Dykes gets debut goal as QPR kick off campaign with a win against Forest
Queens Park Rangers 2 Nottingham Forest 0
Rangers got off to a good start to their Championship campaign with what can only be described as a hard-working, and fortuitous win over a profligate Nottingham Forest.
Mark Warburton, the QPR manager, had new recruit, Lyndon Dykes, to thank with the former Livingston player on hand to deliver the decisive moment, from the penalty spot in the second half, before Ilias Chair added the clincher in stoppage time. A clean sheet too, is quite a bonus.
After last season’s tangible sense of consolidation, with Warburton guiding the team to 14th place, a few more positive outcomes like this, particularly against opponents who were so impressive for the majority of last season, will be keenly welcomed by a support far too often conditioned to mediocrity. Although, due to Covid-19 measures, the R’s had to cope without their fans at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, this will be welcome three points; not least for Warburton against his former club.
After a quiet start with QPR clearly getting sued to the quiet and unwanted current Covd-19 conditions, the west London sunshine proved to be a blessing for the few in attendance to observe the new faces on show. Tangible improvements in a reshaped squad and moving up the table are, at the very least, the primary objectives for those in blue and white hoops.
Warburton, inevitably, has made changes, due to the departure of the likes of Grant Hall, Toni Lesitner, Angel Rangel and, of course, star performer and fan favourite, Ebere Eze. At least the cool £19.5m received from Crystal Palace softens the blow amid the restructuring.
Warburton pressed Rob Dickie, signed form Oxford United, into action, along with Luke Amos, Tom Carroll and Dykes, in what appeared, on the face of it to be an intriguing blend of creativity and power. Australian-born Dykes, a newly anointed Scotland international, certainly made his presence felt in the first half against Forest counterpart Joe Worrall, even before he eventually found the net.
The £2m centre forward potentially adds a dynamism which QPR lacked at times last term. Indeed, this is one player who will rarely be outmuscled, and provides a useful target for crosses supplied by Bright Osayi-Samuel, at least while the latter is still at the club.
Warburton also selected Lee Wallace at left back with Ryan Manning sat in the stands; a curious development. Manning is another on the radar of other clubs and the manager was clear during the week about only choosing those who are fully committed to QPR.
Meanwhile, Forest – a club still psychologically coming to terms with their late slump last season, missing out on possible promotion - came closest to opening the scoring. Much-travelled Lewis Grabban cutely headed inches wide from a Tyler Blackett cross from the left. QPR, for their part, almost broke the deadlock when Dykes just failed to connect with a low Wallace cross.
The west Londoners kept their patience – and were rewarded with the opening goal, via a spot kick in the 54th minute. Dykes, within sight of goal, was felled by a late challenge by Tobias Figueiredo. And the new striker took the responsibility upon himself to confidently blast the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
QPR survived a scare, though, with Forest in the mood to hit back. Ryan Yates blasted against the post from the tightest of angles after being set up by Grabban. The second warning sign arrived when Grabban, inexplicably, turned the ball wide from six yards, fastening on to a low cross from Sammy Ameobi.
The hosts’ in search of a second, saw Dykes involved again, in the 75th minute, but the unmarked forward could only direct the ball over the bar from Chair’s imaginative free kick assist.
Without the required cushion, QPR were living dangerously, with Ameobi and Grabban looking a fine combination. Forest hit man Grabban subsequently fired over from 12 yards when he should at least have tested Joe Lumley in the R’s goal.
The R’s saw Grabban shoot wide in the dying moments in what was another scare. Strangely, it was a sign of QPR’s luck that somehow, at the death, and on the counter, Chair was sufficiently alert to bundle the ball home from three yards when Forest keeper Brice Samba failed to hold a Dykes shot.
Such an afternoon of fortune – and one which QPR can build on, ahead of Friday’s trip to face Coventry City.
QPR: Lumley, Wallace, Dickie, Barbet, Amos (Ball 84), Dykes, Chair, Osayi-Samuel (90 Smyth), Cameron, Carroll (75 Thomas), Kakay