Clint is Rangers' leading man

The unlikely figure of Clint Hill ensured stuttering QPR beat Ipswich 2-0 to maintain their breathing space at the top of the Championship.

Last Updated: 22/02/11 at 22:54

Hill: Scores for Rangers

Hill: Scores for Rangers

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Rangers' charge towards the title had slowed to a crawl in recent weeks - and on Tuesday night, it appeared to be stuck behind a tractor.

With their eccentric 14-goal captain Adel Taarabt having one off his off days and Paul Jewell's revived Ipswich proving stubborn opposition, Rangers were staring at a third successive draw.

But with the chasing pack waiting to pounce, left-back Hill popped up with the opening goal 13 minutes from time at Loftus Road.

He then provided the cross for Heidar Helguson to finally kill off the Tractor Boys and keep the west Londoners five points clear and on course for the Premier League.

Boss Neil Warnock showed his ruthless streak before kick-off when he dropped both his centre-halves, Matt Connolly and Kaspars Gorkss, in favour of Fitz Hall and Danny Shittu, the latter making his second Rangers debut.

While Warnock has been openly critical of his first-choice pair in recent weeks, his decision to beef up his backline also had a lot to do with the physical presence of Ipswich's in-form teenage striker Connor Wickham.

Certainly Shittu, who rejoined Rangers from Millwall in January, had to be on his toes to chase back and block an angled drive from the 17-year-old in the opening stages.

And on the half-hour Hall threw himself in front of a piledriver from Grant Leadbitter to deflect the shot over the crossbar.

Rangers keeper Paddy Kenny then had to punch a drilled Wickham cross for a corner, from which Gareth McAuley headed wide.

The new boys at the back actually had Rangers' best chances in a subdued first-half performance, Hall nodding Taarabt's corner over and Shittu seeing his powerful header blocked by Carlos Edwards.

After the break, and presumably a half-time rocket from Warnock, Rangers went on the attack and Ishmael Miller's close-range shot was saved by Marton Fulop before Helguson's header flew inches over the top.

The breakthrough finally came when Taarabt swung in a corner which was met by a powerful header from Hill at the far post.

Wayne Routledge almost hit a second but Fulop saved his rocket shot.

But the final blow arrived in the 83rd minute when Hill, who usually gets a nose bleed if he ventures too far across the halfway line, overlapped again and crossed for Helguson to bury his header and secure three more vital points.

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