QPR manager Ian Holloway admitted selecting Paul Smyth was a major gamble after the youngster’s debut goal secured a 2-1 victory at home to stuttering Cardiff.
Smyth, a summer signing from Linfield, was brought in after Rangers’ run of one win in 10 matches.
With the likes of Idrissa Sylla and Conor Washington having failed to impress this season, Holloway turned to the Northern Ireland Under-21 forward.
Smyth, 20, responded by netting a 72nd-minute winner after Matt Smith’s headed equaliser had cancelled out Joe Ralls’ penalty.
It condemned promotion-chasing Cardiff to a fourth consecutive defeat.
“It was probably one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken,” said Holloway.
“But if you keep doing what you’re doing and people are missing (chances) then someone else deserves a chance to have a go.
“It could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn’t. He was a breath of fresh air.
“I thought their centre-backs might have problems with him, it was just about how he was going to handle it.
“He handled it brilliantly, caused them all sorts of problems and I’m delighted he scored.
“We have been creating chances for whoever’s played and sometimes the pressure builds on you as a striker and for me it was time for someone else to have a go.
“It was a decision to give someone else a chance to play. Sometimes you have to do that. He’s done us the world of good.
“Sometimes you need that bit of freshness. We are reshaping the tree of QPR.”
It was an unhappy return to west London for Cardiff’s ex-QPR manager Neil Warnock, who was left furious after Junior Hoilett, playing against his former club, had a late goal disallowed for offside.
Cardiff protested that QPR midfielder Josh Scowen had touched the ball before Hoilett collected a pass from Kenneth Zohore.
Referee Tim Robinson stood by the decision after consulting his assistant.
“We’re bound to be deflated. Clearly it’s Scowen who played the ball, so it can’t be offside,” said Warnock.
“The linesman asked him who played the ball and I don’t think he really knew.
“It’s hard enough to score goals without officials chalking them off. That’s three or four games where we’ve had crucial decisions go against us.
“Those are the decisions you want the officials to get right and at the moment they’re getting
most of them wrong.
“It’s scandalous at the moment. I’ve never known it as poor, the officials.”