New-look QPR unable to find finish

QPR 0 Newcastle 0

While Joey Barton was under scrutiny, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Adel Taarabt had Newcastle under the cosh – yet somehow this match ended goalless.

All eyes were on Barton, making his QPR debut against the club that showed him the door.

The midfielder showed glimpses of his undeniable ability but of the Rangers new boys, it was Wright-Phillips who produced the stand-out performance.

And, seemingly determined not to be surpassed by the recent high-profile arrivals, Taarabt sparkled during a first half in which the home side did everything but score.

New owner Tony Fernandes – flanked by fellow major shareholder Lakshmi Mittal – attended his first match since his recent takeover at Loftus Road.

And there was plenty to suggest that takeover will prove to be the difference between QPR being competitive in the Premier League and not – despite their failure to add the all-important finishing touch.

There were debuts for their four other pre-deadline signings with Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore in the starting line-up and Jason Puncheon featuring as a late substitute.

Two of them combined after nine minutes, when Traore’s left-wing cross was headed over by Wright-Phillips.

At the other end, goalkeeper Paddy Kenny did well to tip away a low shot from Leon Best after the Magpies striker had squirmed away from Danny Gabbidon.

But the first half was dominated by Neil Warnock’s men, who created another opening when Taarabt sprayed the ball wide to Wright-Phillips and the winger’s cross was sliced over by Jay Bothroyd.

Taarabt then began to find space in the opposing half almost at will – something his critics doubted he would be allowed to do in the top flight.

He was able to pick out Alejandro Faurlin and the Argentine in turn shifted the ball into the path of Wright-Phillips, who fired into the side netting.

Now in full flow, Taarabt delightfully turned away from Fabricio Coloccini and again teed Wright-Phillips up for a right-wing cross that Bothroyd was unable to connect with.

Rangers went close again when another right-wing Wright-Phillips cross caused panic in the Newcastle penalty area and after Steven Taylor managed to hold off Bothroyd, Faurlin pounced on the loose ball but his shot was deflected over.

Rangers kept up the pressure and were denied a half-time lead by two goal-line clearances.

First, Danny Simpson blocked Bothroyd’s header following yet another cross by Wright-Phillips, who went agonisingly close to scoring six minutes before the break.

Once more Taarabt picked up space and released his new team-mate, who gave Coloccini the slip before delightfully chipping keeper Tim Krul, only for Taylor to head away from underneath the bar.

Unsurprisingly, Rangers were unable to repeat that level of intensity in the second half. And they were forced into a change when Traore limped off five minutes after the restart and was replaced at left-back by Matt Connolly.

But they were presented with a golden chance when Wright-Phillips beat the offside trap to collect Faurlin’s pass but hurriedly sliced his shot wide.

Shaun Derry headed Taarabt’s corner narrowly wide and Wright-Phillips sent a 20-yard drive over the bar as Rangers tried in vain to break the deadlock.

The standing ovation Wright-Phillips received when he made way for Puncheon underlined the quality of his display and the potential for him to have a major influence this season.

He was electrifying at times, but the team’s lack of a cutting edge was perhaps ominous on a night when the signs for Rangers were otherwise very good indeed.