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)

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower