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Hoilett helps QPR eke out opening day win

INSPIRED: QPR raider Junior Hoilett

CHAMPIONSHIP FAVOURITES Queens Park Rangers began life in a new division with a 2-1 win against Sheffield Wednesday today (August 3).

Harry Redknapp’s side, after the horror of Premier league relegation last May, made a positive start to a campaign that promises to be a real battle to regain their exalted status.

Rangers were always the better side but had to show a battling trait that will hold them in good stead for the challenges that lie ahead.

There was new hope and ambitions at QPR and also a plethora of new players for supporters to get used to.

Veteran defender Richard Dunne joined on a free after his release from Aston Villa while experienced midfielder Karl Henry arrived from Wolves. The pair were joined in west London by former Newcastle United right-back Danny Simpson who joined at the start of the summer. The Villa man found himself on the bench for the opening game as did another new boy, striker Charlie Austin.

An indicator of the rapidly changing times at Loftus Road was summed up by two fans sitting in front of the press box; both were wearing replica shirts with the names of Jamie Mackie and Djibril Cisse, both players that have left the club after their disastrous 2012/13 season.

Back in the QPR ranks was the errant Joey Barton who had spent the last campaign on loan with French outfit Marseilles.

The first half was as good an advert for Championship football as you are likely to get this term.

QPR’s Junior Hoillett, lively all half, had the first shot in anger after a busy trademark run and long range effort after just five minutes.

The home side were intent on taking the game to their opponents in the opening minutes. Andy Johnson robbed Michail Antonio only to see his shot parried by Wednesday ‘keeper Chris Kirkland who certainly earned his pay during the opening period. The away custodian would deny Johnson again moments later, this time from 16 yards out.

Wednesday’s limp response was a 12th minute daisy cutter by Atdhe Nuhiu. He was to get his shooting boots –and a well taken goal - moments later.

On 18 minutes, Nuhiu – after leaving Armand Traore on his backside and the rest of the QPR defence in his wake – fired home from just outside the penalty box to put the visitors 1-0.
Hoilett’s pace and menace was still causing Wednesday problems however, so much so that Liam Palmer was booked for an over zealous challenge on the little QPR raider.

Action man Hoilett will wonder just how he missed a gilt-edged chance on 28 minutes after an accurate Barton cross. Bobby Zamora, six minutes later, was also at a loss as to how he fluffed yet another home opportunity to equalise.

It was left to centre-half Nedum Onuoha, five minutes before the break, to notch QPR’s goal; the defender had an easy task after a Hoilett shot landed at his feet.

Loftus Road was to go mad when Johnson put Harry Redknapp’s side ahead on 42 minutes after a Barton header had been well saved by Kirkland.

Hoilett continued his fine form three minutes into the second period. After a raking cross field ball by Barton, the diminutive front man was denied by Kirkland for the umpteenth time much to the frustration of most of the 17,626 crowd. But the home side always had to be aware of Wednesday’s pacy threat at all times.

One break by the visitors ended with Antonio wasting the chance of the match after great work by Jermaine Johnson.

The second half was not as frenetic as the first but did witness the inevitable Barton booking for a foul on Jeremy Helan on 56 minutes.

Austin was to make his debut on 69 minutes. He nearly saw Wednesday equalise two minutes later when a left foot drive by Jacques Maghoma hit Green’s upright and bounce away from danger.

Both teams ran out of steam towards the end but man-of-the-match Hoilett, after yet another mazy run, had a chance to seal it on 84 minutes but Kirkland was at his defiant best.

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