Queens Park Rangers 1 Wolves 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers will hope this narrow defeat at the hands of Queens Park Rangers will not prove crucial as the season progresses. Not only did the defeat, following a 62nd-minute Martin Rowlands strike, cost them the chance to meet the 50 points for the season threshold but allowed closest rivals Birmingham City, Reading and Burnley to close the gap at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship.
Blues now just trail the table leaders by three points but Wolves are not unduly worried. Instead they are already looking at how they can restore order come 7.45pm on Tuesday when they take on Derby County.
Wolves, unbeaten in nine and having a good record at Loftus Road, were in confident mood as they lined up but manager Mick McCarthy had predicted QPR would be a tough test.
From the outset it was apparent they were revved up for the game with Patrick Ageymang and Heidar Helguson going close. Within minutes it was apparent Wolves’ Welsh international keeper Wayne Hennessey was going to be kept busy having kept his place in the side with the loss of Carl Ikeme to injury.
Perhaps it was the 5.20pm kick-off, but Wolves looked the more lethargic of the two teams in the first half. Helguson and Ageymang both forced saves from Hennessey early on with only Chris Iwelumo going close at the other end.
The second-half again saw the hosts go close through substitute Lee Cook before Martin Rowlands scored with a sublime strike in the 62nd minute.
Rangers immediately tried to shut up shop but McCarthy was having none of it and the introduction of Matt Jarvis from the bench on 58 minutes did give Wolves a real shot in the arm.
Wolves now switched to playing with two wingers and Jarvis tore up the wing time and again. Chances however went begging and when Iwelumo and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake both left the field to be subsituted it became apparent this was not going to be Wolves’ day.
Scorer: Rowlands (62).
QPR (4-1-2-1): Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Ephraim, Mahon, Rowlands, Ageymang, Mahon, Blackstock (Cook, 27, Di Carmine, 89), Helguson (Tommasi, 77). Substitutes: Cole, Borrowdale.
WOLVES (4-4-2): Hennessey, Foley, Stearman, Mancienne, Ward, Edwards, Jones (Jarvis, 58), Henry, Kightly, Ebanks-Blake (Keogh, 77), Iwelumo (Vokes, 71). Substitutes: Higgs, Collins.
Referee: Iain Williamson (Berkshire).
Bookings: QPR – Rowlands (foul); Wolves – Mancienne (foul).