Resilient Rangers down Sky Blues

QPR claimed their first away victory in six games as they won 2-0 at Coventry to head into 2011 with a firm stranglehold on the Championship.

Last Updated: 28/12/10 at 18:02

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Neil Warnock's side are seven points ahead of second-placed Cardiff - who lost to Watford on Tuesday afternoon - safe in the knowledge the team leading the second tier going into January have won promotion to the Premier League in all but two of the last 19 years.

The visitors, sporting green and white hoops, could count themselves lucky to still be on level terms after a keenly-contested first half at the Ricoh Arena in which the Sky Blues were denied on more than one occasion.

But the clash was over as a contest within 16 minutes of the restart as on-loan Tottenham full-back Kyle Walker burst down the right and found the net at the near post - only to see what would have been his first professional strike go down as a Keiren Westwood own goal as the ball came off his shoulder.

Tommy Smith's header then put QPR into a more commanding position to leave fellow promotion hopefuls City nursing a third successive defeat against sides alongside them in the top six.

Sky Blues boss Aidy Boothroyd promised a much-improved display from his side than the one which saw them go down tamely at Cardiff on Boxing Day, and after bringing in winger David Bell and target man Clive Platt, he certainly got a positive response.

The unchanged R's were able to name left-back Clint Hill in their starting XI while they wait to see whether their appeal against his dismissal versus Swansea is successful.

Boothroyd's charges looked up for the challenge of facing the league leaders amid an open and fast-paced start to proceedings.

Marlon King shot straight at Paddy Kenny after a bright City counter while Adel Taarabt was only denied by a superb sliding tackle from teenage centre-back Nathan Cameron.

The tempo slowed momentarily after the early rush but the encounter remained an intriguing one.

And it was the visitors who twice had keeper Kenny to thank for keeping them on level terms - diving low to his right to palm away Platt's well-taken header before keeping out Richard Wood's attempt.

The hosts, more than matching Warnock's title challengers, were enjoying a sustained spell of pressure with the tempo having picked up and they again came close to forging a breakthrough, this time Alejandro Faurlin clearing Wood's knock-down off the line.

But the R's survived the onslaught and could have indeed taken the lead themselves in first-half injury time, Jamie Mackie turning in the area and driving a low effort just wide of Westwood's far post.

But QPR needed just four second-half minutes to open the scoring.

Walker broke down the right, barging off the attentions of Gary McSheffrey, before getting to the byline and drilling a powerful effort in off Westwood at his near post.

And having come close to going behind on a couple of occasions in the first half, the visitors were two goals to the good just after the hour mark.

The enigmatic but so often brilliant Taarabt curled over a delightful cross which Smith glanced into the bottom corner.

There was an immediate sense the points were settled but that did not stop Coventry trying to get back into the game.

A handful of penalty appeals were waved away while several teasing balls were sent into the area but it was all to no avail, while Westwood denied Taarabt a third in injury time.

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