Report: Blues 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

Blues slipped to defeat on a disappointing night at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium.


Blues slipped to defeat on a disappointing night at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, second-half strikes from Grant Hall and Bright Osayi-Samuel sealing victory for QPR.

There was a distinct contrast in the quality of the two goals which separated the sides, an untidy opener from former Blues loanee Hall late in the first-half added to by a sublime individual effort from Osayi-Samuel.

Blues had the better of the first period, a Jeremie Bela turn and shot the closest Pep Clotet’s side came to going ahead – Hall’s goal coming well against the run of play in stoppage-time.

The visitors came with a game plan to frustrate their opponents – and did a good job of it; and once they’d doubled their lead, the game only looked like going one way.

Clotet named the same 11 that had finished the first-half at Reading on Saturday, Wes Harding and Jacques Maghoma replacing the injured Jake Clarke-Salter and Dan Crowley, just as they did during the opening period at the Madejski Stadium.

Maghoma was first to get a sight of goal, cutting in from the left and trying his luck from the edge of the area, his shot bouncing wide of the far post.

A great run down the right by Jeremie Bela saw the Frenchman skip over a challenge and cross, the ball only half-cleared to Ivan Sunjic. The Croatian didn’t make the connection he’d have wanted, dragging his left-footed shot wide from 15 yards.

Another attack initiated down the same side of the field ended with Maxime Colin’s chip into the area met by Jude Bellingham, the teenager flicking the ball past Rangers keeper Joe Lumley but also over the bar.

Kristian Pedersen was next to threaten as the full-back picked up the ball outside the area, his shot taking a deflection which sent it veering off-target.

The hosts were slowly raising the tempo and Bela got the St. Andrew’s fans on their feet with a clever turn on the right side of the area, leaving Hall for dead before firing in a low shot, but from a narrow angle the ball fizzed wide of the far post.

Hall did come to his side’s rescue moments later, making a vital block to prevent Alvaro Gimenez’s shot on the turn from testing Lumley, after the Blues striker had collected a neat through ball from Sunjic.

Blues’ pressure was briefly punctuated by a rare Rangers foray forward, Todd Kane’s cross deflected into the path of Eberechi Eze, the midfielder horribly miscuing his attempted half-volley.

Harlee Dean headed over from Josh McEachran’s left-wing corner as Clotet’s troops continued to search for an opener, but in first-half stoppage-time it was the visitors that edged ahead in scrappy fashion.

Osayi-Samuel’s lung-bursting run from well inside his own half took him midway into the Blues half, Bellingham trying his best to track him but, in the end, he conceded a free-kick with his attempted sliding tackle. Eze floated the ball into the box and after it rebounded off Hall and Geoff Cameron missed his kick as he tried to force it home, it came back to the Rangers captain who side-footed past Connal Trueman as the Blues defence hesitated.

It was frustrating end to a first-half in which Blues had looked the more likely to score.

The home side aimed to get back on level terms soon after the restart, Gimenez glancing a header well wide from another dangerous McEachran corner.

That proved to be the Spaniard’s last notable contribution, as Clotet opted to shuffle his pack early in the second-half, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Odin Bailey replacing Gimenez and Bela.  

Bailey was eager to impress and showed a good eye for a pass, his ball to McEachran eventually earning Blues a free-kick, the midfielder brought down in a dangerous area just outside the box to the left. A set-piece routine ended with Jutkiewicz’s shot crashing into the Rangers wall.  

Blues went further behind on 67 minutes and it was goal out of nothing – and all Osayi-Samuel’s own work. He picked up the ball 10 yards inside his own half and set off on a blistering run and outpacing Colin, who was already on a yellow card so ‘taking one for the team’ wasn’t an option. The Rangers winger raced into the area and crashed an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net past Trueman.

It all happened in the space of a few seconds and left the home side with a mountainous task to get back into the game and Mark Warburton’s side never looked in danger of relinquishing their two-goal buffer after that.

A deflected Jutkiewicz effort which bobbled narrowly wide in the last minute of normal time and another shot from the striker in the closing seconds which brought a save from Lumley was the closest the hosts came to getting on the scoresheet.

It was disappointing night from a Blues perspective, but Clotet’s charges get a quick chance to make amends on Saturday – and what better than a local derby to get the minds refocused with a visit from West Bromwich Albion.  

Blues (4-2-3-1): Trueman; Colin, Dean, Harding, Pedersen; Sunjic, McEachran; Maghoma, Bellingham (Montero 64), Bela (Bailey 53); Gimenez (Jutkiewicz 53)
Subs (not used): Bajrami, Davis, G Gardner, Camp (GK)
Booking: Colin (51), Maghoma (77)

QPR (4-2-3-1): Lumley; Kane, Hall, Leinster, Manning; Cameron, Amos (Smith 90+2); Osayi-Samuel, Pugh (Ball 70), Eze; Wells (Hugill 70).
Subs (not used): Wallace, Mlakar, Chair, Barnes (GK)
Goals: Hall (45+1), Osayi (67)
Booking: Leistner (61), Eze (90+1)

Referee: Darren Bond