Johnson strike earns QPR narrow win at Bolton

Andy Johnson scored his second goal of the season for QPR at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday

Andy Johnson scored his second goal of the season for QPR at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Championship: Bolton Wanderers 0 QPR 1

Andy Johnson’s second-half goal earned QPR a hard-fought three points against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

Johnson tucked home Clint Hill’s 54th-minute cross to settle a scrappy contest at the Reebok Stadium and send Harry Redknapp’s side – briefly at least – to the Championship summit.

Johnson’s goal was a rare moment of attacking quality in a contest which will be remembered more for the defensive display of both sides, with few genuine goal-scoring chances.

Bolton substitute Craig Davies almost snatched a late equaliser, but the striker’s firm drive was kept out by a smart save from Rangers keeper Rob Green.

Winger Junior Hoilett missed the match with a hamstring strain which he picked up in last weekend’s win over Ipswich, but striker Johnson made the starting line-up after recovering from a groin strain, joining Charlie Austin in attack.

Hoilett was replaced by Gary O’Neil, making his first start for the club since joining earlier in the summer, as Redknapp’s side lined up in a solid-looking 4-4-2 formation.

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Bolton created the first chance of note, and should have scored. Joey Barton’s mis-placed pass was seized upon by Jermaine Beckford, who raced away from Richard Dunne but dragged hit shot disappointingly across Green’s goal and wide.

O’Neil conceded a free-kick on the edge of the QPR penalty area, giving Jay Spearing the chance to test Green with a curling shot which the Rs keeper tipped over the crossbar.

QPR’s sights of goal in the opening half hour were fleeting. Barton sent one shot into the arms of Adam Bogdan, while Austin’s 30-yarder was deflected over the crossbar.

But the visitors, after a bright start and two early corners, struggled for momentum. Without Hoilett, Redknapp’s side lacked a cutting edge, with little service to Johnson and Austin.

Bolton, led by the industrious midfielder Spearing, grew in authority as the half progressed. A speculative strike from Mohamed Kamara almost gave the hosts the lead they just about merited, but Green dived to his right to push the shot on to the post and Rangers cleared.

Bolton continued to press, and came close again early in the second half. David Ngog led a break upfield and crossed for Chung-Yong Lee at the near post, but the Korean was off target.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was QPR who broke the deadlock. A flowing move from the visitors ended with Hill crossing for Johnson to fire into the roof of the net at the back post.

Wanderers’ response to the goal was muted: Kamara sent a weak left-footed effort wide and substitute Andre Moritz was similarly off target, but the home fans were growing frustrated as the second half wore on with Rangers leading and in relative control.

Redknapp, perhaps with an eye on Tuesday’s Capital One Cup tie against Swindon, replaced Austin with Bobby Zamora with 20 minutes to go.

Bolton began to press, and Davies might have equalised, the Welsh striker latching onto a through-ball and drawing a good save from Green.

QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Johnson, Austin (Zamora), Wright-Phillips, Onuoha, Barton, Henry, O’Neil. Subs: Traore, Young, Jenas, Zamora, Murphy, Hitchcock, Faurlin.