Cape Town - Jonathan Walters added to QPR's away-day woes as the Stoke forward's
hat-trick clinched a 3-1 win over the Premier League strugglers on
Harry Redknapp's side had lost a Premier League record
10 successive away games before their trip to the Britannia Stadium and
they departed the freezing Potteries still pointless on their travels
thanks to Walters' heroics.
The Republic of Ireland international
struck twice in the first half and, although Niko Kranjcar got one back
before the break, Walters sealed the points with his third goal in
second half stoppage-time.
QPR remain second bottom of the table, while Stoke climbed to ninth place after their second successive league win.
the loss this week of the influential Bojan Krkic to a season-ending
knee injury, Stoke did not appear to be suffering as Stephen Ireland -
the man who had come into the team for the Spaniard, making his first
start since early December - twice set up goals for Walters.
the 21st minute some ponderous play saw former Stoke midfielder Karl
Henry let a Mauricio Isla pass run across him, and Ireland reacted
sharply, nipping in with a tidy back-heel to tee up Walters, whose shot
beat Robert Green.
There was then a sense of deja vu as Ireland
and Walters again capitalised on QPR losing possession to double Stoke's
lead in the 34th minute.
This time it was Eduardo Vargas giving
it away in the Stoke half and once more Ireland intervened, launching a
counter-attack that saw him eventually square to Walters to slot past
Another away defeat looked firmly on the cards for the
visitors, but within two minutes they had pulled a goal back as the
Potters had a defensive lapse of their own.
Leroy Fer was able to
prod the ball to Joey Barton, his cut-back found Charlie Austin and the
striker's shot ricocheted off Phil Bardsley into the path of Kranjcar,
who had an easy task to tap-in as Stoke appealed in vain for offside.
a tight second half, Barton sent his free-kick against the woodwork and
Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic then smartly tipped Fer's set-piece
behind for a corner.
But in stoppage-time Barton's attempted
headed clearance only found Walters, who nodded in to take his tally for
the season to 10 goals in all competitions.