Sub Sylla winner in second-half stoppage time
SUPER sub Idrissa Sylla scored a 91st-minute winner, as Rangers came back from a goal down at Loftus Road to return to winning ways.
Despite some positive moments for QPR in the first half, Hull City’s Jarrod Bowen struck in the 35th minute to hand the Tigers a half-time lead.
However, although the closing period wasn’t always pretty, Ian Holloway’s men showed real character to turn the game on its head late on.
It was a tale of two substitutes, as first Matt Smith headed home at the Loft End in the 74th minute to make it 1-1.
Then Sylla sent Loftus Road into hooped delirium in the first of seven added minutes at the end, smashing home from all of three-yards out to claim victory for the hosts.
Rangers boss Holloway made two enforced changes for the visit of Leonid Slutsky’s Tigers.
Injuries to Joel Lynch (hamstring) and Pawel Wszolek (back) – picked up during Wednesday night’s 2-0 defeat at Norwich City – saw the duo come out of the starting XI. Wszolek made the bench, Lynch missed out altogether.
So in came Alex Baptiste for his QPR debut, along with Brighton loanee Kazenga LuaLua.
When the match kicked off, there was little to note inside the opening 10 minutes - bar an early Hull substitution.
Kevin Stewart was forced off with what looked like the reoccurrence of a recent ankle injury. So Amanda Diomande came on to replace the former Liverpool man.
However, Rangers did start on the front foot – and wasted a golden chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute.
Massimo Luongo set Conor Washington free down the right and, when the striker pulled the ball back into the area from the byline, an unmarked Luke Freeman slid wide from 12 yards.
At the other end, the R’s were given a scare in the 20th minute when sub Diomande’s 18-yard shot flew just wide.
Four minutes later, meanwhile, Hoops goalkeeper Alex Smithies pulled off a fine reaction save to tip Bowen’s fierce 10-yard effort over.
Rangers continued to ask questions after that.
First Hull defender Michael Hector produced a timely 27th-minute intervention to deny Washington on six yards while, five minutes later, James Perch’s dangerous ball across the box was leathered clear.
But it was the visitors who would ultimately strike first blood in the 35th minute.
Bowen took control of David Meyler’s high ball into the penalty area and, when he eventually got his shot away after holding off LuaLua, the forward’s stabbed attempt trickled past Smithies.
The Tigers subsequently managed to hold onto their one-goal lead going into half-time, and made another sub at the break. Fraizer Campbell made way for Ondrej Mazuch.
The start to the second half was rather drab and, with that, Holloway decided to change things up as Rangers searched for a way back into the contest. Smith replaced LuaLua.
The first shot on target in the closing period didn’t arrive until the 61st minute. Mackie’s 20-yard effort deflected up into the arms of ‘keeper Allan McGregor.
Two minutes later, QPR made a second sub. Wszolek was introduced for Baptiste.
Rangers’ best opportunity yet after the interval came in the 66th minute. Jake Bidwell crossed from the left – and Smith’s downward header from 10 yards saw McGregor hold at the second attempt.
In the 68th minute, meanwhile, another Smith header dropped just past the upright, following Freeman’s lofted delivery.
The R’s made their third and final change in the 72nd minute. Jamie Mackie departed, with Sylla thrown on.
The second period hadn’t exactly been attractive but, 16 minutes from time, Rangers got the equaliser they had craved.
After Sylla went mightily close when he struck the left-hand post on the half-volley, fellow sub Smith soon got in on the act to bring the Hoops level.
The R’s recycled the resultant corner and, when Freeman crossed again from the left, Smith pounced to head beyond McGregor.
Lift-off in W12.
The game then ebbed and flowed after that, with action at both ends.
And 17 minutes after finding their first, Rangers registered what would ultimately be the winning goal.
A ball over the top found Washington. He then looped the ball over McGregor, who had rushed off his line, before Sylla stole in to hammer the ball into an empty net.
The resultant minutes of added time were extremely edgy. Smith was forced into a goal-line clearance in the 92nd minute, after the ball pinballed around the R’s box.
But Rangers would hang on to take the points – much to the delight of a partisan Loftus Road crowd.
Two-one to the Super Hoops.