Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Crouch and Walters on target at QPR

Peter Crouch, pictured, and Jon Walters were on target at QPR

Peter Crouch pushed former club QPR closer to a seemingly inevitable relegation as Stoke kick-started their own battle to beat the drop with a 2-0 victory.

Harry Redknapp urged Rangers to keep the faith in the build-up but even he will be hard pushed to remain positive after this defeat. As fate would have it, a player the QPR boss had hoped to bring to Loftus Road during the January transfer window did the damage in west London.

Crouch, a man Redknapp has managed four times before, put Stoke ahead late in the first half and was pulled back by Clint Hill for the second-half penalty which Jon Walters fired home.

Adel Taarabt needed just 36 seconds to create the afternoon's first chance for Rangers, coming close with a fizzing drive from distance. Taarabt again threatened in the sixth minute with a 25-yard free-kick that curled just wide.

It was far from a dominant start by QPR, though, and Stoke were enjoying relative joy when they voyaged forward. Cameron Jerome's pace was causing Rangers' back-line a particular headache as he linked up well with Crouch. City also threatened on the break and QPR had Bosingwa to thank for getting back to deny Ryan Shawcross.

Rob Green did well to palm away a fantastic half-volley from Crouch and, keen not to be outshone, opposite number Asmir Begovic soon stopped a goalbound Bosingwa free-kick.

One goalkeeper was to concede before the break, though, as Marc Wilson burst forward after winning the ball at the halfway line. The recalled defender sent a fine through ball to Jerome, who did well to hold play up before squeezing a cross past Chris Samba into the path of Crouch to slot home.

Begovic had to be alert to thwart a low Remy shot 10 minutes after the restart and then pulled off an incredible save to deny Samba, only to see the offside flag already raised.

Both sides soon lost players to injury as Taarabt and Wilson were forced off, before Samba saw a header denied. However, any remaining QPR hope was extinguished in the 77th minute.

After Robert Huth hit the post with a header, referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot after adjudging Hill to have tugged back Crouch in the box. Having been made to re-take his penalty, Walters coolly slotted home down to Green's right in front of the 1,181 visiting fans.

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