Brave Town go down to 90th minute strike at Loftus Road
Town held promotion favourites QPR for 90 minutes until youngster Tom Hitchcock gave the home side the points.
The son of former Chelsea ‘keeper Kevin Hitchcock had only been on the pitch eight minutes but he was in the right place to stab the ball home from six yards out after Scott Loach had saved from Charlie Austin.
Daryl Murphy had the best chance for Blues and it needed a brilliant save from Rob Green to stop the Republic of Ireland international putting Town ahead before the break while Austin and Nedum Onuoha both hit the bar for Harry Redknapp’s side in an entertaining 90 minutes at Loftus Road.
Mick McCarthy kept faith with the side that beat Millwall last weekend as Town took on the promotion favourites, backed by another impressive travelling Blue Army.
Goalkeeper Michael Crowe was the only change to the 18, the Academy scholar replacing the injured Dean Gerken on the bench.
Aaron Cresswell had to receive lengthy treatment inside the first minute after an aerial clash with Shaun Wright-Phillips and it was Town who created the first opening, David McGoldrick escaping his marker but he couldn’t get a shot in after Jay Tabb had crossed from the left.
Tabb then saw his header cleared for a corner as Blues started brightly, McGoldrick almost getting in soon after as Carlos Edwards led a Town break.
Daryl Murphy fired over on the quarter hour before Charlie Austin threatened in Rangers’ first real foray into Blues’ penalty area.
Joey Barton saw a corner skim off McGoldrick’s head as Richard Dunne looked to get on the end of the delivery, Elliott Hewitt clearing from Barton’s free-kick as Rangers enjoyed a flurry of possession around the Town box.
Wright-Phillips had a shot deflected over, then Cole Skuse did well to block Austin’s effort, QPR’s summer capture from Burnley then denied by a terrific save from Scott Loach.
Rob Green produced an even better block at the other end to keep out Murphy’s placed finish, the ‘’keeper getting low down to his left to palm the ball to safety.
Bobby Zamora sent a 20 yarder over, Hewitt firing just wide of the far post as the two teams continued to exchange blow for blow in an entertaining first-half.
Ryan Tunnicliffe replaced the injured Skuse at the break, QPR also making a change early in the second-half, Junior Hoilett, who also appeared to pick up a problem, making way for Gary O’Neil.
Tabb picked up the first yellow card of the game for a foul on former Blues’ loanee Danny Simpson and from the resultant free-kick, Nedum Onuoha headed Barton’s free-kick against the bar just past the hour before Blues made a second change, Paul Taylor on for Murphy.
Barton, who impressed in midfield throughout, launched another QPR attack with a slick pass, Austin’s low drive safely gathered by Loach, Tunnicliffe then doing well to divert O’Neil’s cross behind for a corner as Zamora challenged.
QPR made a third change with Jermaine Jenas on for Karl Henry for the last 15 minutes and Rangers should have been ahead seconds later, Wright-Phillips’ cross found Austin all alone eight yards out but his left foot strike cannoned back off the bar and was hacked clear.
McGoldrick then brought a save from Green after Dunne’s mistake, Luke Hyam handling the follow-up as he looked to edge Blues in front before Town made a change with Frank Nouble on for substitute Taylor with five minutes left.
Town’s brave display looked enough to earn a point as they matched Redknapp’s side until Hitchcock provided that late winner.
QPR: Green, Simpson, Onuoha, Dunne, Hill, Barton, Henry (Jenas 75), Wright-Phillips, Hoilett (O’Neil 56), Zamora (Hitchcock 82), Austin. Subs not used: Murphy, Suk-Young, Ehmer, Shariff.
Town: Loach, Hewitt, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, Hyam, Skuse (Tunnicliffe 46), Tabb, McGoldrick, Murphy (Taylor 62, Nouble 85). Subs not used: Crowe, Veseli, Berra, Anderson. Booked: Tabb.
Att: 17,075 (1789 Town fans)