McClaren backs QPR’s Wells to recover from late spot-kick drama against Birmingham
PUBLISHED: 18:04 09 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:04 09 February 2019
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Bermuda international had spot-kick saved in stoppage time as Rs lost 4-3 to Blues
Steve McClaren has backed Queens Park Rangers forward Nahki Wells to recover from the blow of seeing a stoppage-time penalty saved in the 4-3 defeat at home to Birmingham City in the Sky Bet Championship.
The Rs trailed 4-1 at the break after Che Adams nabbed a hat-trick for the visitors and Harlee Dean also scored, while Matt Smith pulled one back for the hosts late on.
Smith was on target again in the second half, before Jordan Cousins’ strike 10 minutes from time looked to set up a thrilling finale.
The Rs seemed to have been handed a lifeline in stoppage time when Luke Freeman was fouled in the box by Craig Garnder.
Wells stepped up to take the spot-kick, but saw his effort saved Lee Camp as the Blues held on to win.
But QPR boss McClaren is confident the Bermuda international will quickly pick himself up from the disappointment of not securing a famous draw for the Rs.
“Nahki knows how to come back from this; he’s 28-years-old and has plenty of experience,” he said.
“That’s football and while it’s a lot different standing after the game at 4-4 than it is 4-3, I always say to the players it’s about the performance.
“The first half was something I couldn’t describe in words, but the second half was pure joy.
“I want to create a team the fans are proud of and the ovation they got at the end was important because it was what the players deserved.”
That the Rs came so close to pulling off a fine comeback was testament to their improvement in the game.
And McClaren acknowledges their display in the opening 45 minutes was simply not good enough.
“The plan was, as it always is when you play Birmingham, to contain Lukas Jutkiewicz and Adams,” he added.
“They’re their top scorers and you saw why on Saturday. We did not handle them at all in the first half and it was not good.
“We had to do three things at half-time: we had to change our attitude; we had to change personnel and we had to change shape.
“They are the only three things you can affect and at half-time, we had to change all three.
“Jordan Cousins came on and did a great job and Toni Leistner tightened us up at the back a lot.
“Our three at the back coped with them and the wing-backs got crosses into the box. Matt was a right handful all afternoon and we could have score more goals.”