Rotherham United were defeated 5-1 at the hands of Queens Park Rangers in the capital despite drawing level in the early exchanges at Loftus Road on Saturday.
The Millers fell behind to Matt Smith’s strike before Joe Newell’s Goal of the Season contender had the visitors on level terms.
However, the R’s retook the lead just seconds later through Luke Freeman and added second half goals through Yeni Ngbakoto’s penalty, Massimo Luongo’s header and Nedum Onuoha’s late tap in to ensure that they earned maximum points in the capital.
Rotherham United interim manager Paul Warne made three changes to the side that started the game at Molineux last weekend for the clash in the capital with Queens Park Rangers.
There was an enforced change at left back with Joe Mattock suspended after picking up his 10th booking of the season, which paved the way for youngster Ben Purrington to take a place in the starting 11 at Loftus Road. Meanwhile, Jon Taylor’s impressive substitute appearance in the Midlands earned him a place on the right side of midfield at the expense of Anthony Forde, who dropped to the bench.
A shift in formation to 4-4-2 meant that Richie Smallwood was sacrificed in midfield and replaced by Jerry Yates, who joined Danny Ward in attack, with loan signing Carlton Morris on the bench for his temporary employers for the first time.
Both sides settled into the game quickly with half chances forged at either end in the early exchanges in the capital, but it was Ian Holloway’s side that took the incentive after just five minutes had elapsed.
There looked to be little danger when Idrissa Sylla brought a bouncing ball under his spell on halfway, but his perfectly-weighted ball over the top allowed Smith a run on goal and his composure in the box saw him set himself, before lashing an opener beyond Price into the bottom corner to give the R’s the lead.
The Millers set about replying immediately and came close to doing so when Purrington’s threaded pass through the middle of the pitch picked out Yates, whose first touch carried him towards goal, but Grant Hall’s superb sliding intervention ended any chance of an equaliser.
A leveller did come for the Millers and through a Goal of the Season contender on 13 minutes from midfielder Joe Newell. A hopeful ball forward was neatly knocked down to the former Peterborough United man by Danny Ward, before he connected with the sweetest of half volleys from 25 yards and saw his thunderbolt fly beyond Smithies to make it 1-1.
The away supporters’ celebrations were cut short though with QPR restoring their lead less than two minutes later. A lapse in concentration by the Millers’ defence was just enough invitation for Freeman to steal the ball back on the edge of the 18 yard box and subsequently prod home beyond the onrushing Lewis Price to have the home fans back on their feet.
Having provided the opener for Smith, the dangerous Sylla looked to etch his own name onto the scorsheet shortly after the 20 minute-mark. A cross-field ball from Nedum Onuoha was headed back infield to the R’s attacker, who turned neatly into the Millers’ box, but drove his powerful effort just wide of Price’s near post on the angle.
Few in the ground would be able to dispute that Newell had been the Millers’ most creative player in the opening half hour and his ingenuity almost paved the way for another equaliser for the visitors. Having teased the defence with a similar pass moments earlier, he once again looked to slide Jerry Yates in behind and looked to have done so until his pass evaded the toe of his attacker when he looked to be in on goal.
Having been handed an opportunity in defence following Mattock’s suspension, Purrington looked to prove his worth and showed his quality in the final third as the game approached the interval. It was his wicked delivery from high up the left flank which picked out the run of Tom Adeyemi, who couldn’t quite steer his effort at goal on the run.
Cardiff City loanee Adeyemi almost replicated that chance but from the opposite flank moments later. This time it was Will Vaulks the provider of the cross, before the former Bradford City and Leeds United man used his strength to get on the ball in the box, but couldn’t fend off the challenge of three home defenders and saw it cleared from his possession.
Half-time | Queens Park Rangers 2 v 1 Rotherham
The first goal of the second phase came even sooner than the opener with just three minutes on the watch when QPR added a third goal.
A delivery from the right seemed to pose little threat to the visitors, until Smith went down under a challenge from Aimen Belaid which the referee deemed to be sufficient to award a penalty kick and earn the defender a place in his notebook.
After a quick discussion over who’d take it, Ngbakoto stepped up and coolly rolled an effort into the bottom corner from 12 yards sending Price the wrong way in the process to double his side’s advantage.
Ngbakoto would have doubled his tally for the afternoon just moments later had it not been for the heroics of Price in the Millers’ goal. The R’s attacker was ready to peel away in celebration after acrobatically hooking an effort at goal, but a fingertip save from the former Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper denied him at the cost of a corner.
Queens Park Rangers added a fourth just before the hour-mark and registered another name on the scoresheet in the process. Ngbakoto had looked particularly lively since the restart and it was his cross from the left which was met by Luongo’s glancing header which nestled into the far corner and made it 4-1.
After his long-awaited arrival at AESSEAL New York Stadium, the second half provided the opportunity for Morris to make his Rotherham United debut. One of his first acts in his new club’s colours almost resulted in a goal on 73 minutes when Danny Ward burst forward, before picking out his strike partner on the edge of the box, but he dragged his low effort wide of Smithies’ far post.
However, the hosts were intent on adding to their tally for the afternoon and would have done so, had substitute Conor Washington’s effort been an inch the other way. After cutting in from the left, the former Peterborough man lashed a low effort which cannoned off the upright before eventually falling to Ravel Morrison, who couldn’t hit the target on the angle.
Clear cut chances were much harder to come by in the latter stages of the game and neither side managed to forge any real opportunities of note, but the hosts found one more seconds into added time. Ngbakoto was again the provider with a teasing cross from a set piece on the QPR left which provided Nedum Onuoha with the simplest of tap-ins to add gloss to the scoreline at 5-1.
Queens Park Rangers | Smithies, Freeman (Morrison 63), Bidwell, Hall, Onuoha, Lynch, Smith (Washington 62), Luongo (Goss 74), Ngbakoto, Furlong, Sylla.
Unused | Ingram, Mackie, Wszolek, Manning.
Millers | Price; Vaulks, Ajayi, Belaid, Purrington; Taylor (Forde 65), Adeyemi, Frecklington ©, Newell; Yates (Morris 70), Ward (Smallwood 85).
Unused | Bilboe, Blackstock, Bray, Warren.
Attendance | 13,383 (262 away)
Referee | A Davies.