Despite a dramatic improvement in home form, QPR’s chances of securing Premier League safety remain in the balance due to another disappointing away performance against a West Brom side with far less at stake.
Graeme Dorran’s first-half strike was enough to see off the Hoops and Mark Hughes conceded that the display didn’t measure up to the effort that earned them a third successive Loftus Road victory against Swansea on Wednesday.
He said: “This was a missed opportunity. It was a game we needed to get something out of it.”
The importance of claiming at least a point was perhaps diminished slightly by Blackburn’s heavier 3-0 defeat at Swansea to keep them three points back, however it will be the potential of a late charge from Bolton that will worry QPR fans.
Owen Coyle’s side, who had won three in a row before being sent back into the bottom three after losses to Fulham and Newcastle, aren’t in action this weekend, but have played two matches fewer.
And given that their remaining six fixtures all occur against teams between ninth and 15th – those with the least to play for – they will be confident of closing the two-point gap separating them from the west Londoners.
QPR’s run-in isn’t particularly encouraging, the presence of trips to Chelsea and Manchester City leaving it unlikely that they will halt a streak of 11 outings without a win on the road before the end of the season.
In turn, it puts pressure on them to achieve maximum points in far from simple home encounters with Tottenham and Stoke, especially as in-form fellow strugglers Wigan have bottom two Blackburn and Wolves still to meet.
The consequence is that Wolves (1/500) and Blackburn (2/7) are considered practically doomed, with a three-way scrap to avoid the final spot anticipated between QPR (11/10), Bolton (6/5) and Wigan (11/8). Aston Villa are 16/1 to be dragged in.