Championship wrap: Redknapp’s QPR stay top after another 1-0 win

Championship wrap: Ben Barker reflects on pace-setters Queens Park Rangers' latest 1-0 win in the second tier

Harry Redknapp
QPR manager Harry Redknapp Photo: The Sport Review

QPR edge it again

Following Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with Brighton, Queens Park Rangers boss Harry Redknapp admitted that he might be forced to dip into the loan window to add to his depleted strike-force. With Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson both facing time on the sidelines with respective knee injuries, Charlie Austin remains QPR’s only fit and recognised striker. Austin scored his maiden league goal for his new club on Saturday against Yeovil, brushing himself off and scoring from the spot after winning QPR’s penalty. Redknapp has reason to want to reinforce his front-line though, with QPR scoring more than one goal just once since the opening day 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday. The London side have otherwise picked up an underwhelming five 1-0 wins, with a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield the other result making up the eight of the season so far. They have scored just eight goals, making them the joint 16th highest-scoring team in the league, on par with Doncaster, Millwall and Wednesday, yet sit atop of the table thanks to their slender wins. Having spent princely sums of money on prizing Austin from Burnley and Matt Phillips from Blackpool, QPR’s shyness in front of goal shows that an outlay of money doesn’t necessarily mean goals. With a wage bill rumoured to be nearly 50 times that of their opponents on Saturday, fans would be forgiven for expecting QPR to be running away with the league. What is the difference in winning 1-0 to winning 5-0? Goal difference is vital, especially in such a tight league as the Championship, but many will argue that three points is three points regardless of how it’s achieved. Redknapp will surely be looking to increase his side’s proficiency in finding the net though, and thus avoid the need for statisticians come May.

Forest not Reid-ing the script

Nottingham Forest have scored in the final ten minutes of each of their last three games. Manager Billy Davies claimed his side “didn’t know when to give in” and the Scot will have been thrilled with Andy Reid’s fourth goal of the season against Doncaster in the 81st minute. The former Sunderland winger has rolled back the years to turn out some stunning performances for the Reds, and thumped home an equaliser to starve Doncaster of a third win of the season. Forest are yet to fail to score in a match this campaign, and will hope to continue that trend when they travel to in-form Burnley in the League Cup on Tuesday.

Delight for debutants

It was a weekend to remember for two debutants in the Championship, and especially two from parent-club Premier League champions Manchester United. Jesse Lingard, 20, was sent on loan to Birmingham City, a side who have struggled for goals so far. The England Under-21 international didn’t take long to make mouths water at St Andrews, scoring all four goals for the Blues in their match against Sheffield Wednesday, and completing a wonderful hat-trick before half-time. The youngster has yet to make his full debut at United, but played and scored on their pre-season tour. David Moyes will certainly have been buoyed by Lingard’s immediate impact in the Championship, as undoubtedly will Blues boss Lee Clarke. While somewhat out-shined by his United counterpart, Federico Macheda grabbed the headlines on his full debut for Doncaster with two goals to gain a point against Nottingham Forest. The Italian gave a helping hand in United’s title push in 2009, but has failed to make such an important impact at Old Trafford since then. With loan spells at Sampdoria, QPR and Stuttgart under his belt and still only aged 22, Macheda will be hoping this latest short-term deal will send him into the spotlight for the Red Devils once more.

Desperate times for Dougie

Bolton’s rotten start to the season continued, as they capitulated during a crazy six-minute spell at the AMEX Stadium. With his side yet to win this season, boss Dougie Freedman stuck with his mid-week gamble to leave captain Zat Knight on the bench, a decision which earned his side a draw against Derby. It could have been a potential nail in the coffin for the Scot, for anyone will tell you that leaving your most experienced central defender out when your side are rooted to the foot of the table is a risk of the highest order. It seems that the Bolton boss is keen to explore every avenue to try and stop the rot though, and said after the Derby game: “I’ve got to make big decisions and feel comfortable with them.” Freedman will be disappointed with the way his side not only let a lead slip, but conceded three soft goals in under 10 second-half minutes to hand the points to Brighton on a silver platter. The danger was spelled out when Kazenga Lua-Lua rattled the bar early in the second half, but Bolton failed to heed the warning and conceded from a Lua-Lua free-kick when Jay Spearing headed into his own net. Two minutes later the ball was in the net again, from Inigo Calderon’s spinning half volley. Bolton’s misery was compounded when Will Buckley made a fool of their defensive line and smashed home a left-footed strike. Bolton remain in the select group of just five teams yet to win in the Football League. Whether captain Knight reprises his role in the backline for Saturday’s visit of Yeovil will depend on how dicey Dougie is feeling.

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