MICHAEL Doughty’s opener ensured QPR Under-21s left Birmingham City with a point on the opening day of the Professional Development League Two season.
Doughty – captaining Steve Gallen’s side in the Midlands – found the net midway through the first half either side of Coll Donaldson and Bruno Andrade firing against the woodwork.
Rangers would have settle to share of the spoils, however, as Will Packwood’s header rewarded the hosts for a much-improved second half display.
Gallen, who handed Matty Phillips a start as the R’s winger works his way back to full fitness, saw his side almost ahead within two minutes at the Blues’ Wast Hills training ground.
Coll Donaldson rose highest from an early Doughty corner, only to see his towering header crash back off the underside of the crossbar.
Both sides enjoyed early possession thereafter, whilst a wayward Reece Brown free-kick which sailed harmlessly past Joe Lumley’s left upright was the closest Birmingham came to an opener.
The deadlock was broken shortly before the half-hour mark, though. After Phillips' teasing cross from the right was only parried by Blues goalkeeper Connal Trueman, Doughty dispatched the loose ball into the roof of the net with a left-footed volley from 12 yards.
One almost quickly became two as the woodwork prevented Rangers doubling their tally four minutes later. Bruno Andrade this time found space inside the area, seeing his first-time strike clip the far post.
Birmingham enjoyed the closing stages of the half without seriously troubling Lumley in the R’s goal. Denny Johnstone dragged wide from 25 yards while Callum Reilly’s effort from similar range was gathered by Lumley with relative ease.
City improved after the break and came agonisingly close to a spectacular leveller five minutes after the re-start. This time Lumley was beaten by Brown from long range, but was relieved to see the ball fly inches wide of his left-hand post.
Phillips was replaced by Frankie Sutherland shortly after the hour-mark, and within four minutes of his departure the hosts were back on level terms.
Olly Lee’s free-kick from the right found Packwood unmarked in the middle, who made no mistake from six yards by guiding his header low into the corner.
Chances continued to fall the hosts’ way thereafter, none better than when substitute George McGee scuffed wide after racing clear.
Liam Truslove was next to go close, heading over with four minutes remaining, while Rangers had Lumley to thank for preserving a point in stoppage time. Mitch Hancox escaped his marker but was denied a certain winner by Lumley, who blocked with his body in the last action of an enthralling opening encounter of the season.
Lumley, Furlong, Kpekawa, Gibbons (Mitchell 76), Donaldson, Sendles-White, Phillips (Sutherland 63), Harriman, Andrade (Grego-Cox 82), Doughty, Comley.
Subs not used: Lennox, Wise.
Scorer: Doughty 29.