Chris Ramsey’s QPR were given a stern warning of how tough life in the Sky Bet Championship can be, as they fell to a 2-0 opening day defeat away to Charlton Athletic on Saturday.
Of course, this is the Rs first year back in the second tier after propping up the Premier League table last time out. As a result, they may undergo somewhat of a rebuilding season, although Ramsey, who was awarded the full-time job in the summer, still has a number of players to call upon with top-flight experience.
The likes of Charlie Austin and Matt Phillips are still within their ranks, and the West Londoners have also brought in several youthful recruits, signing ex-Swindon aces Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo back in May, for example. Other newcomers to Loftus Road include former Bluebird JayEmmanuel-Thomas, Dutch midfielder Tjaronn Chery and Germany U21 international Sebastian Polter.
Following Steven Caulker’s loan departure to Southampton, the only current Rangers player to have pulled on the City shirt is their new man, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
Jay came to South Wales on loan from Arsenal in 2011, making fourteen league appearances and netting twice. Of course, he played alongside Jay Bothroyd in the Welsh capital, who would later move to Loftus Road himself for their consecutive seasons in the Premier League from 2011-2013.
Other names to have played for both sides include Heiðar Helguson, who scored 27 goals in 75 games for the Rs, and Trevor Sinclair, who spent five prosperous years in West London early in his career, which he finished up here in Cardiff as we reached the FA Cup Final in 2008.
Without a doubt, the most memorable recent encounter between these two sides took place at the Millennium Stadium in 2003, as the Bluebirds lined up against the Hoops for the Division Two Play-Off Final.
There were just two points separating Cardiff and QPR at the end of the regular season, and the final proved to be every bit as tight as City’s star-studded line-up were unable to break through the Hoops’ defence.
That was, of course, until the 114th minute in extra time when Andy Campbell sped away from Dan Shittu to go clean through on goal. The former Middlesbrough man had earlier replaced the 35-goal Robert Earnshaw, and lobbed Steve Day to send the local contingent within the Millennium Stadium into delirium – and City back into the second tier after eighteen years away.
Cardiff City: Alexander, Weston (Croft 70), Gabbidon, Prior, Barker, Boland, Kavanagh, Whalley, Legg (Bonner 116), Earnshaw (Campbell 79), Thorne. Subs not used: Margetson, Bowen.
QPR: Day, Kelly, Shittu, Carlisle, Padula (Williams 79), Gallen, Bircham, Palmer, McLeod, Pacquette (Thomson 60), Furlong. Subs not used: Culkin, Angell, Forbes.
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