Ipswich Town 3 QPR 0
By Ben Kosky MANAGERS and players may come and go with increasing regularity at Rangers, but one thing never changes – Ipswich striker Jon Stead remains their nemesis. Stead, who has netted five goals in his last three matches against QPR, also appears to
By Ben Kosky
MANAGERS and players may come and go with increasing regularity at Rangers, but one thing never changes - Ipswich striker Jon Stead remains their nemesis.
Stead, who has netted five goals in his last three matches against QPR, also appears to play an uncanny role in influencing who may occupy the Loftus Road manager's chair.
His double last October helped persuade the notoriously fickle Rangers board not to hand Gareth Ainsworth the job and rumour had it that Ipswich's 3-1 win in the return - in which Stead scored again - first brought Jim Magilton to their attention.
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Whether Stead's latest round of QPR-bashing, in the form of Monday's brace, has any bearing on Paul Hart's fledgling tenure is anyone's guess.
But the Ipswich crowd, who fondly remember Magilton's years of service as both player and manager, made their views clear by singing the name of the former Rs boss and booing Akos Buzsaky at every opportunity.
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The unfortunate Hart seems to have stumbled into a situation where some of the players - and a growing number of QPR fans - look demoralised and utterly fed up with the farce they have endured for so long.
It was no surprise when the Tractor Boys grabbed the lead after just three minutes, Stern John's pass bisecting the defence for Jon Walters to run on and fire home with the aid of a deflection.
Buoyed by the goal, Ipswich began to spray the ball around, finding gaps at the back all too frequently, and Gareth McAuley and ex-Rs defender Damien Delaney both went close with headers.
Radek Cerny denied Walters a second from close range, and Rangers finally carved out a chance of their own as Wayne Routledge whipped in a cross that Adel Taarabt could only glance wide.
Soon afterwards, the midfielder squandered an even clearer opportunity, ballooning Ben Watson's free-kick high into the stand from five yards out.
Delaney's challenge forced Jay Simpson wide early in the second half, but Rangers' hopes of a recovery were dealt a blow when Stead doubled his side's advantage 18 minutes after the restart.
Receiving Owen Garvan's pass on the edge of the penalty area, the striker shielded the ball from Kaspars Gorkss and turned to slam it beyond Cerny and into the bottom corner.
At the other end, Arran Lee-Barrett easily kept out Watson's header and substitute Patrick Agyemang nodded Routledge's cross over the bar, but there seemed little genuine belief that a comeback might be possible.
If there was, it fizzled out 12 minutes from time, when Walters broke down the right and Cerny could only parry his cross-cum-shot into the path of Stead, who tucked in his second of the afternoon.
And the Ipswich hitman could have completed his hat-trick in added time as Connor Wickham played him through, but Rangers were spared further punishment as he slid the chance past the post.