Stoke City recorded their second win of the Premier League season with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at the Britannia Stadium.
Mark Hughes will once again be at a loss to explain how his side were left with nothing to show for their endeavours after dominating for much of the match.
Adel Taarabt passed up the opportunity to give his side the lead on the stroke of half-time and that miss looked all the more costly only seven minutes into the second-half when Charlie Adam capitalised on an Armand Traore mistake to give the hosts a lead they were not to relinquish.
Taarabt then had the best chance of the second half to level for the visitors but he dragged his effort wide of the post as QPR’s search for that elusive first league win of the season drags on.
Despite having presided over their equal-worst start to a top flight season, Mark Hughes has retained the unconditional support of QPR owner Tony Fernandes but was without captain Ji-sung Park for the trip to what is often cited as the most inhospitable of Premier League venues.
Last week’s loss at Norwich made this Stoke’s worst start to a Premier League campaign since their promotion in 2008 and Tony Pulis made two changes from that game with Matthew Etherington and Glenn Whelan coming in for Dean Whitehead and Michael Kightly.
Last weekend’s draw at Reading left QPR second from bottom and one of only two professional teams in English football without a league win this season but they began this match with a confidence belying their lowly league position as they moved the ball around at pace.
But as has often been the case this season, their early intricate play and dominance was not converted into the hard currency of goals and they allowed Stoke back into the game as the half progressed.
For all their early dominance, QPR only created one chance of note but Djibril Cisse snatched at the volley following good work from Armand Traore down the wing, and a tactical change from Tony Pulis soon swung the balance of play in favour of the hosts.
Jon Walters moved up alongside Peter Crouch and the switch almost paid immediate dividends but Ryan Nelsen managed to block a Crouch effort that was on target following a galloping run from Steven N'Zonzi.
Stoke, with more players supporting Crouch, were looking far more threatening but it was the visitors who should have went to the break with an advantage but, having been played in on goal by Junior Hoilett, Taarabt elected to lift the ball over Asmir Begovic when he would have been better served hitting the target.
QPR were again in the ascendancy early in the second half but found themselves behind after Adam capitalised on a slip from Traore following a flick on from N'Zonzi to score his first goal for the club.
The visitors responded valiantly but profligacy in front of goal was to again cost them at least a point – with Taarabt particularly culpable as the Moroccan followed up his gilt-edged first-half miss by toe-poking his side's best chance wide of the post having beaten two men on the edge of the box.
Hughes introduced Bobby Zamora as he looked to get at least a point from a game that QPR had dominated but it was Kightly who almost doubled his side’s advantage but Julio Cesar was equal to the well-struck effort following a quick Stoke break.
QPR were not to capitalise on that save though and failed to threaten the goal of Begovic again despite finishing the game with four attackers on the pitch.
Next weekend’s bottom of the table game against Southampton takes on extra significance particularly considering a well-earned point against Swansea moved them off the bottom at the expense of Hughes’ men.
MAN OF THE MATCH:
Esteban Granero (QPR): Neat and tidy throughout but also industrious and very unlucky to be on the losing side.
Stoke City: Begovic 6; Cameron 6, Huth 5, Shawcross 6, Wilkinson 5; Walters 5, Whelan 5, Nzonzi 5, Adam 6, Etherington 6; Crouch 6. Subs: Jones 5, Whitehead 5, Kightly 6.
QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 6, Ferdinand 6, Nelsen 6, Traore 6, Granero 7, Faurlin 6, Diakite 6, Hoilett 5, Taarabt 6, Cisse 5. Subs: Zamora 6.
MATCHCAST: FULL COMMENTARY AND STATS
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