The majority of QPR fans will have left the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Saturday wondering how Bristol City took all three points.
Despite dominating the game, the R’s lost 2-1 to Nigel Pearson’s side courtesy of a 93rd-minute winner from Nahki Wells – a player that knows this part of west London very well.
It was a milestone game for another striker, with Andre Gray handed his first start in the attacking XI named by Mark Warburton that as he continues to get to grips with life at QPR.
The 30-year-old left Watford to join the R’s in the summer window and opened his account for his new club from the bench against Reading, meaning there was a fair bit of anticipation from the home support when they saw his name in the teamsheet.
We’ve put a spotlight on Gray’s performance against the Robins to investigate how he got on…
The Jamaica international started as part of a front two alongside Lyndon Dykes, with Ilias Chair and Chris Willock playing in behind the strikers as two number 10s.
Given City’s back three was made up of Tomas Kalas, Nathan Baker, and Rob Atkinson, it always seemed like Gray and Dykes were in for a physically challenging afternoon and so it proved.
Though the R’s were in the ascendancy for much of the game and were able to create plenty of chances (23 shots, 11 on target), the Robins’ backline and two deeper midfielders were able to make life difficult for Gray.
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In all, the 30-year-old won just one of his 16 duels in his 66 minutes on the pitch and lost both of his aerial duels while he was limited to just two shots and an xG of just 0.08.
That’s not to say he was entirely ineffective, however, as the striker’s movement was impressive and he showed glimpses of the threat he offers his new club.
In the first half, he nearly scored an excellent solo goal after collecting the ball out on the left and brilliantly cutting inside Tomas Kalas into the box before unleashing a powerful strike that was well saved by Dan Bentley.
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In the second half, he showed his quality as a creator with a wonderfully weighted flick that set Dykes through on goal and could’ve seen his side take the lead were it not for the excellent Bentley. It was a sample of what R’s fans may see a lot of should the relationship between the two strikers blossom.
Indeed his link-up play was a key positive as he connected with nine of his 11 passes, often playing snappy first-time balls that kept up the tempo of the attack and helped to pull apart a City defence that was doing its best to be compact.
Saturday’s game was hardly a dream home debut for Gray but he did enough to hint that his arrival could prove to be a shrewd bit of business by the west London club.