Blackstock double lifts Sousa's spirits

Queen's Park Rangers 2 Charlton Athletic 0
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The Independent Football

If Queen's Park Rangers's supporters were enthralled by the arrival of their new manager, one boasting two Champions League winners' medals, then they failed to show it. The 12,286 crowd for this derby, with Paulo Sousa meeting the locals for the first time proper, was the west London side's lowest league gate of the season.

What Flavio Briatore, who helped hire Sousa, made of the lack of enthusiasm is anyone's guess. At the end, the Italian and Sousa had to be grateful for Luke Varney, a Charlton Athletic substitute, volleying over from six yards when unmarked and then Mark Hudson heading wide. They proved costly, as Dexter Blackstock met Hogan Ephraim's cross to head the winner from 12 yards with 10 minutes left.

It was the striker's second goal of the night and even if there were not the numbers to see it, the result made Sousa feel a little bit more at home after only five days in the capital.

Given that Charlton had lost 5-2 at home on Saturday, the result that ended Alan Pardew's tenure at The Valley, and that QPR had lost 3-0 away at Watford the same day, there was little clue as to which way this game would go except that goals would be assured. Only three was a poor return when there should have been more, especially for the visitors, but that is why Charlton are in the relegation zone.

The south London side have now taken three points out of a possible 27 from their past nine games. Their caretaker manager Phil Parkinson acknowledged that his chances of taking the job permanently did not improve with this defeat, although the feeling is that it is still his job to lose.

It is not as if QPR is a stable environment either, with Iain Dowie, who started the season in charge, sacked last month and caretaker Gareth Ainsworth replaced by Sousa last week. But the former Juventus midfielder said that he is determined to try to rebuild the club. The first goal of his reign arrived just after quarter of an hour and although Therry Racon equalised after half an hour, Blackstock's double showed how valuable a confident goalscorer is. He has nine for the campaign.

"I spoke with Dexter and watched his goals from this season with him," Sousa said. "I believe in him and the team can help him to score." After the debacle at Watford, Sousa had still spoken to the press afterwards. This was the chance for his side to show that they understood him and he felt that they responded. The manager's early worries evaporated when Damiano Tommasi crossed from the left after 17 minutes and found Blackstock, who slotted home from eight yards.

QPR's porous defence was exposed after half an hour, when Hameur Bouazza picked out Racon who sidefooted home from close range. The hosts then survived those later misses before Blackstock showed that watching television sometimes can be good for you.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-1-3-2): Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Delaney, Ephraim, Tommasi (Mahon, 62), Leigertwood, Parejo (Ledesma, 74), Di Carmine (Agyemang, h-t), Blackstock. Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Oastler.

Charlton (4-4-2): Weaver (gk), Cranie, Primus, Hudson, Youga, Gillespie, Racon, Semedo, Bouazza, Waghorn (Varney, 62), Gray. Substitutes not used: Elliot, Holland, Sam, Fortune.

Referee: K Stroud (Hants).