Barnett sent off as Cobblers fail to produce cup heroics at QPR
Ten-man Cobblers were knocked out of the Carabao Cup after going down to a spirited 1-0 defeat at Queens Park Range in Tuesday's first round tie at Loftus Road.
This was a much-improved display from the one against Shrewsbury on Saturday but it still wasn't enough to overcome the Sky Bet Championship outfit as Ian Holloway's men won through to round two thanks to Yeni Ngbakoto's first-half goal.
Town's hopes of a comeback were hampered further by two yellow cards and therefore a red for defender Leon Barnett early in the second period, and despite a battling effort thereafter, it proved too much to come back from.
Nevertheless, there were signs of life from the new-look Cobblers who, helped by four changes to the side, upped their performance levels from Saturday as they threatened going forward while keeping QPR relatively quiet at the other end, bar one slack piece of defending from a corner which saw Ngbakoto nab the only goal of the game.
But a second 1-0 loss in succession signals Town's exit from a competition they have previously enjoyed so much success in, as attention now turns back to the league and Saturday's clash with Fleetwood Town at Sixfields.
Justin Edinburgh made four changes from the side that started at Shrewsbury last Saturday with Aaron Phillips, Yaser Kasim, Chris Long and Alex Revell all drafted in for their first starts of the season.
Up against a much-changed QPR team, which included former Town loanee Darnell Furlong at right-back, the Cobblers settled quickly into their stride and made a bright start.
After having a goal ruled out for an apparent foul on goalkeeper Matt Ingram inside five minutes, a fluent move saw Kasim's neat reverse ball find Billy Waters in the box and he teed up Long whose shot was parried away by Ingram.
That was one of several examples of neat play from the visitors, who had their Championship hosts on the back foot for much of the first 20 minutes.
Long's attempt was the only real opening to speak of, however, and the hosts gradually eased themselves into the contest, but the two goalkeepers were rarely called into action in a first 30 minutes of few chances.
QPR had been well-contained by Town up until that point, but but a lapse of concentration allowed them to hit the front on 36 minutes. Furlong got free from a corner and after his header was well saved by David Cornell, an unmarked Ngbakoto was on hand to prod home the opening goal, which stood despite strong protests for offside.
Long almost replied instantly before he was snuffed out at the crucial moment while Matt Crooks and then Kasim had long-range efforts blocked or saved.
Town remained behind at the break, which was a harsh reflection of a half they shaded, but they continued to more than hold their own in the early stages of the second-half.
On 54 minutes, however, Town's task was made considerably harder when Barnett, already booked, saw red for a strong barge on Idrissa Sylla.
That prompted a reshuffle with Town reverting to four at the back but QPR threatened a game-clinching second goal when Luke Freeman thundered a volley fractionally over.
Attacks up the other end became increasingly rare, but the introduction of Marc Richards and Leon Lobjoit almost brought the leveller.
Both were involved in a chance as Richards won a corner which Kasim delivered into a dangerous area to where Lobjoit stooped low and nodded towards goal, but Ryan Manning was in the right place to head off the line.
Manning immediately went close to making QPR's path through to round two more comfortable when his 30-yard thunderbolt rattled the crossbar, via the fingertips of Cornell, with Phillips hacking the follow-up effort off the line.
The home side were still leading but it was by no means a straightforward run to the line and Town kept coming at them.
And in the six minutes of added time they could have had a penalty as Waters went flying, only for the referee to wave away the appeals.
That was to be that, and QPR held on to book their spot in round two.
QPR: Ingram, Furlong, Onuoha (c), Freeman (Chair 62), Manning, Caulker, Borysiuk, Smith (Washington 57), Robinson, Ngbakoto, Sylla (Petrasso 74)
Subs not used: Lumley, Baptiste, Luongo, Wszolek
Cobblers: Cornell, Barnett, A Taylor, Pierre, Phillips, Crooks, Kasim, Buchanan (c) (Smith 80), Waters, Long (Lobjoit 69), Revell (Richards 69)
Subs not used: Goff, Poole, M Taylor, Bowditch
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Cobblers fans: 735