Date: 9th June 2016 at 1:01pm
Written by:

< OCTOBER >

After the drubbing at Fulham the previous week, Chris Ramsey desperately needed a positive reaction for the visit of Bolton, which on paper looked the perfect fixture, with Neil Lennon`s men picking up one win from their opening nine league matches, and three defeats and a draw, and just one goal scored on their travels.

It would be the first of four games in which Ramsey would be without the services of Charlie Austin owing to injury, but saw the return to the side of Sandro, who had been unable to play any part to date due to a visa issue, and the match couldn`t have gotten off to a worse start, as the Trotters raced into a two-goal lead inside 11 minutes, thanks to a Gary Madine header, and Liam Feeney following-up on a Rob Green parry.

The deficit was however cut two minutes later, as Jay-Emmanuel Thomas, who had come in to replace Austin for his first league start for the club, headed in from a Tjaronn Chery cross, before Leroy Fer capitalised on some poor goalkeeping to tap in on the stroke of half-time to ensure the sides went in level at the break.

On the hour mark, Chery produced a moment of magic as he collected the ball on the left-hand side, took one touch to steady himself, then curled in a right-foot shot from the corner of the area which flew over the helpless Bolton goalkeeper and into the top-right hand corner of the goal to put Rangers in the driving seat.

A further twist in the tale would come five minutes from time, as Wellington Silva, on loan at the Trotters from Arsenal, and who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, drove into the QPR box before nestling a shot into the bottom-hand corner of Green`s goal to give the Trotters what appeared to be a well-earned point.

The game wasn`t finished yet though, and ended in spectacular fashion as Emmanuel-Thomas, who had looked impressive deputising up top, ran towards the Bolton goal in the dying seconds, before turning one of the Bolton defenders inside out, and hitting a fierce right-foot shot that secured all three points at the death.

The result moved the R`s up to 11th, three points off the play-off positions, and seven points adrift of leaders Brighton, as a tough trip to Birmingham City came next, with Gary Rowett`s men starting the season strongly, sitting in fourth place, and heading into the game on the back of two successive 2-0 victories on the road.

Prior to the game, the pressure on Ramsey looked to have been taken up a notch as the club announced the return of Neil Warnock on a part-time basis in an advisory role, almost four years after he had been sacked, with many believing it would not be long before he would be back in the Rangers dugout to replace Ramsey.

The match at St Andrews got off to a good start as Matt Phillips curled in a left-foot shot from the edge on the area to give Rangers the lead after 17 minutes, but once again the side`s failure to keep out the opposition proved decisive, as Paul Robinson headed in an equaliser from a free-kick shortly after to level the scores.

The game would end in a fourth defeat of the campaign for Rangers, as Paul Caddis converted a second-half penalty for the home side after Nedum Onuoha was penalised for a foul in the box, the 23rd goal Rangers had conceded in just 11 league matches, and ninth game in which they had conceded two or more goals.

Two home games followed, with Sheffield Wednesday visiting Loftus Road next, who were undefeated in their previous five league games heading into the encounter, and they provided stiff opposition as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils in a 0-0 draw, during which criticism of Ramsey from the stands was prevalent.

It meant that the side had picked up just one win from their last seven outings, although it had brought about a much-needed clean sheet, just the second of the season, with the side now sitting in 10th place, which wasn`t particularly bad going given Ramsey`s remit at the beginning of the season was mid-table stability.

Just a week later, Wednesday would comfortably see off Arsenal 3-0 at home in the third round of the Capital One Cup.

The concern from the stands was largely due to the level of performances that the side was putting in, and the lack of defensive solidity, with it becoming hard to decipher exactly what Ramsey`s tactics were, and it would prove another difficult afternoon for him as MK Dons came to West London just one point above the drop.

With little of note happening in the first-half, the frustrations amongst the fans once again were directed at Ramsey, and Karl Henry, before Emmanuel-Thomas lifted the mood with a fine solo goal on 70 minutes, as he controlled an Onuoha cross into the box, before beating a defender to slide the ball past the MK Dons keeper.

Eight minutes later, Daniel Toszer hit a delightful first-time ball from his own half out to Phillips on the right hand side, whose take down brought him into the opposition box, and after a step-over opened up some space for a shot, he hit a left-foot strike into the bottom left-hand corner to give Rangers a 2-0 lead, and his fourth goal of the season.

The points were wrapped up two minutes from time, as the ball found its way to Junior Hoilett from a Chery corner, which he managed to hook beyond the helpless MK Dons defenders on the goaline to secure a 3-0 win, the biggest victory of the season, and a much-needed confidence boost ahead of the trip to Brentford.

For the second time in a month Rangers were on television on a Friday night in another West London derby away from home, this time against the Bees, with the sides last having met in the third tier back in 2004, and it proved a night to forget as Brentford, under the temporary charge of Lee Carsley, emerged with a 1-0 victory.

Having enjoyed the better of a goalless opening half, in which Massimo Luongo struck the post, the club`s recent record in derby matches extended to 14 without a win as Marco Djuricin`s second-half strike proved decisive, giving Brentford their first win over Rangers in 50 years, with Ramsey moving closer to the exit door.

The game had seen a return to action for Austin, who had been introduced on the hour, but he was unable to find the net on a night that also saw Ramsey lose Clint Hill to injury, having just come back into the side to help them record successive clean sheets ahead of the encounter at Griffin Park, which was a potentially big blow.

League position: 12th (P14, W5, D4, L5)