Ailing Routledge delivers the right tonic for QPR

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Leicester City 0

The margins of success are slim in the Championship as this tale of two substitutes underlined. Three-quarters into a tight but entertaining match Sven Goran Eriksson sent Martyn Waghorn into the fray. The striker's first act was to rob Matt Connolly and advance on goal only to shoot narrowly over.

Twenty minutes later, a draw seemingly inevitable after Waghorn had missed an even better chance, Neil Warnock brought on Ishmael Miller. His first involvement was to run on to a through ball from Wayne Routledge and score.

Warnock revealed it had been a toss-up whether to put on Miller or Tommy Smith. With the dugout divided, the deciding vote went to assistant manager Mick Jones in the stand. He said Miller. The rest was hysteria as the biggest crowd of the season at Loftus Road celebrated Miller's goal, and the subsequent victory, with unbridled joy.

An important win over the division's form team became even more significant with the three clubs immediately below Rangers all losing. That extended QPR's lead to eight points with 11 matches to play. Fifteen years after they dropped out of the elite amid such financial distress that they subsequently fell into the third tier, a return to the top flight seems certain.

Only complacency, or dramatic loss of form, can halt them now but neither is likely in a dressing room overseen by Warnock and including battle-scarred veterans such as Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Paddy Kenny, as well as flair players like Adel Taarabt and Akos Buzsaky. It makes for a well-balanced unit that hung in against an often superior Leicester side to record an 11th successive unbeaten league match.

That resilience was highlighted by Routledge, who was sent home from training on Friday with a bag of antibiotics and told to get fit for tomorrow's match at Millwall. Instead he rang Warnock on Saturday and said he wanted to play. The winger proceeded to nullify the threat of Kyle Naughton, as well as lay on the goal. "I said to him in the dressing room in front of the rest of the lads, 'That was a team performance you put in for us there'," said Warnock of his loanee. "When you've got lads like that, who do more than they should do, it shows you how much character you've got in your squad."

Defeat was hard on Leicester, who had the game's most polished performers in Jeffrey Bruma and Andy King. Poor finishing and Kenny's keeping denied them victory and Eriksson consoled himself by saying: "If we play like that in the remaining 11 games we'll have a good chance."

No one will fancy facing Leicester, who were in the relegation zone when Eriksson took over in October, should they reach the play-offs. QPR were also threatened with the drop when Warnock took over 12 months ago but while it has been quite a year the champagne remains on ice, for a few weeks at least.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Kenny; Orr, Hall (Connolly, 31), Shittu, Hill; Derry, Faurlin; Taarabt (Miller, 86), Buzsaky (Ephraim, 90), Routledge; Helguson. Substitutes not used Cerny (gk), Hulse, Smith, Moen.



Booked Helguson.

Leicester City (4-3-1-2): Ricardo; Naughton, Bruma, Bamba, Mee; Oakley, Abe, Wellens; King (Gallagher, 79); Vassell (Waghorn, 66), Yakubu (Dyer, 86). Substitutes not used Weale (gk), Vitor, Texeira, Berner.

Booked Bamba.

Possession QPR 49% Leicester 51%

Attempts on target QPR 4 Leicester 5.

Man of the match: Kenny. Match rating 7/10.

Referee R East (Wiltshire). Attendance 18,068.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Two christmas trees ,Moonbeam (2L), Moonchester (2R) and Santa Claus outside the Etihad Stadium
footballAll the action from today's games
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas