Mahon rises to the occasion for Rangers

QPR 1 Cardiff City 0
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The Independent Football

It was a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show at Loftus Road, where QPR needed substitute Gavin Mahon's late winner to defeat nine-man Cardiff in an anti-climactic match between two supposed promotion contenders.

Hours after the City of London's new Lord Mayor was being sworn in amidst pageantry across the capital, these teams produced a game lacking any colour.

Substitute Mahon headed home 10 minutes from the end but Cardiff manager Dave Jones provided the most newsworthy moment of the afternoon after the final whistle, risking an FA reprimand by launching a withering attack on referee Lee Probert.

The official reduced Cardiff to 10 men for more than an hour, after Darren Purse's harsh straight red card for a 28th-minute foul on Lee Cook.

He also dismissed Miguel Comminges four minutes from the finish for a second bookable offence, the second yellow coming after he spoke to an assistant referee.

"You talk about respect in the game but he's not respected my players," said Jones, battling the curse of October's manager-of-the-month award, following six games unbeaten with back-to-back defeats in November.

"The referee's performance was simply not acceptable at this level. Officials like that just don't understand the game. Purse's was never a sending-off and Miguel talked to the linesman and got sent off for it.

"They've got to look at the officials today and see if they're good enough. It's crazy if that's what's going to happen for the rest of the season."

Rangers were second best for much of the contest, leaving caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth sweating on watching chairman Flavio Briatore's decision over a full-time appointment. David O'Leary, Darren Ferguson and Roberto Mancini are rival candidates. "I'm tackling everything head on and there's been no talk of time limits or anything," said Ainsworth, who faces a daunting trip to Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

Sacked former manager Iain Dowie objected to Briatore's hands-on style but Ainsworth claimed he had no problem with the Italian and co-owner Bernie Ecclestone visiting the home dressing room before kick-off.

"Flavio was in the dressing room with Bernie before the game, motivating the players and geeing up the team," Ainsworth said. "Flavio likes to be involved. But the final team is mine."

Cardiff had plugged the gap left by hamstring victims Ross McCormack and Jay Bothroyd with fellow striker Michael Chopra, back on a two-month loan at the club where he hit 22 goals to earn last year's £5 million move to Sunderland.

After 13 minutes, Chopra worked space inside the penalty box but scuffed the ball across the face of goal.

City controlled the game and only a magnificent fingertip save from former Spurs goalkeeper Radek Cerny denied Stephen McPhail a 21st-minute goal after he clipped Roger Johnson's pull-back goalwards.

The dismissal of City captain Purse came seven minutes later after his tackle on Cook, who was 40 yards from goal and not the last man.

Peter Whittingham fizzed a shot over the bar as half-time neared and, after it, Samuel Di Carmine lashed an angled effort over the top of the bar for the home side.

The contest was more even now and Rangers substitute Akos Buzsaky's swerving drive was spilt by keeper Tom Heaton. Another replacement, Patrick Agyemang, wastefully sliced the close-range rebound against the outside of the post, as the assistant referee flagged for offside.

Rangers' breakthrough arrived when Mahon rose highest to meet Peter Ramage's cross eight yards out and send a looping header into the top-right corner.

Comminges joined Purse in the dressing room four minutes from the end when he was booked for a foul and then, 60 seconds later, spoke to the assistant.