Bolton 0-1 QPR

Andy Johnson

Title favourites QPR continued their fine start to the Championship season with a narrow victory which leaves Bolton awaiting their opening win.

Ex-England striker Andy Johnson tapped in Clint Hill's low cross to give QPR their third win in four games since relegation from the Premier League.

Bolton shaded a dire first half and hit the post through Mohamed Kamara's shot.

Wanderers battled for a late equaliser, with QPR keeper Rob Green parrying substitute Craig Davies's angled shot.

Rangers are the clear favourites to win the Championship and secure an instant return to the top flight after relinquishing their place in May.

And Harry Redknapp's side moved to the top of the table, ahead of Saturday's later kick-offs, with a lunchtime win at the Reebok Stadium.

Johnson was the match-winner when he converted from inside the Bolton six-yard box on 54 minutes to finish a slick QPR passing move around the edge of the home penalty area.

But for long periods the west London side did not live up to their billing as Championship contenders as they toiled against a Bolton side which only missed out on the play-offs last season on goal difference.

Wanderers, who have now drawn two and lost two of their opening four league matches, enjoyed plenty of possession throughout but were left to rue a lack of cutting edge.

Before kick-off, Bolton unveiled a bronze statue of legendary striker Nat Lofthouse, who scored 255 goals in 452 appearances for the club between 1946 and 1960, and boss Dougie Freedman could only dream of having a forward of his ilk at his disposal.

Freedman signed his former Leeds team-mate Jermaine Beckford during the summer to provide goals and the ex-Leicester frontman, yet to score since his £1m move, wasted Bolton's clearest first-half opportunity when he dragged a low shot across the face of the QPR goal.

Team-mate Jay Spearing forced QPR goalkeeper Green into a smart push over his own crossbar with a fizzing free-kick before the England international acrobatically tipped Kamara's fierce shot on to his right-hand post.

Other than picking the ball out of his net for Johnson's winner, Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan was rarely called into action as the home side pressed for a late leveller.

Their best chance fell to Davies, who found space but could not beat Green from a tight angle as QPR held on for victory.

QPR first-team coach Joe Jordan:

"I'm pleased with the result and I'm pleased with the performance as well. Bolton is not an easy place to come and it is important to measure yourself against a team which is not long out of the Premier League.

"History shows a lot of teams come out of the Premier League and don't grasp how difficult the Championship can be. But we have showed the correct application, got on with it and got some good results.

"We know how difficult it is to get out of this league and we have a group of players who have the qualities needed. We showed some quality today but I think we can get even better."

Bolton manager Dougie Freedman:

"I felt our performance, especially first half, merited at least a goal. We showed great approach play against a top team in QPR and have played very well.

"Second half it was two good teams playing against each other in a very even contest. But QPR cut us open with their only opportunity and scored. From then, they showed ruthlessness, experience and closed the game out.

"I'm proud of the lads' effort. Things aren't going our way at the moment but they gave me a lot to be happy about."