QPR went to the top of the Sky Bet Championship table this afternoon - albeit until the conclusion of the 3pm kick-offs – with a 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers.
In the early kick-off live on Sky Sports Andrew Johnson’s second half goal was all that could separate the two sides in a tight encounter at the Reebok Stadium.
Johnson hit his second goal in three matches to secure the R’s first away win of the season as Rangers unbeaten run stretched to five matches in all competitions.
Rangers made two changes in Lancashire with Gary O’Neil replacing the injured Junior Hoilett in midfield whilst Andrew Johnson was preferred in attack ahead of Bobby Zamora.
Neither side threatened inside the opening ten minutes of play in a measured start to play. Successive corners from Joey Barton failed to provide any real threat for QPR whilst Bolton looked to break on the counter attack. On one such occasion O’Neil fouled Lee Chung-Yong outside the box but Jay Spearing’s effort from distance soared over the bar courtesy of a deflection.
A mistake in the centre of the park by Barton nearly cost Rangers dearly as his misplaced pass to Dunne released Wanderers striker Jermaine Beckford but fortunately for QPR he shot wide of Robert Green’s far post on 15 minutes.
Barton was then booked for a foul on Chung-Yung on the corner of the box with Spearing forcing Green into a one handed save. Play quickly switched to the other end of the pitch through Shaun Wright-Phillips ending with Barton warming Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan’s palms from distance.
Green was ready when called into action again on the half an hour mark with a superb two handed save from Bolton’s Mohamed Kamara’s top corner bound shot helping it onto the post and keeping the R’s in the match.
That brought the first half to a close with a whimper as both sides failed to take the match by the scruff of the neck.
Following the restart Karl Henry gifted Wanderers with an opportunity after his foul outside the box earned him a caution and Bolton a free-kick in a dangerous position. Spearing once again stepped up and his low skidding drive was well dealt with by R’s custodian Green.
However, Rangers finally took a hold of the match in the 54th minute following a flowing move involving Hill, Austin and finished by AJ as QPR went 1-0 up. Hill showed energy beyond his years to get down the left-flank before playing a neat one-two with Austin. That allowed the R’s skipper to slide the ball across the 6-yard box and Johnson made no mistake front close range before celebrating in front of the 564 travelling supporters at the Reebok Stadium.
That set-up a nervy final half an hour as QPR tried to close out the match with a number of substitutions. Zamora replaced Austin whilst Armand Traore came on for Wright-Phillips on the left wing.
Nine minutes from time and Green came to QPR’s rescue to maintain the visitors slender lead. Craig Davies did well to burst into the R’s box after getting the better of Richard Dunne but Green was equal to the former Chesterfield strikers’ attempts to stab home before Danny Simpson mopped up the danger.
Despite five additional minutes and a nervy end to the match Harry Redknapp’s side did enough to see the match out and claim all three points.