REPORT: QPR 1-2 TOWNAnother Terriers record tumbled as Town won a first ever league game at Loftus Road, beating QPR 2-1 in a real game of two halves.
Town led by two at the interval, with Izzy Brown hitting his fourth goal in just six starts for the Club before Nahki Wells scored for a third successive game at the home of QPR in an impressive attacking performance.
The tide turned after the interval, with Rangers’ direct style of play not allowing Town to exert any control on proceedings. Both sides created chances and sub Luke Freeman pulled one back for the hosts, but the Terriers hung on in determined fashion for an 11th win in the last 14 games.
QPR started the game in an unusual 5-2-3 formation, trying to play direct into 6’ 6” tall striker Matt Smith with Conor Washington and Jamie Mackie flanking him. Smith won a high number of first balls, so Town had to be alert to the seconds that dropped in the area.
However, that also gave the Terriers a lot of space in midfield, where Aaron Mooy and Izzy Brown enjoyed themselves.
It took Brown only 17 seconds to have the first shot of the game. He strode past midfielder Massimo Luongo on halfway before running at the heart of the QPR defence and bending a shot straight at former Town custodian Alex Smithies from 25 yards.
Half a minute later, Mooy broke forward down the right and put a teasing ball across the face of goal that Wells, Brown and van La Parra just couldn’t reach.
Rangers settled into the game after that start, with left back Jake Bidwell blasting a half-cleared corner into the upper tier from range inside five minutes.
Although Town played very well in the first half, they had to be thankful to ‘keeper Danny Ward for a vital save with the game goalless inside eight minutes. The on-loan Liverpool FC custodian got down sharply to his right to get a hand to Washington’s shot from a mere eight yards, who found space inside the area as Rangers worked the ball in from their right. Danny did enough to push the ball onto the outside of the post.
The resulting corner found Smith’s head on the penalty spot, but he planted his effort towering straight into Ward’s hands.
Rangers also held a high line in defence when out of possession – and Wells’ clever runs behind gave them problems. One 13th minute ricochet almost put the Bermudian through on goal, with Smithies just claiming.
Smith volleyed over at the other end after a rare mistake in possession from Mooy and Town was dealt a blow inside 20 minutes when captain Jonathan Hogg, on his 100th league start for Town, was forced off with injury. On came Philip Billing, with Schindler taking the armband.
Irish midfielder Ryan Manning should have done better when a poor defensive header from Hefele dropped at his feet in the 24th minute, but from just 18 yards he sent the effort sailing over the crossbar.
Rangers were made to pay for that miss two minutes later when Brown notched his fourth goal in just his sixth Town start. Mooy started the move with a sweeping cross-field pass to Brown, who found van La Parra. The Dutchman showed terrific feet to beat two players before sliding Wells in down the left, who crossed from the dead ball line on his left. Brown had continued his run into the box and beat the defender to the cross at the near post, giving Smithies no chance with his low finish into the corner.
That goal gave Town a real boost and they dominated the rest of the half. Mooy had an effort blocked before former QPR loan man Martin Cranie blasted over from 25 yards out, but they didn’t have long to wait for the second.
That came in the 37th minute through a passing move that spanned the entire pitch. Starting in the left back area – with the away fans cheering every pass – Town worked the ball to the right and Hefele slipped Cranie into space with a great pass. Cranie found Kachunga with a pull-back and he managed to nudge the ball into the box for Wells, who slammed a powerful low drive across Smithies and into the bottom corner.
Ian Holloway changed his side’s shape after the second, but it did nothing to stem the tide in a frustrating first half for the home side. The last meaningful act saw Manning get booked for a frustrated challenge on Brown in front of the dugouts.
Things did turnaround after the half time break, with Town uncharacteristically poor in possession at times.
Instead, the entire 11 had to show a real determination to keep the ball out of the net and preserve the lead.
Schindler took heavy knocks to his shin and head during a combative 45 minutes; the first coming inside three minutes from Jamie Mackie.
QPR wanted a penalty in the 54th minute when Kachunga challenged Washington in the box, but referee Peter Bankes turned the appeals down immediately.
Rangers’ goal came with half an hour left after a double change improved the side. Kazenga LuaLua and Luke Freeman came on in the attacking areas and combined for the goal, with the Brighton loanee’s cross eventually finding Freeman on the edge of the box after blocks from Hefele and Mooy. Aaron tried to get to Freeman as he pulled the trigger 20 yards out, but the shot rocketed into the top corner.
That buoyed the home supporters, but Town still had chances on the break. Billing and van La Parra turned down passes to teammates in the areas when firing shots off target from the edge of the box before a flicked header from Brown set Wells clear; his early volley flew just a metre wide of Smithies’ far post.
The excellent Ward was needed again with 20 minutes left as a ball dropped behind Cranie. Washington’s cross found Smith in the middle and his first-time effort was heading for the top corner before the ‘keeper pushed it behind in impressive fashion.
Town tried to keep the ball in the corners as the time ticked down, beside one effort from Brown that curled inches wide of the target on the break, and saw the seven added minutes out in determined fashion to seal another welcome three points.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Martin Cranie (Tommy Smith, 79’); Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg (c) (Philip Billing, 20’); Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley, 79’), Isaiah Brown, Elias Kachunga; Nahki Wells
Joel Coleman, Jack Payne, Collin Quaner, Jon Gorenc Stanković
Isaiah Brown (72)