MARK Warburton was unsurprisingly thrilled after seeing his QPR team kick off their new Sky Bet Championship season with a win.
Goals from Jordan Hugill (eight minutes) and Ebere Eze (53) helped the R’s to a 2-1 victory over promotion hopefuls Stoke City, with Sam Clucas’ 78th-minute reply proving to be a consolation strike and no more.
Speaking shortly after the full-time whistle in Staffordshire, Warburton told www.qpr.co.uk: “I’m delighted – delighted for the players and all of the supporters.
“The players have worked so hard in pre-season. We’ve brought in 14 new players and they’ve adapted so well, worked so hard and taken on board some good ideas.
“All credit to the players today, Stoke is a tough place to come to and to get three points – that’s a tremendous start of us.”
He added: “We knew that Stoke were going to press us, so we had to play a little less football than we’d like to.
“We’ve got players who can take care of the football, but today we had to deal with a very tough opponent – they’ve got Premier League players in their squad who are very talented.
“So we had to be mindful of that, respect it and do what we had to do. I was delighted with the victory and thought we did really well.”
Clucas’ late goal for Stoke ensured a nerve-jangling ending.
“We were 2-0 up and looked comfortable,” Warburton continued. “We were in control and should have added a third goal.
“Then we gave away a goal. Stoke have a real physical threat and had some quality subs to bring on.
“The dynamic of the last 10 or so minutes changed and we had to deal with that – but we stood up and defended our goal with real passion. All credit to the players, now we can enjoy the journey home.”
Also reserving a special mention for the 1,439 ecstatic Rangers fans who travelled to the bet365 Stadium, the R’s boss said: “You saw how important their support was to the players.
“Our fans were located right by the tunnel, as you walked out, and the players could acknowledge them. We understand the costs involved in following your club, home and away – it’s not cheap.
“So to do that, on a Saturday afternoon – giving your weekend up to support the team – is massively important for us.
“We really did appreciate the support and will never take it for granted.”