CHRIS Ramsey saw his R’s side make it three wins on the spin in the league with a 1-0 victory at Huddersfield Town this afternoon.
Tjaronn Chery grabbed the winner in the 83rd minute, getting on the end of the impressive Massimo Luongo’s low cross from the right to fire beyond home keeper Joe Murphy.
It was an open and entertaining affair at the John Smith’s stadium, and what will delight Ramsey as much as the three points will be the cleansheet his team kept, having conceded two in every league fixture prior to this match.
Ramsey made ten changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Carlisle in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday evening, but just one change from the side that beat Rotherham 4-2 in Rangers’ last league fixture.
Karl Henry missed out owing to the pending birth of his child, with Michael Doughty replacing him in the centre of the park.
It meant the R’s continued with their 4-2-3-1 style, with Rob Green in goal and a back four, from left to right, of Paul Konchesky, Grant Hall – who featured in midweek – Nedum Onuoha and James Perch.
Doughty joined Ale Faurlin in the holding midfield role, while Tjaronn Chery, Massimo Luongo and Matt Phillips played just behind striker Charlie Austin.
Meanwhile, Chris Powell made one change to the side that drew 1-1 at Fulham, with former QPR forward Ishmael Miller replacing Harry Bunn.
It was a change which also saw the Terriers switch from a 4-2-3-1 formation to a more traditional 4-4-2, with Miller partnering the dangerous Nahki Wells in attack.
With the game just two minutes old, Wells thought he had unlocked the R’s backline with a neat throughball for Miller, but Onuoha got back brilliantly to intercept.
But two minutes later, Rangers so nearly had the lead. Austin picked the ball up on the right and played a one-two with Phillips before seeing his shot from 20 yards deflect off Chery and just over the crossbar with Town keeper Joe Murphy beaten.
And just after the ten-minute mark, it was Phillips’ turn to go agonisingly close for QPR. After a perfect first-time ball from Faurlin, Phillips shot goalwards from 16 yards, and his low drive deflected off Mark Hudson before bouncing inches wide of the upright.
Rangers certainly weren’t having it all their own way, however, and in the 19th minute Green had to be alert to smother Jacob Butterfield’s daisy-cutter from 20 yards, in what was an open and evenly-contested start to the game.
Austin came within inches of grabbing his fifth goal of the season in the 32nd minute. It was another well-worked move, with Luongo freeing the over-lapping Chery down the left and his low centre was just marginally in front of the on-rushing QPR number nine, who couldn’t get a vital touch from six yards out as the ball flashed across the area.
Defensively, Onuoha and Hall were enjoying a great battle with Wells and Miller, with the R’s centre-backs not afraid to put in some strong challenges.
At the break, the hosts made a like-for-like change, with former R’s defender Martin Cranie coming on for Town skipper Hudson.
After a scrappy start to the game in the second half, it was the hosts who almost broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, when Cranie’s far-post header from a corner following an initial goalmouth scramble was hacked off the line by Doughty.
Moments later, Onuoha was again on hand in the QPR box to thwart Miller, this time following Sean Scannell’s low delivery from the right.
In the middle of the park, Luongo has been receiving a lot of plaudits for the start he has made to the season, and this afternoon he has been exceptional once again, constantly available and looking to build attacks at every opportunity.
That, coupled with his work-rate, has made him a big hit already with the R’s fans.
Meanwhile, Chery – another who has impressed – almost scored an unbelievable free-kick from fully 40 yards. With Murphy and his Town defenders expecting the Dutchman to cross to the far post, Chery instead went for goal and it left the home keeper clutching at thin air as the ball whizzed just over the crossbar.
In the 66th minute it was the turn of Phillips to go close once more. Racing at the Town defenders, and with Austin desperately trying to overlap down the right, the former Blackpool man used the R’s striker as a decoy to gain yards before unleashing a fierce drive which Murphy did well to push away, diving full length to do so.
Butterfield saw his effort from distance brilliantly blocked by the tireless Doughty at the other end, while Miller fired the follow up wide of the post in a game that could have easily swung either way at this point.
But in the 83rd minute it was Chery who slammed the ball into the back of the Huddersfield net. Luongo was again the creator, getting space down the right before firing across goal. It looked like the chance had gone when Phillips was unable to get a touch but Chery was on hand at the far post to slam home from a tight angle in front of the travelling R’s faithful.
In the closing seven minutes, the hosts worked hard to find an equaliser but were met by a strong Rangers resistance who brilliantly closed the game out for three valuable points.