QPR eased to an ultimately comfortable derby victory over their London rivals to continue their impressive run, now three victories and a draw in their last four Sky Bet Championship matches after defeat in their opening four games. Quite some turnaround.
London derbies are traditionally full of blood, guts and thunder yet strangely here it was quite the opposite for the usually feisty and gritty Millwall really did not show up in the first half, which was most unlike them. After the match, their manager Neil Harris said that it would never happen again.
Rangers were quick out of the blocks, harassing their meek opponents at every turn, forcing them into errors and fouls, so it was no real surprise when the home side took the lead after 30 minutes and then doubled it within two minutes.
Both goals had an element of good fortune about them – the first a Nahki Wells shot from a corner looped up off a Millwall defender only for Massimo Luongo to place a reverse header over the advancing Ben Amos into an unguarded net and the second, a low strike by Ebere Eze from close range that was not struck particularly cleanly, took a slight deflection as it bounced over the unfortunate Amos.
However, no one could deny that Rangers were not good value for their half time lead. The half time oranges would have tasted rather sour for the orange clad Millwall players and there were undoubtedly some harsh words spoken in their dressing room, for they came out looking a different team in the second period, playing with much more energy and at a far higher tempo.
Rangers somewhat predictably retreated into their shells, the onus being very much on their opponents to come out and try and salvage something from the match and for a while the game was very much in the balance, as Millwall wrestled back the initiative.
The introduction at half time of their talismanic striker and captain Steve Morison certainly assisted their case and they were unlucky not to claw one goal back when a header from Jake Cooper rebounded off the woodwork.
Rangers weathered the storm and whilst not playing with anything like the fluency and composure that they did in the first half, they still created chances which were arguably more clear cut than their opponents with Wells, Luongo, Luke Freeman, Jordan Cousins and Tomer Hemed all going close.
So Rangers recent recovery gathers pace as Steve McClaren’s charges have much more of a solid and determined look about them now than the side that were so embarrassingly taken apart by West Brom 7-1 only a matter of weeks ago.
The difference is quite simple, experience. Rangers resurgence has corresponded with the addition of four new players, three of whom have signed on season long loan deals – Wells and Hemed, proven strikers at this level and Geoff Cameron, an experienced holding midfielder who has bags of Premier League experience. Add to those three the Spaniard Angel Rangel, at right back, then the transformation is complete.
Rangers do look a different side. Here against Millwall, Cameron made his starting bow and his height, strength and positioning provided solid protection to the back four which allowed both Eze and Freeman to push further forward to support Wells, ploughing a furrow as the lone striker. Wells, on loan from Burnley, certainly looks like a high quality addition to the ranks, his touch and all round play something to behold after the diet of Conor Washington and Idyrssa Sylla. Hemed was rested from the starting line up which placed an extra burden on Wells which he dealt with aplomb.
Ebere Eze yet again looked the most creative player on the pitch and, with both he and Luke Freeman prodding, probing and dancing, Rangers look like a dangerous attacking force.
With the Sky cameras returning to Loftus Road again on Saturday for the visit of Norwich, the home supporters will be feeling optimistic of another victory and if the new additions can continue their impressive starts then they those supporters have every reason to believe.
For Millwall, surely a temporary blip but with a trip to West Brom coming up on Saturday, slightly worrying times. Yet as Rangers have proved, a few weeks is a long time in football and they roll on.