Rangers keep hold of winning thread, but long road lies ahead

Coventry City 0 Queen's Park Rangers 2

If history is a marker, Queen's Park Rangers can start planning already for their return to the Premier League. Only twice in the last 19 years has the team leading the second tier at the end of December not been promoted and Neil Warnock's team were sure of occupying that position even before this victory gave them 47 points from 23 games.

But even with his record – six promotions with five clubs – Warnock is taking nothing for granted. Neither, he says, are his players, lest any supporter fear complacency. "There are not many who would get carried away in this team," he said. "We all know there are six or seven teams who can get automatic promotion. We showed two weeks ago that we can lose two games on the trot. We could lose four games on the trot, it is that kind of division. But so far we have been more consistent than anyone else and that's what we have to be in the second half of the season."

He might also have pointed out that this was Rangers' first away win since the beginning of October. Indeed, that challenge might still stand had Coventry taken advantage of their own early supremacy, when QPR struggled to cope with their direct approach and, but for Paddy Kenny, would have been behind. The goalkeeper, rescued by Warnock after his nine-month suspension for a drugs-test failure, pulled off fine saves to keep out headers from Clive Platt and Richard Wood.

But Westwood handed Rangers the lead four minutes after the break when he diverted Kyle Walker's cross-cum-shot into his own net and thereafter Warnock's side looked more assured.

When Adel Taarabt's clever through ball was glanced past Westwood off the head of Tommy Smith, the leaders had complete control with half an hour still to play.

Coventry's third straight loss would seem to augur badly, although manager Aidy Boothroyd would see only positives. "We are going to have setbacks but are improving," he said.

Coventry City (4-4-2) Westwood; Keogh, McPake (Eastwood, 87), Cameron, Wood (O'Halloran, 70); Bell (Wilson, 71), Carsley, Doyle, McSheffrey; King, Platt. Substitutes not used Ireland (gk), Crainie, Baker, Jutkiewicz.

Booked McSheffrey.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-2-1-3) Kenny; Walker, Connolly, Gorkss, Hill; Derry, Faurlin; Taarabt (Rowlands, 84); Smith (Clarke, 80), Helguson (Orr, 89), Mackie. Substitutes not used Cerny (gk), Agyemang, Hulse, Tofas.

Booked Helguson, Faurlin.

Man of the match Kenny.

Referee N Swarbrick (Lancs). Attendance 17,678.