Goals from Welsh duo Joe Ledley and Paul Parry was enough to see Cardiff City through to a comfortable victory over the R`s. Rangers bagged a consolation late in the second period courtesy of in form striker Patrick Agyemang.
Ledley was the opportunist pouncing on defensive errors by the R`s, firstly converting after a good pass from Paul Parry and then doubling his tally after a pass from Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink found the Welsh international who coolly finished from close range again for his 7th of the campaign.
The points were secured when dangerman Paul Parry was put through by Hasselbaink again, and put his shot past the despairing dive of Lee Camp, low to the keepers left. An expert finish by the in form midfielder.
Rangers mustered a consolation when a teasing cross by Hogan Ephraim was contested by Dexter Blackstock, keeper Oakes fumbled, and Agyemang was on hand to put the ball home for 3 goals in as many starts.
It was the Bluebirds who swept Rangers aside to cantor to within 1 point of a playoff place at Ninian Park.
Rangers made only one change following the promising home win against Barnsley. Gavin Mahon came in for Dexter Blackstock, which saw Angelo Balanta drop from the 16. Young American Reece Crowther was once again 2nd choice keeper for the R`s in the absence of Jake Cole.
Cardiff made 2 changes from the team that narrowly came through an FA Cup tie with Hereford. Stephen McPhail failed a late fitness test and Steven Thompson dropped out, being replaced by debutante Aaron Ramsey and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink.
Cardiff City had the better of the opening exchanges, with the lively Joe Ledley having his shot deflected wide by the outstretched foot of Fitz Hall. Cardiff continued to apply the pressure with corners from Paul Parry and Peter Whittingham, having Rangers under pressure for large spells.
This pressure finally told in the 12th minute. Damien Delaney inexplicably misjudged a backpass to Lee Camp, the blind pass fell well short of the Rangers keeper and was pounced upon by dangerman Paul Parry. The Welsh International slotted the ball into the path of onrushing midfielder Joe Ledley who placed the ball home with ease to give the Bluebirds a deserved lead.
CARDIFF CITY 1-0 QPR
The Rangers defence appeared to be imploding following this error, and another chance came for Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, who couldn`t convert a good chance from 15 yards out, another warning for the Rangers defence.
By stark contrast Lee Camp was inspired in the Rangers goal pulling off a string of saves first from Whittingham then from Hasselbaink as Cardiff threatened to add to their tally. From a subsequent corner Glen Loovens nodded wide of the left hand upright as Rangers were looking decidedly shaky at the back.
Cardiff defender Roger Johnson then tested the resolve of the R`s stopper with a rasping drive on the volley, but once again Camp was on hand to fist the ball away. The last of the Rangers rearguard was not going to be beaten again without a fight.
Rangers first real chance of note happened on the half-hour mark, when defender Damion Stewart found himself in the Bluebirds penalty area to blast wide from an acute angle.
Cardiff then had their best chance to double their tally when good work from Paul Parry down the left gave Peter Whittingham a great chance to make it two, but the midfielder somehow sidefooted his effort wide of the target. A real let off for the Rangers defence which was looking distinctly disjointed.
The misery of the backline was compounded when Fitz Hall limped off in the 38th minute to be replaced by Michael Mancienne. He slotted in at right back with Matthew Connolly moving into centre half in a defensive reshuffle for the R`s.
The new look backline was powerless again to stop the Bluebirds from doubling their advantage. Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink broke the offside trap after previously threatening to on numerous occasions, and he delivered a ball to the unmarked Joe Ledley, who stroked the ball home from close range to give the Bluebirds a second goal and have Rangers fans thinking of damage limitation.
CARDIFF CITY 2-0 QPR
Things went from bad to worse on an evening of misery and woe for the Rangers rearguard. Matthew Connolly was forced to leave the field on a stretcher and was replaced by Dexter Blackstock. This pushed Michael Mancienne into the middle and Martin Rowlands reverted to right back – the third in the game so far if you follow.
Half Time: Cardiff City 2-0 QPR
Rangers started the second half with a little more guile and pressure. They forced two corners with Dexter Blackstock glancing his header past the far post on the latter. One half-decent chance for the R`s sandwiched between a multitude of attacks by the Bluebirds.
On the 58th minute though it was Cardiff who wrapped up the win. A fantastic through ball by Jimmy- Floyd Hasselbaink found the feet of Paul Parry on the left hand side of the area, his drive beat keeper Lee Camp into the bottom right corner.
CARDIFF CITY 3-0 QPR
Lee Camp had to be alert again to an effort by Joe Ledley. The impressive Welsh midfielder had a looping effort tipped round the post by the inspired Camp who did not deserve to be on the losing side.
Rangers though managed to get themselves a consolation courtesy of an error from veteran keeper Michael Oakes. A teasing ball into the box by Hogan Ephraim, wasn`t gathered by the ex-Aston Villa goalkeeper, under pressure by Dexter Blackstock. Patrick Agyemang was on hand to slot the ball home for his 3rd goal in as many games. The goal was credited by many sources to Hogan Ephraim however. A small plus point for the R`s on a disastrous evening.
CARDIFF CITY 3-1 QPR
Rangers pushed for a second late on when a foul on Rowan Vine yielded a free kick for the R`s, the ball was played in by Martin Rowlands, Damien Delaney was on the far post and nodded the ball towards goal, the ball was deflected goalwards by Roger Johnson, and an excellent save by substitute Goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, tipping the ball onto the bar to spare the defenders blushes. That would have been a second own goal in two for the ex-Wycombe man.
It was the Bluebirds who came away with a well deserved maximum three points, in a game where Queens Park Rangers flattered to deceive away from home once more, making this the third consecutive away defeat in all competitions.
Full Time: Cardiff City 3-1 QPR
Lee Camp – 7
The aforementioned man of the match kept Bluebirds attackers at bay on numerous occasions, but was left helpless for the three goals that he was forced to pick out of his net. Didn’t deserve to be on the losing team, a credit to the cause.
Matthew Connolly – 6
Went off with a nasty looking injury carried off on a stretcher. It was an abject performance by the youngster who was run ragged by the clever running of Parry and Ledley.
Damien Delaney – 5
Not a performance that was fit to follow up a solid debut. A terrible backpass set the trend for a below par defensive performance. Was once again torn apart by the attacking flow of the Bluebirds, and will no doubt be looking to improve next time out.
Fitz Hall – 6
Didn’t have a fantastic game for the R’s before having to leave the field for the second consecutive game injured. He was strong in the challenge and we can expect better from the defender in games to come.
Damion Stewart – 5
Again not a good performance, epitomised by the way that Cardiff were allowed to create so many chances and get enough touches in the area. Was given a tough test against the experienced Hasselbaink and will have work to do.
Gavin Mahon – 5
Completely anonymous in the Rangers midfield and will have to improve his performance if he is to figure against Bristol City, too many attacks bypassed him and invited pressure onto the defence.
Mikele Leigertwood – 6
A stong player in midfield but suffered again as Rangers were getting overrun. Much the same problem as Mahon, not getting hold of the ball enough and taking the game by the scruff of the neck.
Martin Rowlands – 6
The midfielder tried to force the issue late on, but it wasn’t enough. Too many passes went astray and attacks were not broken down. A good delivery for the chance late on, but not of the standard he has set himself lately.
Akos Buzsaky – 6
Not upto his usual standard and he was subsequently substituted. Not as effective from wide areas in recent games, would be served better from a central attacking position. Below par performance from Buzsaky
Rowan Vine – 7
Some clever running and trickery from winger Vine, who was one of the few players who could hold their head higher. Kept going until the end, and won a few good free kicks for Rangers. Still something to build on.
Patrick Agyemang – 6
Got hardly any service all evening. Had a half chance narrowly missing the ball on the far post, and it seems bagged a 3rd goal in 3 games for the R’s. The Rangers fans at the other end were left stood still not quite knowing how the ball trickled over the line.
Michael Mancienne – 6
Was moved from right back to centre back and coped ok with a constant change in position. He played ok following his introduction but still needs to up his game on the basis of this performance.
Dexter Blackstock – 6
Once again didn’t really get the service provided in order to create chances. Narrowly glanced a header wide, but wasn’t involved enough in the game. Needed to come deep to get the ball.
The game was over as a spectacle when Hogan came on, it left some Rangers fans pondering what could have been if he would have started. A good, lively display when he came on when he saw the ball. Created the goal with a teasing cross.
Luigi De Canio – 6 – A disappointing defensive display cannot be blamed on the manager. Perhaps could have played Buzsaky is a more attacking central role; it has served the team well in the past. Perhaps a start for Hogan Ephraim wide next time out.
Dave Jones – 8 – Was really buzzing on the touchline after seeing his Bluebirds romp to victory. Must have been delighted at the early error and the persistent pressure his team put the visitors under.
This latest away day is the latest in a catologue of disasters for Rangers on the road. 3 consecutive away defeats in all competitions, coupled with a winless performance away at Scunthorpe, really puts to shame Rangers good recent home record. The Watford and Burnley away performances really stand out as the ones we need to emulate, the former in particular.
Where To Go From Here…
Bristol City will be a tough home test, hopefully Connolly and Hall aren’t out for that game, because our defence will be tested by the Robins who are on a sensational run of form which sees them a real prospect for promotion. The defence will need to tighten up, coupled with the midfield getting a better strangle-hold on the game.