Mark Warburton insists there is still plenty for his QPR side to improve on, despite Dominic Ball rescuing the West Londoners’ first three points since the opening day of the season with a 30-yard screamer in stoppage time against Cardiff.

The Hoops were firm favourites for the win having taken a 2-0 lead into half-time, with Ilias Chair scoring their first goal in 375 minutes of Championship football before Todd Kane doubled their advantage with a smart half-volley that flew into the top corner. 

But hopes of an easy afternoon were dashed just four minutes after the restart when Yoann Barbet felled Kieffer Moore in the area, allowing Joe Ralls to half the Bluebirds’ deficit from 12 yards. 

A Conor Masterson handball allowed Ralls another chance to score from the penalty spot, and although Seny Dieng saved the initial shot, the former England youth international netted the rebound to equalise late on.

And although Ball ultimately stepped up to stylishly spare Rangers of what would have been a fifth league draw of the fresh campaign, Warburton was frustrated with how his team let Cardiff back into the tie. 

“We were in control of the game and we made it hard for ourselves,” the 58-year-old said. “We can’t just say it’s a nice three points, we have to recognise that we have to be better defensively. 

“We knew what we faced in terms of the quality and strength of the opposition, but we also knew they played on Wednesday evening and they had basically the same XI bar one, so we had to try and move the ball with intent and purpose. 

“I thought in the first half we did that. We stood up, we had first contact, we won every second ball and then played forward. We probably should’ve gone into the break out of sight, but we made it hard for ourselves and we have to learn from it.” 

Despite the nature of the victory, the result marks a welcome return to winning ways for QPR, who got off to a flying start to the season with a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest but now lie just four points off the drop zone. 

With a mouth-watering match-up away at fellow strugglers Derby next up, Warburton believes the winning momentum will stand them in good stead, while he is optimistic about the attitude and will shown by his squad. 

He added: “I think we deserved the win overall because we have been unlucky in the last few games. It was important to get the three points because we have a tough couple of weeks coming up now. 

“But that celebration showed that as a team we are together, compared to what some of the results have suggested. That win was very important and now all the focus switches to Wednesday night and Derby County.”