QPR went down 2-0 at MK Dons this afternoon, with Dean Lewington firing the hosts into the lead on 49 minutes and sub Ben Reeves netting an injury-time penalty – just six minutes after Alex Smithies had saved Josh Murphy’s spot-kick.
Rangers enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening half and went close through Nedum Onuoha and Nasser El Khayati, but the hosts’ goal right at the start of the second period put them in charge.
Alex Smithies saved Murphy’s spot kick late on – his second consecutive penalty stop – but he was unable to save the second penalty in injury-time, Reeves blasting into the roof of the net to seal a crucial three points for Karl Robinson’s side.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made three changes for this afternoon’s game, replacing Matt Phillips, Junior Hoilett and Sebastian Polter with Nasser El Khayati, Daniel Tozser and Conor Washington.
Hoilett missed out following the birth of his son, while sickness in the camp also had an impact on the team.
Alex Smithies lined up between the sticks behind a back four, from left to right, of James Perch, Gabriele Angella, Grant Hall and Nedum Onuoha.
In midfield, El Khayati started on the left wing with Tjaronn Chery on the right and Karl Henry joining Tozser in the centre of the park with Massimo Luongo playing just off Washington.
The first real action of the game occurred in the fourth minute when Jake Forster-Caskey was booked by referee Keith Stroud for taking a tumble in the QPR penalty box. The decision was met by cheers from the near-4,000 QPR supporters who had packed into the away end behind that goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Rangers nearly found an unlikely goalscorer in Nedum Onuoha but the R’s defender was unable to make a clean connection inside the Dons box after Washington’s effort took a deflection after a QPR corner.
El Khayati was next to go close for the visitors, cutting in from the left in the eighth minute before seeing his low curling shot well saved by David Martin in the Dons goal.
Luongo also went close from the edge of the box, fizzing his shot over the crossbar as the R’s went in search of the opener.
On 28 minutes Tozser’s freekick from 30 yards drifted just over while Darren Potter fired over for the hosts moments later.
Tozser’s excellent corner from the left after good work by Luongo to win the set piece, was met powerfully by the head of Perch in the 37th minute, but it went a foot over the crossbar. Perch fell to his knees, knowing it was a great chance to give Rangers the advantage.
On 41 minutes, Smithies was quick off his line – and needed to be – as he thwarted the danger after a great flick by Alex Revell almost released Josh Murphy, but the R’s keeper was there to smother the chance.
Two minutes later, Rangers created arguably the best chance of the half. El Khayati played a neat one-two with Washington before beautifully curling a ball towards the far post, but it bounced inches wide with Martin seemingly beaten.
Right at the end of the half, Hall picked up a knock and was replaced during the interval by Paul Konchesky, who slotted in at left back with Perch switching to the right and Onuoha moving into the middle alongside Angella.
It was the hosts who engineered the first chance of the second half, Murphy getting to the byline down the left and delivering an excellent cross for Revell, whose header was cleared off the line by Onuoha.
Johnny Williams then warmed the palms of Smithies in the 48th minute as Karl Robinson’s side began the second period on top.
And in the 49th minute they took the lead through skipper Dean Lewington, who fired beyond Smithies from the edge of the area with a fierce strike which nestled into the far corner.
Two minutes later Chery had a glorious chance to equalise, after Luongo picked him out, but the Dutchman’s half-volley from 20 yards flew over the crossbar.
But with the Dons clearly on top in the second period, Hasselbaink made a swift change, replacing Tozser with Phillips, who played on the right wing with Chery playing off Washington, and Luongo in the centre alongside Henry.
Forster-Caskey had a great chance to double the hosts’ lead in the 69th minute, but was unable to make a clean connection from 14 yards and the ball bobbled into the grateful arms of Smithies.
Hasselbaink made his second change of the afternoon moments later, bringing Polter on for Chery.
On 77 minutes, a great ball across the face of the R’s goal by Forster-Caskey looked set to be converted at the far post by Murphy before Perch pulled off an incredible sliding challenge to deny him.
Straight down the other end, the R’s had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when Lewington appeared to handle Perch's centre.
In the 84th minute the hosts had a great chance to increase their lead when they were awarded a penalty for Konchesky’s challenge on Murphy, but Smithies made his second consecutive save from the spot, diving low to his left to deny Murphy. It was almost identical to the save he made at Sheffield Wednesday only a couple of weeks ago.
Sadly, he was left to face ANOTHER penalty in injury time, Henry bringing down sub Rob Hall – and it was fellow sub Ben Reeves who slammed the ball into the roof of the net to seal all the points for Robinson’s side.