QPR 1 Cardiff City 0
PUBLISHED: 18:43 09 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:24 24 August 2010
GERARD FARRELL / DZ PICS
By Ben Kosky GARETH Ainsworth finds himself facing the same question on a weekly basis... namely, who has the final say in team selection. Yes, co-owner Flavio Briatore takes a keen interest – or, in most people s language, interferes – but Ainsworth insi
By Ben Kosky
GARETH Ainsworth finds himself facing the same question on a weekly basis... namely, who has the final say in team selection.
Yes, co-owner Flavio Briatore takes a keen interest - or, in most people's language, interferes - but Ainsworth insisted: "The final team that goes out on the pitch is mine, the substitutions are mine, the strategy is mine."
In which case, three cheers for QPR's caretaker boss, because his substitutions were spot on and eventually made certain of a third straight victory at Loftus Road.
Akos Buzsaky injected some zip into Rangers' lacklustre midfield, Patrick Agyemang finally put some pressure on Cardiff's defence - depleted by the first-half dismissal of Darren Purse - and Gavin Mahon popped up to head a late winner.
Not only had the Welshmen looked more likely to score before Purse's 27th-minute red card for cutting down Lee Cook - a decision described as 'scandalous' by Bluebirds boss Dave Jones - they arguably posed a greater threat in the second half as well.
Michael Chopra, making his second Cardiff debut, fired a chance wide before the visitors made inroads down the left and Stephen McPhail's curling effort was superbly tipped behind by Radek Cerny.
But, although Cardiff had to readjust when referee Lee Probert ordered Purse off, Rangers never really capitalised on their numerical advantage, apart from a sizzling 30-yarder from Emmanuel Ledesma to test Tom Heaton.
Eddie Johnson got uncomfortably close to the Rs' goal after the break, forcing another save from Cerny and rattling a half-volley just wide after Chopra had helped on a free-kick.
Some Rangers fans thought their side had taken the lead when Heaton fielded Peter Ramage's deep cross while appearing to step behind the goal-line - but it wasn't until the last 20 minutes, once all three changes had been made, that the home side began to get on top.
Buzsaky struck a robust 30-yard effort that Heaton was unable to hold and Agyemang was flagged offside as he closed in on the rebound.
Rangers survived a penalty appeal when Chopra went tumbling under Damion Stewart's challenge and finally made the breakthrough 10 minutes from time as Martin Rowlands released Ramage and his swirling cross picked out Mahon, who directed a header perfectly into the far corner.
Victory was effectively secured seven minutes later - not by a second goal, but a second red card, with Probert reducing the visitors to nine men by booking Miguel Comminges for the second time in quick succession.
With that said, there was still time for Cardiff to win a free-kick on the right and Peter Whittingham's ball reached the head of Roger Johnson at the far post, only for Fitz Hall to make the block.
"It was a fantastic battling performance - commitment and passion have been shown in abundance," added Ainsworth.
"I think the Birmingham game prepared us for this - we knew how dangerous we were with 10 men.
"I always believed we were going to score and I'm well pleased for Gavin Mahon, coming on and getting the winner. He's been the ultimate professional in the last few weeks - he's been left out but he's backed me all the way."
QPR: Cerny; Ramage, HALL*, Stewart, Connolly; Ledesma (Buzsaky 55), Rowlands, Tommasi (Mahon 67), Cook; Blackstock, Di Carmine (Agyemang 71). Subs not used: Cole, Delaney.
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