Gareth Ainsworth enjoys spoiling the title party after QPR stun Burnley



Posted Sunday, April 23, 2023 by PA

Gareth Ainsworth enjoys spoiling the title party after QPR stun Burnley

Blackburn fan Gareth Ainsworth enjoyed his return to his native Lancashire after his QPR side inflicted a first home defeat of the season on promoted Burnley.

Substitute Chris Martin headed home three minutes from time to clinch a 2-1 win and put the Clarets’ title party on hold.

The victory – just Rangers’ second in 22 games – moved them closer to safety in the Championship under Ainsworth, their third manager of the season.

And it delayed title celebrations for Vincent Kompany’s Premier League-bound Clarets, who had needed three points to guarantee they would end a memorable campaign in first place.

For Ainsworth it was a particularly sweet win – especially as Martin scored just minutes after he was thrown on.

“I’m a Blackburn lad and I know this is tough place to come,” Ainsworth said.

“I always get stick here and when the stick intensifies I know I must be doing something right. The Blackburn connection is a big one.

“Chris is my captain but I told him yesterday I wanted to play on the counter attack and this wasn’t the sort of game for him.

“But I put him on because I thought a bit of experience from him might get me a point. I didn’t realise it would get me the winning goal.”

That came moments after Ilias Chair’s shot had been turned over by Arijanet Muric for a corner which the Burnley defence failed to deal with adequately.

QPR maintained the pressure and Jamal Lowe attacked from the left, crossing for the unmarked Martin to head in from six yards.

It was no more than the struggling visitors deserved for a superb game plan, well executed by a disciplined squad that moved four points clear of the drop with the win.

“I can sympathise with the players, I’m their third manager of the season, fourth if you include the caretaker,” said Ainsworth.

“They’ve been all over the place: three different styles of play, different personalities. It takes time, it really does.

“I was looking at other results three weeks ago, I’m not going to lie. Of course we all get our phones out as soon as we get in the dressing room and that’s what today has come down to – another win will secure us in the Championship.”

After a run of just two points from the previous available 21, Ainsworth’s side were hardly expected to secure that win against a team that secured promotion earlier this month.

But Rangers stunned Turf Moor on 58 minutes when they took the lead through skipper Sam Field, just reward for their committed display under intense pressure.

The goal owed much to poor defending from the home side, who failed to deal with a routine long throw from Ethan Laird.

Having allowed the ball to bounce, Burnley were punished when Taylor Harwood-Bellis’s half clearance was met by the unmarked Field who scored with an impressive volley from just inside the area.

Burnley thought they had at least salvaged a point, on 76 minutes, when Manuel Benson collected a pass on the right wing, cut into the area and curled an unstoppable finish into the far corner of the visitors’ goal.

“You have to respect the fact we’re playing teams who aren’t going to roll over for us,” said Kompany.

“I’m not disappointed, I actually expected it. What it shows is we’re inexperienced in these trophy-winning moments.

“I had the experience as a player at (Manchester) City and it’s an incredible learning experience – you have to keep your game simple and play to win the game, not chase to win the trophy.”

Kompany’s team missed three glorious chances in a couple of seconds in an extraordinary ninth-minute incident.

Benson headed Anass Zaroury’s cross against the bar, Ashley Barnes’ shot from the rebound was blocked by the keeper and Benson, again, shot only for Rob Dickie to clear off the line.

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