R’S POINTING UPWARDS AS YENI SHINES
ACCORDING to Ian Holloway, QPR had one final mental hurdle to overcome and did so in style by coming from behind to beat Cardiff City at Loftus Road.
After initially trailing to Sol Bamba’s first-half header, substitute Yeni Ngbakoto led the QPR fightback.
The 25-year-old scored a thumping equaliser in the 62nd minute before delivering the corner that led to Jazz Richards’ decisive own goal.
The result was a perfect response for Holloway’s side after last week’s defeat to Preston, and it moves QPR up to 16th in the Championship table.
“We let a goal in just before half-time and I’ve been talking about can we come back from behind,” said Holloway.
“We did, so that was the last hurdle for me and for us, as a group, to get over and it takes your substitutes to do that sometimes.”
The first half was an even affair as both teams threatened without creating any giltedged chances.
But Cardiff had shaded it and took the lead just before half-time when Bamba used the most of his towering frame to head home Craig Noone’s corner.
The Bluebirds paid for missing a series of chances in the second half as QPR dragged themselves back into the match.
Ngbakoto combined neatly with Jamie Mackie and his powerful strike was deflected into the top corner past Cardiff goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
With just seven minutes left to play the French midfielder, who signed from FC Metz in the summer, fired in a corner and Cardiff left-back Richards diverted Matt Smith’s header into his own goal.
On a day when QPR wore special commemorative kits to mark the 50th anniversary of their League Cup win, Holloway was full of praise for his squad and impact substitute.
“Can I call him Yeni? He’s been very patient. I’ve asked him to do some fitness work behind the scenes and he’s lost all sorts of poundage,” said the Hoops manager.
“He had a terrible bereavement when he first signed for us. I felt that affected him but he’s one of our family.
“Every one of them could knock my door down every day and say, ‘Why aren’t you picking me gaffer?’ That’s what I want here.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock’s first league return to QPR since becoming Bluebirds boss frustrated the 68-year-old, as he felt his team had done more than enough to win the game.
“I’m disappointed but it shows how far we’ve come,” said Warnock, who led Rangers to Premier League promotion in 2011.
“When you’re 1-0 up, and really should have scored two or three goals in the second half, to then give them a chance, and then once again the ref got conned into giving a free-kick.
“We’re disappointed in quite a lot of things but it’s nice to come back and at least we’ve helped QPR out in their hour of need.”
Despite the setback, Warnock believes he is constantly learning as he plans for next season with the Bluebirds.
“I’m learning all the time and I learnt one or two things which I’ve not seen in the last few weeks,” he added. “It is really helping me to decide what I’m going to do at the end of the season.
“You need games like that, atmospheres like this to see how certain lads react.
“So I was pleased to see one or two things. It answered a few questions, although it was disappointing.”
JAZZ HANDS: QPR striker Matt Smith celebrates after Jazz Richards’ own goal, inset