QPR remain in relegation zone after losing to Saints


QPR remain in the Championship relegation zone after another defeat at Loftus Road.

​Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ goal gave Southampton victory to make it 15 matches without defeat for the south-coast side, who ended the match with 10 men after the 89th-minute sending-off of Shea Charles.

Rangers have now suffered back-to-back losses and stay third from bottom, having previously won three matches in a row under recently-appointed boss Marti Cifuentes.

They have improved since the Spaniard took over and were on the front foot for much of the first half, with the outstanding Iias Chair their main threat.

Chair almost embarrassed keeper Gavin Bazunu with an audacious attempt from near the halfway line which drifted just over.

The Rangers attacker also dispossessed Will Smallbone to set up Elijah Dixon-Bonner, who shot over, and then set up Andre Dozzell, whose shot was deflected over by Flynn Downes.

Chair worried Southampton again when ​he tricked his way past James Bree before seeing his low strike saved by Bazunu.

Bree was given a torrid time by Chair and was not helped by picking up what looked like a hamstring injury early on.

He was replaced just after the half-hour mark by former QPR man Ryan Manning, who made an immediate impact, posing a threat on the left-hand side and delivering a free-kick from the opposite flank which led to the goal three minutes before half-time.

Manning swung the ball in and Harwood-Bellis got away from R’s right-back Reggie Cannon to head Adam Armstrong’s flick-on past keeper Asmir Begovic.

​It knocked the stuffing out of Rangers, who tried hard to conjure an equaliser in the second half but struggled to create openings.

Chair remained a handful but fellow playmaker Chris Willock ​failed to make an impact, sending one effort well over, before going off after picking up an injury – a potential ​concern for ​Cifuentes ahead of some crucial matches over the festive period.

Willock’s replacement, Paul Smyth, did cause Manning some problems but Southampton defended well to ensure they left with the points.

They were always dangerous on the counter-attack and Begovic prevented a second goal by producing a fine save to deny Stuart Armstrong.

Charles, on as a second-half substitute, was dismissed for a second yellow card following a foul on Albert Adomah.

QPR: Begovic; Cannon (Adomah 84), Dunne, Clarke-Salter, Paal; Field, Dixon-Bonner (Larkeche 67), Dozzell (Kelman 84); Willock (Smyth 74), Chair; Dykes (Armstrong 76).
Subs not used: Archer, Kakay, Richards, Drewe.