Leeds United V Queens Park Rangers
QPR earned a share of the spoils at Leeds in a thoroughly entertaining affair in Yorkshire.
Despite the game ending goalless, it was a performance which earned a standing ovation from the travelling R’s fans who witnesses the sort of spirited display we have come to expect from Ian Holloway’s men.
Conor Washington arguably had the best chance of the game during the first half when he broke clear of the Leeds defence, but Rob Green was able to deny him.
Matt Smith also saw a couple of headers go over, while at the other end of the pitch Alex Smithies was well protected by the defensive line in front of him.
Holloway made four changes from the side that beat Barnsley midweek, with Joel Lynch, Darnell Furlong, Matt Smith and Conor Washington returning to the team at the expense of James Perch, Ryan Manning, Yeni Ngbakoto and Idrissa Sylla.
Holloway spoke in the week about how pleased he was with the versatility his QPR squad offers him, and he reverted to a 5-3-2 formation for this game against high-flying Leeds.
Alex Smithies lined up between the posts, with Jake Bidwell, Lynch, Grant Hall, Nedum Onuoha and Furlong making up the back five.
Luke Freeman, who was so impressive in our 2-1 win against the Tykes, continued in central midfield, and was joined by Massimo Luongo and Pawel Wszolek.
Washington and Smith, rested on Tuesday, returned in attack.
In front of a partisan home support, QPR created the first opportunity of this game in the seventh minute when Freeman’s corner from the right was flicked on by Furlong towards Washington at the back post, but the R’s striker was unable to get the all-important touch.
And on 12 minutes Rangers created another good opportunity when Washington found Luongo in space on the edge of the box. The Aussie midfielder took a touch before picking out Smith with a great centre, but the former Leeds man could only direct his header over the bar.
Just two minutes later, QPR had a glorious chance to take the lead when Washington brilliantly rolled Pontus Jansson but, with only the keeper to beat, his low effort was well blocked by former R’s keeper Rob Green.
A hugely-entertaining opening 30 minutes whizzed by at Elland Road, with both teams playing some attractive football on the deck.
The R’s certainly carried a real threat in the final third, and in the 33rd minute Smith’s floated header landed on the roof of Green’s net following Furlong’s long throw from the right.
On 43 minutes, Rangers were grateful to Onuoha when he deflected Kemar Roofe’s vicious effort from 25 yards over the bar.
It would certainly have been harsh on QPR to go in behind at the break, and that was the last real chance of an entertaining first half of football.
Shortly after the restart, Furlong had to be alert to head clear following a dangerous centre from the right by Luke Ayling.
At the other end, Bidwell’s drive from 20 yards was comfortably gathered by Green after Freeman’s initial corner from the left fell to the full back on the edge of the Leeds box.
QPR enjoyed a sustained period of possession, with Freeman at the centre of it. The former Bristol City man was at his creative best, with the travelling 700 R’s fans voicing their approval of his performance at every opportunity.
In the 63rd minute, the hard-working Washington fashioned a chance for himself and so nearly gave the R’s the lead. After Bidwell found him on the left flank, the R’s forward brilliantly cut inside Kyle Bartley, but his shot from the edge of the box fizzed just wide of Green’s far post.
Five minutes later, Leeds’ in-form striker Chris Wood managed to find some space in the box and cleverly headed Ayling’s cross goalwards, but it bounced just the wide of Smithies’ upright.
With just over ten minutes remaining, Holloway made a triple substitution. All his players had worked themselves into the ground, so it was no surprise fresh legs were required.
Smith was replaced by Idrissa Sylla, while Wszolek came off for Yeni Ngbakoto.
Washington came off for Jamie Mackie.
Within seconds of coming on the pitch, Mackie was involved in a heated exchange with Leeds defender Jansson, who wasn’t too fond of the R’s forward’s strong challenge.
In the closing stages, QPR sat deeper to see out the game. It was a performance that probably deserved all three points, but Holloway’s players deserve huge credit for a high-energy, committed display which earned a share of the spoils in Yorkshire.