QPR were forced to settle for a share of the spoils against Bristol City on Saturday afternoon, as they saw Junior Hoilett’s goal on 56 minutes cancelled out with nine minutes to go by Aaron Wilbraham’s close-range finish.
The hosts enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first half, but came up against a far more dangerous Rangers side after the break, and it was Hoilett who broke the deadlock with a fine strike from distance, following a one-two with Seb Polter, who started in place of Charlie Austin, missing out with a hamstring injury.
But as the clock ticked down, Wilbraham sealed a share of the spoils for the hosts.
Hasselbaink was forced into three changes for the trip to Ashton Gate, with Gabriele Angella, Karl Henry and Polter replacing James Perch (knee), Sandro (calf) and Austin.
It meant the R’s lined up with Rob Green between the sticks behind a back four of Paul Konchesky, Grant Hall, Angella and Nedum Onuoha.
Henry partnered Ale Faurlin in the centre of the park with Junior Hoilett on the left, Matt Phillips on the right and Leroy Fer in the middle behind Polter
Meanwhile, the Robins made three changes from the side that lost 4-0 at Derby County on Tuesday night. Luke Ayling returned while Jonathan Kodjia and Aaron Wilbraham began up front in a 3-5-2 formation.
Rangers made what has become a typically-fast start under Hasselbaink, with Hall defying his centre-back status to race down the left wing in the second minute, beating Elliott Bennett with a neat step-over and firing over a dangerous cross which Phillips was unable to get on the end of.
But on ten minutes, it was the hosts who went close, Luke Freeman breaking down the right to deliver a vicious ball into the box which Angella, in attempting to cut out with City players behind him, fired goalwards. Fortunately for Rangers, it was straight at Green and he gathered with ease.
Steve Cotterill’s men enjoyed a period of possession and pressure after that, with Green punching Marlon Pack’s corner to safety.
On 28 minutes, Hoilett warmed the palms of keeper Frank Fielding from distance while Jonathan Kodija forced Green into a fine save, diving low to his left to push away a fierce shot from 20 yards.
Green was again called into action on 38 minutes, this time denying Freeman from the edge of the box, while Kodija twice shot wide as the hosts finished the half strongly.
Just before the half-time whistle, Hall was on hand to cut out a low cross into the box from Bennett as Kodija looked to pounce.
QPR almost took the lead six minutes after the re-start with a thunderous low effort from Phillips following good work by Polter, but Fielding was equal to it, pushing it wide of his right-hand post.
But on 56 minutes Rangers did take the lead, with a stunning strike from Hoilett. After playing the ball up to Polter, the Canadian international arrived on the German’s set on the edge of the box, and fired the ball low beyond the despairing dive of Fielding.
And it could have been two for Rangers three minutes later, but Polter’s shot from eight yards following Fer’s pull-back from the byline was blocked by Nathan Baker.
And on 63 minutes, the R’s again went close, this time Phillips seeing his effort tipped around the post by Fielding.
But QPR weren’t having it all their own way, and Green had to be alert to thwart the dangerous Kodjia from close range after he had got in behind the R’s backline.
At the other end of the pitch in what was turning into an entertaining second-half, Angella headed over from Phillips’ corner as the R’s continued to press for a second.
Meanwhile, Green had to pull off another great save, again denying Kodija, this time as the City striker let fly from 30 yards. QPR’s number one did well to push the effort over the crossbar.
Hoilett, playing with such confidence in recent weeks, nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon with an audacious half-volley from 25 yards which cannoned off Fielding’s crossbar. The Canadian is clearly enjoying life under Hasselbaink.
But the hosts went straight down the other end of the pitch to draw level on 81 minutes. Robins skipper Aaron Wilbraham slid in at the far post to poke the ball home after Joe Bryan had found space on the left and slid the ball across the QPR six-yard box.
Hasselbaink reacted immediately, replacing Polter with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who had left the Ashton Gate club in the summer.
But there were no more clear-cut chances for either side, and both were forced to share the spoils.