If QPR are to survive, Gareth Ainsworth must harness the positive West Bromwich Albion comeback

3 min

After QPR sleepwalked their way to the home defeat against Preston North End, Gareth Ainsworth held nothing back in his post-match appraisal, expressing his disappointment towards his players.

“We looked like we were beaten as soon as the first goal went in,” the Hoops boss said. “Heads went down, and I think the mental side of the game is the big thing that’s showing at the moment.

“There’s a fragility in these players that I’ve got to address – we’ve got a lack of leaders and characters at the moment.

“They’ve got to start digging deep to fight for the cause and fight for the club, because that wasn’t acceptable.”

It was a fair and honest assessment as QPR appeared demoralised after Tom Cannon fired Preston into a 59th minute lead with their attitude becoming even more deplorable after they conceded again to the same player just four minutes later.

Monday’s encounter at West Brom appeared to be heading in a similar direction after two early goals saw the Hoops fall 2-0 behind after just 13 minutes.

Memories of the 6-1 drubbing at Blackpool immediately sprung to mind in another utterly shambolic opening quarter-of-an-hour for Ainsworth’s side.

Yet, almost out of nowhere the mood on the pitch shifted and something appeared to finally click in place as Lyndon Dykes’ header nine minutes later sparked a resurgent QPR performance.

Chris Martin, preferred in favour of Chris Willock, repaid the manager’s faith with a slightly fortunate equaliser after charging down Josh Griffiths and forcing the young keeper into a horrible mistake.

READ MORE: Football Finances – how Brentford, Fulham, Millwall, QPR, Charlton Athletic, AFC Wimbledon, Leyton Orient and Sutton United fare

Despite their early struggles, QPR’s defence stood firm, keeping a rallying Baggies at bay and arguably still looking the better side throughout the rest of the encounter.

At 2-0 down, the Hoops had been heading towards the bottom three and although helped by Reading’s six point deduction, are still only two points ahead of the drop zone with five games to go.

Having travelled to the Hawthorns experiencing four defeats on the bounce, it was crucial the side stopped the rot and the importance of a resolute away performance and crucial point cannot be downplayed. 

The character and determination on display from a group who have been soundly beaten in recent weeks is something Ainsworth will need to harness moving forward.

If they play like they did in the last 70 minutes against West Brom, their chances of playing Championship football next season will increase ten-fold.

That being said, their run in is incredibly difficult as they face five quality sides with an average league position of 8.25. 

READ MORE: Focusing on the small moments is the only way Gareth Ainsworth can solve QPR’s big problems

Following the home clashes against promotion hopefuls Coventry and Norwich, there are trips to top-of-the-table Burnley and Stoke City before ending the season back at Loftus Road where Bristol City await.

It’s a challenge the players must embrace, showing the do-or-die attitude they displayed against West Brom instead of the cautious ineptitude that cost them against PNE. 

Considering the strength of the upcoming opposition, many QPR fans may think it’s too little, too late presenting Gareth Ainsworth’s side with the opportunity to prove them wrong.

Hire Us

Like what we do? Get in touch and see what we can do for you!

Support Us on Patreon

Find out more about us here and if you like our articles please check out our Patreon page.