Rangers sunk despite late Sylla rally
QPR went down 2-1 at Huddersfield, with goals from Kasey Palmer and Elias Kachunga doing the damage for the hosts at the John Smiths Stadium. Idrissa Sylla came off the bench to score his first goal for the R's, but unfortunately it proved little more than a consolation for the visitors.
Palmer struck on ten minutes before the Terriers doubled their lead in the 62nd minute through Kachunga.
Sylla headed home in the 76th minute but the R’s were unable to find a second in the closing stages, as the table-topping Huddersfield increased their lead at the summit of the Championship table.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made two changes to the side that lost to Newcastle in mid-week, with Olamide Shodipo and Mass Luongo coming in for James Perch and Yeni Ngbakoto. Meanwhile, Seb Polter was named on the bench after missing the game against the Magpies with a glute injury.
It meant Alex Smithies lined up between the sticks against his former club, behind a back four of Jake Bidwell, Grant Hall, Steven Caulker and Nedum Onuoha.
Karl Henry was partnered in the centre of the park by Luongo, after he overcame a recent bout of illness, with Jordan Cousins on the right and Shodipo on the left.
Tjaronn Chery played just off Conor Washington in attack.
The R’s made a strong start to the game and went close to taking the lead as early as the fifth minute through Washington. Shodipo broke down the left and delivered a teasing ball into the centre, which Huddersfield defender Chris Schindler cannoned off Washington as he attempted to clear from within the six-yard box. The rebound flashed past the post with Terriers keeper Danny Ward stranded.
In the tenth minute, Kasey Palmer saw his shot from 25 yards drift wide of Smithies’ right-hand post after Tommy Smith had cut in from the right flank before finding his Terriers team-mate in space.
But just four minutes later, Palmer made no mistake as he gave the hosts the lead by heading home Rajiv Van La Parra’s perfect centre from close range, giving Smithies no chance.
Chery found himself in the referee’s notebook shortly after when he clashed with Huddersfield’s Jonathan Hogg in front of the dugouts. Terriers boss David Wagner intervened to pull the pair apart after Hogg took exception to a heavy challenge from the R’s number ten. Hogg was also booked.
The R’s endured a difficult spell in the half, with a confident Huddersfield side passing the ball about fluidly, but Rangers stuck to their task as they battled to contain the table-toppers in front of a sell-out crowd.
Chery flashed a shot goalwards on 37 minutes after Luongo had battled to retain possession in the centre of the park, but the Dutchman’s effort from distance was comfortably gathered by Ward.
Nahki Wells brought the best out of the returning Smithies in the 39th minute as the R’s stopper pushed his header over the bar, although the flag was up for offside, not that Smithies would have been aware.
The hosts fully-deserved their half-time lead.
During the break, Hasselbaink made a double change, replacing Henry and Washington with Ariel Borysiuk and Polter.
The hosts had the first chance of the second half, with Elias Kachunga heading over the bar following a whipped delivery from the right flank by Van La Parra.
The Terriers thought they had doubled their lead when Wells thrashed the ball home from 12 yards but the effort was ruled out for offside.
But in the 61st minute they did increase their advantage. Smith found space down the right flank and delivered to the back post, where Kachunga powered his header beyond Smithies to make it 2-0 to the hosts.
The R’s came close to getting themselves back into the game on 66 minutes through Shodipo. Bidwell’s initial free-kick into the box from the left fell invitingly for the QPR youth product, but his shot from 14 yards was blocked in a packed Huddersfield penalty area.
Idrissa Sylla was introduced to the action at the expense of Shodipo in the 73rd minute, as Hasselbaink added to his firepower in a bid to get Rangers back into the game. And it took the recent summer signing just three minutes to do precisely that.
After Chery’s initial corner came back to the Dutchman, he stood the ball up at the far post and Sylla rose highest to power the ball into the back of the net.
The goal certainly silenced what had been an excellent atmosphere from the hosts.
Sylla almost got on the end of Polter's flick, but the ball was snatched off his toe as he went to shoot, while Terriers keeper Ward did well to punch Chery's corner clear under pressure from Hall.
Try as they might, the R’s couldn’t find a crucial second and it was Huddersfield who won all three points.