Hughes toasts first victory as QPR boss
MK Dons 0
MARK HUGHES' first home game in charge of QPR brought an uninspiring display but a hugely important result. Danny Gabbidon's first goal since March 2005 brought QPR's first win in the FA Cup since 2001 and their first success in 11 games, stilling the alarm bells that have been ringing at Loftus Road.
Gabbidon's headed in Shaun Wright-Phillips' corner to set up a fourth-round tie against John Terry's Chelsea when Loftus Road will be heaving on January 28, not least because of Terry's appearance in magistrates court on February 1 charged with racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. Terry denies the charge.
The atmosphere will be so much better than this. Only 10,855 attended last night's tie, and those thousands of QPR fans who stayed away seemed good judges until Gabbidon intervened after 73 minutes. They lacked a cutting edge with Jay Bothroyd again disappointing and Federico Macheda eventually removed.
MK Dons had been far better until Gabbidon's goal, moving the ball about with real purpose. Karl Robinson's side were excellent, particularly their right-back, Adam Smith.
No wonder so many scouts were watching Robinson's players.
Luke Chadwick, once of Manchester United, even threatened an early goal for the visitors, taking Dean Lewington's pass in his stride before unleashing a low shot that failed to trouble Paddy Kenny.
A current United employee, Federico Macheda, then caught the eye. QPR's on-loan striker was buzzing around, flicking a good ball down the inside-right channel for Jay Bothroyd. Macheda continued his run, but Bothroyd was thinking only of himself, cutting inside and shooting wide.
QPR stirred. Briefly. Bothroyd was increasingly meandering towards the left, and one cross briefly concerned MK Dons. Then Macheda teased a fine reverse-pass past Mathias Kouo-Doumbe to Wright-Phillips, who was closed down well by Chadwick. From the ensuing corner in the 28th minute, Shaun Derry flicked the ball home but QPR celebrations were cut short by Phil Dowd, who spotted the midfielder holding 'keeper David Martin. Hughes shook his head in annoyance.
MK Dons then wasted a glorious opportunity. Stephen Gleeson released Charlie MacDonald, who sprinted on and tried to place his shot in the far corner but it was too weak.
Hughes had clearly had a word at the break, probably a firm one or two. QPR restarted with a better tempo, and Clint Hill lifted a superb ball to Bothroyd, who headed straight at Martin. MK Dons never panicked. Smith excelled, first lifting in a ball from the right that Jabo Ibehre prodded wide.
QPR needed inspiration. Akos Buzsaky almost provided it, his magnificent free-kick pushed away brilliantly by Martin. Buzsaky jogged over to take the corner but was withdrawn by Hughes, causing brief murmurings of disapproval. But Wright-Phillips' corner was excellent and Gabbidon headed powerfully in.
MK Dons kept pushing, kept believing. Their fans were terrific, singing without pause and backing their team. At the final whistle, QPR fans celebrated a rare win and Hughes could look forward to a fourth-round tie against his old club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)