We bring in the New Year with a trip to the capital and the chance to do the double over promotion chasing Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
It brings to an end a hectic festive league schedule that will have seen Rovers play four games in eleven days.
Our victory over the R’s back on the final Saturday in November was more than merited and Paul Dickov’s side will be more than happy with a repeat performance.
Although the home of QPR hasn’t been the most welcoming in terms of victories for visiting Rovers teams over the years, on our own turf we’ve taken the scalf of the visitors from London on many an occasion. One of those days came back in March 2009 although prior to kick off the visitors will have fancied their chances following defeat in the last game for Rovers away at Cardiff. The R’s on the other hand came to South Yorkshire after a creditable draw against Sheffield United.
The pitch at the Keepmoat had seen better days but it wasn’t affecting Rover’s slick passing game, with the visitors struggling to adjust to the playing surface.
However, it took some 17 minutes for the first real goal threat of the game as James Chambers looked to get on the end of Richie Wellens perfect cross, but unfortunately Chambers slightly misjudged the flight of the ball and it brushed his forehead with the goal at his mercy and R’s ‘keeper Radek Cerny in no mans land.
Rangers had two chances in quick succession to take the lead, Damion Stewart and Samuel Di Carmine both flashed efforts wide of the target but moments later the visitors were to hit the net; at the wrong end of the field.
Matt Mills hoisted a long clearance out of defence and it dropped deep inside the opposing half, Cerny raced from his goal to sweep up the ball but Stewart got there first to head with the intention of nodding it back to his ‘keeper. He got a shock though when the Czech stopper was almost on his toes and the ball bobbled into the unguarded net.
Paul Heffernan doubled the lead after half an hour, Sam Hird mabaged to flick the ball on from a newar post corner and Heffernan pounced from close range. The in form striker almost netted Rover’s third before the break but his shot was off target as the home side led deservedly at the half way stage.
In the second half it was the visitors who were the side with the majority of possession and their need to chase the game was evident as they pressed for a way back into the game. But a resolute Rovers backline weren’t to give up the chance to pick up three points, Neil Sullivan made a fine diving stop to deny Di Carmine but the visitors night was compounded when Dexter Blackstock wildly fired over from close range when it seemed easier to hit the target.
The win left Rovers in 13th spot in the Championship, level on points with the losing side who were 11th by virtue of goal difference.
Statistics v QPR
Rovers have the advantage in the head to head record courtesy of the victory over the R’s earlier this season. Rovers have tabled eight wins to QPR’s seven.
One game has seen the teams tied at the final whistle.
Rovers have a win percentage of over 25% at Loftus Road, a record which they will be naturally trying to improve this week.
Victory at Loftus Road will see Rovers complete their first double over the R’s, the visitors took their only double win the last time the two played a season in the Championship in the 2010/11 season.
No game between the sides has finished goalless over the course of history, so don’t expect that trend to change.
Football League Sponsors Sky Bet have QPR as favourites for the New Years Day game at Loftus Road.
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* Odds subject to change, correct as of 30/12/13
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