Harry’s Hoops in a better place
HARRY Redknapp has had to weed out the prima donnas at Queens Park Rangers this season, but he believes the heavy atmosphere has finally lifted at Loftus Road after grinding out a win against Bolton.
Andy Johnson’s second-half tap-in, assisted by a marauding performance from left-back by Clint Hill, was the solitary goal in a gritty affair at the Reebok Stadium.
Redknapp has preferred to draft in players with a wealth of experience in England over the summer – including defenders Danny Simpson and Richard Dunne and former Wolves man Karl Henry – and he insists his recruits are paying dividends in improved attitude.
“We’ve got a good dressing room now and I think that’s the key,” he said.“About 17, 18 players have gone out and with the lads who have come in there’s a different feel around the place at the moment.
“I know winning does that but the lads we’ve got in are good professionals and good people, and that rubs off on the kids that are around too.
“They’re good characters and if you get beat you get beat, but you know they’re going to do their best for you.
“Clint is a central defender, a great professional, and he’s got forward from left-back with a great run and ball in – I had a joke with him when he came off as he was like Leighton Baines the way he bombed on. The space was there for him because of Bolton’s diamond in midfield.
“Johnson’s always been a goalscorer and lively around the box so it was good to see him get a goal, he’s been injured all week but we took a gamble on him and it paid off.”
Slow to react to a Joey Barton pass, Dunne let Jermaine Beckford race past him with 15 minutes gone but the former Leicester City man fluffed his lines from just outside the penalty box.
And the home side contin- ued to press as a Jay Spearing free-kick forced Rob Green to tip over the bar five minutes later.
A fully-stretched Green was at it again after 30 minutes, batting Medo’s strike from 20 yards onto the upright.
QPR came alive after the break though and Johnson capped off a fine move in the 54th minute when Hill – following a one-two with Charlie Austin – slid the ball across the six-yard box for the easiest of finishes.
From then on the Trotters had trouble breaking down a resolute defence until substitutes Jordan Hall and Craig Davies combined late on – only for the latter to fire too close to Green.
And despite picking up just two points in their opening four games in the Championship, Bolton manager Dougie Freedman has no qualms with his players’ stuttering start to the campaign.
“I'm proud of the lads’ effort. Things aren't going our way at the moment but they gave me a lot to be happy about,” said Freedman.
“I felt our performance, especially first-half, merited at least a goal.We showed great approach play against a top team in QPR and have played very well.
“Second half it was two good teams playing against each other in a very even contest. But QPR cut us open with their only opportunity and scored. From then, they showed ruthlessness, experience and closed the game out.”
ON TARGET: QPR’s Andrew Johnson celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game
MY BALL: Medo and Karl
STAR MAN CLINT HILL