QPR 2 Cardiff City 1: Comeback win marks 50th anniversary of League Cup triumph

simon johnson

On the day QPR celebrated the 50th anniversary of their League Cup win, not even ex-boss Neil Warnock could spoil the celebrations.

A number of former players from the club's only major honour were in attendance and Rangers paid homage to their achievement by wearing an all white kit to match what they wore on March 4 1967 at Wembley against West Brom.

But initially, Warnock, making his first return since leaving his second spell in charge in 2015, tried to steal the limelight.

Warnock spoke to Standard Sport earlier this week about how much he was looking forward to being back at QPR.

He still has happy memories of the place, despite being sacked in January 2012 after leading them to the Premier League.

The 68-year-old was also overlooked for the post in favour of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 16 months ago even though he enjoyed an impressive four-game spell as caretaker.

Both decisions have backfired. QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, who flew back from Malaysia to see Warnock as well as the game, joked recently that sacking him the first time cost £200m.

And the Hasselbaink experiment didn't work out either, as he lasted just a year in the post and the club are languishing in the bottom half of the Championship. Now Cardiff are the ones benefitting from Warnock's expertise.

The affection for Warnock from the home fans has never dissipated and they were there to greet him off the coach on Cardiff's arrival with cries of 'one Neil Warnock'. His name was applauded loudly when ready out on the PA system before the match kicked off too.

In many ways, there is not much difference between QPR and Cardiff. The latter dropped out of the top flight 12 months earlier and neither look close to coming back soon.

Both have turned to veteran managers to keep their places in the Championship, with Ian Holloway in charge of the Hoops and of course Warnock at Cardiff.

The lack of quality in both teams was clear to see in this encounter. Work-rate was high, not surprising given the two men in the dugout.

In QPR's starting XI, only Nedum Onuoha and Jamie Mackie are left from the side that played in the Premier League.

Holloway's side had the better of the opening exchanges and Conor Washington was unfortunate to see his shot rebound off the post.

But just before half-time, QPR showed the kind of lapse in concentration that has dominated their play over the last few years.

Cardiff defender Sol Bamba ran onto a corner kick completely unmarked and headed the ball into the top corner.

To QPR's credit, they responded well after the break, although it took substitute Yeni Ngbakoto to turn the game around.

It was his deflected shot that flew into the top corner in the 63rd minute which brought the sides level.

Then with eight minutes remaining, his superb free kick was just tipped out for a corner by Allan McGregor.

But from the resulting set piece, Matt Smith headed home to send the fans jubilant.

The victory, Holloway's seventh in 19 games, means QPR are nine points clear of the relegation zone.

And the new generation will be relieved to know they paid tribute to the club's League Cup heroes in the best possible way.

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