A POINT was enough to send QPR top of the Championship on Wednesday night as they played out a goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion at Loftus Road.
Despite enjoying the better of the chances in front of goal Rangers were unable to find a way through.
However, despite their lack of prowess in front of the target the Hoops kept their fifth clean sheet in a row to extend their unbeaten start in the league to seven matches.
Rangers made three changes to the starting line-up that beat Birmingham at the weekend. Karl Henry was recalled to the R’s midfield whilst Matty Phillips and Shaun Wright-Phillips provided support for striker Charlie Austin from out wide.
QPR started brightly pushing Brighton high up the pitch when Wright-Phillips tried to slide in Austin inside the opening few minutes his touch was slightly too heavy as the ball rolled through to keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
As play switched to the other end former Blackburn Rovers midfielder Keith Andrews fired over R’s stopper Rob Green’s bar from outside the box before a strong run from Phillips ended up with Joey Barton putting the ball into the net but unfortunately for the Hoops Wright-Phillips had strayed into an offside position in the build-up.
A corner from Barton found Onuoha at the back post on 15 minutes and his dink towards Phillips at the near post was gathered by Kuszczak.
When Nedum Onuoha pulled up after 22 minutes clutching his hamstring Redknapp was forced to rejig a back-four that had previously kept four consecutive clean sheets. Tottenham loanee Benoit Assou-Ekotto replaced Onuoha with Hill moving inside to the centre of defence.
His impact was immediate at the other end of the pitch however, as his cross was dummied by Wright-Phillips to Austin. The QPR forward held off two Brighton defenders 10-yards from goal before snatching an effort wide of the post on the half hour mark. Phillips followed that up by flashing an effort over the crossbar from outside the box.
As play switched to the other end David Lopez fizzed an effort wide of the post from outside the Rangers box following a corner before an offside decision saved Charlie Austin’s blushes. Following some intricate passing inside the Brighton area the opportunity ended when the R’s forward fluffed his lines at the vital moment six-yards out with the goal gapping.
The ex-Burnley frontman continued to be QPR’s biggest threat when Barton’s corner dropped on his head inside the penalty area custodian Kuszczak was equal with a strong two-handed save to deny an opener just before the half-time break.
QPR started the second half by forcing Kuszczak into a top corner save from Barton’s free-kick 25-yards out. Rangers continued to enjoy possession as Brighton struggled to deal with cross field balls over the top.
However, it was from a set piece that Rangers went closest as a header from Clint Hill was hooked off the line after Kuszczak made a meal of his effort to claim a looping ball at the near post. Moments later another Barton free-kick sent the visiting keeper sprawling but a deflection off the Seagulls wall saw it fly inches wide.
That was the cue for Brighton to get back into the match as they looked to sneak a winner at the other end. That said they failed to trouble Green in the QPR goal.
Barton’s free-kick from the left was headed over by Dunne in stoppage time before the former Newcastle United midfielder stepped up from 25-yards once more but his delivery was high over the bar.
That was the final chance as QPR settled for a point ahead of Saturday’s trip to Yeovil Town.