TEN-man Queens Park Rangers slumped to a resounding defeat at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday.
The flow of the game hinged on a debateable spot-kick when Richard Dunne was penalised when he and Leon Best clipped heels – inexplicably Dunne also saw red.
Chris Maguire netted the spot-kick as the game ebbed away from the beleaguered visitors. Best himself doubled the lead with a fine spin and shot in the second half.
Wednesday had a deserved third when Lewis Buxton was afforded the freedom of Hillsborough to tee himself up on the edge of the area and dispatch with all the composure of a centre forward.
The visitors limped away from another disappointing performance with Redknapp having to pick his men up for the test against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp named four changes from the side that defeated Yeovil Town on Saturday. Rob Green, Armand Traoré, Jermaine Jenas and Will Keane made way for Brian Murphy, Gary O’Neil, Karl Henry and Bobby Zamora.
Murphy started behind a defence of Aaron Hughes, Richard Dunne, Nedum Onuoha and Clint Hill. The midfield quartet consisted of O’Neil, Henry, Joey Barton and Junior Hoilett with Ravel Morrison playing in behind Zamora.
The Owls started with Damian Martinez behind a defence of Lewis Buxton, Oguchi Onyewu, Glen Loovens and Jeremy Helan. The midfield four comprised of Caolan Lavery, Liam Palmer, Kieran Lee and Chris Maguire with Adthe Nuhiu partnering Leon Best.
KICK OFF: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY v QUEENS PARK RANGERS
A good acid test for both sides coming of the back of a string of decent results. The crowd was sparse but in the early offing they’d have been happy with the attacking play on show from both teams.
Rangers’ intent was clear. A quick Joey Barton free-kick found Clint Hill, but the makeshift full back couldn’t engineer a cross or shot of note with his headed opening. Henry went better still just minutes later.
Ravel Morrison’s neat interchange with Junior Hoilett saw the latter centre well for the aforementioned Henry, only for the former Wolves man to thrash at his effort and send it into the grateful Wednesday fans.
Morrison himself nearly scored in a bizarre set of circumstances, when his shot into the ground skipped up and over a glut of Rangers players and fell rather fortuitously into the arms of Martinez.
Caolan Lavery was looking bright for the hosts but ultimately struggling to get that decisive cross or shot to truly struggle the league debutante Murphy. Then came the fixture’s major talking point.
O’Neil’s decision not to shoot and instead hand possession to the hosts proved fatal, barely a few touches later and Nuhiu’s fine through ball found its way to Leon Best. There was a tangle of legs and Best tumbled under the challenge of Dunne.
The spot-kick was soft to say the least, but the red card produced by referee Tierney much to the surprise of the crowd. Best was not particularly in a goalscoring position and despite the vehement protests of Barton and Hill – the referee remained unwavered.
CHRIS MAGUIRE dispatched with aplomb, sending Murphy the wrong way and handing the hosts the advantage. It understandably galvanised Wednesday, who continued to create chances.
Lavery’s cross found Maguire on the far post – and his header failed to hit the target. They went one closer before the break with Nuhiu’s header being cleared off the line by Aaron Hughes – it was one way traffic before the break with Wednesday now in firm control.
HALF TIME: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS
Rangers made a double change at the break, with Junior Hoilett and Karl Henry making way for Yun Suk-Young and Niko Kranjcar but it seemed to do little to stem the tide of home pressure – the sacrifice of Hoilett was particularly disappointing as he started to find his feet.
Rangers looked pretty toothless, despite the resurgence of Bobby Zamora in attack – the player that sections of support have started to call for was sat with the travelling fans. Tom Hitchcock watched on as five minutes in Wednesday sealed it as a contest.
Former QPR defender Onyewu was allowed the freedom of Hillsborough to coast post Zamora, Yun and Hill, with LEON BEST able to turn on a sixpence through two men and roll home with consummate ease beyond a forlorn Murphy.
Wednesday continued to pile forward on the counter-attacked while all Rangers could offer in riposte was a wayward Onuoha header from a Barton centre. The home side started to turn the screw as the game ebbed past the hour mark.
Maguire rifled a shot high, wide and handsome while the impressive Nuhiu sent a daisy cutter wide of the mark – they did sew the fixture up as a contest with less than 20 minutes remaining and it was a fine strike to settle matters.
A corner broke down and dropped to LEWIS BUXTON. The full back had all the composure of a seasoned forward as he flicked the ball over his head and powered a volley into the bottom right hand corner and well beyond the beaten Murphy.
A rather ominous change with 15 minutes remaining, with Jermaine Johnson replacing goalscorer Best. The midfielder sent a rasping drive on target, but Murphy was equal to it on this occasion with a fine fisted save.
Rangers threw on Tom Carroll at the expense of the underperforming O’Neil while Wednesday introduced Benik Afobe and David Prutton to add a different dimension to their already potent counter-attacking threat.
Johnson’s free-kick was wayward while Niko Kranjcar got the biggest cheer of the night when he stabbed a pea-roller straight at Martinez’s feet. The travelling fans elicited very audible cheers that were cut short by the full-time whistle.
A disappointing performance that will be explained away by a dubious red card, but that will only mask some poor individual performances that account for a deserved three goal margin in another troubling defeat.
KICK OFF: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 3-0 QUEENS PARK RANGERS