R’S POINT­ING UP­WARDS AS YENI SHINES

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Alas­dair Hooper

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.”

PIC­TURE: ProS­ports/Se­bastien Frej

JAZZ HANDS: QPR striker Matt Smith cel­e­brates af­ter Jazz Richards’ own goal, in­set

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