CHARLIE Austin opened his QPR league account from a yard – but a blue smoke bomb hurled by a Birmingham fan cast a cloud over the narrow win.
When the smoke cleared it was Rangers sighing with relief Jonathan Spector had been booked for simulation when for all the world it looked as if the City midfielder was tripped in the box by Richard Dunne.
That let off with nine minutes left, was one of a few, with Rangers riding their luck thanks to poor finishing and an offside flag.
Matty Phillips made his debut as a second-half sub, as did Tom Carroll who put in a decent shift as the midfielder buzzed from one end to the other.
But once again the Rs heroes were the rearguard martialled by Dunne that claimed a fourth 1-0 win on the trot.
Early on, a clever Joey Barton through ball with the outside of his boot had Darren Randolph scampering out to clear as Austin (pic) bore down.
Birmingham’s first shot was an easy catch for a fan in Row W when Wade Elliott skied over a clever free-kick routine.
Austin limped to his feet after a thud in the back from Elliott to take it out on the ball and send a 20-yarder just shy of the near upright.
But Brum came the closest to breeching Green’s goal on 24 minutes when Lee Novak back-headed a curling free-kick on to the back post that needed Dunne to scramble the rebound clear.
Novak again broke the Rs rearguard to leave Elliott in the clear, and even though he hit the ball on the run, the midfielder again picked out the chap in the stand rather than the net.
Rangers’ nerves got an extra jangle when Junior Hoilett, who needed earlier treatment for an innocuous challenge, went off.
Barton was then booked for a challenge on Paul Caddis, and it was nearly worse.
Straight after the break, Rangers were carved open down the right with a series of slick passes that saw Spector bundled the ball in at the near post, but the lifesaver of an assistant’s flag for offside saved Hoops.
The winning goal was a testament to the spirit of Nedum Onuoha.
The defender chased a lost cause to the byline; hooked back in, watched Tom Adeyemi thump his own crossbar in a vain attempt to clear, and Austin’s head from a yard could hardly miss.
But when Spector went down so did hooped hearts until the referee lifted them again. Barton’s crashing free-kick against the post in time added, would have been spectacular had it gone in, but tough on City.
QPR: Green; Simpson, Onuoha, Dunne, Hill; Barton, O’Neil, Carroll (Jenas 82), Hoilett (Phillips 39); Austin, Zamora (Wright-Phllips 45); subs not used: Murphy, Faurlin, Assou-Ekotto