QPR 2 Watford 1 match report: Austin revives Rangers’ play-off form by breaking Watford hearts

 

Loftus Road

With the play-offs approaching and just two regular games left for Queen’s Park Rangers, they must hope that this late turnaround win over Watford will spark some confidence and momentum.

Rangers certainly need to find belief after another limp home performance in which they were outplayed by the visitors for long spells. It took a Joey Barton free-kick with 14 minutes left and a Charlie Austin goal in the final moments to earn them the three points that secured their hold on fourth place.

The disappointment, though, at Loftus Road, is that fourth is as good as it will probably get for now. Burnley and Derby County both won yesterday; Austin, who left Turf Moor for west London in the summer, must wonder whether he made the right choice.

There is no doubt, though, of Austin’s vital importance to Rangers. Their slow slide from second to fourth coincided with his 10-week injury absence and they have already improved since the £4m striker’s return. He scored the thrilling last-minute winner here, finishing off a fast break by beating Manuel Almunia from the edge of the box.

The goal devastated Watford’s players, leaving them with almost no hope of making the play-offs. On the balance of play they were the better side – manager Beppe Sannino said “for the first 60 minutes there was only one team on the pitch” – but they did not take advantage.

Both teams played 3-5-2 systems but only Watford looked like they knew how to operate it properly. Rangers made eight changes from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leicester but had almost too much energy and not enough thought. Troy Deeney missed the best chance of the first half but six minutes after the restart he nodded down for Mathias Ranegie to finish.

Watford, though, could not score a second and when Rangers started to improve Ravel Morrison, as ever, was the catalyst, winning a series of free-kicks on the edge of the box. He could not find his range but Barton did, clipping one over the wall and past Almunia. Watford threw too many forward for a winner, and Austin did the rest.

Queen’s Park Rangers (3-4-1-2) Green; Onuoha, Dunne, Hill; Simpson (Hoillet, 72), Barton, Carroll, Traore; Morrison; Doyle (Zamora, 72), Austin (Henry, 90). Substitutes not used Keane, Yun, Hughes, Murphy.

Watford (3-5-2) Almunia; Angella, Cassetti, Ekstrand; Riera, Abdi, Toszer, McGugan (Battocchio, 63), Pudil; Deeney, Ranegie. Substitutes not used Merkel, Doyley, Murray, Faraoni, Bond, Hoban

Referee J Linnington (Isle of Wight)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies