QUEENS PARK RANGERS fell to their first defeat since mid-October, with strikes from Tyrese Campbell and Mario Vrancic condemning the R’s to a 2-0 defeat in what was a frustrating Sunday afternoon in W12.
A missed spot-kick from Charlie Austin on the hour mark was Rangers’ best chance of a disappointing game, with the Potters returning to Stoke-on-Trent with all three points.
Heading into this one Warburton made two changes from our dramatic victory of Derby County six days ago, as Osman Kakay replaced injured Lee Wallace and Sam Field came in for Albert Adomah which meant the R’s lined up with Seny Dieng between the posts, behind a defensive back three of Yoann Barbet, Jimmy Dunne and Rob Dickie.
Barbet’s selection in the starting XI meant he had clinched his 100th QPR appearance following his move to the R’s in the summer of 2019.
Sam Field operated in the left-wing back position with Kakay on the right, whilst Stefan Johansen and Andre Dozzell continued their partnership in the middle of the park.
With Ilias Chair and Chris Willock sitting behind frontman Austin.
Stoke headed into this one following back-to-back defeats to Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers respectively, but a solid first half of the campaign for Michael O’Neill’s side saw them presented with an opportunity to jump into the final play-off position with a victory this afternoon.
Consecutive 1-0 defeats have hindered an impressive start to the campaign for the Potters and it was the Super Hoops who started on the front foot.
A run and shot from Chair forcing the first corner kick of the afternoon, it eventually came to nothing but signalled some attacking intent from the R’s who were on the search of a fourth consecutive victory.
And it was the Moroccan who forced Adam Davies into action for the first time. A wicked cross from Willock found the 24-year-old, but his goal bound effort was tipped away by the Potters keeper.
This opportunity saw the game bursting into life.
A fine double save from Dieng moments later saw him initially deny Tyrese Campbell, before the Senegal international was quick to react from Steven Fletcher’s point blank effort – but as the R’s keeper was getting the plaudits the offside flag was quickly raised, but it was a fantastic save nevertheless.
But, in the 14th minute Stoke were ahead.
A through ball carving open the R’s defence, with Campbell on hand to calmly slot home.
After going behind Warburton’s side tried to get their foot on the ball, with Dozzell and Johansen in the centre of midfield beginning to dictate the play.
But the opportunities created could only be described as half chances, with Davies in the visiting goal on hand to comfortably collect the ball on numerous occasions.
Rangers continued to grow in confidence, with a series of set-pieces and a speculative effort from Frenchman Barbet ultimately coming to nothing but signalling a more attacking emphasis from the R’s.
The 34th minute saw Warburton’s side piecing together their best move of the game so far. Some wonderful passing eventually finding Chair on the right-hand side of the box. His cross fizzed across the box, beating both Willock and Austin, eventually finding makeshift full-back Field who at full stretch could only fire the ball over.
Minutes later it was the visitors who felt they should have doubled their advantage. A smart run and pull-back from the goal scorer Campbell finding experienced striker Fletcher on the edge of the box, only for his goal bound effort to deflect off Barbet and to Rangers’ fortune onto the post and out for a corner kick.
With the half-time whistle beginning to loom the R’s pushed for an equaliser with Barbet’s deflected effort squirming past the post. Before Dunne’s close-range header went over.
Two minutes were added to the first half and despite Rangers’ late efforts, we trailed at the break.
The R’s started the second half brightly, with Austin forcing Davies into a fine save, denying the 32-year-old his third league strike of the campaign and a perfect start to the second period.
But, if it wasn’t for some quick reaction from Dieng, Stoke could have doubled their advantage. Josh Tymon forcing the 27-year-old into a fine finger tipped save.
Barbet then stung the palms of Davies, with a free kick on the edge of the box, however as we approached the hour mark Rangers continued to trail and the Potters’’ game management had quickly taken hold in the game.
But in the 62nd minute the R’s were handed a perfect opportunity to draw themselves level when referee Tony Harrington pointed to the spot as Mario Vrancic was adjudged to have brought down Barbet from Chair’s set-piece.
Austin stepped up, but his effort was weak, with Davies able to push the ball away and Rangers continued to trail.
The 67th minute saw Luke Amos replacing Dozzell in the middle of the park, as Warburton looked to inject saw energy into his side.
As the Super Hoops pushed for that illusive equaliser, this ultimately saw gaps appearing at the back, with substitute Jacob Brown putting the ball in the back of the net, only for the official’s flag to go up before Fletcher fired wide.
Warburton made his second change of the afternoon, with Andre Gray replacing Austin in the 74th minute as hoped to repeat his Pride Park heroics.
However, in the 78th minute Vrancic curled home from the edge of the box, doubling the visitors advantage and seemingly ending Rangers’ chances of leaving W12 with anything.
George Thomas entered proceedings in the 80th minute, replacing Field and his presence almost made an immediate impact when he found himself one-on-one with Davies, but the 24-year-old could only poke the ball straight at the Potters keeper.
Rangers kept pushing with Chair forcing Davies into another save down to his right before Thomas’ looping header drifted just past the post a move which summed up a frustrating afternoon for the Super Hoops.
Five minutes additional time was added, and Amos was next to trouble Davies, with his volleyed effort having to be tipped over.
As the referee blew his full-time whistle, it signalled the end of an afternoon to forget for the R’s, with attentions quickly switching to our Monday night trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United.