QPR welcome Derby to Loftus Road tonight with manager Neil Warnock highlighting the draw against Nigel Clough’s side in August as a crucial point in their promotion push as he looks for a similar outcome against the in-form Rams.
The two sides met at Pride Park in only the fourth game of the season when injury-time goals from Patrick Agyemang and Jamie Mackie secured a dramatic 2-2 draw and maintained QPR’s unbeaten start to the season.
Warnock, who has previously won promotion to the Premier League with Sheffield United, has insisted that result set the tone for the rest of the season to date and knows another positive result this evening will edge his side even closer to the top flight.
“I think it was the main moment of the season,” Warnock said.
“I think it turned everything around in the space of three minutes. We were outplayed on the day and the players went from being disappointed, miserable and doubting themselves to believing we could come back against anybody if we keep going.”
The togetherness of the squad was shown during those closing stages, even though Warnock believes they were slightly mistimed.
“It was like we’d won the cup. All the substitutes were up hugging each other, even if was a bit early in the season to be doing that,” he said.
Warnock is likely to continue to pair Matt Connolly with Kaspars Gorkss at the heart of the defence after both impressed against Barnsley in midweek.
“It was nice to see them both come in and do well,” he said.
“I think that was Gorkss’ best display of the season and Connolly has had a very difficult time with a loss of confidence, but I’ve no doubt about him again now.”
Derby are in good form at the moment and have lost only once in their last five league matches.
And midfielder Ben Davies said he thinks the Rams can upset the odds. “We will go to Loftus Road with a lot of confidence from our recent results and we have nothing to lose,” he said.
“They are very close to promotion and everyone will be expecting them to put on a show.”
But Davies believes Derby, whose last two wins have come against play-off chasing Swansea and Leeds, can at least halt the QPR promotion party for the time being.
“The way we have been playing lately, we will give them a good game.
“They attack very well, but we have scored quite a few goals in our last few games,” he said.
“We have been playing some good stuff, so we can go there nice and positive and have a really good go at them.”