QPR SUFFERED a desperately disappointing 2-0 defeat at Blackburn this evening, with Rudy Gestede’s goal early in the first half being added to by Tommy Spurr’s effort after the break.
In truth, Harry Redknapp’s men can have no complaints about the result, with the hosts the better team for much of the evening.
The result all-but confirms QPR will be unable to catch Burnley in second place and now Rangers’ attentions must turn towards improving their form between now and the end of the campaign.
Redknapp made four changes from the side that lost 2-1 at Bournemouth on Saturday for tonight’s trip to Ewood Park.
Will Keane, Karl Henry, Luke Young and Yossi Benayoun came in for Modibo Maiga, Jermaine Jenas, Clint Hill and Armand Traore.
Rob Green continued between the sticks with a back four, from left to right, of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Young, his first start in two years, Richard Dunne, who skippered the side, and Danny Simpson.
Tom Carroll partnered Henry in the centre of the park with Junior Hoilett and Benayoun playing on the flanks.
Ravel Morrison played up front, just behind Keane, coming up against his twin brother Michael, playing at right back for Rovers and also on loan from Manchester United.
Traore missed out with an ankle injury sustained during Saturday’s loss, while Jenas was ruled out with a tight calf and hamstring.
Joey Barton missed his third game with a thigh strain while Nedum Onuoha and Aaron Hughes were also unavailable (hamstrings).
The hosts were unbeaten in their previous six fixtures and went into tonight’s game in confident fashion having recorded an impressive 2-0 victory against Ipswich Town at the weekend.
The R’s, on the other hand, were eager to overcome their recent dip in form which has seen them pick up one point from their previous two fixtures.
Morrison fired over from 25 yards in the opening minute while Keane saw an early chance snuffed out by a strong Grant Hanley challenge.
In the 8th minute, Hoilett – booed by the Blackburn fans upon his return – played a neat one-two with Keane on the edge of the box before curling his right-footed shot just wide of Paul Robinson’s post.
But just a minute later the hosts took the lead with their first real chance of the night. Rudy Gestede was afforded too much space from 25 yards out, and set himself up before rifling the ball into the back of the net with a low drive for his seventh goal of the season.
It was an excellent strike which lifted Gary Bowyer’s side. With the fans behind them, Blackburn enjoyed a period of possession but were unable to greatly trouble Green during this spell.
In the 28th minute they came close to doubling their lead, however, when Jordan Rhodes broke clear down the right but no-one was able to get a decisive touch to his low centre.
And three minutes later Green had to be alert to keep out the in-form Rhodes, who latched on to a neat flick on, but saw his close-range effort well saved.
Morrison nearly drew Rangers level with a fierce volley from 20 yards but his effort was straight at Robinson, who was able to palm it behind for a corner.
At the other end, Hanley flashed a header wide of the far post in an opening half where Blackburn had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.
Sadly, things got worse for Rangers straight after the break when Tommy Spurr was able to move into the R’s area unchallenged before firing in at the near post to double the hosts’ lead on 48 minutes.
Craig Conway forced a good save from Green on 55 minutes when he curled goalwards from just inside the box, while Rangers found it difficult to create any real openings of their own.
Blackburn’s confidence grew the more the game went on, with a series of passes being played around the centre of the park as they looked to engineer another opening.
But on 67 minutes Keane came close to halving the deficit and getting Rangers back into this game. After the R’s put a number of their own passes together, Hoilett picked out the United loanee with a clever pass which caught out the Rovers rearguard, but Keane’s low shot from ten yards cannoned back off the upright with Robinson beaten.
Redknapp then made a double substitution with Charlie Austin and Modibo Maiga replacing Keane and Carroll.
Michael Keane saw his shot deflect wide for a corner in the 71st minute after Gestede played him in down the right, while Hanley powered a header just over the bar from the resultant set-piece as Rovers went in search of a third.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Yun Suk-Young came on for Assou-Ekotto, while Rovers sub Luke Varney almost grabbed a third for the hosts after racing clear of the Rangers backline, only to see his shot drift wide of Green’s far post.
In the end, it proved a night to forget for the R’s as they suffered their second defeat in the space of three days.
With Nottingham Forest next up in W12 this Saturday, Redknapp and his players will be desperate to get their form back on track to seal a play-off spot and mount a serious challenge within them.