QPR suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Peterborough United in the Sky Bet Championship at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Despite leading through Luke Amos’ early first-half effort, a double from Jonson Clarke-Harris and a strike from Jack Marriott condemned the R’s to a frustrating afternoon in west London.
Heading into this one R’s boss Mark Warburton made four changes from the side that suffered defeat to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday evening, with Keiren Westwood, Albert Adomah, Sam McCallum and Ilias Chair replacing David Marshall, Lee Wallace, Moses Odubajo and Chris Willock in the starting XI.
Stefan Johansen and Wallace missed from the squad altogether, as Rangers headed into the game knowing that victory would see them jump back into the play-off places.
Of course, goalkeeper Westwood - who arrived in W12 on Friday - started between the posts for the R’s, replacing the injured David Marshall and making his first Championship appearance since May.
Meanwhile, full-back McCallum lined up for the Super Hoops for the first time since our home clash with Nottingham Forest back in October.
This ultimately meant Westwood lined up behind a back five from left to right of McCallum, Jimmy Dunne, Rob Dickie, Dion Sanderson and Adomah.
Luke Amos partnered Sam Field and Andre Dozzell in midfield, behind Chair and lone striker Andre Gray.
Opponents Peterborough headed to west London without a league victory since the turn of the year and rooted to the bottom of the Championship, seeking vital points to remain in touching distance of their relegation rivals.
The visitors started brightly in W12, Sammie Szmodics initially testing debutant Westwood, only for the former Sheffield Wednesday shot-stopper to produce a smart save down to his left.
However, Rangers’ first chance of the afternoon arrived in the eighth minute, with Adomah winning the ball just inside Peterborough’s half before picking out Gray – but the 30-year-old's effort was comfortable for David Cornell.
This was just a taste of things to come as the Super Hoops quickly took the lead moments later.
Amos nicked the ball off Jack Taylor before curling a wonderful effort from 25-yards out round the Posh 'keeper - one-nil to the R’s!
This early goal certainly lifted Rangers’ confidence, with Dozzell and Chair combining well and the Moroccan international’s effort whistling just past the post.
The R’s continued to shine under the early Spring sun, with Gray the next to trouble the Posh backline, only for his volleyed effort to be denied by Cornell.
However, it wasn’t all one-way traffic in W12 with Grant McCann’s side causing trouble of their own.
Josh Knight brought the ball out from the back before finding Szmodics, whose wicked effort crashed off the top of the crossbar and to Rangers’ fortune, safely out of play.
As we approached the half-hour mark, Warburton’s side could have doubled their advantage.
A loose ball eventually fell into the path of Chair, but the 24-year-old's strike sailed agonisingly past Cornell’s post and the chance for his first goal since February quickly passed.
The Super Hoops continued to turn the screw, with Gray unfortunate not to be rewarded for a fine flowing move. Adomah’s cross picked out the Watford loanee whose flicked header bounced off the post.
But, just seconds later, Peterborough drew themselves level and the game ultimately flipped on its head.
Some good work from Jack Marriott down the right-hand side saw his effort palmed into the path of Clarke-Harris who, from 12-yards out, fired the ball past Westwood.
With the half-time whistle beginning to loom, Warburton’s side went close once more, with McCallum firing wide.
But the momentum was certainly with the visitors as we headed into the break.
After a scrappy start to the half, it was Peterborough who continued to threaten and, when Dunne was adjudged to have fouled Joe Ward on the edge of the box, referee David Webb pointed to the spot.
Clarke-Harris stepped up and despite Westwood’s best efforts, his strike squirmed into the back of the net. The R’s now had it all to do.
Things quickly turned from bad to worse in west London in the 55th minute when Marriott got the better of Sanderson and curled a fine effort past a helpless Westwood.
Boss Warburton quickly made changes, with Jeff Hendrick, Charlie Austin and George Thomas replacing Amos, Dozzell and Gray respectively.
Austin almost instantly announced in perfect fashion – pouncing on a loose Knight touch but blazing over.
Frustrations began to grow around Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, with Peterborough’s game management beginning to take shape. A late lunge from Field highlighted Rangers’ current mood.
As we approached the 75th minute, the R’s had finally begun to find their passing game. A positive run from Adomah down the right flank create a crossing opportunity, but the 34-year-old’s ball beat everyone and sailed out of play.
Hendrick saw his headed effort loop just wide of the post and as the clock continued to tick down, a wicked cross from Sanderson troubled the visiting backline.
Meanwhile, in the 88th minute, Welshman Thomas saw his ambitious strike dart wide of Cornell’s post.
Eight minutes of additional time were added on to the 90, offering Rangers a glimmer of hope, but the injury and eventual substitution of Clarke-Harris certainly took the sting out of QPR's attacking intent.
A half-chance which fell the way of Thomas was the best of our chances throughout the additional time and as David Webb’s final whistle blew, it signalled the end of a miserable afternoon for the R’s.
This defeat leaves Rangers sitting in eighth position and two points off of the play-off places, while Peterborough jump above Derby County into 23rd.