RANGERS’ recent unbeaten Championship run was brought to an end in a close encounter at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
This was hardly a classic contest and a point apiece perhaps would have been a fairer reflection of proceedings, decided by Colin Kazim-Richards’ 56th-minute strike.
The Super Hoops had strong appeals for a penalty dismissed in the 67th minute when Yoann Barbet’s corner struck the hand of goalscorer Kazim-Richards, but a spot-kick wasn’t to be awarded.
Rangers boss Mark Warburton unsurprisingly opted to name an unchanged starting XI following Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Cardiff City. That meant a first home appearance for Charlie Austin since his loan return from West Brom.
In a 5-3-2 formation, QPR lined up as: Seny Dieng; Todd Kane, Rob Dickie, Geoff Cameron, Barbet, Niko Hamalainen; Chris Willock, Dom Ball, Ilias Chair; Lyndon Dykes, Austin.
Just two points above the drop zone before kick-off – and five points behind the R’s – Wayne Rooney’s Derby arrived in W12 after an important victory in midweek, too, overcoming promotion-chasing Bournemouth at Pride Park on Tuesday.
The opening exchanges made for a tight affair early on.
Visitors Derby edged the possession count and were first to threaten in the 10th minute. Nathan Byrne’s lofted right-flank centre picked out Kazim-Richards on six yards, but he wasn’t able to control the ball and Kane eventually cleared.
Rangers’ first effort of the contest arrived eight minutes later. Kane’s hanging cross from the right was headed comfortably wide by Austin.
The R’s went closer in the 24th minute. After patient approach play, another Kane delivery was turned goalwards by Austin for Kelle Roos to save with his fists. Dykes then followed up to scoop over the bar.
Warburton’s men enjoyed a bit more possession as the half progressed, but there were no further clear chances up to half-time. The first half would end goalless.
Rangers looked to be positive at the beginning of the closing period – Dykes firing just wide in the 50th minute – but were caught out on the counter attack when Derby opened the scoring six minutes later.
Kamil Jozwiak eventually raced away from the hosts’ defence and, when his low effort was parried by Dieng, Kazim-Richards followed up to slide the ball home inside the six-yard box.
A first R’s change arrived in the 65th minute. Wednesday’s match-winner Willock made way for Faysal Bettache.
Rangers soon had big appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Tim Robinson. Video replays showed that Barbet’s right-wing corner struck the hand of Kazim-Richards, but a spot-kick award wasn’t forthcoming.
In the 72nd minute, meanwhile, Chair spurned a decent opportunity for the R’s – shooting handsomely past the upright from 20 yards when it would perhaps been better to have slipped Austin through on goal.
A second QPR sub was made a minute later. Macauley Bonne replaced Dykes.
As Rangers pressed for a levelling goal in the closing stages, Barbet’s acrobatic overhead kick effort forced a smart near-post save from Roos in the 77th minute.
The R’s then threw on Albert Adomah and Charlie Kelman – for Austin and Hamalainen – in the 82nd.
The home side couldn’t muster an equaliser, though.
Three minutes were added on at the death, but Derby’s defence was rarely threatened as they sealed another important win in their battle to climb away from trouble.