Hughes’ first game as QPR manager ends in defeat to Newcastle
Premier League: Newcastle United 1 QPR 0
Mark Hughes’ first weekend as QPR manager ended with his side sitting in the relegation zone as Leon Best’s first-half goal handed Newcastle all three points on Sunday afternoon.
The Rs hit the woodwork twice and created plenty of chances at the Sports Direct Arena, but, as so often this season, lacked a cutting edge and were let down by careless finishing in front of goal.
Jay Bothroyd, in particular, had an afternoon to forget on Tyneside; the striker missing several presentable opportunities and failing to add to his two goals for the season.
With Blackburn’s 3-1 win over Fulham on Saturday lifting them above QPR into 16th, the Rs went into the match sitting inside the bottom three for the first time since the opening day of the season.
It was a tough ask for Hughes, who replaced Neil Warnock as manager on Tuesday, to stamp his mark on his new side in such a short space of time, and it was a frustrating start to his QPR reign.
The former Fulham boss made two changes – both enforced – from the side which drew with MK Dons in the FA Cup last weekend, in what proved to be Warnock’s last game as manager.
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The suspended Joey Barton and injured Alejandro Faurlin both missed out, with Hungary’s Akos Buzsaky starting in midfield, and Bothroyd recalled to partner Heidar Helguson up front.
The early signs were encouraging for Rangers, with Helguson letting fly from distance inside the first minute, but seeing his shot easily gathered by Newcastle Tim Krul.
The visitors were appealing for an early penalty moments later, as another Helguson shot appeared to strike Danny Simpson’s arm inside the box, but referee Chris Foy waved play on.
The Magpies were struggling to awaken from their slumber, as QPR continued to pepper Krul’s goal. Buzsaky’s swerving shot was pushed away by the keeper, before Shaun Wright-Phillips, yet to score this season, came desperately close with a snap shot that clipped the top of the Newcastle crossbar.
Shaun Derry was then booked for lunging in on Yohan Cabaye, which resulted in the Toon midfielder being stretchered off, replaced with crowd favourite Hatem Ben Arfa.
That substitution seemed to galvanise Alan Pardew’s side, and they had their first meaningful effort on goal when Ryan Taylor’s free-kick was met by Jonas Gutierrez, whose header flew over the bar.
Paddy Kenny then had to be alert to push aside Taylor’s drive, while at the other end Helguson set up Bothroyd, but the striker’s curled shot clipped the upright on its way wide.
With both sides intent on attack the opening goal seemed inevitable, and shortly before half-time it was Newcastle who broke the deadlock. Danny Guthrie touched the ball on from the edge of the penalty area, and Leon Best turned inside Luke Young to fire a shot past Kenny.
Having being made to pay for their profligacy in front of goal, QPR emerged for the second half in similarly charitable mood, again creating and wasting chances, with Bothroyd the main culprit.
Bothroyd should have scored with QPR’s first attack of the second period, instead blazing wildly over the bar from Helguson’s knock-down, before whipping in a fierce shot which Krul beat away.
Once again, after Rangers’ early dominance Newcastle gradually took control, and they almost added a second goal thanks to a rare moment of misjudgement from Kenny. The QPR keeper dashed from his goal to prevent a corner and concede a throw-in, which Newcastle took quickly. Gutierrez curled a shot towards goal, but Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon combined to clear the danger.
Minus the industry of Barton and creativity of Faurlin, QPR were running out of ideas. Hughes threw on Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda, with Buzsaky the man making way.
And Macheda almost made an immediate impact, combining with Clint Hill, only for the Italian youngster’s pull-back to fall short and deny the Rs full-back a tap-in.
That proved to be QPR’s final sniff of goal, as Newcastle shut up shop in the remaining minutes, leaving Hughes to reflect on the size of the task facing him at Loftus Road this season.
QPR: Kenny, Hill, Gabbidon, Young, Ferdinand, Derry, Buzsaky (Macheda), Wright-Phillips, Bothroyd, Mackie, Helguson (Smith).