Preston North End were beaten 2-0 by Queens Park Rangers in wintry conditions at Deepdale.
In a game of few chances, the visitors took the lead ten minutes into the second period through Paul Smyth’s close-range finish, before Chris Willock made it two in the closing stages.
North End made three changes from the midweek defeat to Middlesbrough, with skipper Alan Browne and Duane Holmes returning to the starting XI, while there was a first start for Calvin Ramsay in the absence of the suspended Brad Potts.
On a bitterly-cold evening at Deepdale, the action took a while to warm up, and the first effort for either side fell for Ched Evans in the 14th minute, but his first-time attempt was kept out by Asmir Begović.
It looked like Evans would have another presentable opportunity just a few minutes later, however his decision to take a touch instead of hitting it first time helped the defence, who managed to get a tackle in.
In the 22nd minute, Lyndon Dykes was shown a yellow card as his flailing left arm struck the face of Andrew Hughes who went up for a header with the striker, and on another day the punishment may have been more severe.
QPR’s first effort at goal came eight minutes before the break when Chris Willock let the ball run across his body, losing Ramsay in the process, but his strike trickled wide of Freddie Woodman’s goal.
North End brought on Liam Millar at the start of the second half to try and inject some pace into the game, while QPR introduced Ilias Chair, who created the opening goal within ten minutes.
The Moroccan cut in from the left and sent a dangerous, low cross towards the far post where Smyth was charging in to bundle the ball home.
Chair then tried his luck himself soon after, having a 25-yard strike comfortably caught by Woodman, while at the other end Mads Frøkjær sent a strike just over the bar, albeit from an offside position.
Woodman had to save again in the 72nd minute to prevent Andre Dozzell making it two from distance, and he then came up with an even better stop six minutes from time to tip Elijah Dixon-Bonner’s effort wide at full stretch.
The visitors put the game to bed with three minutes to spare as Chair drilled a low cross towards the far post and Willock was there to tap home and seal victory.
PNE line-up: Woodman; Ramsay (Stewart, 87), Storey, Lindsay, Hughes; Browne, Whiteman (McCann, 73); Holmes, Keane (Millar, 45), Frøkjær (Woodburn, 73), Evans. Subs not used: Cornell, Cunningham, Brady, Ledson, Best.
QPR line-up: Begović; Cannon (Kakay, 65), Dunne, Salter-Clarke, Paal; Field, Colback (Chair, 45); Smyth (Dixon-Bonner, 65), Dozzell (Larkeche, 79), Willock (Kelman, 90+2); Dykes. Subs not used: Archer, Cook, Duke-McKenna, Drew.
Attendance: 14,280 (542 QPR fans)
Referee: Mr J Smith.