Hitchcock crowns his debut with QPR winner against Ipswich
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Championship: QPR 1 Ipswich Town 0
Tom Hitchcock scored a late winner on his QPR debut as Rangers defeated a stubborn Ipswich Town side at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon.
Twenty-year-old Hitchcock had been on the field for barely 10 minutes after replacing Bobby Zamora, and tucked home from a few yards out after Scott Loach saved from Charlie Austin.
The goal was met with relief from the home fans, who had seen their side dominate but miss a host of chances, with Austin and Clint Hill both hitting the crossbar in the second half.
The three points leaves Rangers unbeaten from their opening three games of the season.
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Andy Johnson was absent with a groin strain, so Zamora joined Austin in attack, while there were places on the bench for youngsters Hitchcock, Max Ehmer and Mo Shariff.
It took a full 15 minutes for either side to threaten, with Ipswich’s Daryl Murphy letting fly from 25 yards with an effort which drifted over Rob Green’s crossbar.
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QPR survived a couple of nervy moments in defence from summer signings Richard Dunne and Danny Simpson, and for the first 20 minutes were lacking cohesion going forwards.
Towards half-time, the game began to open out, and the home side might have scored with three good chances in the space of a minute.
First, Dunne headed down Joey Barton’s corner for the onrushing Shaun Wright-Phillips, but the winger’s well-struck shot from six yards was deflected over the bar by a defender.
Simpson then led a charge down the right wing and crossed for Austin, whose firm strike was too close to Loach. Nedum Onuoha then headed another corner over the bar.
Ipswich replied with two opportunities of their own just before half-time. Jay Tabb sent a dangerous cross into the QPR penalty area, and Daryl Murphy had time and space to pick his shot, only to see Green pull off a superb save low down to his left-hand side.
Elliott Hewitt then fizzed a shot across the QPR goal-mouth as the visitors began to threaten on the break, but at half-time neither side had done enough to merit the lead.
The second half quickly descended into a scrappy affair, with QPR showing little in the way of creativity, and they were handed a blow when Hoilett was forced to come off with an injury after 56 minutes, with Gary O’Neil coming on in his place.
Nevertheless, the home side again came close, this time from a set piece. Barton’s free-kick was headed onto the face of the bar by Hill, and Dunne put the rebound wide.
Barton fed O’Neil, who played in Austin, but the striker’s shot was held by Loach, before Austin missed by far their best chance of the match with 12 minutes remaining. Wright-Phillips played the ball into the box to the former Burnley man, who took a touch and then slammed a shot against the crossbar from just six yards.
They might have been punished for that miss when David McGoldrick forced Green into a decent save from a narrow angle.
Hitchcock came on for Zamora, and the debutant was in the right place at the right time to score the winner, tapping home after Loach had denied Austin.
QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Onuoha, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Henry (Jenas), Hoilett (O’Neil), Zamora, Austin.
QPR subs: Murphy, Jun, Jenas, Ehmer, Hitchcock, Shariff, O’Neil.
Att: 17, 075