QUEENS Park Rangers suffered a 2-0 defeat in the west London sunshine against Stoke City this afternoon.
A first half goal from Peter Crouch and a Jon Walters penalty 15 minutes from time was enough to condemn the R’s to defeat in W12.
QPR boss Harry Redknapp made five changes to the side that lost 2-0 at Everton seven days earlier. Keeper Robert Green started in goal whilst Adel Taarabt and Stephen Mbia were also included. Midfielder Shaun Derry made his first appearance in over two months whilst Tal Ben Haim made his first league start for the R’s. Making way were Julio Cesar, Ji-Sung Park, Esteban Granero, Nedum Onouha and Jermaine Jenas.
Rangers started brightly and inside the opening 60 seconds Taarabt had already fired over the Stoke crossbar. Five minutes later the Moroccan went that little bit closer to opening his account as a free-kick from 20-yards clipped the stanchion behind Asmir Begovic’s goal.
QPR’s appeals for a penalty kick were then waved away by referee Chris Foy as a header from R’s striker Loic Remy struck Stoke right-back Ryan Shotton’s arm after Taarabt’s corner from the right picked the Frenchman out.
Remy continued to remain in the thick of the R’s forward play and after showing great skill to control a highball into the Stoke box he forced Begovic into a save from 10-yards before seconds later testing the big Bosnian again, this time from just inside the penalty area.
At the other end Green was alert to make a diving save to turn Stoke striker Peter Crouch’s volley from distance around the post for a corner. Rangers cleared the resulting danger before a run from Remy earned QPR a free-kick just outside the D. Fullback Jose Bosingwa stepped up to force a good save from the Potters custodian as the score remained 0-0.
The R’s were then awarded another good opportunity from a set piece in the 36th minute when a neat one-two between Remy and Taarabt saw the latter fouled by defender Glenn Whelan. From the resulting free-kick - right on the edge of the area - Remy hit the Stoke wall before Taarabt fired the rebound high and wide over the crossbar.
However, three minutes before half-time - completely against the run of play - Stoke City edged in front. Marc Wilson’s ball from midfield picked out Cameron Jerome who, despite Christopher Samba’s best efforts, managed to cross into the six-yard box for Peter Crouch to side foot home to make it 1-0.
The ex-R's forward refused to celebrate and almost immediately and Samba nearly made good with a flick from a corner going just side of the Stoke post as the half-time whilst sounded shortly after.
After the break Redknapp brought Jamie Mackie on for Andros Townsend but it was Remy 10 minutes following the restart that went closest to levelling proceedings. He took on three Stoke defenders before firing an effort into the body of Begovic with City clearing behind for a corner. Taarabt then made way for Jay Bothroyd with a shoulder injury before Samba went agonisingly close to pulling QPR level.
From Boswingwa’s corner the ball fell to the giant centre-back and with his volley looking destined for the back of the net it unfortunately hit teammate Stephen Mbia on the line and deflected wide for a goal kick.
Jose Boswingwa’s free-kick deliveries continued to prove dangerous and in the 71st minute it was one such set-piece from the right that found the head of Samba. However, his header on goal was gathered comfortably by custodian Begovic.
15 minutes from time and Rangers were dead and buried as Stoke City were handed a penalty by referee Foy. R’s captain Clint Hill was adjudged to have hauled down Crouch inside the box by the official. City’s Jonathan Walters smashed his initial penalty kick effort past Rob Green but was forced to retake. He made no mistake at a second attempt, again beating Green - this time to his bottom right-hand corner - to make it 2-0.
However, despite playing four minutes of additional time that was how it finished as Rangers were unable to find a way through as they took another step closer to Premier League relegation.