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16:55 31st January 2015


RANGERS were defeated on their travels once more, following a 3-1 defeat to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. 

A Jonathan Walters hat-trick handed the Potters victory, QPR ultimately failing to recover from his first two goals which came on the back of individual errors.

Niko Kranjcar pulled a goal back for the R’s before half-time but that couldn’t inspire Rangers to a result, Walters adding his third strike in second half stoppage time for former Hoops boss Mark Hughes’ side.

Harry Redknapp made just one change to his QPR side following our home defeat to Manchester United a fortnight ago.

Kranjcar came in for Bobby Zamora, as Rangers lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation.

On an extremely-cold January afternoon in the Potteries, the contest endured an uninspiring start, with both teams attempting to feel their way into the game.

In fact, the first shot on target didn’t arrive until the 21st minute – and it saw Stoke take the lead.

A defensive mix-up between Mauricio Isla and Karl Henry allowed Walters to run clean through on goal, and the Potters frontman finished well – and low past Green thereafter from just inside the box.

A few minutes later, City went so close to doubling their advantage – Victor Moses’ free-kick only just missing the target.

Stoke – and their fans – were buoyed by the opening goal. In the 29th minute, Stephen Ireland flashed a shot wide on the half-volley from 25 yards.

The hosts were now firmly on top and added a deserved second goal four minutes later. 

Another loose pass – this time from Eduardo Vargas – freed Ireland, who in turn fed Walters to double his tally for the afternoon.

Disaster for Rangers but they pulled one back soon after on 33 minutes. Joey Barton got to the byline and when Charlie Austin’s initial effort from that centre was blocked, Kranjcar swept home at close range.

Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half, although Moses did lash just over on the stroke of half-time.

Zamora was introduced at the break, with Henry making way.

Vargas had the first effort of the half when he blazed over following a free-flowing move while, at the other end, Phil Bardsley went even closer from free-kick routine.

In the 56th minute, Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic pulled off a fine save to deny Vargas, following the Chilean’s acrobatics in executing a spectacular volley on the turn.

Former QPR man Peter Crouch was introduced for Stoke in the 63rd minute, while Junior Hoilett replaced R’s goalscorer Kranjcar five minutes later.

Rangers were improved after the interval as they went in search of a leveller, and enjoyed more possession with that.

Barton had a shot from range deflected wide on 70 minutes. At the other end, Crouch side-footed just past the foot of the post, after Ireland’s snappy cross.

QPR made their third and final substitution in the 75th minute when Yun Suk-Young replaced Clint Hill.

Two minutes later, Barton’s free-kick smashed against the face of the crossbar, before the midfielder crossed for Hoilett to force a low block from Begovic in the Stoke goal.

As the clocked ticked down, the match became an open one. Rangers tried to get forward at every available opportunity, Leroy Fer’s driven free-kick from range was wonderfully tipped away by Begovic.

In the 89th minute, Richard Dunne’s lovely centre from the right was just taken off the head of a waiting Zamora in the box.

Four minutes of stoppage time were given by referee Mike Dean. The Hoops continued to pour forward but were finished off by Walters’ third goal in that added period – the forward heading home a bouncing ball in the box to confirm defeat for the R’s.
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