AKOS Buzsaky hit what proved to be the winning goal as Rangers stumbled over the line against rock-bottom Nottingham Forest.
The Magical Magyar`s sublime second half volley settled the game as a contest after Angelo Balanta had put Rangers in front from close range.
That should have been the game for Rangers, but old habits never die hard as Rangers invited the opposition back onto them in the later stages.
Lewis McGugan`s precise free-kick late on gave the travelling fans hope, with Rangers defending in numbers, but ultimately the R`s came through what proved to be a tough test.
R`s boss Iain Dowie made a couple of changes to the squad that went down without a whimper against Birmingham City at St. Andrews.
Angelo Balanta went straight into the starting line-up after an excellent brace in the reserves midweek, seeing Gavin Mahon drop to the bench. No place in the 16 for either Patrick Agyemang and Daniel Parejo as Samuel Di Carmine was also named as a substitute.
Forest welcomed new signing Carl Fletcher straight into the heart of the midfield, but there way no place for star striker Robert Earnshaw meaning there was a blend of exuberance of youth and experience in attack with Nathan Tyson and wily veteran Andrew Cole linking up.
Highly rated Paul Anderson was selected on the left ahead of Manchester United loanee Lee Martin, with young central midfielder Lewis McGugan recovering sufficiently in time to take up his place on the bench.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Nottingham Forest
Rangers started the brighter of the two sides with Lee Cook instrumental in the R`s attacks. The livewire left winger was jinking both ways and running directly proving a real threat to the Forest defence.
An initial chance for Rangers came from a long throw with Fitz Hall on long throw duty with Gavin Mahon sat on the bench. The central defender`s throw found Damion Stewart in a crowd of players, but his flick on was dealt with by former Southampton and Brentford stopper, Paul Smith.
Stewart playing at the heart of defence alongside Fitz Hall when it had been anticipated that a trip round the world seeing him return from international duty with Jamaica on Friday may have seen Matthew Connolly start the game.
Nathan Tyson also went close in the opening stages as he sent his right footed effort well over the bar after latching onto a long ball by Julian Bennett. The game was beginning to ebb and flow with both sides looking for the upper hand.
Dexter Blackstock`s weak header was seemingly all the R`s could muster in front of goal, as Rangers` demons were continuing to haunt them in the six yard box, taking nothing away from the excellent cross from Akos Buzsaky.
Buzsaky was beginning to come into his own, reminding Rangers fans what they`d been missing as he recovered from his ankle surgery. Driving forward Buzsaky came inside and sent a vicious, dipping volley narrowly wide of Paul Smith`s right hand upright.
Smith was brought into action moments later as Dexter Blackstock brought a good save from the Forest stopper after a good cross from Delaney from the left. The Irish international fired the ball into the box before Dexter got a foot to the ball, prompting Smith to produce a smart save.
It was back to the other end moments later as Radek Cerny managed to palm the ball away from the head of Nathan Tyson after a looping cross. It was a truly excellent save as Tyson was played onside by a defender standing on the goal-line.
Akos Buzsaky, who was given a run out for Hungary on Tuesday night, nearly produced a goal for Rangers when his rasping drive spilled through the arms of Paul Smith who claimed at the second attempt. This chance spurned the R`s on as they were visibly growing in confidence.
The first half fairly stuttered to a conclusion as Delaney and Tyson produced speculative strikes from distance that never looked like troubling their respective goalkeepers. In a relatively equal first half it was visible that both sides were lacking confidence in the areas that mattered – in a tentative first half display.
The indifferent reception that met the half time whistle epitomised the lack of incident that was produced in the first period. Only Akos Buzsaky could provide any real chances of note for Rangers, while the Forest strike force of Tyson and Cole threatened to score but flattered to deceive.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Nottingham Forest
Forest started the second half in the ascendency producing the opening chance. Andrew Cole`s headed effort was thwarted once more by Radek Cerny as the R`s defence were clueless to the former Manchester United man`s clever movement.
Rangers were not to be denied however and perhaps against the run of play took an early lead in the second period. Fitz Hall went close with a long throw, before a rather perplexing clearance from the Forest defence lead to a throw in on the opposite side.
Hall`s long throw was met by Damien Delaney and the ball subsequently struck the underside of the bar and Rangers fans were celebrating a goal but Angelo Balanta put the issue beyond doubt slamming home from close range.
The young Colombian earned himself a confidence boosting strike on his return to the first team. He had perhaps not been in the game as much as Dowie would have hoped but nevertheless he had to be there to place it home, which he duly did.
Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Nottingham Forest
But for all their attacking guile and flair Rangers were struggling to handle the impeccable movement of Andrew Cole – the veteran forward had bagged himself a hat-rick for Burnley on his last visit to W12 was a constant threat to Rangers.
Damien Delaney had to produce an excellent tackle on the goal scoring threat as Cole looked to turn the game as he did for the Clarets last time out.
Rangers seemingly put the game beyond doubt as the game approached the hour mark with Akos Buzsaky rounding off with a goal that epitomised his performance – pure class.
Another long throw from central defender Fitz Hall was only half-cleared as Forest were really struggling to get those set-pieces clear of the danger area, and Akos Buzsaky capitalised having all the time he needed waiting for the ball to come down before unleashing a classy left footed drive through a crowd of players into the bottom right hand corner.
The goal sparked celebrations amongst the home crowd who had remained dormant throughout the fixture, owing much to the disappointing home display, but this goal certainly spurred them on as they sensed there could be more goals in the offing with that calibre of defending.
Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Nottingham Forest
It wasn`t long before Iain Dowie made his first change, but this time it was enforced. Central defender Fitz Hall was withdrawn through illness, something he suffered coming into the game but opted to play. Former Arsenal defender Matthew Connolly came on in his stead slotting into the central defensive berth.
Buzsaky was in the thick of the action once more as his fierce left-footed drive dipped narrowly over Paul Smith`s cross bar skimming the net on its way over. The Magical Magyar was exciting the crowd with his talented footwork and eye for goal, and Forest could scarcely muster a reply.
The pressure continued to mount on Forest manager Colin Calderwood as he replaced Paul Anderson and debutante Carl Fletcher were withdrawn to a chorus of boos from the travelling faithful who populated the school end upper. Chants subsequently reverberated from the fans, “You Don`t Know What You`re Doing!”
Samuel Di Carmine came on to replace Angelo Balanta, but it was Rangers who were forced onto the back foot with Cerny pulling off a sensational save to deny Nathan Tyson. The former Reading and Wycombe Wanderers man wheeled away from his man before sending a good effort towards the bottom right, Cerny`s strong palm denied the livewire forward.
Full back Chambers fired over from close range from the resultant corner, a real chance for Forest. Rangers went straight down the other end and Peter Ramage`s tantalising cross narrowly evaded Dexter Blackstock as Smith got down to smother the ball.
Forest did get themselves back into the game after some tentative defending from Rangers. The ball seemingly could not be cleared from the area and referee Mr Graham deemed Samuel Di Carmine had fouled his man by backing in, a baffling decision that handed Forest a chance – which they duly took.
Cerny was evidently not happy with the line-up of his wall, berating them to move across to cover the post, they didn`t move as Lewis McGugan stepped up and fired a blockbuster into the top right hand corner much to the dismay of stopper Cerny. A sensational strike that had Forest fans on their feet, finally giving the visitors something to cheer.
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Nottingham Forest
Dowie sensed problems, as did the whole ground as Forest were pouring forward in numbers throwing Wes Morgan into an attacking role. The R`s first team coach withdrew goal scoring hero Akos Buzsaky with defensive central midfielder Gavin Mahon taking his place.
Forest through caution to the wind as excitement gripped the fixture for the first time – home fans biting nails, away fans cheering their team forward as long ball after long ball was a test of the resilience of the Rangers rearguard.
It was all to no avail as the R`s managed to cling on to their goal advantage. A game where Rangers should have won at a canter ended up clinging on for what could be a priceless three points in W12. Forest could feel hard done by, but at the end of the day Rangers picked up a deserved win.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Nottingham Forest
Attendance: 15, 122
Rangers: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Fitz Hall (Matthew Connolly 64), Damion Stewart, Akos Buzsaky, (Gavin Mahon 90), Lee Cook, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands, Angelo Balanta (Samuel Di Carmine 76), Dexter Blackstock.
Forest: Smith, Chambers, Bennett (Lynch 46), Morgan, Wilson, Anderson (Davies 73), McLeary, Cohen, Fletcher (McGugan 73), Cole, Tyson.
Radek Cerny – 6/10
Dealt with all he had to do quite comfortably, making a number of decent saves. His real weakness was in coming for crosses, in which Cerny couldn`t inspire the confidence of his defenders. Saying that you cannot complain too much of the former Tottenham man who probably had his best game in a Rangers shirt.
Peter Ramage – 6/10
Peter was coming in for a fair amount of unjust criticism from some supporters today, he tried his heart out and bombed down the right flank when required. The former Newcastle United full back also put in a number of telling crosses – not bad for a central defender.
Damien Delaney – 5/10
Getting caught out in behind the majority of the time, and in all fairness has been a shadow of the player last season. He tried to get forward to support Lee Cook, but couldn`t give the same level of support that Ramage gave on the other flank. Another left-back in the squad would probably of challenged Delaney for his place by now.
Damion Stewart – 7/10
Damion did well with a couple of tough strikers in Tyson and Cole, he had to compete against the veteran Cole in the air. He didn`t look to tire at all when you consider the amount he`s travelled in the last few days and built up a good understanding with Fitz Hall during the game.
Fitz Hall – 7/10
His long throws were a constant menace to the Forest defence and he defended well against some difficult strikers. His ball control and passing were excellent at times as he battled for strength with Andrew Cole. Was withdrawn through illness following Rangers second goal in the second half.
Akos Buzsaky – 8/10
Akos provided the R`s with a rare glimpse of class on an otherwise poor afternoon of football. His excellent footwork and technically gifted strikes from distance gave the R`s fans something to cheer about. Took his goal delightfully and inspired others around him.
Lee Cook – 7/10
Was classy in spells, but went missing when the going got tough. Cook didn`t see a lot of the ball when the R`s were under pressure but when the ball went forward, more often than not he contributed to a free flowing move. He seemed to enjoy crossing from deep or passing sideways rather than really going at his respective full-back.
Mikele Leigertwood – 6/10
Looked OK in the middle as he battled for control of the game with Carl Fletcher. Dowie seems to prefer Leigertwood in the middle rather than Mahon, who perhaps would have been better served alongside Rowlands in the middle today. Leigertwood struggled to pick a pass early in the second period.
Martin Rowlands – 6/10
Had a decent game in the middle but nevertheless the ball was managing to creep through on occasions which was disappointing. Perhaps didn`t take the bull by the horns quite as much as he normally does, looked good in spells but was a little consistent on the day.
Angelo Balanta – 7/10
Got himself a confidence boosting strike that will serve him well as he competes for a place against Swansea. He did look a little out of his depth at times with defenders able to steamroll him and take the ball with ease at times, something to build on.
Dexter Blackstock – 7/10
Dexter`s tireless effort has been a joy to behold, and although he couldn`t get a goal he was winning an awful lot in the air against Wilson and Morgan. His lack of goals in recent games are a worry when you consider the chances he`s getting, but his time will come again no doubt – because we have no-one else!
SUB: Matthew Connolly – 6/10
Replaced Fitz Hall
Did OK replacing Fitz Hall, but those are big boots to fill at times. He came on at the centre of defence alongside Stewart but they shall certainly not be the preferred partnership with all players fit – In fact Gorkss may have a say against Swansea Tuesday night.
SUB: Samuel Di Carmine – 6/10
Replaced Angelo Balanta
Didn`t really threaten up front after coming on for Balanta. He tried very hard but more often that not was found wanting in terms of positional play, and never got himself into a goal scoring position. Hasn`t really justified the decision to replace Agyemang on the bench.
Replaced Akos Buzsaky
Brought on as purely a time-wasting measure, with the combined hopes of eating up the seconds while holding the fort in front of goal.
Iain Dowie: 7/10 – He picked what he thought was the best side, not necessarily playing players in the correct positions. Perhaps would have been better served switching Rowlands and Buzsaky. Nevertheless a win is a win and that will give the players some confidence going into the Swansea game.
Colin Calderwood: 5/10 – He will be bitterly disappointed with his side, but he didn`t pick the best side, as Forest finished in the ascendency. Lewis McGugan came off the bench and looked highly impressive and perhaps should have started the fixture.
Mr F Graham: 7/10 – By far and away the best referee we`ve had this season. It`s no big statement considering the dross we`ve had to put up with, but the ref let the game flow and was reluctant to dish out the cards. Nevertheless he never let the game boil over and controlled matters from the beginning – At last a sensible ref.