Michael O’Neill asks Stoke for improvement in the final third after QPR defeat

Bristol City v Stoke City – Sky Bet Championship – Ashton Gate
(Image credit: Simon Galloway)

Stoke boss Michael O’Neill admits his side needs to improve in the final third next season following a 2-0 Championship defeat at home to QPR.

Charlie Austin fired QPR ahead with a clinical finish from just outside the box after Harry Souttar was caught in possession after 17 minutes and Osman Kakay slotted the ball past Adam Davies to make the game safe 20 minutes from time.

Sam Vokes failed to set up a tense finish after missing a near open goal with four minutes left.

“We didn’t have many good crosses and we do not have enough goals,” O’Neill said. “We need more goals from wide areas and midfield.

“We have to look to put more goals in the team. A lot of our play is good but we need players that can make a difference in the final third.

“At times we have quality in our possession but we don’t do enough with it and don’t create enough chances in the opposition third.

“Today was a reflection of where we have been in the second half of the season.

“We hit the first man too often with crosses. We need to improve in the final third or find better players next season who can do that.

“We made the game difficult for us with the nature of the goals we conceded. Harry (Souttar) is still learning and it was a great finish.

“Harry should have played the ball forward but he didn’t and he will be better for the experience. He reacted well to the mistake and that is the game.

“The best centre-backs in the world make mistakes and it’s important he learns from that now. We give him a lot of responsibility and he has taken that on board.

“There was a lot in the performance that was good but it’s not easy to talk about that when you’ve lost.”

QPR assistant manager John Eustace said his side deserved full credit for an excellent away win.

“It was a professional win at a tough place to come,” he said. “I know how hard it is to win here and full credit to the lads, they were fantastic.

“We have got some fantastic senior players and good exciting younger players. The players are ready to throw their bodies on the line and we have a really strong group.

“Osman (Kakay) has had a good season and you can see what his goal meant to him and the rest of the players, including those on the sidelines.

“He does a lot of unnoticed work and he is a pleasure to work with. He came through the academy and we are very proud of him. He did a fantastic job today.

“The goal was a great move and an exciting bit of football.

“The way we set up is very positive and we play a lot of good football. We have pace and power to go forward and it suits the way we want to play when we are away.

“We know how to cause teams bother when we play the football that we work on.

“Charlie (Austin) has been fantastic since coming in and hopefully we can keep hold of him. He has been a great influence on and off the pitch. I’m very proud of the boys today.”

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