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Match Report


Posted Sat 23 Nov 13 at 18:30 PM

QPR 1 Charlton 0

Olly Groome reports from Loftus Road

One look down the Queens Park Rangers starting line-up showed what the Addicks were up against pre-match, but in the end it was an individual moment of magic which led to their downfall at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

The likes of Joey Barton, Jermaine Jenas and Niko Kranjcar – all seasoned Premier League players and stars who, arguable, could quite easily still be plying their trade at the highest level. 

But Charlton gave a decent account of themselves against a team which is surely the best, certainly in terms of personnel, in this division. 

Indeed, it took a spectacular pile-driver from goal machine Charlie Austin to separate the two sides, leaving Chris Powell's men to chase what, it's fair to say, may not have been an undeserved equaliser. 

The news as far as the Addicks' team went was that Bradley Pritchard was drafted back into the starting XI by Chris Powell, with Callum Harriott shifting to a position on the bench. 

There was also a place amongst the substitutes for Richard Wood. His first involvement since suffering a dead-leg against Wigan Athletic last month. 

The clash in West London was played to a near-capacity crowd, with the 1,820 travelling Addicks making all the noise come kick-off as Hoops boss Harry Redknapp was paraded in front of the Loftus Road crowd in recognition of his 30 years in management. 

QPR set the first half tone with the opening chance of the match in the fourth minute. The always busy Barton found space to run in between the Charlton defence after a ricochet, and unleashed an effort from 12 yards which cleared the bar with ease. 

Moments later, Matt Phillips, a constant thorn in Rhoys Wiggins' side, tricked his way down the right to send in a dangerous delivery. But with both Austin and Jenas lurking, neither could make the required connection to make Ben Hamer worry between the Addicks' sticks. 

The visitors saw little in terms of possession in the opening exchanges as Redknapp's men knocked the ball around with an impressive degree of verve. 

And after 13 minutes, the Hoops were in again. 

Austin, a very clear and present danger to any Championship defence, sprung the offside trap before firing a low drive which Hamer dutifully palmed away. With Barton picking up the pieces on the edge of the box, he laid off Gary O'Neil who, again, forced the Addicks' custodian into a low save. 

A vital touch away by Ptichard then prevented a certain goalscoring opportunity for an incoming Barton as Rangers played their way into the Addicks box. 

At the other end, Charlton were feeding off scraps. Almost lying in wait for a QPR error to find their way in. 

But it was from a swift counter from which they found their first sight at goal. And it came after 24 minutes. 

Ben Hamer's long throw out to Simon Church saw the Welsh international hare down the right, eventually shooting low and tamely into the arms of Rob Green. 

But with Cameron Stewart in acres of space on the left, you just wonder if a quick look up and switch of play from Church would have afforded Charlton the chance to open the scoring against the run of play. 

With that chance, the game seemed to settle somewhat for Powell's side. 

After an opening period where the Addicks barely saw the ball, they began to look a little more comfortable in possession. 

Another break away was forthcoming just after the half-hour mark when Barton gave the ball aways cheaply to Pritchard. With the Zimbabwean away, he squared to Dale Stephens in space centrally at the edge of the box. With seconds to spare, he missed his cue to trouble Green, mis-controlling before an attempted back-pass gave the ball up to the Hoops defence. 

For all of Rangers' possession and attacking threat, it was clear that Charlton were more than capable of springing a goal from nothing in the first-half. 
And with 39 minutes on the clock, the men in red very nearly did so in spectacular fashion. 

When Cameron Stewart centred the ball for Jordan Cousins, the academy product unleashed a ferocious drive towards the top right-hand corner. With a gasp circling around the quaint stadium, Green scrambled to just about keep the effort out, and with Church picking up the rebound, the linesman's flag was raised to end the danger for QPR. 

If Cousins' effort was bordering spectacular, what happened next was surely well within the perimeters of awesome. 

Barton was again involved when his seemingly harmless lay-off to Austin resulted in giving the home side a 40th-minute lead. 

From all of 30 yards out, the Hoops number nine took a touch before unleashing an unstoppable strike which cannoned into the top corner, leaving Hamer for dead. 

The goal mirrored his effort for Burnley at The Valley last term and was another one of those strikes which left a selection of the travelling supporters behind the goal begrudgingly applauding.  
Charlton emerged for the second half with purpose, putting the home side under immediate pressure. 

A Dorian Dervite header sailed wide early on before Pritchard found himself in a fantastic position having squirmed his way into the opposition's area. 

But just as the industrious midfielder was preparing to pull the trigger, the opportunity left as the ball was poked away. 

The pressure wasn't over yet, however, as a cleared cross back in fell to the waiting Stewart on the edge of the box. And if there was one player you would want to meet a volley from range, and with time to think about it, it would certainly be the Hull City loanee. 

But he couldn't replicate his spectacular goal against Leeds United a fortnight ago as he watched his volley dip wide to the left of Green's upright. 

With the second-half looking a much more even affair, Powell showed intent by making a double switch just before the hour. 

Pritchard and Church gave way for Callum Harriott and, much to the Charlton faithful's delight, Yann Kermorgant, who was given half an hour to make his mark on QPR. 

He was involved straight away. 

A raking ball to the burly Breton striker just inside the box was nodded expertly down to Dale Stephens who didn't hesitate in firing a volleyed effort at the Rangers goal. 

But the midfielder, perhaps, aimed too early as he skewed his effort over. 

Skipper Johnnie Jackson took one for the team as he gave away a foul on the edge of the Addicks' box, preventing a certain strike on goal from Austin. 

And when Barton stepped up to take the resultant free-kick, he forced a good, diving save from Hamer to keep the arrears down to a single goal. 

As long as the score remained 1-0, Charlton would always have a chance. 

And the visitors thought they should have been presented with that golden chance on 66 minutes when a realistic penalty shout was waved away. 

Stewart's ball in from the left fell to the feet of Jackson who, with a sea of Rangers players in front of him, offered an effort which appeared to strike a hooped arm from point-blank range. 

But as the nearby Kermorgant appealed ferociously, the ball was cleared, as was the potentially guilty QPR defender. 

By the time the 75 minute rolled around, the game was wide open and although clear-cut chances were few and far between, the Addicks were still very much in it. 

Redknapp introduced the brother of a slightly more talented former Charlton striker - according to the chants of the fans from SE7 - in Shaun Wright-Phillips. 

And the fleet-footed wide-man made an immediate impact when he drove a powerful effort straight down the throat of Hamer with 11 minutes remaining. 

QPR were pushing to put the game beyond doubt as the clock ticked down which gave Charlton one eye on sneaking an equaliser through the back door. 

And Kermorgant proved again to be a handful, earning a free-kick from 25 yards out. With the ball lying in designated 'Jacko' territory, the captain stepped up to bend his dead-ball effort over the wall, but well wide of the post. 

The Hoops had chances to double their lead in injury time. The closest came from the feet of Wright-Phillips who bent a right-footed shot over Hamer and bouncing off the crossbar. 

But that would prove to be the last of the action in West London. 

Although Charlton combated well against a very strong Redknapp side, they were unable to force Green into a save of any real note in the 90 minutes. 

Sometimes, when you have a striker of Austin's ability within your rank, there is just no stopping the unstoppable. 

Charlton: Hamer; Wilson, Wiggins, Morrison, Devite; Pritchard (Harriott 58), Stewart (Sordell 87), Cousins, Jackson, Stephens; Church (Kermorgant 58).

Subs (not used): Alnwick; Hughes, Evina,  Wood.

Booked: Jackson 90 (Foul on Assou-Ekotto).

QPR: Green; Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Phillips (Johnson 77), O'Neil, Barton, Jenas (Henry 45), Kranjcar (Wright-Phillips 65); Austin.

Subs (not used): Murphy; Traore, Onyewu, Young.

Booked: Barton 86 (Foul on Kermorgant).

Goal: Austin 40.

Att: 17,397 (1,820 Charlton)

Ref: Mr D Whitestone

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