Queens Park Rangers 1 Northampton Town 0: Yeni Ngbakoto strike enough to guide QPR past Cobblers
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
EFL Cup first round: Queens Park Rangers 1 (Ngbakoto 36) Northampton Town 0
Queens Park Rangers did just about enough to edge past Northampton Town of League One in the first round of the EFL Cup.
After a fairly drab opening to the first half from QPR, Yeni Ngbakoto fired the hosts ahead less than 10 minutes before the break.
The Loftus Road club received a boost early in the second half when Cobblers defender Leon Barnett was dismissed for a second bookable offence, but the hosts could not add a second goal.
QPR boss Ian Holloway opted for nine changes, with only skipper Nedum Onuoha and Luke Freeman retaining their starting spots from the win at home to Reading in the Championship on Saturday.
Centre-back Steven Caulker made his first appearance for the west Londoners since October 2016, while new signing Alex Baptiste was named among the substitutes after joining on Monday.
There was also a spot on the bench for 19-year-old midfielder Ilias Chair, previously of the academy of Belgian side Lierse SK.
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Inside five minutes, Northampton had the ball in the net following a free kick, but the goal was ruled out after QPR keeper Matt Ingram was fouled by Aaron Pierre.
Two minutes later, Town forward Chris Long unleashed a powerful strike from the edge of the area which stung the palms of Ingram.
QPR registered their first shot on target in the 10th minute when Jack Robinson let fly from 25 yards, but the defender’s effort was straight at Cobblers keeper David Cornell.
Things improved from there for the west Londoners, though Northampton looked more than happy to sit back and hit the Rs on the counter.
Somewhat mercifully after a fairly incident-free spell, the breakthrough came in the 36th minute with Ngbakoto on target for the Rs.
Following a corner, Darnell Furlong’s header was brilliantly saved by Cornell, but the ball fell kindly at the feet of Ngbakoto, who tapped into the empty net from six yards.
Town almost produced an immediate riposte when Long saw an effort from inside the area nearly loop into the net after an Ingram save, but the QPR stopper was able to claw the ball back off the line.
Three minutes later, Cobblers midfielder Yaser Kasim tried his luck from 25 yards, but the effort was comfortably saved by Ingram.
Thankfully, though, the Loftus Road club were able to make it to half time without conceding as they took their one-goal lead into the interval.
Just eight minutes into the second half, QPR were given a further boost when Barnett of Northampton was dismissed after picking up a second booking, having blocked the path of Idrissa Sylla.
Six minutes later, the Rs went close to a second, but Freeman shot just over after Ngbakoto had delicately lifted the ball into his path.
QPR continued to press in search of a second, with both Furlong and Ngbakoto having efforts deflected behind for corners.
After being brought on as a substitute, Saturday’s two-goal hero Conor Washington was keen to add to his tally, but flashed a wild half volley wide in the 78th minute.
QPR were served a reminder of Northampton’s ability a minute later with Ryan Manning having to clear having to nod a Leon Lobjoit header off the line following a corner.
Manning went close to a second for QPR with just eight minutes left in the match, smashing a 30-yard drive against the bar.
In the ensuing melee, Ngbakoto went close again, though saw his header cleared off the line by Town centre-back Ash Taylor.
Northampton piled on the pressure late on, but were unable to find an equaliser as QPR made it through to the second round.
Next up for the Rs is a return to Championship action on Saturday when they make the trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
QPR (3-5-2): Ingram; Caulker, Onuoha, Robinson; Furlong, Borysiuk, Ngbakoto Freeman, Manning; Smith (Washington 57), Sylla (Petrasso 74).
Subs: Lumley (GK), Baptiste, Luongo, Wszolek, Petrasso, Chair
Northampton (3-5-2): Cornell; Barnett, A Taylor, Pierre; Phillips, Kasim, Waters, Crooks, Buchanan (Smith 81); Revell (Richards 69), Long (Lobjoit 69).
Subs: Goff (GK), Bowditch, Poole, M Taylor.
Sent off: Barnett 53 (second bookable offence)
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 4,317 (including 735 Northampton fans)