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21:45 9th May 2014


IT’S all-square heading back to Loftus Road for the second leg, following an extremely-close 0-0 draw at the DW Stadium.

Chances were at a premium throughout this Championship play-off semi-final.

Indeed, goalkeepers Rob Green and Scott Carson were spectators for much of a tense clash – to be decided on Monday in W12.

Harry Redknapp made six changes to his QPR side for the trip to Lancashire, following last weekend’s 3-2 Championship win over Barnsley.

The likes of Joey Barton, skipper Clint Hill and Danny Simpson all came back into the fold, in what was seemingly a 4-4-1-1 formation.

Green was in goal, behind a back four of Simpson, Nedum Onuoha, Richard Dunne and Hill.

Armand Traore, Barton, Gary O’Neil and Junior Hoilett lined up in midfield.

Charlie Austin – with three goals in as many games before kick-off – led the line for Rangers, with Ravel Morrison deployed just behind QPR’s leading scorer.

There was little to split the sides inside the opening 20 minutes, which was of little surprise, even though the home side had the better of the possession.

O’Neil saw an effort blocked for the R’s – but that was about as good as it got. 

Rangers had terrific backing from their travelling army of 3,000-plus supporters, who were in full voice from the start.

A flurry of yellow cards arrived in minutes 23 and 24. Dunne was booked for a foul on highly-rated ace Callum McManaman, while cautions for James McArthur and McManaman himself quickly followed after rash challenges from the pair.

Wigan enjoyed more and more of the play as the first half wore on. Come the 30-minute mark, QPR were struggling to break out of their own half.

But Rangers had the first real chance of the contest in the 37th minute. Hoilett broke away from his marker down the left before feeding the onrushing Traore in the box, who headed over.

Green was called into action for the first time five minutes later. Gary Caldwell’s ball up field was controlled wonderfully by Jordi Gomez, whose touch took him away from Simpson. Thereafter, the Spaniard’s subsequent effort was saved smartly by the R’s goalkeeper.

QPR made a better start to the second period. Carson made his first stop in the 49th minute to deny Traore, following the winger’s spin and shot.

Hill then crossed for Austin but his centre was too deep for the striker to get any real conviction on his effort.

Again, much like the opening period, chances were scarce for much of the second half.

But Wigan missed a golden opportunity to lead come the 63rd minute. Rob Kiernan’s miscued effort from a corner fell swiftly to the feet of Marc-Antoine Fortune, who shot just over from 10 yards.

Fortune then saw another effort blocked shortly after.

Redknapp opted for a change in the 70th minute, with Kevin Doyle brought on at the expense of Traore. Hoilett cut in from the left to shoot wide just two minutes later.

Patient build-up play also saw the R’s carve out a chance in the 76th minute. Hoilett, Morrison and O’Neil all exchanged passes before the latter blasted over under pressure.

QPR made their second substitution in the 78th minute when Niko Kranjcar replaced Morrison. Wigan, meanwhile, threw on forwards Nicky Maynard and Martyn Waghorn just before that.

Barton thumped a shot over in the 82nd minute. Yun Suk-Young was also introduced two minutes from time as Rangers made their third and final change.

Three minutes of stoppage time went up on the board though still neither side could take an advantage back to west London.

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