Resilient QPR can battle their way to promotion, says O’Neil
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Gary O’Neil believes QPR have the resilience necessary to grind out wins when it matters this season, after Rangers edged to a dramatic 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town on Saturday.
Substitute Tom Hitchcock came off the bench to net the winner on his debut, tapping in a rebound on 90 minutes to give QPR their second home win on the bounce.
Redknapp’s side are unbeaten in their opening three Championship matches, and O’Neil believes they are showing all the signs of a side ready to battle their way to promotion.
“I thought we were going to have to settle for a point, which would have been disappointing given the chances that we created,” said the midfielder. “But in the end we managed to wear them down and I think we thoroughly deserved the three points.”
O’Neil, was a key member of the West Ham United side which won promotion to the Premier League in 2012, and he believes that Rangers’ home form will be crucial
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He added: “Some of the boys and the staff were saying that we might have lost that one in previous years. But the back four were solid, we made sure we didn’t concede, and we said with 20 minutes to go that even if we can’t win it we’ll make sure that we come off with a point. Thankfully Hitchy managed to pop up and save the day!
“That’s the problem you face, when teams come here they see you as a big scalp. We had it at West Ham in the Championship when we really struggled with our home form, but our away form was better, with teams coming at us.
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“We’ve won the first two at home which is a great start, and obviously we’re looking for promotion so we need to win our home games.
“The boys here know what it’s all about, there’s not too many of them who have not played in the Championship. QPR got promoted not long ago, and the boys have done it elsewhere as well. We’re under no illusions that it’s no going to be pretty – today wasn’t too pretty.
“You have to get the basics right, make sure you don’t concede goals, and hopefully with the attacking players we have they can do enough to win you games, especially the tight ones.”
And O’Neil paid tribute to Hitchcock, whose late goal was the difference between the sides.
“I’ve seen bits of Tom in training, he’s been training with us since I got here,” said O’Neil. “In truth he probably only got his chance because we have a few injuries in that area.
“It just shows that if you’re a front-man you need to get yourself in the right place at the right time. It’s a knack I never quite managed to master. It’s a nice little knack to have.”