THIS turned out to be another night to forget for QPR at Craven Cottage, as they went down 4-0 at Fulham – while injuries to Charlie Austin and Jamie Mackie only made matters worse for Head Coach Chris Ramsey.
Just like their last two visits here, the R’s conceded three goals by half-time. On this occasion, Moussa Dembele gave Kit Symons’ men the lead in the second minute with a powerful header before Ben Pringle doubled their advantage with a fine strike in the 19th minute.
On 31 minutes Ross McCormack slammed home number three, and the Scot made it four on 63 minutes to complete the scoring for the night.
Perhaps even more damaging than the result was the sight of Austin and Mackie being forced from the action with injuries.
Austin limped off on the hour-mark, while Mackie – having replaced Tjaronn Chery in the first-half – didn’t come out after the break.
Chris Ramsey named an unchanged side for the trip to Craven Cottage, meaning Rob Green lined up between the posts behind a back four of Paul Konchesky, Nedum Onuoha, Gabriele Angella and James Perch.
Karl Henry and Ale Faurlin took up their normal holding positions in the centre of the park behind Chery, Massimo Luongo and Matt Phillips, with the in-form Austin leading the line.
A notable name on the bench was that of Leroy Fer, making his first appearance of the season in the 18-man squad having overcome a knee problem.
Fulham went into the game having played in the third round of the Capital One Cup just three days earlier, losing 1-0 at the Cottage to Premier League outfit Stoke City.
Kit Symons made one change from the side that lost 3-2 at Sheffield Wednesday in their last Championship encounter six days ago, with Ryan Fredericks replacing Jazz Richards.
In front of more than 4,000 noisy QPR fans, it was Fulham who took an early lead, Dembele powering home a header from six yards following James Husband’s cross from the left in the second minute.
After two disappointing starts on their last visits to the Cottage, it was just what Rangers were looking to avoid.
Moments later, McCormack nearly doubled the hosts’ lead but his shot from close-range could only find the side netting.
Having given Fulham the upper-hand in this contest, QPR had to work hard to force their way back into the game and they gradually did that, with some neat passing moves to change the tempo of the match.
In the 15th minute, Phillips almost found Austin in behind the Fulham backline with a great ball, but just as the R’s striker looked to be breaking clear on goal, Fredericks was able to hack the ball to safety.
And two minutes later some brilliant one touch football enabled Phillips to put Luongo through but his shot from 12 yards hit the side netting. The Australian international was clearly disappointed, knowing it was a great chance to level matters for the R’s.
But just as QPR looked to be getting themselves back into the game, the hosts doubled their lead through Ben Pringle.
As the R’s looked to play themselves out from the back, Pringle won possession before firing the ball into the bottom right corner from 18 yards.
Once again, QPR had given themselves a mountain to climb at Craven Cottage.
Fulham had a huge chance to make it 3-0 in the 24th minute when Ross McCormack broke clear down the left, but just as he looked to square for Dembele to tap home, Angella made a decisive block.
At the other end of the pitch, Austin tried to reduce the arrears but his shot from distance was easily gathered by Andrew Lonergan in the Fulham goal.
But on the half-hour mark things went from bad to worse, McCormack slamming home after a perfectly-weighted pass from Tom Cairney, to make it 3-0.
Ramsey reacted by making a substitution, replacing Chery with Jamie Mackie.
But in truth, the first half became one-way traffic as Rangers struggled to control a confident Fulham side, with Dembele warming the palms of Green just before the break, while McCormack’s low drive flashed just wide.
Ramsey made a further change at half-time, and sadly you fear it was an enforced one with Mackie being replaced having only come on after 30 minutes. He was replaced by Fer, making his return to action.
The R’s certainly started the second half brighter, with Perch going close after bursting into the box, while Konchesky had a diving header well saved by Lonergan.
At the other end of the pitch, Perch had to be alert to hack the ball to safety as Jamie O’Hara tried to pull the ball across the face of goal after finding space down the right flank.
But when it looked like things couldn’t get much worse for Rangers, they did. On 57 minutes, Austin limped out of the action after having treatment on the pitch, to be replaced by Daniel Tozser.
Fulham took full advantage as QPR tried to regroup, and made it 4-0 with McCormack again the goalscorer. Following a goalmouth scramble, Angella’s clearance hit the crossbar, and the former Leeds man was there to tap home his second of the night to compound Rangers’ misery.
Ryan Tunnicliffe saw his powerful drive pushed away by Green in the 74th minute as the hosts continued to control the game, while Rangers’ players were getting increasingly frustrated.
Late on, substitute Kay Voser almost made it five on a truly miserable night for QPR.
To their immense credit, R’s supporters continued to sing and show the team their backing on what had become another difficult night at Craven Cottage.