ALEX Smithies was an undoubted hero as QPR recorded their first win at Fulham for 36 years over the weekend, and the goalkeeper says the victory has left a good feeling around the place.
Rangers won the game courtesy of Idrissa Sylla’s 87th minute header after Conor Washington’s first-half strike was cancelled out by Fulham’s Tim Ream.
But that only tells half the story, as Slavisa Jokanovic’s side missed two penalties over the course of the afternoon – the first after five minutes and the second with virtually the last kick of the game.
“It was very dramatic, and for it to happen in a derby game like that one was incredible,” Smithies told www.qpr.co.uk.
“We are delighted with the win, and we go into the international break now with a good feeling around the club.”
Smithies has faced seven penalties during his QPR career. Staggeringly, only two have ended up in the back of his net.
The R’s stopper dived full stretch to his right to deny Tom Cairney early on at Craven Cottage.
“I’ve always got that confidence about me when it comes to facing penalties,” he said. “I don’t know why that is but I seem to go the right way more often than not and when I do that, I expect to save it.
“Luckily for the first one, I was able to – and I got even luckier with the second one!”
Fulham’s second penalty of the afternoon was awarded in the 95th minute, and Smithies recalls: “It was strange really.
“When the ref awarded it, I was thinking, ‘I’m going to have to save two penalties if we’re going to win this game.’
“As it turned out, I wasn’t needed for the second one – I went the wrong way but it hit the post and we got that little bit of luck that you need.”
While Smithies and Sylla stole the headlines on an incredible afternoon, it was Washington’s first league goal for the club which really had his team-mates smiling.
“We have all been dying for Conor to score that first league goal because he works so hard for the team, everyone can see the amount of effort he puts in,” Smithies said.
“I think, for him, it’s just a case of getting the first one or two, and then he will crack on. Hopefully now there are plenty more to come for him.”
Sylla’s flying header turned out to be the match-winner for Rangers, and while Smithies may have been at the opposite end of the pitch, he had a great view of the goal – and thoroughly enjoyed seeing it fly into the back of the Fulham net.
“It was a great ball in from Tjaronn (Chery) and such a fantastic header,” he said.
“It’s such a special feeling to be down the other end and see something happen like that.
“We showed fight right until the end and that’s what fans want to see in derby games. It was tough but we got there in the end and I hope the fans are happy.
“We have had a tough month in terms of results, but I think in the last few games we have put in good performances without getting the points we wanted, but at the weekend we got all three.
“We’ll have a rest now and then look forward to kicking on after the international break.”