Queens Park Rangers secured their first win in eight with a dramatic victory over Cardiff City.
Mark Warburton’s side bounced back from their humbling at Barnsley on Wednesday to condemn Cardiff to a twelfth straight defeat in London.
Two second-half penalties seemed to have secured a dramatic comeback for Cardiff, but a screamer from substitute Dom Ball gave QPR their first victory since the opening day.
New intent about QPR
There was a new intent about QPR from the off, their attacking intent not representative of a side that had failed to score in four straight Championship games.
That goalless run should have come to an end after just three minutes, when Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair combined to release Albert Adomah on the edge of the area, but an excellent save from Alex Smithies denied his former Cardiff teammate.
The pressure was beginning to tell, and QPR racked up corner after corner as Cardiff failed to keep hold of the ball. In the end, the visitors were undone.
Seemingly penned in on the right-side, Tom Carroll’s beautiful reverse pass found Adomah in behind the Cardiff defence. The Ghanaian feinted to cross, leaving Joe Bennett stranded, before chipping a ball to the far post where Chair was waiting. His volley was down into the ground, and bounced over Smithies into the net.
It was only QPR’s fifth goal from open play this season, and it set the tone for the game.
The second came just before the half-hour mark, and Chair was involved again. This time, it was in the role of creator.
Chasing a seemingly lost ball near the corner flag, he flicked the ball back over the defender’s head, collecting it on the other side and firing a cross into the six-yard box. The cross was deflected into the path of Todd Kane, who struck the ball sweetly on the half-volley into the top corner. Smithies was rooted to the spot.
It was not until the half-hour mark that Cardiff registered their first shot on goal, a tame effort which drifted well wide of Seny Dieng’s post.
Chair should have given QPR a third just before half-time. Countering quickly, he found Bright Osayi-Samuel on the left of the penalty area. The winger beat his man and found Chair with his back to goal. The little Moroccan did well to turn and get his shot away, but it flashed agonisingly wide of the post.
Cardiff fight back
Neil Harris tried to shake things up at half-time, bringing on Junior Hoilett in the place of Will Vaulks.
It worked. Just three minutes in, Moore found space in the box, only to be brought down by Yoann Barbet as he looked set to pull the trigger. The referee pointed to the spot, and Joe Ralls converted to bring Cardiff back in the game.
The visitors kept probing but struggled to create another clear cut chance to get back in the game. Some nice footwork from Sheyi Ojo created space at the edge of the box, but his shot was wildly off target when Bennett was in space to his left.
Lee Tomlin was brought on with twenty minutes to go, and again Cardiff upped the pace.
With five minutes to go, another breakthrough – another penalty. This time, it was Conor Masterson penalized for a handball. This time, Ralls missed.
But he scored the rebound. Despite a convincing performance from QPR, suddenly they found themselves clinging on to a point.
And then up stepped substitute Dominic Ball with seconds left to hammer the ball home from 25 yards.
The celebrations that ensued belied the frustration at having let their initial two-goal lead slip, and the significance of this result in kick-starting QPR’s season.
Much needed win for QPR
For Cardiff, their winless run in London stretches to twelve. While Wales’ rugby players were ending their Six Nations campaign with an ignominious defeat at the hands of Scotland, the story of Welsh efforts in West London was much the same: close, but just not good enough.
The result comes as a much needed win for QPR, their first since beating Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the season. For Cardiff, it means just two wins in their first nine league games.
The two sides now sit level on ten points, just three points above the relegation zone.