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Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Watford: Match report
Queens Park Rangers secured an English Championship play-Off place with a 2-1 win over Watford after going a goal behind early in the second-half.
Manager Harry Redknapp said in the game’s program notes “Watford have been in good form of late. They have really picked up and are a strong side, so we know today will be difficult,” and how right he was as his Rangers side fell behind six minutes after the interval courtesy of a Mathias Ranegie strike inside of the six yard box. The ever controversial Joey Barton equalised through an acute free-kick twenty-five minutes later before Charlie Austin curled the ball past Almunia to snatch a hard fought win.
The visitors started the brightest at Loftus Road and were the better side going into the break, unsurprising after their uplifting victory over Ipswich on the weekend. Former England international Robert Green was on hand to deny Troy Deeney and Lewis McGugan when the two really should have scored. Another chance was created for Daniel Pudil, who was restored to the starting line-up today but a poor touch consequently allowed the defender to slide the ball away.
A poor challenge on the stroke of half-time from McGugan, who has been in decent form in recent weeks, summed up his afternoon. This welcomed groans from the loud away support but Ravel Morrison could only blaze over the bar, concluding the first-half action.
After the 15 minute break the captains led out their respective teams for what proved to be a hugely entertaining second-half. Deeney forced another save from Green from a Daniel Tozer free-kick, but The Hoops were behind moments later when Deeney nodded down a Joel Ekstrand cross into the path of Ranegie. The big Swede turned his marker brilliantly and smashed home just his third goal of the season. The Hornets were deservedly in front.
1,773 away fans made the trip from Hertfordshire and it was all going to plan in a fixture that has become increasingly fierce over the years. Beppe Sannino’s side seemed to allow pressure onto themselves as QPR began to threaten. Redknapp brought on Zamora and Hoilett on in the 72nd minute of the game, with the latter’s pace causing some real problems for Pudil on the left. A header was cleared off the line from one of the home sides eight dangerous corners before they got their equalizer.
A stupid foul conceded by the goalscorer on the edge of the penalty area ensured that one of the many Rangers players who stood over the ball had a brilliant opportunity to test the keeper from twenty yards out. Barton took it and scored it – a pinpoint free-kick to Almunia’s left hand side meant that all the momentum was with the home team.
Yet as the old saying goes, you are most vulnerable after you have just scored. That proved to be the case this time around but fortunately for QPR Almen Abdi’s shot was cleared off the line dazzlingly from Nedum Onuoha.
They also say old habits never die and Watford have a catastrophic habit of conceding late in games, in fact the Golden Boys would currently be residing within the top six if they hadn’t let in so many late goals. They could however, do nothing about Charlie Austin’s sixteenth goal of the campaign. A delightful curling effort from just outside of the box ended up in the side netting of the opposition’s goal to put his side 2-1 up with just injury time remaining.
A play-Off place has now been secured in the club’s first season back in the second division of English football after a two year absence. The side now lie in fourth place and five points off Derby County with two games remaining, while Watford had their faint hopes of promotion dashed and will be looking to finish off a disappointing season with a flourish, and could do their rivals a favor by winning at Pride Park this Saturday.