SECOND-half strikes from Jonson Clarke-Harris and Tom Thorpe proved in vain
as Rotherham United fell to defeat against Queens Park Rangers despite a spirited display in the capital.
Tjaronn Chery’s strikes either side of the interval put Chris Ramsey’s men in charge and Charlie Austin seemed to put the game beyond the Millers with a third just after the hour mark.
However, Clarke-Harris’s well-taken strike gave the Millers’ hope of a fightback and sub Tom Thorpe gave the Millers genuine hope of a share of the spoils with a second with three minutes remaining before Austin added a second soon after to take the game away from the Millers.
Following their goalless draw with Preston North End in midweek, Millers chief Steve Evans made three changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Loftus Road.
Argentine playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma and Tottenham loanee Grant Ward were given chances to impress in the Millers’ engine room as Joe Mattock was ruled out because of a knock sustained against the Lancastrians while Joe Newell was asked to fill in at left-back.
Clarke-Harris was rewarded for his cameo in midweek by being granted his first start of the season as Chris Maguire had to settle for a substitutes’ berth while Jordan Bowery was not named amongst the Millers’ squad.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Chery floated a corner into the danger area where Matt Phillips rose highest but his glancing header failed to trouble the target.
Moments later, Austin tried his luck from distance but his effort blazed over the bar before Newell’s eye-catching pass released Matt Derbyshire but his cross-cum-shot was blocked by Grant Hall at the other end.
The duo combined moments later as Newell showed fleet of foot to skip past Chery with ease to give Derbyshire a glimpse of goal and the ex-Forest stung the palms of
England ‘keeper Rob Green with a snap effort.
Moments later, Greg Halford’s exocet throw was flicked on by Lewis Buxton into the path of Ledesma, who stuck out a leg to direct the ball towards goal but Green was well-stationed to snuff out the danger.
The Millers had their hearts in their mouths when Alejandro Faurlin’s slide-rule pass seemed to release Chery but Kelle Roos was quick off his line to palm the ball away but with Chery tumbling under his challenge, referee Dean Whitehouse waved away home protests before Nedum Onuoha got on the end of Chery’s resulting corner but he could only volley over from an acute angle.
At the other end, Grant Ward showed great tenacity to win possession paving the way for Ledesma to give Derbyshire a sight of goal but his shot on the turn lacked power as Green smothered with ease.
Just before the half-hour, Austin had another speculative effort from long range which flew harmlessly wide of the target before the Millers came within a whisker of the opener when a threaded pass saw Clarke-Harris get on the wrong side of his marker to advance menacingly into the box before playing a tantalising centre which saw Derbyshire stretch out a leg to turn the ball home but he failed to make a proper connection as the ball agonisingly screwed wide of the target.
Minutes later, Phillips flashed a dangerous cross which saw Hall flick on invitingly into the path of Austin, who poked the ball goalwards but Roos was on his toes to turn the ball around the post.
With half-time approaching, the hosts took the game by the scruff of the neck when a sweeping pass released James Perch on the right, who despite the attentions of Ledesma, fired an incisive cross which was perfectly controlled by Austin on the edge of the box presenting Chery, with the opportunity to curl a delightful left-footed effort which gave Roos no chance as it arrowed into the corner of the goal.
The Millers responded superbly to the setback and Lee Frecklington sneaked behind the Rangers rearguard to fire a cross which was deflected goalwards by Hall but Green showed good agility to palm the ball to safety despite being initially wrongfooted.
Half-time- Queens Park Rangers 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the restart, the home side took a firm grip on the game when they doubled their lead five minutes into the half with their first foray of note.
Austin’s deft flick released Massimo Luongo down the right flank, who burst into the box, before playing a timely pull-back which took Roos and the Rotherham rearguard out of the game and Chery was rewarded for his timely run into the box as he slid the ball into the unguarded net.
Moments later, Rotherham missed a gilt-edged chance to halve the deficit when Newell skipped to the byline to deliver a tantalising centre which saw Clarke-Harris ghost away from his marker but with the goal at his mercy, his downward header fizzed past the far post with Green a helpless bystander.
In their next attack, Clarke-Harris showed great poise to play a delicate reverse pass which put Derbyshire in the clear but although he skied his effort over with Green approaching, his blushes were spared by the offside flag.
Just past the hour mark, Austin became the first to see yellow for clipping Grant Ward as he looked to clear but the in demand striker went from villain to hero as he netted Rangers’ third moments later.
There looked little danger when Austin controlled with his chest but he showed good footwork to take both Danny Collins and Halford out of the game before drilling a low effort which seemed to take Roos by surprise, as the ball squirmed through the grasp of the Dutch ‘keeper to find the heart of the visitors goal.
The home side were rampant at this stage and a clever backheel seemed to put Austin in the clear until sub Tom Thorpe’s last ditch tackle prevented him adding a fourth, with the home side vainly appealing for a spot kick.
Moments later, Buxton became the latest to see yellow for upending Austin but Phillips blazed the resultant free-kick over the bar before Rotherham grabbed a foothold in the clash with seventeen minutes remaining.
Frecklington fought hard to win possession on halfway before driving hard at the Rangers backline and with the home defence pushing up, Clarke-Harris managed to beat the offside trap and although the move looked to lose momentum as he cut inside, the ex-Oldham striker curled a delightful effort which beat the outstretched hand of Green to nestle in the bottom corner of the goal.
The Millers were buoyed by the strike and Derbyshire volleyed wide from the edge of the box before Phillips ghosted in from the flank before firing a rasping effort which stung the palms of Roos, who managed to punch the ball to safety, at the other end.
With time running out for the visitors, Maguire became the latest to incur the wrath of the referee as he was cautioned for hauling over Michael Doughty before the Millers had genuine hope of a comeback as they reduced the deficit further with three minutes remaining.
Newell swung another delightful corner which seemed to get a touch from Derbyshire and the ball fell invitingly into the path of Thorpe, who kept his composure to fire into the roof of the home net.
However, Rotherham’s joy proved shortlived as QPR sealed the deal in the dying minutes when sub Sebastian Polter was tripped by Maguire in the box and referee Dean Whitehouse had no hesitation in pointing to the spot paving the way for Austin to wrongfoot Roos from 12 yards to dash Millers’ hopes.
Full-time:- Queens Park Rangers 4 Rotherham United 2
Teams- QPR- Green, Hall, Onuoha, Phillips, Chery (Kpekawa 90), Austin, Konchesky, Faurlin (Doughty 77), Henry, Luongo (Polter 82), Perch. Unused- Smithies, Hill, Emmanuel-Thomas, Hoilett.
Rotherham- Roos, Buxton, Collins, Frecklington, Ledesma (White 68), Halford, G Ward (Maguire 78), Clarke-Harris, Newell, Derbyshire, Smallwood (Thorpe 46). Unused- Collin, D Ward, Green, Rawson.
Referee- Dean Whitestone
Attendance- 15009 (743)