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Alex Smithies: It's relief more than anything!

ALEX Smithies toasted a long overdue first away clean sheet of the season after QPR's Boxing Day draw with Ipswich Town.

Rangers, who had Josh Scowen sent off late on, threatened to leave Portman Road with all three points but ultimately had to settle for just one.

“We’re a little bit disappointed overall,” the R's number one told www.qpr.co.uk.

“We’re pleased to not get beaten and to keep a clean sheet which is nice personally and from a defensive unit, but we had chances where if we’d produced a bit more quality in the final third we might have won the game.”

Smithies enjoyed a relatively trouble-free afternoon in Suffolk – capping a solid afternoon at the back with a shutout, much to the goalkeeper’s understandable delight.

“It was very nice; there’s not been too many of them!” he joked. “I can only remember two saves all game. The defenders have done fantastically well and fought very hard to do their job.

“It’s relief more than anything just to finally get a clean sheet on the road. It’s something as a goalkeeper you always want to get but it’s not always possible.

“They’ve not come as often as I’d have liked at all but I’m certainly looking to keep a few more between now and the end of the season.”

An impressive performance on the road could have been jeopardised when Scowen was shown a second yellow card four minutes from time, but Rangers in reality never looked like conceding.

Smithies believes that’s a sign of the R’s renewed resilience, adding: “We’ve said it a few times this season, but last year we might have been beaten, especially going a man down.

“But we controlled the end of the game quite well and didn’t really give them too many chances which is another improvement on last season.”

The draw comes after QPR ended their long wait for an away win at Birmingham City a fortnight ago.

Smithies hopes four points from a possible six on their travels is a sign of things to come.

“At times we’ve been unlucky and at times we’ve let ourselves down,” he said.

“We got a fantastic result at Birmingham and we took a great deal of confidence from that. Hopefully we’ll continue to pick up some more points on the road now.”

Next up on the road this festive period is the much shorter trip to Millwall.

Looking ahead to Friday night’s London derby, Smithies said: “I'm sure the atmosphere will be electric.

"Games are coming thick and fast but we go into this one with confidence.

“Our performances have been good in recent games, we’re unbeaten in three and we’ll all be fired up for it.

“It’s all about recovering now and then going again Friday night.”