|Queens Park Rangers 2 v 1 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 9th September 2017 Kick-off 15:00
QPR 2-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Saturday, 9th Sep 2017 17:28
Sub Bersant Celina celebrated his 21st birthday with a brilliant late goal but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Blues from falling to a 2-1 defeat at QPR. Jamie Mackie and Luke Freeman struck either side of the break to give Rangers a two-goal advantage before Celina smashed home his stunning strike to set up a nervy end for the home team, who held on to claim the three points and inflict Town's first away defeat in this year's Championship.
New loanee Callum Connolly was handed his Blues debut at right-back with Jordan Spence the right centre-half, Dominic Iorfa to his left and Jonas Knudsen returning to left-back.
Town, in their red and black away kit, started with a four-man midfield with Martyn Waghorn on the left, Grant Ward on the right and Cole Skuse and Flynn Downes in the middle with Joe Garner partnering David McGoldrick up front.
Celina was on the bench alongside Freddie Sears and Myles Kenlock - who both dropped out of the team having started the 2-0 home defeat to Fulham a fortnight ago - while Tom Adeyemi was included in the 18 for the first time since his summer move to the Blues.
QPR made three changes with Jack Robinson, Alex Baptiste and Pawel Wszolek replacing Steven Caulker, Darnell Furlong and Matt Smith.
The home side struck the game’s first shot, one-time Town target Conor Washington hitting a low effort through to Bartosz Bialkowski from 25 yards which the keeper claimed comfortably.
QPR went closer in the seventh minute when Massimo Luongo crossed from the right and Washington flicked a header wide at the far post when stretching.
The Blues threatened for the first time soon afterwards, McGoldrick crossing from the right after showing his skills but the ball was headed behind before it reached Garner.
Bialkowski was called into serious action for the first time on 12 when a cross from Wszolek following a corner somehow avoided everyone in the box but was returned from the byline by Luke Freeman, the Blues keeper doing well to punch it out of the danger area.
Town switched to the 4-3-3 system which had looked more likely given the personnel as the game approached the quarter of an hour mark with Waghorn moving to wide on the right.
The Blues had the ball in the net in the 25th minute after Garner had been fed in after good work from Waghorn and McGoldrick but the Blues number 14 had strayed offside.
Just before the half hour, Knudsen crossed from the left. Waghorn sent it back in from the right after Garner claimed to have been fouled - referee Andy Davies wasn’t interested - but McGoldrick was unable to trouble Alex Smithies with his header.
There was a scare for the Blues at the other end almost immediately when a Downes slip allowed Freeman a shot at goal from the edge of the box but Bialkowski batted it away.
Moments later, Iorfa slid in to make a superb challenge as Washington looked to break into the area. On 34 Downes was booked for a foul onMackie.
The home side were continuing to have most of the ball and look the more dangerous side and in the 37th minute Josh Scowen struck a powerful effort from a tight angle on the right which Bialkowski palmed over.
In the 42nd minute Downes sent McGoldrick away with a superb pass but despite several twists and turns the Irish international was unable to find himself the space to shoot. Soon after, Waghorn hit a low effort from distance which Smithies claimed.
However, a minute later, QPR took the lead. After what had looked like a clear handball early in the move by Luongo, Mackie turned Wszolek’s right-wing cross past Bialkowski.
While the Rangers players celebrated stand-in skipper Skuse and Garner remonstrated with referee Davies regarding the handball.
Neither side threatened again before the break with Rangers having deserved to go in ahead, despite the contentious nature of the goal.
The home side had had most of the ball and created most of the game’s chances with Bialkowski much the busier of the keepers.
But, while Smithies hadn’t been seriously tested, Town had got themselves in decent positions on the break on one or two occasions but without making the most of those rare opportunities.
However, they needed a significant improvement after the break if they were to maintain their 100 per cent Championship away record.
McGoldrick curled an effort well over from distance soon after the restart, but in the 48th minute the home side doubled their lead.
Freeman broke towards the edge of the box and wasn’t closed down by Town defenders and was able to toe-poke a shot past Bialkowski to his right.
McGoldrick hit a low shot which failed to trouble Smithies in the 55th minute after being played in by Waghorn, then at the other end Washington hit a low shot which Bialkowski claimed similarly comfortably.
Just after the hour, one-time Blues loanee Luongo unleashed a powerful strike from distance which Bialkowski saved well to his right.
On 64 Washington took down a long ball following a Town attack and hit a shot which Bialkowski again saved well to his right.
The Blues created their best opportunity of the half moments later when Connolly crossed from the right and Knudsen headed wide beyond the far post, the ball have been just too high for Garner.
While Smithies prepared to take the goal-kick and with rain by now falling heavily, Town switched Waghorn and Downes for Sears and debutant Adeyemi.
The Blues just about survived a goalmouth scramble following a corner in the 69th minute before Knudsen required treatment for a head injury after receiving a kick to the head as he nodded clear a subsequent flag-kick.
Match Gallery: 3 photos
On 76 Celina took over from Ward with the Blues getting into good positions on occasion but with the final ball all too often behind or short of their target.
Referee Davies was also frustrating the Town players, pulling play back when Garner was in a decent position, then failing to penalise a home defender for a foul on McGoldrick. A minute later, QPR swapped Wszolek for debutant former Exeter winger David Wheeler.
As the final scheduled 10 minutes approached the home side were looking more likely to add to their lead than the Blues were to reduce it. Sub Wheeler went close to a debut goal with a low effort which he screwed past the post following a corner.
On 82 QPR replaced Mackie, who had suffered a knock, and Washington for Kazenga LuaLua and Matt Smith, who almost scored seconds after coming on.
Iorfa beat him to a cross from the left but the ball bounced on top of the grounded on-loan Wolves man before Bialkowski could claim it and the former Fulham man hit a shot which caught a Town player and then the bar on its way into the stand.
Luongo curled a strike not too far wide in the 84th minute, then a minute later Celina gave the Blues late hope with a brilliant first league goal for the Blues.
The Kosovan international received the ball from Knudsen on the left following a throw-in then brought the ball in across several defenders before smashing a brilliant strike past Smithies.
The goal set up a frantic final few minutes. After Freeman was booked for pulling back Sears, Celina returned the cleared resultant freekick to the far post to Connolly, whose goal-bound shot was blocked.
As the game moved into five minutes of injury time, the Blues had an even better chance, Iorfa nodded a Celina freekick to Adeyemi, who took it down with his thigh but hit his shot over.
Debutant Connolly was booked for a foul on LuaLua in the final moments before referee Davies brought the game to a close.
On the balance of the game the home side deserved the three points with the Blues showing little sign of getting back into the match before Celina’s brilliant strike, which if anything was even better than Tom Lawrence’s during the Blues’ last visit to Loftus Road, which ended in the same result.
Town were poor on the ball aside from brief spells and the makeshift defence was somewhat chaotic at times, while the midfield still seemed to be too centred on shoehorning another striker into the side, despite Sears dropping to the bench.
The defeat - Town's first away from home in the Championship this season - sees the Blues drop to fourth in the table.
QPR: Smithies, Bidwell, Onuoha (c), Freeman, Washington (Smith 82), Scowen, Mackie (LuaLua 82), Robinson, Baptiste, Luongo, Wszolek (Wheeler 77). Unused: Lumley, Furlong, Manning, Osayi-Samuel, Wheeler.
Town: Bialkowski, Connolly, Iorfa, Spence, Knudsen, Skuse (c), Downes (Adeyemi 68), Ward (Celina 76), Waghorn (Sears 68), McGoldrick, Garner. Unused: Gerken, Rowe, Kenlock, Woolfenden. Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire). Att: 14,060 (Town: 2,384).
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