QUEENS Park Rangers eased past playoff hopefuls Birmingham City in a decisive opening period in W12.
The visitors had yet to taste defeat on the road in 2016, but came unstuck in dramatic fashion as QPR put Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink put his Burton predecessor to the sword.
A reinvigorated Jamies Perch picked the pocket of Ryan Shotton to square for Tjaronn Chery. The returning Dutchman worked himself a shooting position and rifled in off the post.
One quickly became two – a fine ball from Junior Hoilett found Sebastian Polter in behind. Some surprising quick feet got the better of the rash Robinson before Michael Morrison sent the German tumbling – a penalty no question.
With a clear goalscoring opportunity denied it was somewhat of a surprise that the disappointing Roger East – a select list official elected for a yellow card. Hoilett is a man transformed in terms of confidence and his composed spot-kick underlined the fact.
Birmingham City struggled to get a foot-hold on the fixture and but for Tomas Kuszczak the hosts could have added to their advantage – Luongo and Chery both denied a third Rangers strike.
Rangers appeared resolute and organised but in truth hardly had to hit second gear against a surprisingly under-par Blues side. Hasselbaink will look to take this positive and convincing result to Milton Keynes next Saturday.
Smithies – 6
Not a fantastic amount to do in truth – saved well a couple of times in the second half. Punched a couple of times where a catch would have been preferable, but relatively solid as always.
Onuoha – 6
It was a standard Onuoha showing at full-back. Defensively ok but susceptible against pace – going forward he struggled a tad but did get in behind a couple of times.
Hall – 7
Growing in stature game on game, Birmingham City fans will probably have not recognised the centre back that featured on loan for them a couple of years ago. Starting to look very accomplished – beat Donaldson in the air all ends up.
Angella – 8
A decent return to the set-up in recent weeks and looked composed throughout, good on the ball and able to build attacks from the back – would not displace him given the evidence of today.
Perch – 8
What a difference a few weeks make – two games at left-back and two excellent displays. Kept out Konchesky today and on this evidence should continue to do so. Got forward to support Hoilett and kept Cotterill and Fabbrini at bay.
Phillips – 4
A disappointment again sadly. At times it was difficult to work out if he was shot for confidence or simply disinterested. Struggled to beat Grounds on many occasions, then simply looked to Onuoha for help for most of the second half. Marked low as he’s capable of a lot better. Needs to be rested/dropped.
Luongo – 8
A fine display – committed in the tackle, useful in the pass and linked up well with Henry behind him and Chery in advance of him. Once again has forced his way back into Hasselbaink’s side and on this evidence deservedly so.
Henry – 7
You know what you’re getting from Karl Henry. Committed in the challenge with some clear limitations – today they were not obvious, and turned over the ball crucially on several occasions. Needs a break from some supporters.
Chery – 8
A good display from Chery in the number ten role – and was the perfect link between the midfield and attack. A run in the side will be just what he needs. An excellent performance.
Hoilett – 7
Junior did well again today as his confidence returns – so much so providing the terms were right I wouldn’t mind seeing a confident Junior again next season. Set up Polter for the spot-kick and dispatched it ably. Could have a field day against MK next week.
Polter – 6
Brimming with effort and makes things happen. He is a one-man cabaret at times and brings a smile to faces at Loftus Road – but despite the smiles there is a growing likeability for the giant German and his all-action style.
Tozser – 5
Inexplicably booed on by a minority despite his fine goal during the week. Did ok when he came on and added an extra bit of freshness to the middle of the park to keep the Blues at bay.
Washington – 5
Will need time to develop, but generally a positive all-action forward. Made a couple of positive runs and got his shot away causing Kuzsczak to spill. More to come from the young front-man.
Got barely seconds on the field. Generally been good in recent weeks from the bench and more recently starting at Sheff Wed – get the impression he may need to bulk out a tad to hold off more combative defenders.
JFH: 7/10 – Kept faith the same defence while changing it up in attacking areas. Changes freshened things up and help refocus and organise against any potential threat – definitely got one over on his Burton predecessor.
Gary Rowett: 4/10 – His side didn’t really show up and were punished with two quick-fire first half goals. His changes didn’t change the tide and it appeared more likely the R’s would get a third.
Referee – 3
Mr East had a game to forget – he did however get the major decision correct – the penalty. Quite how he did not dismiss Morrison was something I’ll fail to understand.
Frustrated both sets of supporters with inconsistencies – hauling play back when attacks were on, while letting moving ball free-kicks go at times but not others. Missed one or two crucial incidents as well – a poor showing.