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17:00 14th December 2013


QPR returned to the summit of the Sky Bet Championship table thanks to a 2-0 victory at Blackpool.

On a wet and windy afternoon, second-half goals from Matty Phillips – against his old side – and Charlie Austin were the difference at Bloomfield Road.

Despite an unfashionable first period, Harry Redknapp’s team were much better after the half-time break and when Phillips struck in the 61st minute, Austin soon followed to ensure Rangers all three points.

The R’s made two changes to their starting line-up following last weekend’s home draw with Blackburn Rovers, with Jermaine Jenas and Gary O’Neil replacing Junior Hoilett and Andy Johnson respectively. 

Johnson missed the trip north altogether owing to injury, though there was a place among the substitutes for Hoilett. 

Johnson’s absence in attack meant that QPR reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 formation, though a change in shape didn’t appear to have a negative impact on Redknapp’s charges in the opening stanza.

Indeed, the R’s had the better of the possession early on – even though there was little in the way of clear-cut opportunities.

It took until the 16th minute for the first chance of the contest to arrive, albeit against the run of play.

Jack Robinson’s ball from the left hung in the swirling seaside air and when Steven Davies rose highest, his header prompted Rob Green into a routine stop.

That chance appeared to spark Blackpool into life and Green was soon called into action once more – this time from Craig Cathcart, tipping another header over the bar after a free-kick eventually broke loose.

The hosts went close again from the resultant corner, again from Cathcart, who fired just over.

Intermittent weather made it difficult for either side to take real control of the ball and the conditions certainly played a part when a goalmouth scramble ensued after an O’Neil cross from the right. Joey Barton eventually produced an effort, though his header lacked the conviction to trouble Matt Gilks. 

Blackpool, in the 33rd minute, were the team who came closest to breaking the deadlock before half-time. Rangers conceded possession in defence and when the ball fell to Dan Gosling just inside the box, he dragged an effort only inches past the foot of the post.

QPR made one assumingly-enforced substitution at the break, with Nedum Onuoha brought on in place of captain Clint Hill in defence.

Both sides enjoyed chances shortly after the half-time interval.

Phillips forced Gilks into a smart save following his effort from distance, while Green pulled off an even better stop at the other end to deny Tom Ince.

Soon after, the hosts went close again when Gosling headed over from Ince’s hanging centre.

Rangers made their second change of the afternoon in the 54th minute, with O’Neil making way for Niko Kranjcar.

The introduction of the Croat appeared to give the visitors more control of the ball and it was the R’s who duly took the lead come the 61st minute.

Phillips controlled a weak clearance on 25 yards and when the former Blackpool man subsequently unleashed a stinging drive, the ball crashed into the net via a deflection off Cathcart - and the hand of Gilks.

Moments later Phillips could – and probably should – have doubled both his and QPR’s tally.

Barton’s defence-splitting pass put the winger in the clear, but he could only drive straight at Gilks.

However, despite that missed opportunity, the R’s effectively put the contest to bed with 17 minutes left on the clock – that thanks to a free-flowing team move.

Intricate passing play from the visitors ended with Phillips crossing for Austin, and Rangers’ top scorer was on hand to head home his 10th league goal of the campaign.

Austin wheeled away in delight – while QPR’s healthy travelling contingent were ultimately rewarded for their long – and bitingly-cold – trip north.

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