NEIL Warnock saluted the supporters on an afternoon where Peter Lovenkrands’ coolly-taken goal separated a keenly-contested affair.
The game ebbed and flowed with the R’s and Newcastle trading blows, before the game exploded into life minutes into the second period.
The Newcastle fan felled Shola Ameobi outside the area and inevitably incurred a red card. He was however applauded from the field by all four sides of the ground.
Despite being down to ten Rangers more then matched their promoted advasaries, but the game was eventually decided by a moment that highlighted the main difference between the sides.
With options at his disposal Jay Simpson saw his effort snaffled and just a few seconds later Lovenkrants broke away and lifted the ball beyond Radek Cerny.
Simpson had further chances to draw Rangers level but in truth it mattered little as Rangers – despite the undesirable result – saw out the season in positive fashion.
Warnock opted to change his side following the victory over Barnsley with Jay Simpson and Lee Cook re-introduced at the expense of Josh Parker and Antonio German.
Radek Cerny started behind a back four of Mikele Leigertwood, Peter Ramage, Kaspars Gorkss – sporting a new short haircut – and Dusko Tosic.
Across the midfield four was Hogan Ephraim, Alejandro Faurlín, Ákos Buzsáky and Lee Cook with Simpson returning to partner Tamás Priskin in attack.
Newcastle begun with Tim Krul behind a back four of Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Danny Simpson.
Alan Smith and Danny Guthrie started through the middle with Joey Barton and former Rangers’ man Wayne Routledge starting wide, while Shola Ameobi and Leon Best started in attack.
Leigertwood – Ramage – Gorkss – Tosic
Ephraim – Buzsáky – Faurlín – Cook
Simpson – Priskin
Taylor – Coloccini – Williamson – Simpson
Routledge – Guthrie – Smith – Barton
Best – Ameobi
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Newcastle United
The pre-match worries of a postponement had soon subsided as despite a deluge of rain in West London the pitch looked relatively unaffected. The atmosphere around and inside the ground suggested that the game would certainly prove to be an exciting one.
There was a moment to honour a Rangers legend before the game as Tony Ingham was commemorated with a minutes applause which was excellently observed by all area of the ground. The roar of noise following the applause suggested that this would be a boisterous atmosphere.
The majority of noise appeared to be emanating from the away end, evidently bouyed by the fact they had previously secured their status as a Premier League team – promoted as champions. Indeed the names on display suggested that Rangers had a task on their hand.
The hosts started brightly however with Alejandro Faurlín picking some useful passes from the middle of the park. The first genuine opportunity fell to Tamás Priskin however, and the Hungarian loanee thrashed an effort wide of the mark and duly ended up on his back-side.
Newcastle weren’t necessarily playing as champions in the true sense of the word but they continued in creative fashion as Ryan Taylor’s teasing free-kick was well-dealt with by the R’s back-line. Moments later the Geordies created their first genuine effort.
Taylor fed former QPR wide-man Wayne Routledge in the middle of the park. The winger who had come in for a tough reception took a pot shot from distance that was well fielded by R’s stopper Radek Cerny.
Rangers kept plugging away for the opener and when a Hogan Ephraim corner was only half-cleared Ákos Buzsáky was gifted an opportunity from close range. The Hungarian thundered his effort over the bar however, much to the delight of the travelling support.
The visitors were looking at their best on the counter-attack with Ameobi and Best more nuisance factor than potent forwards. A selection of scything through ball ran too long for the strike duo with Cerny able to come off the line and claim.
Dusko Tosic was having a positive game, most notably keeping Routledge very quiet down the right. His driving run down the left saw him cut inside onto his right and plant an effort straight at Tim Krul. A useful run and effort from the full-back.
Out of nothing the Geordies nearly had the advantage when a long Krul kick fell to the feet of Ameobi. The striker let the ball roll across his path before hitting a fierce effort over the target. The story of the day so far was that the two sides distinctly lacked the class, quality and composure to take the lead.
Buzsáky was forced from the field for a few moments having collided with a Newcastle player and his play was visibly struggling as a result. Moments later however Ephraim and Simpson combined for the latter to be thwarted by sizeable defender Williamson.
The Hungarian was back on the field and was able to receive the ball from the aforementioned Simpson but his powerful drilled effort went wide of the left-hand upright. Rangers however should have had the advantage going into the break.
Faurlín’s incredible vision and creativity saw Simpson and Coloccini racing towards the ball, an outstretched leg from the Arsenal loanee saw the ball merely whimper towards Krul between the sticks. Simpson, playing his final game, should have done better in truth.
A curious moment going into the break saw the crowd, players and back-room staff fooled by a whistle from the crowd. The referee, evidently surprised by the players stopping, ordered for play to recommence with a drop ball back to Cerny.
Eventually however the whistle was blown for half time with an evenly-contested first period drawn to a close. The two sides looked evenly-matched an poised for a similarly competitive second period, where a little more composure in front of goal would surely yield results.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers v Newcastle United
Rangers took the field full of the customary optimism and endeavour instilled in them by boss Neil Warnock. It was barely seconds into the half when Ameobi was brought down by rock-solid Peter Ramage on the edge of the area.
The referee instantly had the red card in his hand and inevitably when Ramage had picked himself off the distraught Geordie was forced to trudge from the field, receiving a tremendous adulation from all sides of the ground.
A few players stepped over the subsequent set-piece but fortunately for ten-man QPR Ryan Taylor drilled it straight into a well-populated wall. Newcastle evidently saw their opportunity with a chance created just second later.
Panic ensued in the heart of the penalty area as Routledge popped up once more, and with Leon Best looking to shoot, he was ushered wide by a combination of Tosic and Gorkss before losing balance and shooting woefully wide of the mark.
Rangers were by no means overawed however with Buzsáky attempting an audacious effort from distance, but it ended up among the supporters. Ephraim dipped back into the action moments later when he cut inside to shoot straight at Krul.
There were moments when it was hard to notice who had ten men among their ranks with the likes of Buzsáky and Faurlín really stepping up to the plate and creating opportunities and something for the crowd to cheer.
Moments later Simpson was found haring away down the left-wing with Priskin and Faurlín lurking in the middle. Unfortunately for the duo and QPR he failed to look up, and upon coming inside was excellently tackled by Williamson.
It proved to be a turning point as Joey Barton surged forward with the ball before rolling in Peter Lovenkrands who managed to break the offside trap. The striker was the epitome of class and composure as he simply lifted the ball over the onrushing Cerny.
A moment of class fit to separate the two sides as the substitute showed his Premier League credentials against the ten men of QPR.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Newcastle United
Despite Priskin hammering the ball into the net when unfortunately offside he was showing moments or brief glimpses of his capabilities. Indeed it was his tremendous vision and creativity that found Simpson through on goal.
Simpson however highlighted the major difference between the two sides as he blasted straight at Krul from close range. The Arsenal loanee lacked the composure of Lovenkrands and inherently it was going to cost QPR.
Rangers were full of running and the calibre of youthful players such as Josh Parker and Romone Rose were proving to be sprightly down either flank – notably the former who showed excellent defensively while bombing forward on the break.
Unfortunately for Rangers it wasn’t enough as the Toon Army celebrated their ascendance to the top flight. There was a nice moment for all concerned when QPR fans appreciated the Newcastle players who then responded in kind.
The players then completed a lap of honour with boss Neil Warnock telling the remaining supporters that the atmosphere had been exactly what he’d looked for, and it would be this kind of noise that could see Rangers in a similar position to the Geordies next season.
Full Time: Queens Park Rangers v Newcastle United
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Mikele Leigertwood, Peter Ramage (Sent Off 46), Kaspars Gorkss, Dusko Tosic, Hogan Ephraim (Romone Rose 77), Alejandro Damián Faurlín, Ákos Buzsáky, Lee Cook (Josh Parker 50), Jay Simpson, Tamás Priskin.
Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Danny Simpson, Wayne Routledge, Alan Smith, Danny Guthrie (Andy Carroll 79), Joey Barton, Shola Ameobi (Haris Vučkić 79), Leon Best (Peter Løvenkrands 54)