QUEENS Park Rangers once again are forced to look downwards after a disappointing away defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion.
In a spectacle that saw the visiting side dominate vast proportions of the second period it was a rasping drive from Graham Dorrans that separated the two teams.
Missed opportunities and individual errors sadly took centre state for the visiting side, with profligacy once again the problem for shot-shy QPR.
The home side were professional in their approach, eating up the seconds and defending in numbers as Rangers ploughed forward in a one-way second period.
Dorrans’ goal was the decisive factor on a day where those that didn’t play take the upper hand in the race to stay in the Premier League.
Mark Hughes opted to make a solitary change – bringing back Shaun Derry into the heart of midfield while controversially opting to drop midweek goalscorer Ákos Buzsáky. The Hungarian midfielder took up his place on the bench.
Paddy Kenny started behind and unchanged back four of Nedum Onouha, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill and Taye Taiwo with Derry partnering Joey Barton and Samba Diakité in the middle. Adel Taarat and Jamie Mackie flanked Bobby Zamora.
West Bromwich Albion rested several players against Manchester City and they all returned with six changes for Roy Hodgson’s men. Jonas Olsson was unfortunately injured in the warm up with Craig Dawson stepping up from the bench.
Ben Foster started behind a back four of Billy Jones, Dawson, Gareth McAuley and Liam Ridgewell. The midfield comprised of Chris Brunt, Youssouf Mulumbu, Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas with Peter Odemwingie partnering Marc Antoine-Fortune.
KICK OFF: WEST BROM v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
This will have undoubtedly been a fixture Mark Hughes earmarked for points. West Bromwich Albion are all-but safe in a season that has fluctuated dramatically, giving rise to some inconsistent form both home and away.
Following a scintillating performance and win during the week, Queens Park Rangers were looking to garner the Loftus Road atmosphere and performance to help bolster a dismal record on the road in recent times.
Rangers started on the front foot to that effect, retaining the ball well early on before looking to Bobby Zamora on the counter-attack. A neat through ball had the former Fulham man positioned well but he was thwarted on two occasions by Ben Foster.
West Bromwich Albion had a better foot-hold on the encounter inside the ten minute mark when Marc Antoine Fortune fed strike partner Peter Odemwingie – the latter could only strike harmlessly across the face of the goal.
Rangers continued to defend stoutly in face of some useful attacking play from the home side. The full-backs looked to push off searching for the lively strike duo in the channels – it proved to great effect at times in a first half belonging to the Baggies.
On 22 minutes disaster struck with Albion taking the lead. Some neat play in the corner involving Jerome Thomas saw Odemwingie striding towards the area. He clipped aside for Graham Dorrans who was afforded the freedom of the Hawthornes.
The Scottish international was able to take two touches before firing a rasping, swerving drive beyond the outstretched arms of Paddy Kenny and into the top left-hand corner. Disaster for QPR who found themselves on the back foot for the majority of the opening period.
West Brom continued to drive forward with Odemwingie breaking the offside trap to drill and effort harmlessly into the side netting. While it was not a threatening drive by any means the precedent set by his defence splitting run was damning.
Rangers put together a useful counter-attacking move as the anonymous Adel Taarabt freed himself in the middle before playing a scything pass to Mackie. The forward came inside and played to Diakité only for the Malian to smash into the side netting.
It seemed to buoy the visitors who had the greater desire at this point in the fixture – Derry won a key tackle on his return to the side to tee up skipper Barton down the right. An excellently-flighted centre saw Zamora climb but nod a header harmlessly wide – a key miss in the context of the fixture.
Zamora nearly made amends just minutes later when he latched onto a sublime Taye Taiwo through pass. His first touch was majestic with his weaker right foot, before forcing Foster into a smart save at his near post.
There was still time for Jamie Mackie to skew an effort wide of the upright on the stroke of half time. It was a half that Rangers slowly grew into, but nevertheless it was a half that belonged to the home side courtesy of an excellent goal.
HALF TIME: WEST BROM 1-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
The signs were damning as QPR’s away form was taking another turn for the worse. Nevertheless there was renewed belief among the sizeable visiting support and evidently among the players, who set about their task with great vigour.
Dorrans however was afforded space once more on the edge of the area, this time getting his range slightly out to fire straight at a grateful Kenny. Rangers however were getting more of the ball and forcing their opponents to remain firmly behind the ball.
It was attack against defence at times with Rangers looking to stretch their opponents and pick out crucial gaps. Zamora was leading the line ably with Mackie and Taarabt looking disciplined in their support of the loan front-man.
Diakité picked up what has seemingly become his mandatory yellow card, despite committing a solitary foul. When you’re a marked man it would seem that your name is in the book before you step out on the pitch – possibly a case of victimisation for the combative Malian.
Shaun Wright-Phillips came on for Derry and nearly had an instant impact when he latched onto Zamora’s cross to deflect a volley wide of the upright. A positive early introduction for the forgotten winger.
Fortune went down for the second time in the space five minutes, drawing his afternoon to a conclusion – Shane Long came on in his stead and looked sprightly from the off in a bid to regain his place up front.
A succession of corners failed to yield successive results for the visiting team while a speculative drive from Barton failed to test Foster and once again time was ticking for the visiting side under pressure at the wrong end of the table.
Taarabt and Barton both cleared the bar with efforts while Taiwo’s ambitious drive from distance nearly took out the crowd on an afternoon where Rangers had left their shooting boots behind at Loftus Road.
Heidar Helguson and Armand Traoré came on for Taarabt and Taiwo in a bid to create a bit more attacking potential. Two up top and long bombs were being dropped into the heart of the Baggies area.
It was with 15 minutes remaining that QPR should have struck level with Wright-Phillips feeding Zamora and the forward merely cutting across the ball and seeing it drift away in front of the visibly distraught visiting support. Zamora himself cut a disappointed figure.
Albion were eating up the seconds, Liam Ridgewell had been rightfully booked earlier in the game for his unwillingness to get on with the game and he was certainly walking a tight-rope in terms of the referee’s book.
Rangers laboured and toiled throughout but simply could not break down a robust back-line. The longer the fixture went, the less likely it seemed that QPR could break down the Roy Hodgson barrier that thwarted their progress.
Four minutes of added on time had the supporters on their feet but the players were clearly out on their feet at the prospect of extra minutes of work. Clearly Wednesday had taken its toll for the visiting side who had dominated second half proceedings.
Shane Long protested wildly when he went down under pressure in the area, with Clint Hill once more showing excellent strength to outmuscle the former Reading man. Chances however were not forthcoming for the desperate visitors.
With that Mr Moss blew the final whistle, Rangers were disappointed but now will look to win their home fixture against Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday. A concerning run of away form is once again added to with this latest troubling defeat.
FULL TIME: WEST BROM 1-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS