 57 minutes.
Sean St. Ledger restored the lead midway through the second half for the home side, just minutes after news had filtered through of Cardiff falling behind elsewhere.
The home side rode out a wave of late attacks from QPR in a nerve-wrecking finale to the Championship season, ensuring they play Sheffield United in the play-offs.
The hosts were the first to threaten in the seventh minute. Paul McKenna's free-kick from the left was met by the unmarked Billy Jones at the far post, but his header deflected wide for a corner.
Rangers responded well and Mikele Leigertwood saw a powerful 25-yard strike fly narrowly wide before good work from Wayne Routledge presented Vine with an opportunity, only for the striker to fire tamely at Andy Lonergan from 12 yards.
Chris Sedgwick then had the ball in the net for Preston, but the flag had already gone up for offside.
St Ledger wasted a glorious chance for the Lilywhites in the 20th minute, mis-kicking from eight yards after Neil Mellor's low cross had found him unmarked.
The home side went close again on the half hour as Whaley's driven 20-yard shot looped inches over the crossbar via two deflections.
Parkin put Preston in front with his 11th goal of the season and Whaley should have added a second on the stroke of half-time when he shot straight at Cerny from six yards.
QPR almost pulled level three minutes after the interval as Agyemang's drilled shot deflected narrowly wide of Lonergan's near post.
Ephraim then curled a shot wide from 15 yards for the visitors before Preston forward Mellor thumped two successive shots over the bar from just outside the penalty area.
Rangers then pulled level in the 57th minute as Agyemang latched onto a neat through ball from Vine before sliding the ball beyond Lonergan with the aid of a slight deflection.
Mellor had a chance to put Preston back ahead within a minute, but he drilled his shot wide from an acute angle after Cerny had sliced a clearance into his path.
The Rangers goalkeeper made a superb save soon after to keep out a glancing header from St Ledger as the hosts piled on the pressure.
And McKenna almost brought the house down in the 63rd minute with a tremendous 25-yard volley that flashed marginally wide of Cerny's left-hand post.
Preston were finally rewarded for their pressure with 16 minutes remaining, former Stoke striker Parkin the creator with a huge throw comparative to that of his former team-mate Rory Delap.
Parkin and Brown spurned chances to add a third for Preston in the closing stages, but it mattered not as the Lilywhites held on for a priceless three points.
Sky Bet Championship
Sun 3rd May
Watford3 - 1Derby
Plymouth1 - 2Barnsley
C Palace0 - 0Sheff Utd
N Forest3 - 1Southampton
Swansea0 - 1Blackpool
Reading1 - 2Birmingham
Preston2 - 1QPR
Sheff Wed1 - 0Cardiff
Wolves1 - 0Doncaster
Ipswich2 - 1Coventry
Charlton4 - 2Norwich
Burnley4 - 0Bristol C
Sky Bet Championship
|4||Queens Park Rangers||33||60|
|8||Brighton and Hove Albion||33||50|