Defeat for Ainsworth in first game as QPR boss
Gareth Ainsworth’s first match as boss ended in another defeat for struggling QPR.
Ainsworth’s side levelled through Tim Iroegbunam’s goal after Sam Gallagher’s opener, but promotion-chasing Rovers responded to clinch a third consecutive win and extend their unbeaten league run to six matches.
Sammie Szmodics put them back in front and Gallagher’s second goal of the match meant there was no way back for Rangers, who have now won just one of one of their past 19 matches.
After a predictably rousing reception for Ainsworth – a hugely popular figure from his seven-year spell as a QPR player – and high-tempo start by the home side, they found themselves behind after 14 minutes.
Tyrhys Dolan’s shot took a deflection and the ball looped towards Gallagher, who headed in from close range – his 50th career goal.
Rangers hit back 10 minutes later when on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Iroegbunam scored the first goal of his senior career.
Rovers were unable to clear Osman Kakay’s cross and the ball fell to Iroegbunamn, who calmly side-footed home the equaliser.
But the tide turned against QPR again, with playmaker Ilias Chair going off with what looked like a nasty hamstring injury 10 minutes before the interval and Szmodics restoring Blackburn’s lead in the final moments of the first half.
Lewis Travis opened up Rangers’ defence with a lovely pass and Szmodics drifted in behind Kakay to slot past keeper Seny Dieng.
Worse followed for QPR when Gallagher struck again on the hour mark after being brilliantly set up by Joe Rankin-Costello, who evaded two challenges before presenting the striker with a simple finish.
The injury to Chair, whose attacking partnership with Chris Willock underpinned the team earlier in the season, is potentially a huge blow for Ainsworth, who replaced the sacked Neil Critchley this week.
With Willock sidelined by hamstring trouble which has marred his season, the loss of Chair to a hamstring problem of his own will be a huge concern as Ainsworth tries to halt the slide.
QPR: Dieng, Kakay, Dickie, Dunne, Paal, Johansen, Field, Iroegbunam (Richards 88), Chair (Dozzell 35), Lowe, Martin (Adomah 75).
Subs not used: Archer, Gubbins, Amos, Dixon-Bonner.
25/02/2023 @ 5:01 pm
Forget the score, I saw a team trying to win, something missing for a fair is few months now. If they keep this effort up, they will soon climb to safety. The final 15 minutes or so went a bit flat but only to be expected. Onwards and upwards now.