ARMAND Traore’s second-half strike proved a consolation as QPR suffered defeat at 10-man Bournemouth on Saturday.
Tommy Elphick’s header handed the Cherries a half-time lead before Rangers responded, levelling through Traore’s sumptuous volley within seconds of the re-start.
Lewis Grabban restored Bournemouth’s advantage on the hour-mark, who held on for victory despite defending the final 22 minutes a man light following Harry Arter’s dismissal.
Redknapp made five changes to his side for the trip to the south coast, but it was Charlie Austin’s inclusion on the bench that was most significant. Austin was amongst the substitutes, making his long-awaited comeback after two months sidelined nursing a shoulder injury.
There was further positive news on the injury front as Danny Simpson, Armand Traore and Jermaine Jenas returned to the starting XI while Junior Hoilett and Modibo Maiga were preferred in place of Will Keane and Bobby Zamora.
The game was less than a minute old, however, before a serious stoppage threatened to cut Clint Hill’s afternoon short. The R’s skipper was motionless on the ground following an aerial challenge with Yann Kermorgant but miraculously returned to his feet, resuming action despite the early scare.
Rangers enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening quarter, but had to wait until the 16th minute to fashion the first chance. Maiga teed-up Jenas from distance, whose curling shot was heading for the top corner before Lee Camp’s flying one-handed save diverted the ball wide.
The former R’s goalkeeper was called upon again just two minutes later to preserve parity. This time Ravel Morrison found the target, seeing his half-volley from Hoilett’s pull-back tipped over the crossbar.
Bournemouth responded with an effort of their own on 20 minutes. Matt Ritchie found space on the edge of the area but scuffed his first-time attempt wide of Rob Green’s right-hand post.
Green came to the R’s rescue from the hosts’ next attack, though. Kermorgant powered Grabban’s pull-back goalwards from 12 yards but Green stood firm, blocking with his body to repel the danger.
The Cherries pair combined again two minutes before the break. Camp’s long ball caught out Rangers at the back but, after Kermorgant released Grabban, the striker’s shot flashed wide of Green’s far post.
The home side’s threat eventually told in the final minute of the first-half. Ian Harte’s inswinging corner was met by Elphick, who had the simple task of heading the Cherries ahead from close range.
The goal came with virtually the last action of the first 45 minutes, but within 60 seconds of the re-start the R’s were level. Tom Carroll’s perfectly weighted ball found Traore inside the area, who finished with aplomb. The winger took two touches to control before guiding his volley past Camp from the tightest of angles.
At the other end, Green was on hand to keep Bournemouth at bay ten minutes later. Marc Pugh’s jinking run eventually saw his stinging drive pushed over by Green’s fingertips.
The R’s goalkeeper could do little to prevent the home side regaining the lead on the hour mark, though. Kermorgant’s initial effort was blocked but Grabban made no mistake from the loose ball, swivelling from six yards to turn home his strike partner’s deflected effort.
It was almost three seconds later as Green was sprung into action once again. Arter this time tried his luck, forcing the R’s number one to palm his long-range piledriver over.
Better news for Rangers came in the shape of Austin, who was introduced for the last 25 minutes at the expense of Maiga.
The R’s hopes improved when Bournemouth were reduced to 10 men for the final 20 minutes. Referee Jonathan Moss took exception to Arter’s two-footed lunge on Hoilett, brandishing a straight red card.
Redknapp made his final changes shortly after, replacing Jenas for Yossi Benayoun while Bobby Zamora took over from Traore as Rangers looked to make their new numerical advantage count.
They came close to doing just that five minutes from time. Austin linked up with Hoilett in the box but the R’s winger couldn’t prevent his half-volley from soaring over Camp’s crossbar.
Bournemouth had the chance to extend their lead late on when Grabban raced clear but was denied again by Green, who also tipped over Harte’s long-range freekick during five minutes of stoppage time.
Green tried his luck at the other end, venturing forward for a corner but to no avail as Bournemouth held firm, heading a last-gasp header from Dunne off the line.