QPR v Blackburn Rovers
QPR bowed out of this season’s Emirates FA Cup competition at the third-round stage, following a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers.
An own goal from Rangers’ Joel Lynch and Liam Feeney’s second-half strike were ultimately enough to eliminate Ian Holloway’s men.
Jake Bidwell pulled a goal back for the Hoops from the penalty spot just after the hour mark.
But the R’s couldn’t add a second to signal a replay at Ewood Park, despite substitute Jordan Cousins going close late on.
Rangers boss Holloway made five changes to his side following our second Championship victory on the spin against Ipswich Town on Monday.
Under-23s attacker Ebere Eze was handed his competitive QPR debut, while there were also starts for goalkeeper Matt Ingram, Nedum Onuoha, Massimo Luongo and Ben Gladwin.
Idrissa Sylla missed out owing to concussion. Cousins and Ryan Manning dropped to the bench, while Alex Smithies and Ariel Borysiuk were rested altogether.
In a 4-2-3-1 formation, the R’s lined up as: Ingram; James Perch, Onuoha, Lynch, Bidwell; Grant Hall, Luongo; Pawel Wszolek, Eze, Gladwin; Jamie Mackie.
On a wet west London afternoon, both sides fashioned their first attempts inside the opening five minutes.
In the third minute, Rangers’ Gladwin saw his 25-yard free-kick effort collected comfortably by David Raya. At the other end, meanwhile, Danny Graham directed a header just off target from another set-piece routine two minutes later.
But the visitors would score from their next attack, taking the lead in fortuitous circumstances.
Elliott Bennett’s left-flank centre was met by Sam Gallagher, who forced an excellent stop from Ingram. But the action wasn’t over there and when the rebound crashed off Lynch before the ball headed back towards goal, the goalkeeper was powerless to prevent it from creeping over the line.
An early blow for Rangers – and their bad luck wasn’t over there as debutant Eze, who had already displayed some nice touches on his R’s bow, was forced off in the 18th minute with what looked like an ankle injury. Yeni Ngbakoto took his place.
Further opportunities were few and far between for the remainder of the first half.
Play continued to switch from one end to the other though, in truth, a lack of quality in the final third meant that there was little goalmouth action.
QPR’s Lynch shot just wide with a rasping distance drive in the 37th minute, though that was as close as both teams came after the goal.
Things didn’t really improve after half-time.
So Holloway opted for a second Rangers change in the 56th minute. Olamide Shodipo was introduced at the expense of Gladwin.
Two minutes later, Lynch was presented with a good chance following Bidwell’s right-flank corner. The defender skied over after losing his footing on 12 yards.
Unfortunately, QPR were made to pay for that miss when the visitors raced up the other end to extend their lead.
With the Rangers backline appealing for offside, Gallagher broke away before seeing his powerful effort palmed away by Ingram. Feeney was then first to the loose ball, sliding home at close range to put Blackburn two goals ahead.
The R’s responded just three minutes later from the penalty spot to halve the deficit.
On the hour mark, Rovers’ Gordon Greer was penalised for a push on substitute Ngbakoto in the box. Bidwell then took care of the rest, thumping home from 12 yards to put the Hoops within a goal of their visitors.
In the 69th minute, Ngbakoto was again involved as the home side came close to an equaliser. This time, he headed just past the upright, following Wszolek’s ball in from the right.
With the hosts looking to force a replay, Holloway used his final sub eight minutes from time, with Cousins brought on for Luongo.
And that levelling goal so nearly arrived through the former Charlton Athletic midfielder in the 88th minute.
Shodipo’s right-wing cross into the box broke for Cousins, but he could only drag his first-time half-volley wide.
Four minutes were added on at the end – but that proved to be Rangers’ best chance to register a second goal.