Preston North End picked up their 10th away win of the season at Loftus Road, as they beat a struggling Queens Park Rangers side 2-0. Tom Cannon continued his good form picking up both goals, which now makes it five in five.
Gareth Ainsworth’s R’s side are now nervously looking over their shoulders after a ninth defeat in ten.
Are the play-offs a possibility?
The top six hasn’t been seriously considered all season really. We drew too many games at the start of the season, we’ve been far too inconsistent and the home form is among the worst in the league. Yet with six games to go we find ourselves just two points off the top six. Even after the win over Blackpool last week, play-off talk seemed silly.
Since the defeat to Burnley in February where it seemed like our season had pretty much finished, we have only lost one in ten games. Only Luton Town have a better record over that time. It’s even more incredible, because on the 25th February, we were 1-0 down to Wigan Athletic at Deepdale and staring at a sixth home defeat in seven games.
The atmosphere was toxic after the first 45 minutes on that. Ryan Lowe seemed to be coming to the end of his tenure, as the fans had completely lost all faith in him, and the football was dire. We turned that game around and haven’t looked back. Anyone would have accepted being two points off at this stage of the season.
There’s some huge games against Millwall and Blackburn Rovers coming up, with both those teams currently in the top six. First of all we need three points on Monday though against a Reading side that has slipped into the bottom three. Whenever we do get a chance to kick off we quite often mess it up, and the optimism fizzles out. Hopefully not this time, as it would be nice to end the season with something to play for in some big games.
Cannon making sure we aren’t missing Evans
Five goals in five games for the Everton striker, and didn’t he take his brace well on Friday. His first was a lovely header from a Robbie Brady cross. But the run into the space for it was probably the most impressive thing about the goal. His second goal you would expect any decent striker at this level to put away, yet Troy Parrot missed a similar chance in the first half.
If Cannon is running through on goal with no defenders to beat, I feel very confident in him now, and you can tell he does too. His finishing has been great for all of his goals. He doesn’t rush, and that extra touch he takes is always worth it as he prepares himself for the shot.
With Ched Evans now out for the season, and possibly quite longer, it has fallen on Cannon’s shoulders to provide the goals. Parrott has struggled for goals this season, although the majority of the rest of his game has been impressive. Liam Delap is yet to score as well, so it will be down to Cannon to lead the way.
Alan Browne’s injury could be a concern
At the end of the first half, the Preston captain hobbled off injured after jarring his knee in a challenge with Stefan Johansen. It looked like he could have damage his ligaments as he opened up his knee. He appeared at the end of the game on crutches, and if it’s severe it could see him join the lengthy injury list now. Luckily Ali McCann may be returning sooner than expected but it would be a shame for Browne.
He was having a good game on Friday and was unlucky not to open the scoring, when after some lovely footwork his shot cannoned back off the post. Browne, Ben Whiteman and Daniel Johnson have been key to our run of form recently, but his potential absence does provide an opportunity for someone else.
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Josh Onomah doubles his minutes for the club
Before Friday, Josh Onomah had only played 51 minutes for North End since joining the club on a free transfer from Fulham in January. He has been lacking match fitness, but it’s hard to get that when you’re not given any game time. He’s only had one game for the reserves as well in that time.
At half time with Browne having to come off, you would have expected Ryan Lowe to go for Ryan Ledson or maybe Ben Woodburn, but instead Onomah finally got his opportunity, and he impressed. He was tidy on the ball, looking to take on players, and he delightfully sneaked in between two QPR players at one stage before winning a free-kick on the edge of the box.
His attacking intent early in the second half, was key to Preston’s relentless pressure which eventually led to the opening goal. Perhaps he gets a start on Monday, and he could go on to have a crucial impact in the last few remaining games of the season.