QPR exposed by Graham as lucky shorts finally fail

Queen's Park Rangers 1 Watford 3
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The Independent Football

At last Neil Warnock can pull a pair of tracksuit bottoms over his frozen legs, but that will be no consolation to the QPR manager after his side's long unbeaten start to the season came to a shock end.

Warnock's "lucky shorts" were neither warm nor lucky as the Championship leaders produced their worst performance of the season in front of the BBC cameras.

Danny Graham scored twice and Jordon Mutch once but it could have been more with Paddy Kenny making several saves and three shots cleared off the line. Also Stephen McGinn appeared to be struck by a bottle thrown from the crowd as Watford celebrated their third goal.

Rangers remain top by four points, but, as this result underlined, this is a very competitive division and they are entering a tough run of fixtures with their next four matches against the teams currently in the play-off places.

Watford now sit just below that group and will feel they can push on after this victory. "I am delighted and very proud of my players," said manager Malky Mackay. "It is great to create so many chances against such a good team, who I think will be promoted. The players are got to have a lot of belief in themselves after that."

QPR began confidently but after Scott Loach prevented Heider Helguson giving them an early lead all the threat came from Watford. The pace and movement of their attacking players seemed to bewilder a Rangers back four which had been largely unchanged, and only occasionally breached this season. Graham was allowed to stab in Andrew Taylor's 25th-minute cross unchallenged then Mutch curled in a hopeful cross that skidded off Kasper Gorkss's head and past Kenny. The game was won when McGinn, though on the ground, fed an offside-looking Graham to score two minutes after the break. Rangers launched a late assault but Tommy Smith's 89th-minute goal was far too late to launch a comeback.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Kenny; Walker, Connolly, Gorkss, Hill; Derry, Faurlin (Orr, 59); Mackie, Taarabt (Clarke, 59), Smith; Helguson (Hulse, 59). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Hall, Rowlands, Ephraim.

Booked: Walker, Hulse.

Watford (4-1-4-1): Loach; Doyley, Mariappa, M Taylor, A Taylor; Eustace; Buckley (Deeney, 80), McGinn (Sordell, 75), Mutch, Cowie; Graham. Substitutes not used: Gilmartin (gk), Hodson, Jenkins, Bennett, Massey.

Booked: Buckley, A Taylor.

Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire).