FOOTBALL: Rangers defy the prophets

Queen's Park Rangers 2 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The harbingers of gloom gathered at Loftus Road were prepared for the worst. The Rangers fanzine thoughtfully offered 1996 train timetables to Grimsby and Barnsley while Dave Bassett, in between jobs, took an early look at two potential future employers.

There was an almost celebratory tone to the Endsleigh expectations of QPR supporters writing in A Kick Up The R's bemoaning the departure of "Leslie" Ferdinand. After his ring-rusty successor Mark Hateley had, however, set up two goals for a first victory in 10 weeks - the last, not altogether surprisingly, came at Bolton - it was the visitors who were left dusting off their Endsleigh road maps.

Bolton, despite some excellent passing movements, have lost direction on their Premiership travels and are yet to gain so much as a point away from Burnden Park this season.

The introduction of two class acts in midfield will bolster their cause, with a typically penetrating run from the Serbian Sasa Curcic setting up Scott Sellars, the erstwhile Newcastle United playmaker, to lash a 20-yard shot in off the post for an equaliser. But the acquisition of a Premiership-quality goal-hanger is a pressing need.

While Bolton place justifiable faith in the guile and thrust of Sellars and Curcic, QPR eschewed the use of a midfield creator for too long. Ray Wilkins again left himself out and Simon Osborn, who answered Hateley's prompt with a 20-yard shot for his first Rangers goal, was - to his palpable frustration - substituted midway through the second half. The move paid off within seven minutes as Gallen came deep, fed Trevor Sinclair whose long cross to Hateley earned the header down that Impey gratefully converted.

Bolton remain watchable - and bottom. Rangers, scrapping around in midfield and picking up the pieces off Hateley, moved out of the relegation zone. Entertainment can wait.

Goals: Osborn (41) 1-0; Sellars (44) 1-1; Impey (75) 2-1.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Sommer; Bardsley, McDonald, Yates, Challis (Ready, 81); Osborn (Gallen, 68), Barker, Holloway, Impey; Sinclair, Hateley. Substitute not used: Wilkins.

Bolton Wanderers (5-3-2): Branagan; Green, Fairclough, Bergsson, Taggart, Phillips; Curcis, Todd (McAnespie, 84), Sellars; DeFreitas, McGinlay. Substitutes not used: Davison (gk), Patterson.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Sending-off: Bolton: Bergsson (76). Bookings: QPR: McDonald, Hateley; Bolton: Fairclough, Curcic.

Man of the match: Curcic.

Attendance: 11,456.