It was a good day at the office for QPR as they swept aside Burton Albion in one of their most comfortable displays of the season.
The Hoops were good value for their 3-1 victory, and despite the Brewers looking like a side fighting the drop, you can’t take anything away from Ian Holloway’s side.
But what were the main talking points to arise?
The right back was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI, but not for those who’ve been tracking his progress.
Furlong hasn’t featured for the first team since October 31 due to injury, but if you happened to catch his performance for the under-23s on Monday, you could see he was ready for another opportunity.
The 22-year-old added real balance to the QPR side, looking solid and reliable in defence, but also making lung-bursting runs forward to add an extra man to the attack; an attribute which led to his assist for the opening goal.
Another string to the youngster’s bow is his missile-like long throw which caused all-sorts of problems fpr Burton’s defence with “the Rory Delap effect”.
Furlong isn’t a child anymore, and at the age of 22 he needs to show that he’s ready for a regular spot in Ian Holloway’s plans, but based on the clash at the Pirelli, the full-back is more than capable of making the position his own.
Ian Holloway summed up the former Peterborough man’s performance in one quote, saying: "I think that's as well as Conor has played for us, ever.”
The forward hasn’t featured for Holloway’s team in the last five fixtures, leading to speculation that his time at QPR is coming to an end.
How wrong we were.
Washington is the perfect example of a “confidence player”, and when things weren’t going well, it was clear to see that his head dropped.
However the striker didn’t sulk; instead choosing to sit with the club’s analytics department during recent matches, assessing the movements and patterns of his team-mates to see how it can benefit his own game.
The striker was a constant threat against Burton, adding intelligent movement to his natural work ethic; something which paid dividends as he was arguably QPR’s top performer.
Washington looks like a man with a point to prove, and if that performance is anything to go by I’d certainly be keen to see if he can build some momentum with his performances.
Who needs to buy a striker?
Conor Washington may get a lot of the headlines, but his strike partner looks like a boy with a big future.
Aramide Oteh has been prolific for the under-23s this year, and looked like a man who’s been playing Championship-level football for years.
The raw pace and power that Oteh possesses at the age of 19 is extremely encouraging for the fans at Loftus Road, and combined with his poachers instinct, it looks like QPR have a real prospect on their hands.
Oteh and Washington forged a real understanding at the Pirelli Stadium, stretching the Burton defence time and time again as one came short while the other went long; leaving the Brewers In no-mans land as the ball over the top was picked up.
Despite the early promise, there’s a long way to go and a lot of hard yards to be put in, but with a prospect like this in the ranks in W12, it’s an encouraging sign as the recruitment team scratch their heads in the January transfer window.
A forward has got to be the main priority for QPR this month as they look to add more goals to the team, but with Oteh and Washington stepping up to the plate against the Brewers, they may just have convinced Ian Holloway that the answer to his problems is right under his nose.
Credit where credit’s due
It was a much-improved display by QPR, but as we know these things don’t happen by accident.
Last week’s display against MK Dons was stale and predictable, and something had to change.
It would have been easy to stick to what he knows, but Ian Holloway didn’t shy away from the elephant in the room, and elected to shake things up by making five changes to his team.
That’s not to say that the five players replaced had been particularly bad, but what the changes did was freshen the system up.
The introduction of Furlong, Oteh and Washington provided an energy which was missing in last week’s jaded-looking display, while the reintroductions of Joel Lynch and Massimo Luongo added composure on the ball and a willingness to get it down and play.
All of the changes paid off for Holloway, as his controlled the game from start to finish; and for the first time this season, the victory can be described as a comfortable win.
For this, Ian Holloway deserves credit.
A season-defining result
I’m a firm believer that the Championship table starts to take on added significance in January as clubs get a true gauge on what their targets will be.
QPR went into the game six points ahead of Burton who occupied the final spot in the relegation zone, meaning it was imperative that the Hoops got a result.
A defeat against the Brewers would have seen Ollie’s team drop dangerously close to a relegation battle, but thankfully they pulled off a much-needed result to steer them towards safety.
There’s still a long way to go this season, but a nine-point buffer is pretty significant at this stage, and as long as the Hoops don’t implode between now and May, you’d like think they will avoid the scrap at the bottom of the table.
It was a crucial victory for QPR, but that doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels.
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