QPR exited the Capital One Cup this evening at the hands of Burton Albion, with the League Two side netting a late winner with an Adam McGurk free-kick 13 minutes from time.
Harry Redknapp made TEN changes from the side that lost 4-0 at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, with Richard Dunne the only starter tonight from the team that began at White Hart Lane.
Brian Murphy lined up between the sticks, with Danny Simpson, Dunne, Nedum Onuoha and Clint Hill making up a flat back four, in a change from the 3-5-2 formation used to date this season.
Shaun Wright-Phillips began on the right with Junior Hoilett on the left and Karl Henry partnering Ale Faurlin in the centre of the park.
Adel Taarabt, making his first appearance of the season, lined up in attack alongside Matty Phillips.
It was the hosts who had the first opportunity of the night, with Adam McGurk turning well on the edge of the QPR box before firing goalwards, but Murphy was equal to it and comfortably gathered.
On six minutes, the Brewers went even closer to opening the scoring, with Alex MacDonald escaping down the left before seeing his low drive go inches wide of the right post.
Taarabt nearly put the R’s in front on 13 minutes following a period of sustained pressure from the visitors. After Henry’s long-range effort was deflected into his path, the Moroccan took one touch to control before coolly slotting towards the far post, but it went inches wide with Brewers keeper Jon McLaughlin well beaten.
But Gary Rowett’s Burton certainly weren’t over-awed by the occasion, and Murphy again had to be alert to thwart Dominic Knowles from opening the scoring moments later.
The hosts went into this game brimming with confidence after an unbeaten start to the season in all competitions, with ten points taken from their four fixtures in League Two, and Wigan their scalps in the first round of the Capital One Cup.
Having gone so close to winning promotion to the third tier of English football last term – they lost out in the play-off final to Fleetwood Town – Rowett’s men have shown no sign of a hangover from that disappointment this campaign.
MacDonald again had much of the crowd inside the Pirelli Stadium on their feet in the 19th minute as he fizzed another effort inches wide from 16 yards.
In an action-packed opening half, the game soon switched to the other end of the pitch and after a good exchange of passes between Taarabt and Hoilett, the latter crashed a stunning drive off the Burton crossbar from 20 yards.
As the half wore on, Rangers began to enjoy greater spells of possession, but the Brewers were making life difficult for Redknapp’s men by being disciplined in their shape, and working hard to avoid being pulled out of position, and hitting the R’s swiftly on the counterattack.
And that approach almost broke the deadlock on 32 minutes, but MacDonald’s drive from inside the box was excellently saved by Murphy.
Hoilett was the next to go close, with Taarabt expertly switching the play from right to left to find the former Blackburn man in space inside the Burton area. Hoilett cleverly dinked the ball over defender Phil Edwards before trying to do similar to the home custodian, but his effort just cleared the crossbar.
But as the half drew to a close, Marcus Harness saw his 25-yard drive flash wide of Murphy’s right-hand post, as the hosts finished the opening 45 minutes strongly.
The open nature of the game continued after the break, with the potential for extra-time clearly not something either manager appeared keen on.
After the hosts had a couple of half-chances in the initial exchanges, Redknapp was forced into his first change on the hour with Faurlin being replaced by Leroy Fer after the Argentinian picked up a knock.
Burton certainly enjoyed a strong spell of the play in the second period, and MacDonald went close once again, this time his low shot from 18 yards drifting wide.
Meanwhile, Taarabt blazed an effort wide after a good turn and run deep inside the Burton half, as the visitors looked to wrestle back control of this cup tie.
But on 77 minutes Burton took the lead with a spectacular free-kick from McGurk. After Dunne had felled Harness with a strong challenge on the edge of the area, McGurk took responsibility and curled an excellent effort beyond the reach of Murphy.
Redknapp immediately reacted, bringing on Bobby Zamora for Wright-Phillips, with Phillips switching to the right and the play-off final hero partnering Taarabt in attack. Moments later, Jordon Mutch replaced Henry.
But in the closing stages, Rangers were unable to find a way through, with Taarabrt seeing a late effort curl just wide.