A second goal in as many games for Ilias Chair helped QPR to a convincing victory over Rotherham United at Loftus Road.
The hosts made it four home games unbeaten after Bright Osayi-Samuel and Lyndon Dykes completed the scoring.
For Rotherham it means just two away wins in fifty-five Championship games, and sees them hovering perilously close to the relegation zone.
Careless Rotherham with mountain to climb
Chair looked dangerous from the outset, registering the game’s first effort on goal just a few minutes in. As a result, QPR looked coherent, and it wasn’t long before Rotherham began to feel the pressure.
The first real chance was borne of individual brilliance. Intercepting a drilled cross-field ball with a his chest, Osayi-Samuel shook of the attention of three Rotherham defenders. With the ball stuck under his feet, he dug out a shot which cannoned off the outside of the post.
Soon, the pressure told – albeit aided by a slice of luck. Latching on to Chris Willock’s cross at the far post, Osayi-Samuel feinted one way, then another, before laying the ball back to Chair on the edge of the area. The little Moroccan’s shot took two huge deflections to leave Jamal Blackman helpless in the Rotherham goal.
Rotherham responded well to going a goal down, and were almost level in controversial circumstances. With Dom Ball down injured in the QPR area, the visitors played on, the ball falling for Dan Barlaser on the edge of the box – his shot was tipped wide by a superb Seny Dieng save.
QPR were still the dominant side, but they were soon made to rue their profligacy. There are no easy games in the Championship and this was another example.
Short of options on the right, Wes Harding curled a perfect cross into the six yard box, where Michael Smith caught the QPR defence flat-footed and headed home.
Mark Warburton will be gratified that, rather than causing their heads to drop, the equaliser only spurred his side on.
Osayi-Samuel was denied by the woodwork once again when his shot was deflected agonisingly onto the post by Angus MacDonald. He wasn’t to be beaten however, and heading into added time he got his goal. It was an impressive solo effort, carrying the ball from thirty yards out into the penalty area, before capping off the move with a composed finish.
If Paul Warne was frustrated by conceding so close to half-time, he was positively spitting moments later. Attempting to control an innocuous ball over the top, Barlaser handled the ball clumsily. The referee didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot, and Lydon Dykes dispatched to give QPR a two-goal cushion heading into the break.
Rotherham rejuvinated after the break
Rotherham emerged a more determined side after the restart, but QPR had the edge in quality. Soon, they were on the front foot once again, looking to add to their tally.
Chair went close with a free-kick, and Willock played a tantalizing ball across the six-yard-box, cut out before the waiting attackers could tap it home.
To their credit Rotherham refused to lie down, and they had the ball in the net after a fine finish from captain Michael Ihiekwe only for the offside flag to curb any celebrations before they’d begun. Freddie Ladapo caused Dieng problems within minutes of coming on, his shot on the turn held at the second time of asking.
“Come on, keep believing!” screamed Ihikwe to his teammates as the minutes ticked away. They may not have believed in miracles, and when what looked a certain penalty was waved away by the referee, it seemed certain that there were none forthcoming.
But then came a speculative cross from Jamie Lindsay, headed onto the post by Ihiekwe, now playing as much as a striker as a centre-half. The rebound fell to the substitute Ladapo, who nodded in from a yard out. Game on.
Time was against them but still they came forward, met by an increasingly frustrated QPR defence, unsure of how they came to be under such pressure when the game had seemingly been put to bed.
A cross from Joe Mattock found George Hirst at the far post, but his header into the ground was too close to Dieng.
Close but not close enough
In the end it proved too much for the visitors, failing to rescue a point but certainly recovering their pride.
The win takes QPR into 14th, just five points of the play-offs. Rotherham remain in three places above the relegation zone, their three-point cushion looking perilously fragile.