QPR 2 Nottingham Forest 1
PUBLISHED: 19:03 20 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:23 24 August 2010
By Ben Kosky ASSISTANT boss Tim Flowers was baffled by the discontent around Loftus Road after Rangers lifted themselves back into the top six of the Championship. Jeers rang out at the end of a scoreless first half and, although Rangers took control afte
By Ben Kosky
ASSISTANT boss Tim Flowers was baffled by the discontent around Loftus Road after Rangers lifted themselves back into the top six of the Championship.
Jeers rang out at the end of a scoreless first half and, although Rangers took control after the restart with two goals in 12 minutes, they ended up clinging on for their first league win in five matches.
Although Sheffield Wednesday's success the following day shunted the Rs out of the play-off places again, their start can hardly be regarded as disappointing by any but the most wildly unrealistic supporters... or directors.
"I can't understand the anxiety that goes with this place," admitted Flowers. "Someone tries a great pass, it misses by an inch and they're getting booed - you think 'what's going on here?'
"I've been in the game a while and I sense this anxiety - yet we've gone sixth in the table and we're in the last 16 of the cup, which is something QPR haven't done for a long time.
"We were in the bottom three of every fitness stat last season, now we're in the top six. I don't know whether we're better organised now than before, but we certainly are organised."
The supporters' angst can probably be explained by the fact that, while Rangers produce some astute football, they struggle to translate that into goals - a problem which Flowers and boss Iain Dowie are doing their best to rectify.
The first half-hour on Saturday was a case in point - both teams could have scored several times in a very open game, but there were few actual saves for Radek Cerny or Paul Smith to make.
Smith did make an excellent point-blank stop from Dexter Blackstock and also held a stinging Akos Buzsaky drive at the second attempt, while Buzsaky and Martin Rowlands both had long-range shots deflected over.
At the other end, Cerny - whose performance was probably his best for QPR to date - kept out Paul Anderson's angled effort and punched clear a Chris Cohen header that seemed destined for the top corner.
Anderson and Garath McCleary were both afforded more space out wide than Dowie would have liked and it needed Fitz Hall's block to prevent Anderson putting Forest ahead just before the break.
Instead, Hall's long throw three minutes after the restart brought about the Rs' opening goal as Damien Delaney flicked on and Angelo Balanta rammed a close-range volley in off the crossbar.
And there was a similar feel eight minutes later when Hall's throw was only half-cleared, but this time Buzsaky was 25 yards out as he drilled the loose ball past Smith.
The Hungarian midfielder attempted an audacious third when he turned, spotted Smith off his line and unleashed a chip that grazed the top of the net as Forest's No 1 back-pedalled.
If Rangers thought they had killed off the visitors' challenge, they were mistaken and Cerny dived to keep out Nathan Tyson's effort before Joel Lynch skied over from a few yards out.
Substitute Lewis McGugan did set QPR nerves on edge as he clipped a superb free-kick around the wall and past the despairing Cerny seven minutes from time.
Although Hall had gone off with a bout of sickness, Damion Stewart held the Rs defence together in the closing stages and McCleary's header over the bar was as close as Forest came to an equaliser.
"I felt we were 20-odd yards too deep as a back four and leaving gaps between our banks, so we squeezed up a lot more in the second half," Flowers added.
"It was important that we got out noses in front and we were biting our nails towards the end, but I think we shaded it overall and it was a good three points."
QPR: Cerny; Ramage, HALL* (Connolly 65), Stewart, Delaney; Buzsaky (Mahon 90), Rowlands, Leigertwood, Cook; Blackstock, Balanta (Di Carmine 76). Subs not used: Camp, Ledesma.
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