Stoke City 0-2 QPR: Potters slump to six without a win after home loss to Hoops
STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - MAY 01: Charlie Austin of Queens Park Rangers celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers at Bet365 Stadium on May 01, 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Stoke City's winless run was extended to six games after they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Queens Park Rangers in their last home game of the season.

Charlie Austin handed the visitors the lead inside 17 minutes following a mistake by Harry Souttar.

Then despite dominating the majority of possession and being the ones piling on the pressure, with 19 minutes to go, Stoke were caught on the counter-attack with Osman Kakay slotting the ball home for his first league goal for the club.

Story of the match

The Potters made a promising start to their penultimate game of the season and had an early half-chance inside five minutes when a Rabbi Matondo cross was headed only as far out as Josh Tymon on the edge of the box, but his volley was dragged wide.

Four minutes later the hosts had a strong penalty claim when Sam Clucas felt that he had his cross blocked by the raising arm of Stefan Johansen, but the referee waved away the appeals.

Then just before the quarter of an hour mark, Stoke suffered a blow when Nick Powell, who had returned to the starting lineup after being absent last weekend at Nottingham Forest, was forced off with an injury and Jordan Thompson slotted in as bis replacement

Harry Souttar was caught being sloppy in his own half which was capitalized on by Lyndon Dykes, he then found Austin through on goal who fired the ball past Adam Davies and into the bottom left-hand corner.

After the opener, Stoke responded relatively well with Steven Flecther nearly being found in space inside the box on 22 minutes as Matondo's flash across goal, narrowly evading the 34-year-old.

This seemed to spur on the hosts as two minutes later, Matondo saw a lethal volley from the right-hand side of the area sail just over Seny Dieng's crossbar.

With Stoke on top, 11 minutes before the interval they had a golden chance to get level when a Fletcher flick-on found Tymon on the run, but with the goal in sight, he only managed to slice an effort well wide of the mark.

Three minutes later on the counter-attack, the visiting side were looking to extend their advantage when Chris Willock cut in from the right-hand side, but he couldn't produce enough power on his shot as it was comfortably held by Davies.

Then as the game was approaching first-half stoppage time, Fletcher failed to get a strong enough toe on the ball from close range when a Thompson ball was fired into him, even though it would not have counted as the flag had been raised for offside.

After the break, O'Neill's outfit came out on the front foot and within two minutes of the restart Thompson had a shot inside the area well crowded out after he was fed by Tymon.

Despite their decent start to the second period, once again Stoke were caught napping on the 50th-minute mark and were fortunate not to have been paid for it for a second time.

Kakay was played in down the right-hand side and his cutback found Illias Chair unmarked, but he couldn't quite adjust his body in time as he was only able to poke his half volley wide.

Five minutes later, QPR were starting to get a grasp on the game and Davies did well to deny Austin from getting his second of the game when the striker was found cleverly from a corner kick routine and his low strike was kept out by the feet of the Potters’ goalkeeper.

However, the goal would have been ruled out anyway as the referee adjudged there to be illegal tugging inside the area during the buildup to the chance.

As the game was opening up, Stoke went up the other end with Matondo who went on a run and found himself free in the area, but his effort slashed the side netting.

Then only a couple of minutes later Jon Obi Mikel was found in a couple of yards of space, but his header from a delivery out from the left by Tymon was glanced wide of the target.

With just over 20 minutes to go and QPR attempting to soak up the pressure, they conceded a free-kick just outside the area which nearly proved to be costly as Thompson just curled the ball narrowly past the left-hand post.

This turned out to be a chance that the hosts would regret taking as the Hoops went up the other end on the break and after quick play, Johansen found Kakay in space on the right-hand side and he slid the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to seal the three points for Warburton's side.

With 11 minutes remaining, the home side were looking for a route back into the game and were not far from finding it when Dieng fumbled Thomson's drive from range.

Although, from close distance substitute Sam Vokes failed to sort his feet out and bundle the ball home as Dieng eventually collected.

Late on O'Neill's side really should have halved the deficit and made it an interesting last couple of minutes when Tymon nod back found Vokes, but from point-blank range, he sliced his effort wide as it turned out to just not be Stoke's day.

Potters bad second half of the season

At Christmas Stoke were well in with a shot of a play-off finish as they were in seventh place level on points with sixth-placed Middlesborough.

However, since then they have only won five league games and have been sunk to a mid-table finish when at the end of last year they looked to be heading for so much more.

In fact, since Christmas, only Huddersfield Town have won fewer games than the Potters which shows how disappointing the second half of the season has really been for them

It is certainly not the end of the campaign that O’Neill would have been searching for and going into the summer transfer window it must be a priority that he finds more outlets of creating opportunities, as without Powell, it seems that they do not know where to turn in terms of a creative force.

Stoke looking forward to the return of fans

This result marked the fourth consecutive game that the Potters have failed to pick up three points at the Bet365 Stadium and this is a matter that could be a cause of concern for the former Northern Ireland manager.

What could be considered to be more concerning is that in that time Stoke have only netted three times with two of them goals coming in the 3-2 loss against Coventry City ten days ago.

O’Neill will be keen get his side to be more clinical in possession because in the majority of those games Stoke have dominated possession, but have not really been to create much in terms of clear-cut opportunities.

Then when they do get the chances, the Potters have not been clinical enough in front of goal and ultimately they have paid for it due to them making silly mistakes at the other end of the pitch.

Today seems with any luck to be the last game at the Bet365 Stadium that fans were absent in and the club will hope that with their fans behind them next season, that they can be the determination that they need to help them earn a few more positive results next season.

Hoops impressive away from home

While for Stoke today’s result extended their disappointing form at home, the three points for QPR means that they have won eight games on the road this season.

This is the club’s best form away from home since the 2013/14 campaign under Harry Redknapp when they matched the same tally.

It is this impressive away from has helped them achieve 31 points which means that they currently hold the tenth best away record in the Championship.

This is something that will impress Warburton and will be certainly something that he will be keen to get his outfit to build on and even maybe improve upon when next season comes around.

Star Player- Rob Dickie

All of QPR’s back three were solid today as they were brave in their blocking and were never caught outnumbered or two high so Stoke could catch them in behind.

Dickie was particularly impressive though as he led that line really well and made some really crucial challenges as Stoke were pushing for a leveller when they were a goal down.

It was this bravery and leadership that ultimately was key to helping the Hoops over the line in what was a difficult and hard-working afternoon for the side from London.

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