QPR v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship - Monday, 1st January 2018 - Loftus Road
After a drab first half, Joe Ralls initially gave the promotion-chasing Bluebirds – managed ex-QPR boss Neil Warnock – a 54th-minute lead from the penalty spot.
But that only served to spark the R’s into life, who were much-improved thereafter to take all three points.
First Smith headed home from Robinson’s long throw to level matters in west London.
And it was left to Smyth to cap an impressive maiden outing with the winning goal, racing onto a Smith flick-on before powering past former Rangers goalkeeper Brian Murphy.
Hoops chief Ian Holloway made four changes to his team following the 1-0 defeat at former club Millwall on Friday evening.
August arrival Smyth was handed his senior QPR debut, Jack Robinson and Josh Scowen returned from illness and suspension respectively, and there was also a start for Smith.
That meant Bright Osayi-Samuel, Idrissa Sylla and Pawel Wszolek all dropped down to the substitutes’ bench, while Grant Hall missed out altogether.
The R’s deployed their usual 3-5-2 formation, lining up as: Alex Smithies; Alex Baptiste, Nedum Onuoha (captain), Jack Robinson; Jordan Cousins, Scowen, Mass Luongo, Luke Freeman; Smyth, Smith.
Meanwhile, visitors Cardiff included three former QPR men in their starting XI – ‘keeper Murphy, centre-half Matt Connolly and winger Junior Hoilett.
This contest was untidy from the get-go.
Cardiff fashioned the first effort on target in the ninth minute, with Rhys Healy’s stinging 16-yard drive fisted away by Smithies.
Then came strong-looking appeals for a Bluebirds penalty after Bidwell appeared to bring down Healy in the box. But a spot-kick award wasn’t forthcoming for the visitors.
As the half wore on, Cardiff looked the stronger force in attack and in the 19th minute, Hoilett slipped in Kenneth Zohore to blast over from 20 yards.
It took the R’s 26 minutes to muster a shot towards goal. Robinson fired handsomely over from 25 yards.
In truth, Rangers’ performance was under-par for much of the first period and, on the half-hour mark, the home side were given a real let-off.
In his own half, Onuoha was dispossessed by Zohore, who looked to play in Hoilett.
Fortunately for the R’s, though, Baptiste raced back to clear the ball for a corner as Hoilett wound up to shoot inside the penalty area.
QPR needed to show improvement, but did squander two good opportunities to lead as half-time approached.
First an unmarked Onuoha headed well wide from Freeman’s left-flank corner, before Smyth should have done better when neat football gave him the opportunity to shoot from 16 yards. The Northern Irishman subsequently blazed over.
Rangers had saved their best spell of the opening half until the end of it, with the foot of the left-hand post coming to Cardiff's rescue in the 42nd minute.
Smith rose to meet Freeman’s free-kick from deep before heading towards goal – only for the woodwork to save a beaten Murphy.
Into the second half – and it was visitors Cardiff who first went close in the 48th minute.
The Bluebirds broke swiftly on the counter attack and, when Hoilett eventually teed up Zohore, his goal-bound shot was deflected wide after Onuoha’s important last-ditch intervention.
But Cardiff would eventually lead six minutes later.
Following Joe Bennett’s left-flank delivery, Bidwell was penalised for holding back Callum Paterson in the box.
Ralls subsequently did the rest, sliding home from 12 yards to give the visitors the initiative.
In response, Freeman’s 25-yard attempt for the R’s on 60 minutes took a deflection before looping onto the top of the crossbar and over.
And just two minutes later, Rangers were level.
The equaliser came via route one but the Loftus Road faithful didn’t care a jot, as Robinson’s long throw-in from the left was touched in by the head of Smith.
That goal buoyed the hosts, who then sought a second goal almost straight away.
First Freeman's cross ricocheted just wide, before Cousins’ deflected shot was kept out by Murphy.
Then Rangers completed the comeback in the 72nd minute.
It was a well-deserved goal for debutant Smyth, who raced onto a Smith flick-on before emphatically firing past the 'keeper from an ever-narrowing angle on 10 yards.
Unfortunately, a knock forced the young forward off five minutes later, but he was given a rousing reception as he made way for Aramide Oteh – who came on for his home debut.
Cardiff then twice came close to equalising.
In the 79th minute, Sol Bamba controlled a corner before shooting only millimetres past the foot of the right-hand post. Then Hoilett had an effort chalked off for offside.
The visitors poured forward in great numbers as full-time approached, making this a real end-to-end spectacle towards the end.
But they could find no further way past Rangers’ rearguard, who stood firm during five minutes of stoppage time.
Two-one to the Super Hoops.
Highlights: QPR 2, Cardiff City 1
WATCH over 15 minutes of highlights from QPR's 2-1 win against Cardiff City.