Barton lights the fuse as QPR close gap

Wolves 0 Queens Park Rangers 3: Warnock's rebuilt Rangers blend quickly to put Wolves' good start to the season into perspective
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The Independent Football

Neil Warnock's suggestion that his restructured Rangers are 18 months behind Wolves in development looked a generous overestimation of Mick McCarthy's side.

Rangers were 2-0 up within 10 minutes and franked their superiority with a third goal three minutes from time as Wolves manager McCarthy, who used to clean Warnock's boots when they were players at Barnsley 35 years ago, was obliged again to tug the forelock to his fellow Yorkshireman.

It was only a second win in 10 attempts against Wolves as a manager for Warnock, who acknowledged the difference made by the clutch of new signings after the takeover of the club by Malaysian business tycoon Tony Fernandes.

"Since the new lads have come in training has gone up 30-40 per cent in quality. You could see that today. We're not getting carried away and one win does not make everything rosy, but it has given us a chance."

Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips were Warnock's headline signings but his wise defensive recruits may have the bigger impact. Supplementing the earlier arrival of the Wales international Danny Gabbidon by bringing in Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traoré, Warnock has assembled the kind of back four essential to taking points from crucial fixtures such as this.

The combination teamed up for the first time in last Monday's goalless draw with Newcastle United and had few problems ensuring that yesterday's flying start was not wasted. Wolves made three attacking substitutions but seldom looked like mounting a comeback.

Seven points from their first four games had given the impression that Wolves might be a better proposition after two years at the wrong end of the Premier League table. But their chances of adding a point looked remote after a dreadful start. A power cut across the city yesterday morning had put the match in jeopardy but though the electricity supply was restored in time, McCarthy's defence played as though still switched off.

Rangers went ahead through Barton after eight minutes when Warnock's biggest signing – who perhaps inevitably was later embroiled in controversy – was given time to turn in a Wright-Phillips cross.

Two minutes later, after both George Elokobi and Richard Stearman had failed to clear a Barton cross, Alejandro Faurlin beat Wayne Hennessey with a shot from 20 yards.

The Argentinian midfielder, who had also helped set up the first goal, just edged Traoré as man of the match, although the former Arsenal defender's dangerous runs from left-back worried the home side throughout and it was his pass, after advancing a move launched by Wright-Phillips, that set up substitute DJ Campbell to slide home the third goal.

It was after that that the Wolves midfielder Karl Henry, who had been in a running battle with Barton when Newcastle were at Molineux last season, rather unnecessarily lit his fuse again with a lumping challenge from behind, one that indirectly earned Ferdinand a yellow card for his complaints.

"I've fined Anton for running 40 yards to get himself booked, but how was Henry not booked for that?" Warnock asked, after watching Barton being restrained by team-mates before and after the final whistle. There was no excusing the histrionics, but he had a point.

"I'm glad Joey is a player with a past," he said. "If he wasn't, there is no way I would have been able to sign him. If he did not have a past he would be playing for a bigger club than us."

Wolves (4-4-1-1): Hennessey; Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Elokobi (Vokes, h-t); Kightly (Guedioura, h-t), O'Hara, Henry, Jarvis (Hunt, 73); Ward; Doyle.

QPR (4-3-3): Kenny; Young, Ferdinand, Gabbidon (Hall. 83), Traore; Barton, Derry, Faurlin; Wright-Phillips, Taarabt (Smith, 75), Bothroyd (Campbell, 73).

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Man of the match: Faurlin (QPR)