QPR v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Saturday, 23rd September 2017 - Loftus Road
RANGERS’ unbeaten home league record remains intact – but it was a frustrating afternoon overall at Loftus Road.
A match devoid of any real quality in the final third, QPR enjoyed plenty of possession in the second half, though couldn’t find a way past Nigel Clough’s resolute Burton Albion side.
The Hoops did threaten a couple of times after the break, but it was actually the visiting Brewers who went closest to scoring. Sean Scannell’s first-half attempt crashed back off the post.
QPR boss Ian Holloway made five changes to his side for the visit of Burton, following last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Middlesbrough.
Illness meant that Massimo Luongo was forced to sit out, while Ryan Manning and Matt Smith dropped to the substitutes’ bench. Kazenga LuaLua and David Wheeler were missing altogether.
Josh Scowen and Conor Washington both returned from injury to be included in Rangers’ XI, and there were also starts for Jamie Mackie, Yeni Ngbakoto and Pawel Wszolek.
The game got off to a slow start, with very little to note during the opening 10 minutes.
But visitors Burton did settle well – forcing a number of early corners before going mightily close in the 12th minute.
Huddersfield loanee Scannell cracked a shot against the post from 12 yards, before Alex Smithies gratefully collected the rebound.
Rangers also threatened for the first time two minutes later. Freeman led an R’s breakaway before the ball was eventually worked to Mackie, whose angled drive from 16 yards was tipped around the post by experienced goalkeeper Stephen Bywater.
This contest opened up as the minutes passed.
QPR went close once more in the 18th minute and, again, Freeman was involved. His centre towards Washington actually crashed off the legs of Burton’s Jamie Allen, before Bywater reacted well to collect the goal-bound ball.
At the other end, Scannell’s prodded attempt was caught by Smithies in the 26th minute while, six minutes later, the R’s went their closest yet.
Scowen sprayed the ball out wide to Wszolek on the right, who in turn drove at the box before squaring low to Mackie on 12 yards. The latter’s shot flew just past the upright.
Rangers had further first-half attempts after that. Freeman’s ambitious half-volley was held well by Bywater in the 36th minute and, moments later, Ngbakoto skied over.
But it proved to be a frustrating half for the R’s, all in all, with Clough’s men more than holding their own during the opening period.
QPR hadn’t exactly fired on all cylinders – and boss Holloway duly made a double half-time substitution in a bid to shake things up.
Bright Osayi-Samuel was brought on for his Rangers debut, while Smith was introduced, too. Ngbakoto and Darnell Furlong made way.
Clear-cut chances weren’t forthcoming at the beginning of the second half, though Rangers certainly enjoyed more time on the ball.
Burton were therefore forced to play a little deeper, as the R’s began to up the ante. Washington saw his low goal-bound shot charged down by defender Jake Buxton in the 57th minute.
When the hour mark arrived, the visitors were still holding firm.
Burton’s resistance was almost broken in the 62nd minute. Freeman’s corner eventually broke to Alex Baptiste on the edge of the penalty area, but his rasping half-volley – that looked in all the way – was headed clear by Lucas Akins.
The frustration continued – and Holloway used his last sub in the 70th minute. Idrissa Sylla replaced Mackie.
The R’s were now deploying a very-attacking system. The question was, would they reap the rewards come full-time?
Rangers kept on pressing. Following patient build-up play, Freeman’s 20-yard attempt flew wide of the left-hand post.
However, opportunities were scarce late on and, ultimately, QPR were unable to register an all-important winning goal.
Four minutes of injury time were added at the death, but still Rangers couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Burton defence.