RAVEL Morrison’s sublime double fired QPR back to winning ways at Birmingham City on Saturday.
Morrison – netting his first goals since arriving on loan – struck from 25 yards in a one-sided first 45 minutes, which also saw Clint Hill strike the woodwork.
The midfielder made sure of maximum points midway through the second half to re-ignite the R’s promotion push, deservedly ending a 30-year wait for victory at St. Andrews in the process.
Redknapp – making two changes from last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Leeds United – recalled Benoit Assou-Ekotto while Joey Barton returned from a two-game suspension. Aaron Hughes and Karl Henry missed out as a result, both dropping to the bench.
Rangers settled early at St. Andrews, though it was Rob Green who was called into action first on six minutes. After Jermaine Jenas was penalised 25 yards out, Emyr Hughes’ free-kick was collected with relative ease by the R’s number one.
Instead, it was Rangers who took full advantage from a free-kick of their own after Kevin Doyle was cynically hauled down by Paul Robinson. The Blues skipper was cautioned as a result but Morrison made the hosts pay the ultimate penalty, sending the resulting set-piece over the wall and past Darren Randolph’s despairing dive to fire the R’s ahead.
The breakthrough was reward for a bright start by Redknapp’s men, though they had to rely on Green’s reflexes to preserve the lead shortly after as Huws’ next delivery almost found its way inside the far post. Green reacted quickest, though, to miraculously claw the ball over for a corner.
Meanwhile, one almost became two on 21 minutes at the other end. Doyle’s floated cross fell perfectly for Armand Traore, but the R’s winger guided his left-footed volley wide of the far post.
Hoilett turned creator with the R’s next attack, setting Assou-Ekotto free down the left flank to square for Morrison 18 yards out. The midfielder’s effort this time was charged down by Robinson as Rangers continued to look dangerous on the break.
Morrison again threatened next ten minutes before half-time. The playmaker jinked his way through the Blues midfield but dragged his effort wide of Randolph’s goal.
Chris Burke almost carved out a rare chance for the Blues moments later. Chris Burke skipped his way inside but his teasing cross was eventually hacked clear by Richard Dunne.
Set-pieces continued to cause the Blues problems, though, with the woodwork denying Rangers a second goal five minutes before the break. Clint Hill towered highest from Barton’s centre, only to see his header crash back off the crossbar.
Dunne was next to meet a Barton cross, steering his header into the side netting in first-half stoppage time.
Birmingham began the second half the stronger, forcing Green to save smartly from another long-range Huws strike.
Rangers soon regained control, though, and only an offside call prevented Jenas from slotting the R’s further ahead. The midfielder converted Morrison’s intricate pass but was denied a second goal in as many weeks by the linesman’s flag.
Assou-Ekotto was next to threaten the Blues goal, seeing his low cross cleared away after racing forwards from left-back.
Chances proved harder to come by as the second half wore on, while Lee Clark introduced former R’s loanee Federico Macheda and Lee Novak in pursuit of an equaliser.
Redknapp also shuffled his pack 20 minutes from time, replacing Hoilett with Gary O’Neil on the left-hand side of midfield.
The change coincided with the R’s second goal of the afternoon, doubling their tally on 72 minutes. O’Neill played his part before Jenas squared for Morrison to coolly side-foot past Randolph from 12 yards.
The second goal gave Rangers breathing space, who thrust Will Keane on for the final six minutes at the expense of Doyle in attack while match-winner Morrison made way for Tom Carroll moments later.
The result by that stage was in little doubt, though, as the visitors comfortably saw out the closing stages for a welcome three points.