QPR’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end on the southcoast as they went down 2-1 at Bournemouth.
In a thrilling affair, the hosts went 2-0 up with goals from Jaidon Anthony and Dominic Solanke but the R’s came roaring back and were so close to sealing another incredible comeback point.
Sam McCallum’s deflected effort halves the deficit but try as the R’s might – and how they tried – they were unable to get back on level terms against the Cherries.
Mark Warburton made two changes from the side that drew dramatically with Reading at the weekend, bringing in Ossie Kakay and Lyndon Dykes for Moses Odubajo and Charlie Austin respectively.
It meant the R’s lined up with Seny Dieng behind a back five of Sam McCallum, Yoann Barbet, Jordy De Wijs, Rob Dickie and Kakay.
Stefan Johansen partnered Dom Ball behind the creative duo of Ilias Chair and Chris Willock with Dykes leading the line in attack.
This game also saw Luke Amos named on the bench, representing his first appearance in the squad since he suffered an ACL injury on this very pitch 11 months ago.
Bournemouth recorded a convincing 3-0 win over Barnsley on their last outing and with both teams tonight aiming to protect their unbeaten start to the Championship campaign, what would give at the Vitality Stadium?
Ilias Chair had the first real chance of note when he took a freekick from 20 yards after McCallum had been felled on the edge of the box, but the Moroccan’s curling effort hit the side netting of Mark Travers’ goal.
Cheered on by a noisy travelling support, the R’s made a strong and moments later Willock’s shot from 12 yards was blocked while Chair had another go from distance but his half-volley was over the bar.
But on 12 minutes that good start was undone when Jaidon Anthony dispossessed Dickie and coolly picked out the far corner of Dieng’s net to give the hosts the lead with their first attack of the evening.
The goal gave the Cherries a lift and they soon settled into their passing game. On 17 minutes a good move down the right freed up Ryan Christie but his effort fizzed wide.
Chair was a constant danger at the other end of the pitch and in the 27th minute a brilliant block from Philip Billing stopped him getting another shot at goal following a good link-up with Willock.
Two minutes later, the R’s No.10 went close again with a curling effort which drifted just wide with Travers at full stretch.
But while QPR weren’t taking their chances, the same could not be said of Bournemouth who doubled their lead on 37 minutes through Dominic Solanke.
Solanke played a one-two with Anthony, and as he received the return pass in the R’s box he converted beyond Dieng from close range.
The R’s have forged a reputation for themselves this season as comeback kings after rescuing results against Millwall, Middlesbrough, Barnsley and Reading but they left themselves with a mountain to climb in the second half against a buoyant and confident Cherries team.
Dykes got his first real chance of the night shortly after the interval when he got on the end of Kakay’s flighted delivery from the right but his header was comfortably gathered by Travers.
While the R’s were keen to press forward they needed to be alert to the obvious pacey danger from the Cherries.
Solanke almost made it three but hit the inside of the post and moments later Warburton
made a double change as he sought to stem the Bournemouth attack.
Albert Adomah and Andre Gray – two of the stars of the Reading recovery – came on for Kakay and Dykes respectively.
Almost instantly rewards were reaped as the R’s got themselves back into the game.
Chair advanced forward and his effort deflected wide into the path of McCallum. After the fullback’s initial cross was blocked he decided to cut inside and have a go – it proved a wise decision as his deflected effort went beyond Travers in the Bournemouth goal.
Suddenly, QPR were looking far more dangerous while the hosts didn’t seem to have control of the game quite like they had previously.
Bournemouth retreated to soak up the R’s threat and limit the space in behind, meaning Rangers would need to be at their creative best to find a way through.
But Scott Parker’s men also remained a threat themselves and were able to enjoy sustained periods possession to frustrate the R’s.
With ten minutes remaining, the R’s won a corner and De Wijs thought he had levelled with an excellent header but it was matched by a superb save from Travers. From the follow-up delivery by Barbet on the right, Dickie’s header was then tipped over the bar as Warburton’s men sought another comeback success.
George Thomas came on for Chair in the closing stages and he saw a half-volley saved by Travers.
And the over-worked Travers was at it again on 88 minutes as he finger-tipped Dickie’s deflected centre just wide of the far post.
De Wijs was next to have a go but his looped header from Adomah’s centre cleared the Bournemouth crossbar.
And deep, deep in injury time Gray so nearly grabbed a share of the spoils from close range but somehow his header waqs saved by Travers.
That was the last action of the game as the hosts successfully held out for all three points, ending QPR’s unbeaten start to the season.
It was an exhilarating fixture, and now we dust ourselves down and get ready for the visit of Bristol City on Saturday.