- QPR beaten on the opening day of the 2015/16 Sky Bet Championship season
- Goals from Tony Watt and Morgan Fox won it for Charlton Athletic
- Hoops cheered on by 3,200 travelling fans at The Valley
RANGERS fell to a 2-0 defeat at Charlton Athletic on the opening day of the new Sky Bet Championship season.
After a fairly even first half, which ended without a goal, the Addicks were the better side after half-time and were duly rewarded.
Second-half goals from Tony Watt and Morgan Fox saw off Chris Ramsey’s men in this London derby.
Changes were aplenty at these two clubs over the summer. Indeed, both QPR and Charlton fielded new-look teams.
For Rangers, there was little change in goal, however, with last season’s number one Rob Green between the sticks.
But there were two new bodies in defence, with full-backs James Perch and Paul Konchesky – the former Charlton left-back – joining captain Nedum Onuoha and Clint Hill in the back four.
The Hoops deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation with another newbie, Massimo Luongo, partnering Karl Henry at the base of midfield. Matt Phillips and summer signings Tjaronn Chery and Jamie Mackie – the latter, a firm crowd favourite, returning to the club for a second spell – operated further forward.
Charlie Austin, QPR’s top scorer last term, led the line for the visitors.
The striker was involved early on as Rangers had the first shot on goal. Austin flicked a high ball on for Chery, whose first-time volley was collected low by Nick Pope.
The R’s forced four corners in the opening seven minutes, showing intent from the off.
At the other end, Ahmed Kashi enjoyed Charlton’s first attempt when driving straight at Green, before Austin lashed wide from distance in the eighth minute.
A minute later, Green was tested again, producing a smart catch to thwart Johann Gudmundsson, after his blast at goal.
Rangers went their closest yet in the 14th minute. Chery’s corner eventually found Austin, whose deflected effort flew just past the left-hand post.
R’s boss Ramsey will have been pleased with this start.
Charlton grew into the contest as the first half wore on. Chances dried up somewhat as the half-hour mark came and went, though Chery did send a free-kick just wide on 35 minutes.
The Dutchman forced Pope into a good save three minutes later. Chery thumped an effort towards goal from distance – and the Reds goalkeeper responded with a fine, one-handed stop to beat the ball away.
It was goalless at the break.
Rangers almost changed that scoreline straight after the start of the second period.
Mackie found space down the left before crossing low into the box, and the onrushing Phillips’ subsequent shot saw Pope do well to tip the ball over the crossbar.
Charlton took the lead in the 52nd minute. The home side introduced Watt at half-time and it was the forward who got their goal, cutting inside Perch from the left before shooting low and in – via the right hand of Green, that is, who couldn’t keep the blast out.
Rangers responded soon after with Austin and Chery efforts that went close.
However, much like the end of the first half, chances were now scarce as the hour mark passed.
Charlton, though, should have doubled their lead from a corner in the 68th minute. Gudmundsson’s delivery was met by the head of Patrick Bauer, who headed over from 12 yards.
The opening goal appeared to settle Charlton and after the hosts saw penalty claims ignored by referee Robert Madley, head coach Ramsey opted to make a double substitution.
Henry made way for Ale Faurlin in the 71st minute, while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was also brought on, for Chery.
But that couldn’t prevent Charlton doubling their lead, with the home side making it 2-0 only a minute later.
In truth, it was a fine strike from Fox, whose low daisy-cutter from 20 yards out fizzed past an unsighted Green – and into the bottom right-hand corner.
Rangers struggled to get going again after that and Gudmundsson so nearly made it 3-0 in the 86th minute, with a lovely free-kick that cannoned back off the upright.
Good fortune for QPR, yes, but it wasn’t to be our day across the capital, ultimately.