QPR go down 2-0 at Ashton Gate as goals from Adam Nagy and Benik Afobe seal all three points for Bristol City.
QPR suffered their first defeat of the season at Ashton Gate, losing 2-0 to Bristol City.
Mark Warburton’s men can certainly feel they deserved something from this game having dominated for large spells, but equally the R’s will be disappointed with the manner of the goals conceded.
Having been in control for large spells of the opening half, QPR found themselves a goal down on 36 minutes when Adam Nagy slammed the ball home from the edge of the area.
That lead was doubled after the break following a mix-up at the back, which ultimately allowed Benik Afobe the opportunity to volley home from close range.
The R’s created a number of chances of their own through Jordan Hugill, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ebere Eze and substitute Ilias Chair but ultimately were forced to leave Bristol empty handed.
Warburton made eight changes from the side that overcame Bristol City in the Carabao Cup four days ago, but it represented only one alteration from the team that drew with Huddersfield Town in the last league outing a week ago.
Matt Smith coming in for Josh Scowen was the only difference from the starting XI that played the Terriers at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
It meant the R’s lined up with Joe Lumley back between the sticks behind a back four of, from left to right, Ryan Manning, Yoann Barbet, Grant Hall and Angel Rangel.
Geoff Cameron and Smith were the holding midfielders behind the trio of Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Luke Amos.
Jordan Hugill was back to lead the line in attack.
QPR began the game brightly and continued their slick, passing football which has already become such a prominent feature of their game under Warburton.
Eze went on one of his typical mazy-dribbles, taking on three City players but his through-ball for Hugill had just a little too much pace on it, allowing home keeper Daniel Bentley to gather.
On 12 minutes, Amos brilliantly stole possession in the City half before finding Hugill. The West Ham loanee took a touch before firing just over from 20 yards.
While chances were few and far between at either end, Rangers were certainly the side who looked in control of the opening half-hour, and Eze fired wide on 27 minutes as the visitors looked to make more of their possession.
Moments later, Smith did well to get to the byline but his cross went behind the goal as Hugill darted into space towards the near post.
Hugill was next to go close, this time getting within inches of heading home Rangel’s brilliant delivery from the right.
It was certainly an encouraging start for the R’s, and the growing frustration of the home fans was evidence of that.
The hosts responded, however, and a series of corners had Ashton Gate in full voice as they looked to get behind their team.
And on 36 minutes it was City who took the lead through Adam Nagy. Jack Hunt’s cross from the right flank was headed clear by Hall, but it fell invitingly for Nagy who drilled the ball beyond Lumley from 18 yards.
It was certainly harsh on the visitors although City had grown more into the game in the ten minutes leading up to their goal.
Neither side created any notable chances in the final ten minutes of the game, with the opening period coming to a scrappy conclusion.
After the break, Rangers again started strongly and after barely a minute Hugill went close to levelling matters. Osayi-Samuel pulled the ball back from the right but the R’s striker was unable to keep his effort down.
On 49 minutes, Osayi-Samuel saw his effort slam into the side netting as Warburton’s men looked to get back into the game at the earliest opportunity.
The R’s came agonisingly close to levelling matters on 59 minutes when Hall headed Manning’s corner across goal and Hugill flicked towards the top corner, but Bentley pulled off a stunning save, tipping the ball over the bar.
The reaction from his team would certainly have pleased Warburton as they pinned City back. The QPR gaffer then made his first change of the afternoon, replacing the industry of Smith with the creative guile of Ilias Chair.
But disaster struck straight after the change as Lumley looked to clear a difficult, bouncing ball but could only loft it into the air. City quickly worked the ball across to Benik Afobe who volleyed home from close range to double the hosts’ lead.
Warburton subsequently made his final two changes, bringing on Nahki Wells and Todd Kane for Eze and Rangel.
With 20 minutes remaining, Hugill went close once more, this time just unable to divert his diving header goalwards, with his flicked effort going beyond the far post.
Three minutes later it was Chair who had a great chance to pull one back after he got in behind the City defence but his fine, low drilled effort from 16 yards was saved at the second attempt by Bentley.
At the other end of the pitch, Rangers needed to be wary of City’s threat and substitute Han-Noah Massengo went close with a flying header on 77 minutes.
Andreas Weimann went full Maradona ‘86 mode as he punched the ball into the back of the QPR net moment later. Referee Rob Jones was wise to it and booked him for his effort.
City were naturally happy to protect their lead in the closing stages, and protect it they did. The R’s enjoyed plenty of the ball but were unable to find a way through in the final minutes.
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Rangers can once again take great encouragement from the manner of the performance.
That fact was best demonstrated by the standing ovation they received from the 1,600 R’s fans who made the trip.