Queens Park Rangers made it 13 months without a win away from home after a late goal from substitute Shola Ameobi saw Newcastle United to a 1-0 victory.
The 31-year-old came off the bench to curl the ball past Robert Green with nine minutes remaining, after being played in by James Perch and cutting inside Adel Taarabt’s challenge.
Rs striker Djibril Cissé missed the visitors’ best chance – which had been carved out for him by Taarabt – but in reality QPR rarely threatened at St. James Park.
It was manager Harry Redknapp’s first defeat since taking charge last month, and following the game he launched into a stinging assault on a number of his players.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, the former Tottenham Hotspur boss said: “There are some players here earning far too much money for what they are.”
His words could not have summed up the problem any better, for Redknapp has inherited a club where everything is very far from how it ought to be, despite last weekend’s victory over Fulham.
News that José Bosingwa, one of the individuals the gaffer may well have been referring to, had been fined £100,000 for refusing to be a substitute against the Cottagers, was far from ideal.
Nor was the rather ominous revelation that catastrophe-in-waiting Anton Ferdinand had been recalled to a defensive unit that had been playing better in his absence.
However, the problem here lay not with Ferdinand being dubiously trotted out at right back, nor the stunning selfishness and abysmal attitude of the Portuguese defender.
As Redknapp acknowledged unequivocally in his post-match press conference, there is an astounding lack of cutting edge at QPR, exacerbated by a chronic shortage of attacking talent and options.
With Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora both regrettably sidelined with long-term injuries, the goalscoring burden falls on Jamie Mackie, Taarabt and Cissé.
This triumvirate scored 15 goals last season, and has managed eight so far in the current campaign. In reality, neither amount is sufficient for survival.
Even the reintroduction of big-money signing Esteban Granero, plus Fábio da Silva and Ferdinand in place of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Armand Traoré and Nedum Onuoha could not keep the mini-revival going.
The inability to be able to make changes at opportune moments due to the deficiencies in the squad could not have been illustrated more starkly.
While Newcastle brought on Ameobi and Sylvain Marveaux, who fired a free kick narrowly wide late on, the Rs had no forwards on the bench, and it cost them dearly.
Ryan Nelsen once again led the defence superbly and managed to ensure that opportunities were limited for Cissé and Ba in the opening 45 minutes.
Indeed, the highlight of the tedious first half was Fábio denying Cissé as he bore down on goal with a well-executed interception.
After the break, meanwhile, chances remained at a premium, Cissé heading wide from a Gutierrez cross and Green saving well from Marveaux.
Despite a performance that ranked as one of the better showings in recent memory on the road, the Toon’s opener was inevitable and the time at which it was scored – on 81 minutes – rendered a comeback extremely unlikely.
Indeed it could have been worse for the Rs, but Reading’s last-gasp defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium meant the Royals remained bottom of the table.
Wigan Athletic, meanwhile, also lost to Arsenal, and can still be caught with successive victories against West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day and Liverpool four days later.
Following his mercurial display against Fulham, Taarabt so nearly conjured up another moment of brilliance shortly after the interval.
As he had done a week ago, the Moroccan jinked through three defenders before playing in Cissé, who beat Fabricio Coloccini but could only find the side netting, in Rangers’ only notable attacking foray.
While the hosts clearly missed absent midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa it was hard to pinpoint exactly what QPR were lacking. In reality, it is difficult to know where to start.
Perhaps Redknapp, who indicated that he would not want to spend the owner’s money “unwisely”, while making sure to highlight the squad’s current inadequacies, will have one or two ideas for January.
Man of the match | Ryan Nelsen
Once again set a superb example to his team mates by restricting the threat from Cissé and Ba, and much like last weekend, his endeavours merited a clean sheet. Rangers need more players like the New Zealand international.
QPR: Green, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Hill, Fábio, Granero (Wright-Phillips 56), Mbia, Faurlin (Derry 78), Mackie, Taarabt, Cissé (Hoilett 64). Subs not used: Murphy, Diakité, Traoré, Onuoha.
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Originally published on QPRnet on Sunday December 23 2012.