QPR went out of the FA Cup at Nottingham Forest this afternoon, losing to Jamie Ward’s 24th-minute goal.
In a first-half of few opportunities for either side, Ward bundled the ball home at the far post after good work down the right flank by Oliver Burke.
The R’s forced Forest back in the second half, going close through Gabriele Angella and Tjaronn Chery, but they were unable to find the equaliser, and in doing so extended their search for a win at the City Ground to 31 matches.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made eight changes from the side that lost narrowly against Hull City on New Year’s Day, with youngster Joe Lumley coming in for his QPR debut in place of Rob Green (illness), while goalkeeper Alex Smithies was unavailable owing to an elbow problem.
Clint Hill came in at left back against his former club while Gabriele Angella partnered Grant Hall in the centre with Nedum Onuoha continuing at right back.
Daniel Tozser sat just in front of the back four with Michael Doughty and Massimo Luongo playing in central midfield, with Jamie Mackie on the right and Ben Gladwin – recalled from his loan spell at Swindon on the left.
QPR’s attack was led by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
There were no chances of note in the opening ten minutes at the City Ground, but QPR enjoyed much of the possession, pushing Forest back into their own half with Doughty – playing against the club his late father Nigel was the chairman of for the first time – looking confident and keen to get on the ball as much as possible.
Meanwhile, Forest were keen to shoot at any opportunity – and from any distance – as they looked to test Lumley, but he was well protected by his defence.
Robert Tesche blasted over from distance after a quarter of an hour, but both keepers remained untested until the 24th minute when the hosts took the lead through Jamie Ward after catching Rangers out on the counter-attack.
Oliver Burke brought the ball down brilliantly on the right flank and raced 50 yards before knocking the ball across the face of the goal for Ward to slide in and bundle home at the far post.
It was harsh on QPR after making a reasonable start to the game.
Tozser saw his free-kick from 30 yards beat the wall but flash just wide of Dorus De Vries’s upright, and what will have frustrated Hasselbaink from the first-half showing was that for all QPR’s possession, they failed to create any chance of note.
After the break, Emmanuel-Thomas saw his shot from 20 yards headed behind for a corner, from which Tozser’s centre was eventually hacked to safety by the Forest rearguard.
And just five minutes into the second half, Hasselbaink made his first change of the afternoon, bringing on Tjaronn Chery for Gladwin.
Shortly before the hour mark, Doughty went close with a curling effort from the edge of the area after good work by Chery and Emmanuel-Thomas to create the opportunity, but at the other end of the pitch Angella had to head clear from under his own crossbar after great work down the left by Ben Osborn.
Hasselbaink then made another change, replacing the typically-industrious Mackie with youth product Michael Petrasso.
Angella then came so close to levelling for the R’s with QPR’s best chance of the game so far, but saw his header from a corner brilliantly tipped over the bar by De Vries.
The changes made by Hasselbaink certainly seemed to have an impact, with QPR pressing the hosts back, and the manager then made his final change, with Perch making his return from injury, replacing Hill, and slotting in at left back.
With little more than 15 minutes remaining Luongo and Chery combined brilliantly down the right, with the Australian putting the ball across the face of goal but it somehow alluded every one of his team-mates in the box, to the relief of the Forest backline who were coming under more and more pressure.
Chery was next to try his luck, firing low at the keeper, but his effort from distance was easily gathered.
Owing to an earlier injury to Henri Lansbury, who was stretchered off, there were eight minutes of additional time for QPR to find an equaliser, but despite being forced deep into their own half, Forest were able to hold out for the victory.