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6 February 2016

Phillips' late goal sends Town to defeat at Loftus Road

Bart Bialkowski kept Town in the game in the first-half with two brilliant saves but Blues were finally undone by a Matt Phillips header three minutes from time. 

The ‘keeper saved from Massimo Luongo and Junior Hoilett in the opening stages as the home side pressed for the breakthrough. 

Town were much better in the second-half and Freddie Sears twice went close but Phillips was in the right place to head in from close range when a draw looked the likely outcome.

Town made three changes from the side that beat Reading in midweek, Luke Hyam missing out with injury, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Daryl Murphy starting on the bench. Kevin Bru and Brett Pitman came into the starting line-up, with Luke Varney handed his first League start of the season after recovering from a ruptured achilles.

More than 3000 Town fans were packed in at the away end and they got a close up view of a brilliant save from Bialkowski inside the first minute that prevented Rangers going ahead. The ‘keeper beat out Phillips’ fierce strike but Luongo looked certain to score from the rebound until the Polish stopper got down quickly to his right to send the ball to safety. 

Former Blues’ loanee, Luongo, was prominent early on and his pass released Sebastian Polter inside the box but Christophe Berra cleared.

It needed the alertness of Berra again to stop Phillips as he escaped down the right, the Scotland international then in the right place to block from Polter after Conor Washington had set him up.

Ryan Fraser responded for Town, his burst winning a corner that flashed across goal and almost fell for Sears at the far post.

Bialkowski’s heroics came to Town’s rescue again, getting in the way of Hoilett’s point blank effort as the home side continued to threaten an opener.

Hoilett tested Bialkowski from distance with a right footer, the Town ‘keeper holding firm again from the winger again after he had cut into the box, Hoilett then just wide with a curle?
Pitman had Town’s first effort on target just before the break, James Perch hitting the sidenetting, then Hoilett flashing a shot just wide in a first 45 minutes that QPR - backed by a strong wind - dominated but without finding the net. 

Town started the second-half much more on the front foot, Pitman forcing Alex Smithies into a save with a header.

Bialkowski was quickly off his line to get to Alejandro Faurlin’s clever pass as Phillips threatened, Tommy Smith then doing enough to deny Polter.

Berra and Smith combined to stop Polter getting on the end of Washington’s cross before Town made a double change before the hour, Murphy and Giles Coke on for Varney and Cole Skuse.

Fraser ripped a left foot shot across goal, Rangers then making their first change with Daniel Tozser on for Faurlin.

Bialkowski guided Phillips’ shot to safety, then at the other end Fraser didn’t get enough on his shot after Murphy and Pitman had linked up.

Berra did superbly again to clear from Paul Konchesky’s cross, Washington then evading Smith but firing well over. 

Jamie Mackie replaced Hoilett in Rangers’ second change, Pitman’s flicked header from Jonas Knudsen’s throw drifting just wide of the far post.

Bialkowski held firm again from Luongo’s snap shot from the edge of the box but it needed the reflexes from Smithies to deny Sears twice in succession from close range.

Pitman’s volley from Bru’s corner looked goalbound until it hit a Rangers boot but it was the home side who finally got the breakthrough three minutes from time, Phillips heading in from Abdenasser El Khayati’s cross. 

Town poured forward in the search of an equaliser and Sears and Pitman both went close but the goal wouldn’t come, with Fraser carried off before the final whistle to add to Blues' woes.

QPR: Smithies, Perch, Hall, Onuoha, Konchesky, Faurlin (Tozser 58), Luongo, Phillips, Hoilett (Mackie 69), Polter, Washington (El Khayati 80). Subs not used: Ingram, Angella, Chery, Petrasso. Booked: Faurlin, Onuoha.

Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse (Coke 57), Bru, Fraser (Toure 90), Varney (Murphy 57), Sears, Pitman. Subs not used: Henly, Foley, Digby, Maitland-Niles. Booked: Bru.
Att: 17,044


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