Date: 18th July 2016 at 6:39pm
Written by:

< APRIL >

With eight games of the campaign remaining and the R`s 11 points adrift of the play-off places, it was the first time since the 2009/2010 season that the club went into the final few weeks with neither a realistic chance of promotion or a battle against relegation on the cards.

Unlike Rangers, Middlesbrough were firmly in with a shout for a return to the Premier League when they visited Loftus Road infront of the televisions cameras on a Friday evening, although they headed into the match on the back of three successive defeats away from home, and uncertainty over Aitor Karanka`s future.

It was the Spaniard`s men who took the lead on 18 minutes, as Grant Hall misjudged a bouncing ball before heading backwards towards the Rangers goal into the path of Jordan Rhodes, and after rounding the onrushing Alex Smithies, his effort managed to creep past Hall on the line, who was unable to adjust his body to clear.

The lead last just over 10 minutes as Jamie Mackie bagged his first goal since re-joining the club back in the summer, netting one of the goals of the season as he hit a left foot half-volley from the edge of the box that cannoned off the Boro crossbar and came crashing down over the line, before bouncing clear of the goal.

Just after the break, Smithies pulled off a wonderful save from a Grant Leadbitter penalty following Alejandro Faurlin`s foul on Albert Adomah in the area, but from the resulting corner, the visitors regained their lead as Gaston Ramirez`s flicked header level with the front post flew over the helpless Smithies and into the net.

Boro further increased their advantage from another corner, as Ben Gibson easily beat Nedum Onuoha to head them into a 3-1 lead, and after Sebastian Polter saw a legitimate goal ruled out on 70 minutes, Rangers grabbed a consolation through Tjaronn Chery`s curling attempt from outside the box five minutes from time.

It was a first defeat in four games for the R`s, who had a trip to Elland Road up next to face a Leeds side that came into the game of the back of successive derby defeats, the first of which had ended in a humiliating 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Huddersfield, and just five victories in total at home for the campaign.

The three points looked to be staying in Yorkshire as the Whites headed into the final five minutes with a 1-0 lead following Chris Wood`s goal midway through the second half, but Rangers secured a share of the spoils as Chery converted from the spot to make it six in his last nine outings and 10 for the season for the Dutchman.

Having seen off Brentford just over a month before, the R`s had a great opportunity to record back-to-back derby wins as they welcomed a Charlton side who looked doomed for the drop, and had picked up just two wins away from the Valley all season, and were unlucky to go in a goal down at the end of the first half.

Just on the stroke of the whistle, Matt Phillips swung in a fairly tame ball from the right hand side, which managed to make its way into the bottom corner after Junior Hoilett had looked like he was going to get his head on the ball, acting as a distraction for the Addicks` goalkeeper.

The South London club deservedly pegged Rangers back just after the hour mark having already see one attempt come off the crossbar, as the impressive Jordan Cousins nestled a left foot strike beyond Smithies to level the scores at 1-1, which is how it looked it would finish until the very dying moments of the match.

Having been on the field for a matter of minutes, Abdenasser El Khayati notched his first goal in a blue and white hooped shirt, cutting in from the left hand side towards the Loft, and catching the ball perfectly from a slight bobble to send the it across the goalkeeper and into the top right hand corner to secure a 2-1 victory.

Two trips away from home came next, the first of which was against Cardiff, who still harboured hopes of the play-offs, as Russell Slade`s men sat in seventh, five points adrift of Sheffield Wednesday in the final spot.

In a game which saw few chances for Rangers, they came away with a creditable goalless draw, as Matt Ingram put in a man of the match display on his debut for the club, three months after joining, and the side withstood late pressure from the Bluebirds who piled men forward in search of a winner, as their promotion hopes took a huge blow.

A tough test followed just three days later, as the R`s travelled to the South Coast to take on third placed Brighton, who had seen off Fulham in emphatic style at the Amex Stadium in their previous outing, inflicting a 5-0 defeat on the Whites for a third win in a row, while extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

After almost holding out to the break having had a number of half-chances, the R`s ended the first half 1-0 courtesy of a spectacular Anthony Knockaert free-kick moments before the whistle, the first of four Rangers would conceded on what turned into a miserable night as the side completed capitulated in the second half.

Goals from Jiri Skalak, who had been on Les Ferdinand`s radar prior to being snapped up by the Seagulls, Conor Goldson and a second for Knockaert rounded off a crushing defeat for Rangers, extending the winless run on the road to eight games, the last coming at Rotherham back in mid-January.

The final game of the month came at Loftus Road against Reading, who were in a poor run of form having lost their last four league matches, as they sat in 15th, with just three games of the season remaining.

After an even first half hour, in which both sides had chances to take the lead, the deadlock was broken on 35 minutes thanks to Hall`s first goal for the club, as he headed in an in-swinging Faurlin corner over two Reading defenders desperately trying to clear, but it was a lead that would last a matter of minutes as Reading hit back.

As ball from the left hand side came into the Rangers area, Yann Kermogant`s first-time knock down made its way into the path of Deniss Rakels, who find himself unmarked just yards out, and made no mistake in guiding the ball past Ingram to earn the Royals a point.

League position: 13th (P44, W13, D18, L13)