MACKIE ATTACK IS BACK AND FIRING
IT WAS a miserable 2016 for Jamie Mackie, with injuries keeping him stuck on the sidelines – but he insists he is now making up for lost time after he netted the winner in a tight victory at promotion-chasing Reading on Thursday night.
The 31-year-old spent a season on loan at the Madejski Stadium in 2014-15, but showed no sentiment for his former club by lashing home at the back post from Ryan Manning’s touch just before the half-hour mark.
The goal was the forward’s first since an ankle ligament injury kept him on the sidelines for eight months and gave QPR a third straight league win.
And Mackie believes the wind has changed at Loftus Road and manager Ian Holloway has found a system which could turn the club into promotion contenders.
“It’s great to be back playing for the club I love,” he said.
“It’s not just about scoring goals. Look at the performance of the whole squad, including the staff with the preparation for the game. That’s what it’s all about.
“That’s how we’ll climb the table. It’s not just about one person.
“It’s hard when you’re losing games. Together, around the training ground, the feeling is naturally low.
“People probably didn’t expect us to get three wins on the spin, but it just shows the character of the boys.
“The manager is getting the training ground as he wants it – with people completely buying into what he wants to do. That’s the key for us to go forward as a squad.
“As a squad, we’re looking up. We don’t think we’re now going to win the Championship – we’re not stupid.
“But we feel like we are building something, and that’s what it’s about.”
Mackie’s goal was the only bright moment in a drab first half, as the hosts failed to seriously test a resolute Hoops defence.
They improved after the break and almost equalised as Yann Kermorgant cannoned a header off the bar.
The Royals continued to pile forward but struggled to create openings, with manager Jaap Stam left frustrated with a second limp display in a row following their 4-0 Emirates FA Cup third round loss to Manchester United.
“It's disappointing, but we need to be realistic as just because we’re playing QPR at home, it’s not going to be an easy win,” the former defender said.
“You want to win games at home, but you’re playing against a side that defended really well and came out strong on the counter-attack.
“We lost the ball too much in the first half and they capitalised and scored. After that, they sat deeper.
“We need to be patient and make the right choices on the ball in those situations.
“We did that better in the second half, but it’s hard not to give away more chances when you’re chasing the game like that.
“We played against a side who defended very well. And when they came out on the counter attack, they were waiting for those moments.
“In the first half, we lost the ball and they score that goal. Then they sit even deeper and it’s difficult.
“We needed to do it right, we needed to be patient and make the right choices on the ball – the first touches need to be good, the passing needs to be good and in creating chances you need to be good.”
LONG WAIT’S OVER: QPR's Jamie Mackie celebrates scoring their winner
STAR MAN JAMIE MACKIE QPR