• By Charlie Stong

Camp breaks Rangers' hearts as comeback falls just short


Queens Park Rangers 3 Birmingham City 4

Lee Camp’s injury time penalty save from Nahki Wells prevented Queens Park Rangers from completing the comeback of all comebacks against Birmingham in a 4-3 reverse for the Super Hoops at Loftus Road today.

A hat-trick for Che Adams inside a calamitous 22 first-half minutes saw Birmingham take control of this game, but strikes from Matt Smith either side of half-time and a thunderbolt from Jordan Cousins saw Rangers almost complete mission impossible, before Wells’ 91st minute penalty was pushed away by Camp.

In his programme notes former England boss Steve McLaren spoke of building on the midweek victory over Portsmouth in the FA Cup and creating a team the fans could be proud of.

While his side’s performance in the first-half was about as far away from gaining pride from QPR fans as it could be, the spirited comeback in the second-half offers hope ahead of the FA Cup fifth Round clash against Watford at Loftus Road on Friday night.

The half-time boos from the Rangers faithful turned to genuine appreciation at the end – not only for their team but for the visitors, also. You will not see a better game in a long, long while.

Rangers were leggy and predictable in their play in the first-half, and looked like a team with other things on their mind.

They were much better in the second half – but they could hardly be worse, pulling the game back from 4-0 to 4-2 with two Matt Smith goals either side of half-time. Cousins’ crackerjack gave Rangers hope of picking up a point.

After that they continued to press, Smith saw a shot tipped over the bar by Camp, Rangers had a half-decent shout for a penalty waved away and Nahki Wells’ point-blank effort was brilliantly saved by Camp, as was another Smith header.

But Birmingham held on – just. The damage had been done in those 20-odd first-half minutes. First determined play by Maikel Kieftenbeld in midfield after 21 minutes saw the visitors win the ball. He played it forward and when it fell to Adams he cut inside his defender and fired a shot into the bottom left hand corner.

Five minutes later it was 2-0. The ball was won by Adams, fell to Jota who played a beautifully-weighted return pass with the outside of his left foot back to Adams, who rounded Joe Lumley and tucked home.

Poor defending on 35 minutes saw the ball break to Gary Gardner, whose shot was palmed wide, but from the resulting corner Harlee Dean headed home from the centre of the box - completely unchallenged.

And it was 4-0 on 42 minutes. The ball was beautifully worked by Birmingham on the right to Jota, who was central to the first-half performance from The Blues. His curling left-footed shot hit the post and Adams was there to finish off for his third and Birmingham's fourth.

But as the lights came on and the rain came down, Rangers came alive. Matt Smith powered in a header after beating his man to the ball from a left-wing corner in first-half stoppage time.

It was 4-2 four minutes after half-time when Smith turned in a right wing cross. Cousins’ thunderbolt set-up a frantic finish, and when Luke Freeman was brought down in the first minute of added-time it appeared a dramatic 4-4 draw was about to unfold.

But Lee Camp had other ideas and his save meant Birmingham took all three points back to the Midlands.

QPR: Lumley, Furlong, Bidwell, Hall, Freeman, Scowen (Cousins 45), Smith, Osayi-Samuel (Leisterner 46), Luongo, Wells, Lynch (yellow: 55; sub: Wszolek, 63)

Subs: Ingram, Cousins, Eze, manning, Hemed, Wszolek, Leistner

Birmingham: Camp, Colin, Kieftenbeld, Adams, Jutkiewicz (Sub: Mrabti, 70), Dean, Maghoma (yellow: 58; sub: Craig Gardner, 76), Gary Gardner, Jota, Morrison, Harding

Subs: Trueman, Pedersen, Mahoney, Craig Gardner, Vassell, Mrabti, Davis

Ref: D Bond

Attendance: 14,234