Lift-off for Ainsworth as inspired QPR end long wait for win
QPR 1 Watford 0
Tim Iroegbunam’s goal ended QPR’s long wait for a win as they beat Watford in Chris Wilder’s first match in charge of the Hornets.
Injury-hit Rangers, in their third game under boss Gareth Ainsworth, produced a battling performance to give him his first win since taking over – their first victory in 14 matches and only their second in 21.
The R’s, who had suffered five consecutive defeats, have been poor at the back this season and were beaten 3-1 in both Ainsworth’s first matches at the helm.
But they defended well after midfielder Iroegbunam’s fine strike after 15 minutes – his second goal in three games.
Iroegbunam strode forward, rode a weak challenge from Hamza Choudhury and fired a shot beyond keeper Daniel Bachmann and into the bottom corner of the net.
The teenage midfielder, on loan from Aston Villa, saw another shot deflect off team-mate Chris Martin and flash narrowly wide as Rangers continued to have the upper hand.
Injury problems have marred QPR’s season and full-backs Ethan Laird and Kenneth Paal joining the list of sidelined players has added to Ainsworth’s problems.
It led Ainsworth to switch to a back three, with Aaron Drewe coming in for his home league debut on the right and fellow academy product Osman Kakay, usually a right-back, operating on the left.
Both players rose to the challenge and their relentlessness caused Watford problems on the flanks, not least when Kakay darted away from Ryan Porteous and fired wide.
The woeful visitors were booed off by their fans at the interval and it was certainly not the start new boss Wilder, who this week replaced the sacked Slaven Bilic, wanted.
They were better in the second half but struggled to create clear-cut chances, underlining the task facing Wilder after inheriting a team which continues to lose ground in the Championship promotion race.
QPR’s terrible run saw them drop from top of the table in October to 20th, but Ainsworth has finally stopped the rot – without injured playmakers Chris Willock and Ilias Chair – and eased what were becoming serious relegation worries.
He was helped by the return of striker Lyndon Dykes, who was back in the line-up after recovering from pneumonia and worked hard up front before going off shortly before the hour mark.
Bachmann prevented a second Rangers goal by denying Sinclair Armstrong late on.
QPR: Dieng, Drewe (Amos 85), Dickie, Dunne, Kakay, Field, Dozzell (Armstrong 85), Iroegbunam (Johansen 71), Lowe, Martin, Dykes (Adomah 57).
Subs not used: Archer, Gubbins, Richards.
11/03/2023 @ 5:07 pm