QUEENS Park Rangers narrowly edged out a plucky Accrington Stanley side as they laboured to victory at Loftus Road.
Rangers were entirely underwhelming in a dismal first period, where the visitors created the majority of the chances and had the better of the overall play.
Two half time switches seemed to do the trick with Adel Taarabt’s bright running helping contribute to a lethargic attacking line. The lead was taken when Hogan Ephraim coolly lobbed home after an excellent cross from Peter Ramage.
Later in the half Wayne Routledge came from the bench to hit a powerful shot in off the underside of the bar after some useful build up play.
Stanley had a deserved consolation strike from Everton youth product Michael Symes deep into injury time, something that brought applause from the Loftus Road crowd.
It was Rangers however that showed two moments of class where it mattered most, but they and Magilton will know that it could have been a very different result had Stanley had their shooting boots on.
Magilton rotated his squad from the side that drew at home to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, with the Manchester United loanee Tom Heaton replacing Radek Cerny between the sticks. Fitz Hall was replaced by Kaspars Gorkss at the heart of defence alongside Damion Stewart.
An overhaul in the midfield department saw Akos Buzsaky, Gavin Mahon and Hogan Ephraim introduced in place of Alejandro Faurlín, Wayne Routledge and Adel Taarabt with the latter two dropping to the bench.
Patrick Agyemang and Rowan Vine had a chance to rekindle their partnership that made them successful under Luigi De Canio while Heidar Helguson and Alessandro Pellicori sitting on the bench with the returning Angelo Balanta.
Accrington played with the central defensive partnership of Dean Winnard and Darren Kempson while they could also call upon good Football League experience in forward John Miles, who played wide left, and summer signing Michael Symes playing in a lone striker`s role.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Accrington Stanley
Accrington set their intentions from the off as they put banks of four and five behind the ball, with giant forward Symes content to lead the forward line on his own. They were proving difficult to break down in the early exchange with a siege mentality evidently instilled in Coleman`s side.
The travelling army from Lancashire were making their voices heard in the School End with a partisan atmosphere from the League Two side. Flags reading ‘Stanley Ultras` were in evidence as they cheered on their side in the early offing.
Their team responded in kind with some tough tackling stifling the creativity of the hosts, who were struggling to make a significant impact on the fixture. The stout defending of Darren Kempson was a particular positive as he and Dean Winnard bullied Agyemang and Vine out of contention.
Rowan Vine managed to break free from Winnard for a moment and create the opening chance of the game. Ephraim`s knock down for the former Portsmouth front-man saw him peel away wide left of his marker and fire a tame effort straight at keeper Alan Martin. Vine still searching for his first strike of the season amidst rumours of his impending departure on loan.
Stanley were not neglecting attacking opportunity and created a great deal of pressure on the hosts when they had possession of the ball. They nearly took a shock lead when midfielder Sean McConville played an incisive through ball to Michael Symes.
Symes beat the offside trap to the left of the goal before being allowed to take a touch and fire a powerful drive across the target. Manchester United loanee Tom Heaton was more than equal to it palming it away with Kaspars Gorkss scrambling the ball clear.
As the voices of discontent grew louder with every misplaced pass, it was matched by the buoyancy of the travelling side, their management and supporters. Wayward distribution from Rangers had Peter Ramage lambasting his fellow defenders for a lack of concentration, as the passing among the back-line put Rangers under continual pressure.
QPR were looking for a player to stand up and be counted but the players were constantly looking to offload the ball before they received it, taking little responsibility for their sides` growing problem. As Rangers suffered, Accrington thrived with a section of restless supporting starting to boo.
More wayward shooting from Rangers and Rowan Vine saw him inevitably cut inside from the left flank and fire a right footed drive wide of Martin`s left hand upright. The fans beginning to clutch at straws when counting Rangers` attempts.
Luke Joyce`s free kick, given by generous rookie official Craig Pawson, nearly caught Rangers out – however quick reactions from the Rangers keeper Heaton once again thwarted the League Two side as they looked more likely to take the advantage.
Heaton was well-beaten moments later but luckily for QPR more disappointing finishing from Stanley kept the scoreline goalless. A long ball from the right found Symes on the left-hand side of the area, his chest down took Ramage out of the game before beating Stewart and firing an effort inches wide of the right hand upright.
The visitors continued to grow in confidence throughout the half and at times Magilton`s side were left wanting for answers. A side that had built the majority of this season on passing football, were being out-passed and sadly out-fought by Stanley with the influential talent of QPR not standing up to Stanley.
Rowan Vine had a chance to hand Rangers the lead before the break but his effort was again well saved by Martin in front of the visiting crowd. QPR were booed off by a section of the 5,000+ crowd in W12 who gave a stern indication to Magilton that the attitude and quality of display was not up to the standard set in recent fixtures.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Accrington Stanley
Magilton evidently agreed that QPR were not at their best and made two changes with Kaspars Gorkss and Patrick Agyemang hauled off and Adel Taarabt and Gary Borrowdale taking to the field. The change prompted Matthew Connolly to move inside alongside Damion Stewart and Taarabt to sit behind the solitary striker Vine.
The changes seemed to lift the side and the crowd with Adel Taarabt his lively self running directly at the heart of the Accrington rearguard. While the end product seemed to lack at times the purpose was true in its raw attacking sense.
Akos Buzsaky had taken some thoroughly poor corners thus far in the fixture with the majority failing to be the first man but this time it was his ball that nearly broke the deadlock. A corner eventually worked its way to Damion Stewart at the second attempt, but the Jamaican blazed over the bar.
Taarabt then displayed more purposeful running that displayed the renewed vigour in the Rangers side, his marauding run and shot went wide from 25-yards. Despite the lack of end product the intention was there and a vast improvement on the first half performance.
Some more neat play involved Hogan Ephraim down the left, and the former West Ham United man cut inside before unleashing a rasping drive which was well parried by Martin once more. Fans sensed some positivity in the side and passing football brought more optimistic supporters to their feet.
The Accrington goal was beginning to lead a charmed life with Tom Heaton a relative spectator at the other end. Gavin Mahon`s excellent drive from distance displayed excellent technique with Martin claiming well at the second attempt.
Eventually Rangers had the lead that their second half display had deserved and it was Taarabt again that played a part in the build-up. His run came to a grinding halt outside the right hand side of the area and his pass to Ramage was over-hit causing the former Newcastle man to chase the ball to the by-line.
A tremendous first time cross from Ramage found Hogan Ephraim on the left-hand side of the area, a laboured touch nearly saw him lose the ball, but he found the space to clip the ball beyond defenders and goalkeeper into the bottom right hand corner.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Ramage`s previous crossing had indeed been positive as he put every sinew into his display despite testing circumstances. The only negative was the lack of striker to get on the end of the ball with Rowan Vine far more content to peel wide left leaving no-one to lead the line.
Vine showed he does have credentials as a QPR player if he gets into positions such as the one that saw him carve out an opportunity moments later. He received the ball on the right hand side of the area before a powerful effort seemingly destined for the bottom right hand corner was clawed away by the impressive Martin.
The recently introduced Wayne Routledge was wreaking havoc on the Accrington rearguard who were struggling to cope with his purposeful drives down the right combined with the skill and trickery for which he has been famed earlier in the competition.
A neat passage of football sewed up the fixture, somewhat unjustly from a visitors` perspective as Wayne Routledge rounded off the scoring to hand him his fourth goal in this year`s competition.
Some excellent passing football, the best move in the game, saw Routledge receive the ball on the left hand side of the area. He cut inside before dummying his way past two defenders and cannoning a drive in off the underside of the bar.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Accrington Stanley
The visiting supporters continued to cheers despite the two goals and supported their side with great gusto. They were rewarded for their continued fantastic support when dangerman Michael Symes rolled home with consummate ease following a goalmouth scramble.
It was the least that Stanley had deserved on the night with Symes a persistent thorn in the side to the Rangers defence throughout the evening. On this evidence he will be starting many more games in what was his full debut since joining permanently in the summer.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Accrington Stanley
The final whistle was blown to great relief to Queens Park Rangers fans which will give you an indication as to the way the fixture had panned out. Rangers were fortuitous in the first period but much-improved in the second as they eventually saw off plucky Accrington Stanley.
Credit must go to their excellent travelling support who refused to stop cheering throughout the ninety-minutes, and they will be full of heart from what their side displayed this evening, and promises much for the coming League Two encounters.
One thing is for certain – QPR fans won`t be questioning ‘Who Are They?` to Accrington Stanley any time in the near future.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Accrington Stanley
Queens Park Rangers
Tom Heaton, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss (Gary Borrowdale 46), Matthew Connolly, Akos Buzsaky, Gavin Mahon (Wayne Routledge 68), Mikele Leigertwood, Hogan Ephraim, Rowan Vine, Patrick Agyemang (Adel Taarabt 46).
Alan Martin, Darren Kempson, Andy Procter, John Miles, Luke Joyce, Phil Edwards, Jimmy Ryan (Chris Turner 81), Dean Winnard, Lee McConville (Robert Grant 73), Michael Symes, Peter Murphy (Billy Kee 73).
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