Watford 2 QPR 4
PUBLISHED: 11:27 02 January 2008 | UPDATED: 16:08 23 July 2010
By Ben Kosky THIS is what QPR fans want to see in 2008 – goals, excitement and handing out comprehensive beatings to the top teams in the league. Rangers rounded off the old year in style as they blitzed Watford to lead 3-0 at half-time – the first time t
By Ben Kosky
THIS is what QPR fans want to see in 2008 - goals, excitement and handing out comprehensive beatings to the top teams in the league.
Rangers rounded off the old year in style as they blitzed Watford to lead 3-0 at half-time - the first time they have even scored three in a game all season.
With Martin Rowlands in imperious mood in the centre of midfield, the Rs did not even need to call on their two best players of recent weeks - Rowan Vine and Akos Buzsaky - until well into the second half.
Along with an inspiring full debut from teenager Angelo Balanta, it gave Rangers plenty to be optimistic about in the year ahead and eased the memory of their last-gasp Boxing Day defeat at Plymouth.
"The fans have gone home very happy, whereas we were very disappointed three days earlier because we should have got a point," said QPR defender Chris Barker.
"The first half was probably one of the best we've played - to come here and be winning 3-0 at half-time was fantastic. It just shows what we can do.
"We knew at half-time they'd come at us for a good 20-minute spell. It was disappointing to let in a goal in the first 10 minutes, but we hung on and that was pleasing."
Having survived an early pounding from Watford, the Rs snatched the lead against the run of play when Dexter Blackstock chased Balanta's probing ball, but was felled by Jordan Stewart before he could get there.
Referee Chris Foy signalled a penalty and Rowlands stepped up to send Richard Lee the wrong way from the spot in the 13th minute.
Nathan Ellington rifled a volley just over for the Hornets, but QPR doubled their advantage on the half-hour as Lee scrambled Blackstock's looping effort behind and, from Rowlands' corner, Damion Stewart powered a header home.
Incredibly, it was 3-0 five minutes before half-time, Balanta flicking the ball through for Rowlands to wrap his left foot around it and slam past the helpless Lee.
Rangers enjoyed a stroke of luck as Lee Williamson's drive thudded against a post, bounced off Lee Camp's back and flew wide rather than across the line.
There was no such fortune for the Rs' keeper six minutes after the restart, when Damian Francis' header was cleared off the line by Zesh Rehman, but hit Camp and rolled in.
Watford threw on top scorer Marlon King and he curled a decent chance fractionally over the bar, but Rangers, with Rowlands and Bolder tigerish in midfield, held firm.
Camp dived to parry a Jobi McAnuff rocket and, with 10 minutes to play, the visitors restored their three-goal cushion as Rowlands released Buzsaky, who calmly rounded Lee and fired home from an angle.
That cushion was slightly deflated four minutes later when ex-Rangers defender Danny Shittu cracked a half-volley past Camp, but there was no question of a Watford comeback and Blackstock could even have made it 5-2, dragging an opportunity wide late on.
QPR: Camp; Malcolm, Stewart, Rehman, Barker ; Ainsworth (Vine 64), ROWLANDS*, Bolder, Balanta (Buzsaky 73), Nygaard (Walton 90), Blackstock. Subs not used: Cole, Moore.