Lankester debut but Town undone by first-half strikes at Portman Road
Two first-half goals were enough to give Rangers a deserved three points at Portman Road.
The visitors were in front before the quarter hour when Dean Gerken deflected in Luke Freeman’s in-swinging corner and added a crucial second with the last kick of the half, Tomer Hemed converting a penalty after Toto Nsiala had been penalised.
Grant Ward had chances either side of half-time to reduce the arrears but Rangers always carried a threat and it needed Gerken to keep Blues in the game, the ’keeper making three outstanding saves.
Town stayed with the same side that started in the win over Swansea before the international break, Luke Chambers recovering from a virus to lead the team out.
QPR started on the front foot, Luke Freeman having a shot blocked by Gwion Edwards, Hemed denied by Janoi Donacien’s intervention, then former Town loanee, Massimo Luongo, fizzing a shot wide.
Hemed headed over from Freeman’s corner, Gerken had to save from Pawel Wszolek before Rangers opened the scoring with Freeman’s corner beating everyone and going into the net on 13 minutes off Gerken’s hand.
Blues struggled to get a foothold in the game and Gerken held strong to take another vicious Freeman corner, Freddie Sears responding for Town at the other end but his cross aimed at Ward was cleared.
Chambers blocked Hemed’s strike after QPR countered, Gwion Edwards’ whipped in cross held by Joe Lumley in the visitors’ goal, then Cole Skuse doing well to quell the threat from Eberechi Eze.
Trevoh Chalobah, who was influential in the Town midfield, surged into QPR territory and found Ward but he miskicked when in a great position 15 yards out as
Town searched for an equaliser before the break.
It was Rangers who struck right on half-time though, Nsiala penalised for a foul on Eze and Hemed did the rest from the spot.
It needed a brilliant save from Gerken to stop Town conceding an immediate third goal straight after the break, the ‘keeper denying Eze from 10 yards out. Sears won a free-kick but Ward’s delivery was headed clear comfortably by Joel Lynch,
Gerken denying Wszolek, Matt Pennington then driving at the heart of the Rangers defence but Sears strayed offside.
Lumley saved from Ward’s header before Town made a double change with Ward replaced by Kayden Jackson and Edwards off for debutant, Jack Lankester.
The two substitutes immediately combined, with Lankester denied as he looked to convert Jackson’s cross.
Gerken made another excellent save to deny Hemed, the ever reliable Skuse clearing the follow up away from danger, then tracking back 50 yards to prevent Eze finishing the game off.
Nahki Wells replaced Hemed in QPR’s first change, Eze then hitting the bar with a terrific effort as Rangers continued to threaten.
Andre Dozzell was denied as he looked to get in 10 yards out but Town couldn’t find a way to goal.
Town: Gerken, Pennington, Chambers, Nsiala, Donacien, Chalobah, Edwards (Lankester 66), Skuse, Dozzell, Ward (Jackson 66), Sears. Subs not used: Bialkowski, Knudsen, Nolan, Graham, Downes.
QPR: Lumley, Bidwell, Cameron, Freeman, Eze (Scowen 89), Hemed (Wells 72), Luongo, Rangel, Wszolek, Lynch, Leistner. Subs not used: Ingram, Hall, Cousins, Smith, Osayi-Samuel. Booked: Leistner.