James Chester will never eclipse Rio Ferdinand’s career achievements but the Hull City centre-back did elude the former England captain here to head a precious winning goal and ruin QPR’s return to the Premier League. That crowned a gleaming display by the 25-year-old, but Ferdinand had been impeccable until that point and Rangers had been on top.

Chester’s 52nd-minute strike will stand as a painful reminder to Harry Redknapp’s promoted side that in the Premier League teams can pay a hefty price for squandering chances. Charlie Austin missed their most obvious opportunity, his 83rd-minute penalty being saved by Allan McGregor, but the hosts spurned several openings before that, especially in a first half in which they started timidly before working up an impressive head of steam and threatening to blow away the visitors.

“I was very pleased with how we played, some days it just does not go your way,” said Redknapp. “We played ever so well in the first half. We had good control, a good shape and we passed it well and created good chances.”

That is true. Rangers looked solid in a 3-5-2 formation with Ferdinand and another new signing, Steven Caulker, combining with Richard Dunne to prevent Hull from mustering a single shot on target in the first period.

The visitors did seem more fluent in the early stages but once Loïc Rémy forced a save from McGregor in the 13th minute, Rangers grew in confidence and took charge.

Alejandro Faurlin fizzed a low shot wide after swivelling near the penalty spot. Joey Barton curled a free-kick into the side netting and Jordon Mutch nodded wide from close range after a fine run and cross by Rémy.

Hull’s worries deepened when one of their new acquisitions, Robert Snodgrass, departed with suspected knee ligament damage just before half-time. Another summer recruit, the 20-year-old Andrew Robertson, saved them in the 43rd minute by heading a Caulker header off the line after a Rangers corner.

The one upside to Snodgrass’s loss was that his replacement, Stephen Quinn, helped turn the game back in the visitors’ favour. Seven minutes into the second half he delivered a corner and Ferdinand was caught unaware as Chester held him off and headed into the net.

Redknapp said that did not diminish his satisfaction with the 35-year-old’s contribution. “He was excellent, it was almost a masterclass in how to play at the back,” he said. “He looks so comfortable, his touch, his reading of the game. [For the goal] there was plenty of bodies in there, they’re getting blocks in and all sorts and the fellow just spun off him. It was good movement, it can happen.”

Hull could have added a second when Quinn played a canny reverse pass to Thomas Ince but Rob Green blocked well.

They continued their quest for a second and Chester remained a menace from corners, one of his headers leading to Nikica Jelavic whacking a volley inches over and in the 80th minute Chester made a decisive intervention at the other end, clearing a Barton cross just as Rémy readied himself to convert from close range.

Seven minutes from time Chester was harshly penalised when a cross by Junior Hoilett hit his hand but his sense of grievance did not last long as McGregor beat away Austin’s soft spot-kick.

“That’s one win, we need nine more,” said Steve Bruce, for whom survival remains the main ambition. “So that’s one win per month – it sounds easy but it’s not if that was anything to go by.”

Redknapp, meanwhile, is confident his team can achieve the same goal. “We played better here than we did in the majority of our games in the Championship last year and we’re only going to get better,” he said before confirming that the club intends signing “two or three” more players this week.