Team: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Onuoha, Hill, Wright-Phillips (Traore), Barton, Henry, O’Neil, Johnson (Jenas), Austin (Zamora)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Suk-Young, Faurlin, Hitchcock,
“There’s been no stutter,” said Joe Jordan, considering QPR’s start to life back in the Championship. It was some understatement from QPR’s first-team coach. Harry Redknapp’s unbeaten side have not so much hit the ground running as sprinting, with this hard-earned victory, their third in four games.
“You’ve got to get a barometer on how you’re doing and I thought today was a tester in that respect,” said Jordan. “History shows that you get a lot of teams coming out of the Premier League and they don’t grasp how difficult the Championship can be. We started in a way that has shown the correct application. And I think we can get better.”
It was a man who missed almost the entirety of QPR’s Premier League relegation campaign last season who made the telling contribution here. Andy Johnson suffered cruciate ligament damage in his third game for the club almost a year ago but has returned to score two goals in three games this campaign. Both goals have proven to be winners.
Nine minutes after half-time the QPR left-back, Clint Hill, ping-ponged a quick one-two with Charlie Austin, surged past his marker and drilled a low pass across the six-yard box that Johnson forced home from close range. It was a brilliantly constructed goal, one rather out of keeping with the general huff-and-puff.
The sight of Johnson wheeling away in celebration was a familiar one for the Bolton manager, Dougie Freedman, who spent four years as a strike partner of the 32-year-old at Crystal Palace. Johnson’s final season came in 2005-06 and also represents the last time he played outside the top flight. He was prolific then and is showing signs of being prolific once more.
“Andy’s been unfortunate, but what we have seen in pre-season is the player that we can remember from before he had his injury,” said Jordan. “If you’re a striker and you’re getting consistency in your training and in your game, then you can show the sharpness that he did today.”
For Freedman it meant frustration and an extension of Bolton’s winless start to four games. He remained determined to take the positives and there were a few to grasp. Indeed, other than the goal his side had the better chances, with Jermaine Beckford dragging his shot wide when clean through in the first-half and Craig Davies denied by a brilliant Rob Green save when likewise in the second. Green also did superbly to paw a fine Medo effort from the edge of the box on to the post.
After the goal Freedman’s side largely dominated but found the Rangers back-line too resilient and too crafty, with Karl Henry and Nedum Onuoha both taking smart but cynical bookings for the team. “After the goal they showed a ruthlessness in their defending,” said the Bolton manager. “An experienced outfit know when to give away professional fouls to break the game up. But I’m very proud of my team’s effort. There’s a lot there for me to be very happy with.”
But more to cheer for Redknapp and co. QPR added Blackpool’s Matt Phillips to their ranks for around ¬£5m in midweek and Jordan suggested the door at Loftus Road is not closed to further arrivals. “As you get closer to the end of the transfer window you can get a sort of domino effect,” he said. “I’m not saying that is going to happen at Queen’s Park Rangers, but there is still a possibility that some things may occur between now and the last day of the month.”
John Ashdown – The Guardian