KARL Henry’s 63rd-minute blockbuster lit up this campaign finale at Loftus Road, as QPR claimed a 1-0 victory over Bristol City.
With both sides having nothing to play for, the fixture did have an end-of-season feel to it.
The visiting Robins were arguably the better side overall but were undone after Henry’s 25-yard stunner midway through the second half, just his second goal for the club, as Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s men ended the campaign in 12th spot.
R’s boss Hasselbaink made four changes to his side for the visit of Bristol City, following Monday’s slim defeat at newly-promoted Burnley.
Tjaronn Chery, Conor Washington, Ben Gladwin and Nasser El Khayati were all drafted into the starting line-up.
So out went Junior Hoilett, Seb Polter and Michael Petrasso, who dropped to the bench, as well as Matt Phillips, who sat out altogether.
The first 10 minutes made for a fast-paced opening, even If both sides failed to gain a stranglehold within that time.
Less than a minute had passed before Rangers fashioned the first attempt of the contest. Washington’s scuffed attempt was easily gathered by City goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell.
At the other end, the visitors went a little closer in the sixth minute. Robins playmaker Lee Tomlin curled just past the upright.
A minute later, another switch in play ended with QPR’s El Khayati shooting powerfully from range, forcing O’Donnell into a smart stop at his right-hand post.
City so nearly took the lead in the 13th minute. Just outside the box, Bobby Reid turned on a sixpence before producing a low effort that darted only inches wide of the left-hand post.
In truth, the visitors had enjoyed the better of the possession by the time 25 minutes had been played, forcing four corners in the process.
In the 28th minute, only a goal-saving block from Grant Hall denied City following another chance. Robins top scorer Jonathan Kodjia produced an excellent turn in the penalty area, but his blast was charged down.
Rangers struggled to get going in the first half. Just after the half-hour mark, Ale Faurlin and El Khayati both fashioned attempts. However, they did little to trouble O’Donnell.
Ten minutes before half-time, City’s Kodjia spurned a golden opportunity to extend his impressive account for the season.
The striker raced away from Hall and into the box – but he couldn’t find a way post goalkeeper Matt Ingram thereafter, who stood tall to produce a fine save.
Despite Bristol City having the better of things, their goal led a charmed life in the 41st minute, when the visitors twice hacked off the line.
First, Clint Hill’s header from a Gladwin corner was blocked away, before the same occurred when Hall shot from another Gladwin assist.
Rangers were also left to breathe a sigh of relief on the stroke of half-time when Tomlin’s 20-yard blast deflected up and onto the crossbar. Thankfully, for QPR at least, the ball dropped safely over.
The Robins threatened once more just two minutes after the half-time interval.
A mix-up in defence allowed Kodjia to find space, and his first-time effort from the edge of the box flew just wide.
In the 50th minute, meanwhile, City’s Reid wasn’t far away at all with an attempt from 16 yards.
Three minutes later, the visiting fans were on their feet when Tomlin’s free-kick looked in all the way, only for it to crash into the side-netting at the last moment. That same man also went close with a 25-yard half-volley in the 55th minute.
Rangers’ first chance of the second half didn’t arrive until the 59th minute. Faurlin was clipped just outside the penalty area, before Chery sent the subsequent free-kick over.
The R’s made their first substitution shortly after, with Hoilett brought on for Chery.
And it wasn’t long before the first goal of the afternoon followed, as Henry fired home in spectacular fashion for QPR in the 63rd minute.
Patient approach play ended with Gladwin switching the play from right to left with a ball to Henry on 25 yards. What followed was some effort, as the former Wolves midfielder picked his spot to curl into the top right-hand corner in magnificent fashion.
Perhaps harsh on the visitors – but Rangers didn’t care, and followed the goal up by working another chance for El Khayati two minutes later. He shot just beyond the right-hand post.
In the 66th minute, Petrasso replaced Gladwin and almost made an instant impact, after seeing a close-range attempt cleared off the goal-line.
Meanwhile, Polter’s introduction, for Washington in the 73rd minute, saw the big German rattle the goal-frame.
Though Rangers did improve after their opener, a draw probably would have been a fairer result.
Five minutes from time, City almost had a deserved equaliser when Scott Golbourne’s deflected effort fizzed just past the right-hand post.
However, despite four minutes of stoppage time, that proved to be the final opportunity of note, as the season ended with a welcome win for the Super Hoops.