QPR’S number one Alex Smithies was named Man of the Match by the Sky Sports pundits against Newcastle United on Wednesday night – but the man himself was keen to praise the entire Rangers team following the Hoops’ 2-2 draw at St. James’ Park.
The R’s came from behind twice to earn a deserved share of the spoils in the North East, as Ian Holloway’s side continued their impressive away form at the home of Rafa Benitez’s high-flying side.
Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk shortly after the full-time whistle, Smithies was quick to praise his team-mates following the entertaining score-draw in the Sky Bet Championship.
“You can see we’re growing as a team,” he said.
“We feel we’re improving and we feel we’re tougher to beat now than we were a month or so ago.
“We’re not always dominating possession away from home, but what we are showing is that we are more than capable of hitting teams on the counter-attack.
“With a little bit more composure in front of goal, we could’ve probably scored more than the two goals we managed – and that tells you everything about the way we’re playing on the road at the moment, and the confidence running through the side.”
Despite trailing to Jonjo Shelvey’s first minute goal, Rangers responded in positive fashion, going on to dominate the remainder of the first half and deservedly going in level at the break thanks to Conor Washington’s fifth goal of the season.
Matt Ritchie headed the hosts in front early in the second half, before Smithies was called upon to make a couple of top-class saves to prevent the Geordies from adding to their tally.
Buoyed by his saves, Rangers went in search of an equaliser and they were duly rewarded when Ciaran Clark headed into his own net in the 90th minute, to the delight of the R’s stopper.
“I made some good saves in the second half – and that gave us a platform at the other end,” he acknowledged.
“To get a late equaliser at a place like this, when probably no-one outside of our dressing room gave us a chance, is just brilliant.
“It’s brilliant for us and it’s brilliant for the fans.
“We’ve got to make sure we build on this now and keep growing as a side.”