WATFORD dished out a sound thrashing as Rangers slumped to their second defeat in succession at Vicarage Road.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play when Patrick Agyemang slammed home from the edge of the area sparking a vocal Rangers support into light.
They were pegged back moments before half time when Lloyd Doyley capitalised on more static defending to nod home his first career goal.
Watford came out stronger after the break and blew the R’s away with Don Cowie stroking the ball home to finish a free-flowing move.
As Rangers piled forward in search of an equalising goal Manchester United loanee Tom Cleverley added a third with a well-executed counter-attacking move.
Substitutions and tactical play were under scrutiny as sections of support heckled the manager for withdrawing Wayne Routledge on a thoroughly disappointing evening.
Jim Magilton ostensibly made changes to the line-up that were thrashed at home by Middlesbrough at the weekend, dropping several influential players in the process.
Radek Cerny started in goal with Peter Ramage replacing Ákos Buzsáky, allowing Mikele Leigertwood to start at the centre of midfield. Kaspars Gorkss was replaced by Damion Stewart with the Jamaican starting alongside Fitz Hall and Gary Borrowdale at left-back.
In a 4-4-2 formation Wayne Routledge started wide right with Leigertwood partnering Ben Watson in the middle and Alejandro Faurlín on the left.
Jay Simpson and Adel Taarabt were left on the bench with Patrick Agyemang and Rowan Vine the front-two pairing of choice.
Watford were fresh off a trip from Newcastle named a line-up without the ineligible R’s striker Heidar Helguson.
Scott Loach sat behind a back four of Lee Hodson, Craig Cathcart, Adrian Mariappa and Lloyd Doyley with John Eustace and Tom Cleverley lining up in the centre of midfield.
Former Chelsea and Fulham wide-man John Harley started wide left with Don Cowie occupying the other flank while Nathan Ellington joined Danny Graham in attack.
Kick Off: Watford v Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers fans were in full voice in the Vicarage Road stand behind the goal as the players took to the field on a chilly Hertfordshire evening.
The rain that had swept across the country earlier in the day made for a slick playing surface as the two sides kicked off the fixture in the hope of bouncing back from respective weekend defeats.
As they did at the weekend, Rangers started brightly, but that final pass continued to elude them at the crucial moment as they probed for an opening.
Central to their fortunes was the versatile Alejandro Faurlín, the Argentinean starting wide left and proving a useful advantage for the visitors.
Brief spells of early pressure saw Rangers attempting to use the pace of Patrick Agyemang on the break. More often than not the front-man was crowded out with little in the way of support from fellow striker Rowan Vine.
A brief spell of intricate passing saw Vine link up nicely with Faurlín but the Argentinean flashed his effort across the face of the target and out for a throw in on the right flank.
It was indeed a rare opportunity for Rangers with most of the play being centred around the middle of the park and the midfield battle.
Watford by comparison were able to mix their play, by using the useful ball play of midfielders Eustace and Cleverley combined with the aerial danger of Nathan Ellington – despite the reported R’s target seeing little of the ball in the early offing.
The hosts were playing the ball around nicely and winning the majority of the midfield battles. Indeed Rangers’ passes were getting intercepted with moves being cut down in their prime.
Warning signs flashed before the supporters eyes as Manchester United midfielder Cleverley broke free of his marker on the edge of the area to fire a shot wide of Cerny’s left hand upright.
While the shot was never in danger of troubling the Czech stopper it was clear to see that the young talent wasn’t afraid to shoot on sight, and with little in the way of closing down there was a very real danger that Watford would threaten once more.
The game was becoming more of a war of attrition rather than the previously billed open, attacking encounter, but it was the hosts looking more likely to break the deadlock, with Gary Borrowdale having to be alert to deny Don Cowie after a smart centre.
From nothing however Rangers took the lead, and supporters were hoping that this would be the strike to spark the R’s into life.
Smart work from Alejandro Faurlín down the left saw him fend off his marker before feeding Patrick Agyemang in the middle. The striker had Routledge to his right unmarked but chose to go alone, firing a right-footed effort into the bottom left-hand corner.
A goal that was hardly deserved on the balance of play, but it sent the visiting support into raptures and sparked hope of a QPR revival of fortunes.
GOAL: Watford 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
The goal ten minutes before half time did quite the opposite to Rangers who grew entirely lacklustre, bereft of ideas and gifting Watford possession.
It was clear that the visitors were desperate for half time as they were continually scythed open by the dominant Hornets, who continued to regain the ball and push for the equaliser.
Indeed several players were guilty of giving the impetus away, with many passes and tackles going amiss in the midfield battle.
Eventually the breakthrough came just moments before half time and it came through an unlikely source as the R’s were stretched one time too many.
John Harley carved out some space for a cross down the left and Faurlín’s missed interception allowed Cowie to fire the ball back across goal for Lloyd Doyley to nod into an empty net.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Rangers in a game of little quality, but on the balance of play and pressure it was probably deserved as the defence wilted in the face of pressure once more.
GOAL: Watford 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
The face of Magilton’s half time team talk would have to change as his defence once again lacked the co-ordination and organisation required to hold out until the break.
Indeed some supporters continually barracked Fitz Hall, and singled the defender out for treatment – and judging by the goal some of their criticisms weren’t unfounded.
While Hall is not the worst defender at Rangers’ disposal, supporters still question dropping Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss, with he and Stewart the rock at the heart of the rearguard for the majority of last season.
As it was Rangers would have to contemplate more disappointment in the back-line, and this was reflected in the atmosphere in the scoreline as the two sides went in for the break.
Half Time: Watford 1-1 Queens Park Rangers
If ever there was a kick off to determine the way a second half would go as Rangers gave the ball away with immediate effect allowing the Hornets into an attacking position.
Harley robbed his man down the left before feeding Danny Graham and he in turn looked for strike partner Nathan Ellington.
The former Wigan Athletic forward forced Cerny into a smart save low and to his left with just seconds on the clock in the second period.
It was indeed a rude awakening for Rangers who had evidently had little inspiration from the dressing room at half time, while Watford appeared rampant in their search for the winner.
Rangers were on the back foot as the Hornets pressed their advantage home – Harley in particular was looking rejuvenated down the left while Graham foraged away up front.
It was little surprise then that they had the lead just over ten minutes into the second half and it was a fine passing move that put Rangers to the sword.
The ball was spread excellently into the middle with Rangers at odds to defend the impending attack. As they looked to close down the gaps opened with Don Cowie roaming free down the right.
Cowie passed the ball expertly into the bottom left hand corner, a finish that exhumed class and confidence as Watford took a lead that would be tough to relinquish.
GOAL: Watford 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Ellington was replaced by youngster Liam Henderson, with the youngster getting a chance to impress in the absence of Heidar Helguson.
He was inches away from his first goal as Cerny spared Rangers’ blushes with an excellent double save to deny both Harley and Henderson in quick succession.
Moments later Adel Taarabt come from the bench for QPR as Magilton searched for inspiration from his influential players – the Moroccan replaced the tired Rowan Vine.
The inspiration was well used just moments into his time on the field as he charged at the Watford rearguard before unleashing a shot straight at Loach. A tame effort – but nevertheless an effort of note for the visitors, something at a minimum during the fixture.
While sections of support continued to chant for Ákos Buzsáky, Jim turned to Jay Simpson to try and score that all-important leveller. He replaced Wayne Routledge – something that didn’t please all the of travelling support.
Chants of ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ emanated from sections of the away end as Routledge left the park. In truth it was a succinct minority but clearly audible nevertheless.
Moments later Buzsáky took to the field in place of captain Mikele Leigertwood, whose leadership skills didn’t befit the ideals that the armband represents.
It mattered little as Doyley nearly doubled his career tally, but blazed high and wide from the edge of the area when well placed.
There was no doubting the Watford third however as they burst away on the counter attack to punish the Rangers, who were now throwing caution to the wind.
With the majority of the players up the field, Rangers were left 4 v 1 at the back and Tom Cleverley received a pass from the right to race through on goal.
It was the Manchester United loanee against Radek Cerny, and it was the young midfielder that came out on top, rolling the ball past the ‘keeper and into the bottom left hand corner – cue mass exit in the away end.
GOAL: Watford 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
Expletives and frank advice for some of Rangers’ players were being imparted by those that left early as the end emptied as quickly as Loftus Road on Saturday.
On a day where there were very few positives, Rangers succumbed to their second defeat in succession, conceding eight goals in the process.
Patrick Agyemang’s second goal in two games may well secure him a starting place at West Bromwich Albion – but given his evident lack of fitness it may well be a race against time.
One man that looked out of place was Peter Ramage, who stayed and clapped virtually every supporter, as he looked visibly distraught while the majority of his team-mates skulked off down the tunnel.
Final Whistle: Watford 2-1 Queens Park Rangers
Scott Loach, Adrian Mariappa, Don Cowie, David Graham, Lloyd Doyley, Jon Harley (Scott Severin 83), Tom Cleverley, Craig Cathcart (Jay DeMerit 46), Nathan Ellington (Liam Henderson 57), John Eustace, Lee Hodson.
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Mikele Leigertwood (Ákos Buzsáky 75), Wayne Routledge (Jay Simpson 72), Rowan Vine (Adel Taarabt 59), Patrick Agyemang, Ben Watson, Alejandro Faurlín, Gary Borrowdale.
Radek Cerny – 8/10
Some excellent saves. 2 poor clearances.
Peter Ramage – 4/10
Poor game all round.
Fitz Hall – 5/10
Bad first half. Better in second, despite the yellow.
Damion Stewart – 4/10
Poor in both halves. Both he and Hall gifted the second by backing away.
Gary Borrowdale – 6/10
Not bad, not good.
Wayne Routledge – 6/10
Did not see much of the ball in first half. Made poor decisions.
Mikele Leigertwood – 4/10
Don’t understand why he is in the team.
Ben Watson 7/10
Nothing special, but he did little wrong.
Alejandro Faurlín – 9/10
The man of the match.
Rowan Vine – 6/10
Nothing special, but he tried.
Patrick Agyemang – 8/10
Worked his assets off all game. He must be a starter.
SUB: Adel Taarabt – 5/10
Replaced Rowan Vine
Tried, but as usual didn’t see the open man
SUB: Jay Simpson – 5/10
Replaced Wayne Routledge
Did nothing wrong or right.
Should have done better with his one chance
Ratings By GriffQPR