SCUNTHORPE United snatched all three points in a closely fought encounter at Loftus Road, while shot-shy QPR paid the price for a lack of cutting edge.
In a game of few genuine opportunities, bereft of the class displayed by Nottingham Forest during the week, it was the visitors that managed to create the all-important winning goal.
Wide-man Garry Thompson – who had a field day at Pride Park recently – was on hand to lash home a close range effort late on after some good work from Gary Hooper.
The strike prompted owner Mr Briatore to make a swift exit from his seat in the directors box, but he missed Rangers rally courtesy of the re-introduction of Lee Cook.
The wide-man who featured in his first game of the season sparked the R’s into life as the final stages were littered with missed opportunities for Rangers, and nearly moments that yielded little.
It was the best advertisement for the R’s desperate need for a striker as Scunthorpe and Rangers can contemplate similar placed finishes in the Championship.
The stark reality of the club’s conflicting ambitions saw a few hundred supporters gather outside the South Africa Road stand to voice their concern – a sad sign of the times at Loftus Road.
Mick Harford understandably made one change to the side that were thumped by Nottingham Forest during the week with Rowan Vine reintroduced after an extended period on the sidelines.
Carl Ikeme continued between the sticks with Mikele Leigertwood, Matt Connolly, Kaspars Gorkss and Matt Hill in the defence – Damion Stewart dropping out.
Ákos Buzsáky continued on the right with Alejandro Faurlín partnering Nigel Quashie in the middle with Adel Taarabt dropping to play wide left.
Vine partnered top scorer Jay Simpson in the forward line as the injurred Gareth Ainsworth announced his decision to leave Queens Park Rangers today.
Scunthorpe themselves started with Joe Murphy in goal behind a back four of Cliff Byrne, Rob Jones, David Mirfin and Marcus Williams with Sam Togwell retaining his place alongside Grant McCann in the middle.
Martyn Woolford and Garry Thompson started wide with Paul Hayes and Garry Hooper ostensibly the front-two that started in W12.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Scunthorpe United
In the midst on what was supposed to be a day of protests involving clown attire – you could count on one hand the amount that were visible in the stadium as the fixture kicked off at Loftus Road.
Since Paul Hart’s departure the Rangers support seems to have been cleansed of their abusive antics, as Harford looks to set his stall out for whatever time period he has been give in the hot-seat.
The match kicked off in bitter conditions at Loftus Road and Nigel Quashie – who was playing his first game at Loftus Road since 1998 – helped create the opening opportunity.
While the majority of the opening stages was littered with individual error, the midfielder showed great class to clip over the top for the returning Rowan Vine.
The striker took the ball wide left and had the vision to roll back for Adel Taarabt, and the Spurs loanee saw his effort blocked wide for a corner.
While Rangers were looking more promising than at the City Ground, asserting the impetus on the fixture, Scunthorpe were never truly out of the game as they mounted several testing counter-attacks.
Skipper Cliff Byrne found in-form forward Gary Hooper who in turn drew a smart save from Carl Ikeme – the ‘keeper extending his loan deal at Loftus Road during the week.
Hooper’s hopeful effort moments later sought to catch out Ikeme, but it harmlessly dipped over the bar from the edge of the area. A poacher’s effort from the forward who has certainly caught the eye this season with his infectious enthusiasm and goal-scoring prowess.
Rangers were given both a glimpse of Ákos Buzsáky’s capabilities and his recent dour form in one brief cameo – as he cut inside from the right flank, jinking past a couple of men before firing a wayward left-footed effort nearer the score-board than the target.
Taarabt was looking sprightly in his preferred position wide-left, and after linking up with Simpson unleashed an effort that was parried agonisingly away from all onrushing R’s players, and subsequently cleared away to safety.
It was clear to see from this first half showing that the game was finely poised and a moment of creativity and class could be enough to unlock a defence and secure the victory.
Taarabt and Simpson were at it again moments later with the Moroccan receiving the ball on the edge of the area before curling wide of the far post – not clear cut but nevertheless an opportunity to add to the growing list.
More neat work from Simpson, working the channels down the right, as he received the ball from Leigertwood on the touchline. He cut inside two men before deciding to take on the shot which was well-fielded by Iron custodian Murphy.
Scunthorpe were far from out of the fixture and had Rangers on the back foot for long periods with good closing down to stifle the creativity before looking lively on the counter-attack with the front-two of Hooper and Hayes.
Indeed they more than gave QPR a run for their money in the first half with neat passing football on the break and the dominating figure of Rob Jones at the set-pieces to provide the Iron with the majority of their opportunities.
Only Matt Connolly’s header wide of the upright could offer Rangers supporters the hope they desired but it remained an evenly contested affair as the visitors continued to break.
The Iron nearly had the lead they desired when Hooper found Woolford down the left, his effort was pushed away by Ikeme into the path of Togwell. The midfielder, who retained his place despite the return of Michael O’Connor from suspension, fired well over the bar when well-placed.
The fine margins were there to see as Scunthorpe missed out on an ideal opportunity and QPR could point to several half chances. The game went into the break goalless as sections of the Loftus Road crowd booed their side off the field.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Scunthorpe United
Scunthorpe emerged from the break making two changes to their side with centre half Mirfin and wide-man Woolford being hauled off at the expense of Manchester City’s Donal McDermott and Josh Wright – Sam Togwell dropping to full back, with Byrne moving inside.
As they did at the City Ground, Rangers started the second half in a brighter fashion and Kaspars Gorkss nodded inches over the bar from a Taarabt corner. The crowd applauded the opportunity and it displayed the simplicity of the important of a little desire and craft.
Rangers were starting to break in numbers, penning Scunthorpe back in their half with Simpson winning the ball in the middle of the park and driving direct at the centre of defence.
His only options were to the right with Buzsáky and Vine inexplicably standing offside as the Arsenal front-man looked for his killer pass. He had the presence of mind to adapt and hit a powerful effort on target, which was spilled by ‘keeper Murphy and away for a corner.
Buzsáky’s performance was once again a talking point as he struggles to regain his previous sparkling form. His cross-come-shot down the right drifted wide of the left-hand upright to epitomise his recent poor creativity and finishing.
Scunthorpe’s attacking presence was now less evident, with chances at a minimum, but their danger in front of goal was not in question. Hooper and Thompson combined to find Hayes on the edge of the penalty area.
The brother of the former Arsenal legend curled his effort inches wide of Ikeme’s post in what was a rare flash-point in a second half otherwise dominated by the hosts. Again however it was their inability to finish opportunities that saw the game remain goalless.
During the week Quashie was at fault for Forest’s break-away second goal, again a misplaced pass saw Hayes race away into the area and only an excellent save from Ikeme low to his right denied the former Barnsley front-man.
It was a good spell for Scunthorpe who had the ball in the back of the net, only for Hooper to be denied by the referee’s whistle. Thompson showed excellent creativity down the right to cross for Hooper who evidently nudged Connolly out the way before nodding home in considerable style.
While the foul was noticed by the excellent official Mr Hegley, Hooper’s classy finish certainly gave supporters and players a warning of the visitors’ capabilities.
A let off for the R’s who once again pressed their opponents in a bid to open them up – Mikele Leigertwood’s stunning left-footed strike cutting in from the right saw Murphy tip the ball away to safety.
The resultant corner saw Matt Connolly get two bites of the cherry, initially heading against his marker before snatching at an opportunity just outside the six-yard-box, scuffing his effort wide of the left-hand upright.
Rowan Vine was hacked from behind by Grant McCann, there was no question about that, for some reason Byrne grabbed the forward by the throat on the floor and somehow escaped a booking himself. Bizarre behaviour from the central defender that could have cost his side a player.
It mattered little as Scunthorpe grabbed the all-important opening goal with Hooper once again the inspiration behind the move. His pass to Garry Thompson inside the heart of the area allowed him to take a touch without a challenge forthcoming, and fire beyond Ikeme.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Scunthorpe United
Rangers responded by bringing on Lee Cook and Antonio German for Vine and Taarabt, and it lifted spirits somewhat as Cook immediately weaved his magic down the left.
The self-professed Rangers fan was immediately back in the groove linking up with Simpson, who in turn fired straight at Murphy in the Iron goal.
A real positive was the return of Cook who lit up the left-flank with great trickery, skill and more importantly desire, with both himself and Quashie leading lights in terms of passion and commitment.
Unfortunately for Cook it was too little too late as Rangers ran out of time and opportunities to score their important goal, as they once again contemplate defeat without reply.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Scunthorpe United
Queens Park Rangers
Carl Ikeme, Mikele Leigertwood, Rowan Vine (Antonio German 75), Ákos Buzsáky (Angelo Balanta 80), Kaspars Gorkss, Nigel Quashie, Matt Connolly, Alejandro Faurlín, Matt Hill, Jay Simpson, Adel Taarabt (Lee Cook 75).
Joe Murphy, Marcus Williams, Sam Togwell, Cliff Byrne, Grant McCann, Paul Hayes, Gary Hooper (Jonathan Forte 90), Garry Thompson, Rob Jones, David Mirfin (Josh Wright 46), Martyn Woolford (Donal McDermott 46).