QPR puncture the Millwall balloon as they finally discover a cutting edge
QPR 4 Millwall 3
Millwall’s hopes of taking their play-off chase to the final day were left in tatters on a day when the goals kept coming in the second half, but where the hosts were nearly always in the ascendancy.
It has been a remarkable season for Gary Rowett’s men to get so close to the top six and they fancied their chances against a QPR side who have struggled since the restart. But the Hoops went through the gears this time and discovered a cutting edge for their final home game of the season.
They scored four but in reality, it might have been several more, such was the panache with which they tore into the visitors.
Conor Masterson’s first goal for QPR gave Rangers just the tonic they were after, breaking the deadlock just before the interval.
The 21-year-old defender was on hand to pick up the pieces, steering the ball home after Yoann Barbet’s header at a corner had been palmed back into danger by Bartosz Bialkowski.
Former Ranger Matt Smith, on as a half-time sub, swept the ball home for the equaliser on 50 minutes after Jed Wallace had pulled the ball back towards the penalty spot for the striker to fire in.
But two minutes later, Ryan Manning’s speculative low effort from distance beat a slow moving Bialkowski, who should have done better.
With Millwall looking increasingly bedraggled, Ebe Eze was given the freedom to waltz into the area and fire into the bottom corner to make the game apparently safe with the game barely an hour old.
But Shaun Hutchinson glanced in a header from a corner to make it 3-2 after 68 minutes just ahead of the second drinks break to set up an interesting finale.
Millwall were lucky their rarely seen defensive frailiies were not more severely punished. Osman Kakay forced a save from the overworked Lions keeper, and Manning was allowed to ping a shot onto the top of the crossbar, having been allowed to advance unimpeded into shooting range.
But Millwall were made to pay again when Dominic Ball scampered down the left flank and played in an inviting ball for Todd Kane, just off the bench, to covert with a spectacular diving header for his first QPR goal.
A deflected goal from Jayson Molumby in injury time gave the final scoreline a more respectable sheen for the Lions, who even thought they had snatched a draw at the death with another Hutchinson header. But the goal was ruled out, and in truth it would have been a case of grand theft as the visitors were very much second best.
The Lions will point to the first half header from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson which struck the outside of a post, but even in those first 45 minutes, Rangers were the better side, with Bialkowski making fine saves to deny Ilias Chair and Luke Amos.
It was breathtaking stuff, but for Millwall it ended in disappointment.
QPR: Lumley – Kakay, Masterson, Barbet, Manning – Ball, Cameron – Shodipo (Kane 72), Amos (Bettache 90) – Chair (Oteh 84), Eze. Subs not used: Kelly, Gubbins, Clarke
Millwall: Bialkowski – Romeo (Smith h/t), Hutchinson, Ferguson, Pearce (Mitchell 87), Cooper – Leonard (Molumby 57), Woods - Jed Wallace, Bradshaw (Mahoney 57), Bennett (Bodvarsson 11). Subs not used: Murray Wallace, Williams, Thompson, Steele