Mark Hughes sees bright signs from his new charges

Newcastle United 1 Queen's Park Rangers 0

St James' Park

He lasted just three minutes before the confines of the dugout proved too constrictive. Just after half past one, Mark Hughes was back in football management and at 1.33pm, officially back in business. At that point it was with instructions to Luke Young about giving his new team more width. At that point, as for the first half hour, the new headmaster had a classroom sitting to full attention, players who had listened to what had effectively been a week of cramming. He barely left his technical area all afternoon.

By the end, however, Hughes was back in more familiar territory, brushing his right hand over his left in anger at the lack of tempo from his new players, and then lobbing a big insult at Chris Foy, the referee.

That relationship could have been far more fractious. Perhaps it all boils down to human nature; that after a week of vilification Foy really couldn't be bothered with any more grief.

Sending off Vincent Kompany during the Manchester FA Cup derby, a correct decision, placed him at the week's central talking-point. He could have been there again had he followed the same rules when Shaun Derry ended Yohan Cabaye's afternoon with a late, sliding challenge. It was excessive force, a player's safety was clearly in danger (Cabaye was carried from the field on a stretcher, hurling insults at Derry before throwing his gloves off in anger in the direction of the fourth official) and it was also a lunge.

This time Foy went for yellow, and perhaps in the lack of reaction afterwards (Alan Pardew: "It was probably a yellow"; Hughes: "I haven't watched it again") and the fortunate fact that Cabaye's damaged ankle was not expected to require a scan, the official may feel justified. We will worry about consistency on another day.

The challenge woke Newcastle from their lethargy, both on the field and in the stands. The loss of Cabaye was more than countered by the introduction of Hatem Ben Arfa. A spark went around St James' Park whenever Ben Arfa touched the ball as a consequence of the mesmeric strike that helped Newcastle into the fourth round of the FA Cup last week.

He was again inventive, dangerous and a spanner in the works of Hughes' hastily constructed machine. It was not coincidental that Rangers' early authority began to disappear with Ben Arfa's introduction. Before that, their pressure had produced a rising drive from Shaun Wright-Phillips that clipped the top of Tim Krul's bar and a swerving shot from Akos Buzsaky that the Newcastle goalkeeper did well to follow. Then Cabaye, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Saturday, was carried off and all Rangers' momentum went with him.

In the 37th minute, Newcastle conjured up an opening goal that seemed to embody what Pardew asks from his side – spirit, endeavour and honesty. Jonas Gutierrez produced a stirring run on the right, his ball to Shola Ameobi was held up well and laid off to Ryan Taylor, whose momentum slightly fortuitously took the ball into the path of Leon Best, on the left-hand side of the visitors' penalty area. From there Best cleverly cut inside Young before subtly placing the ball beyond Paddy Kenny's outstretched left arm.

There was justifiable delight shown by Best, whose work-rate is sometimes overlooked, the goal being his first in 10 starts. It also proved the one moment in which any player from either team produced the kind of devilment that Hughes wanted from his side.

"Maybe with more care and more devilment we could have converted some of the many chances we created," the new QPR chief said. "But I was pleased with what we produced. The attitude and the application from the players was good.

"Certainly, I could see things that we tried to implement this week, things that we've told them time and time again; you could see that they've taken that on board – not everything will stick. It shows me that they're willing workers and that they want to improve as players."

A lack of devilment certainly applied to Jay Bothroyd, who twice spurned good opportunities early in the second half. First he shot over the crossbar after a Heidar Helgusson knockdown and then, when there was more accuracy to his low, angled drive, Krul had the reflexes to deny him at the near post.

Newcastle were not over-blessed with opportunities themselves. They had a noisy penalty appeal when Buzsaky appeared to handle the ball and then, when Kenny went AWOL, the head of Danny Gabbidon denied Guttierez's long- range effort.

That could not deflate Pardew, for whom the loss of Demba Ba andCheick Tioté to the African Cup of Nations has yet to prove significant.

"We find ourselves sixth, above Liverpool, after 21 games, not because of what happened today – we're there because we deserve to be there and it's about the next period of games," he said. "They're very, very important to us because if we can get a couple of wins when two boys are away we're going to get a hell of a boost when they come back and then we'll see what we can do.

"There's money available to me and I think we'll take a player if we think one works for us, financially and for the team. We've got a really tight bunch here and we don't want to upset it."

Finding such togetherness is the first major task for Hughes – he stressed Joey Barton would not be sold – but his assertion that QPR will not go down has credibility.

Man of the match: Ben Arfa

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside)

Attendance 49,865

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
A bartender serves beers
news
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
film
Life and Style
The finale at Dolce and Gabbana autumn/winter 2015
fashion
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.

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor