RANGERS bowed out of this season’s Emirates FA Cup competition at the fourth-round stage, following a 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Goals from Wednesday’s Morgan Fox (43 minutes) and Sam Winnall (90+1) did the damage here.
Substitute Nahki Wells replied as late as the 93rd minute, but that strike proved to be a consolation effort and no more.
Like he did in the previous round – as Rangers comfortably saw off Swansea City by five goals to one in W12 – R’s boss Mark Warburton named a strong-looking XI for this clash against fellow Championship outfit Wednesday.
After coming from the bench in Saturday’s impressive 1-0 league success over Leeds United, loanee Jack Clarke was handed a first start in QPR colours.
Rangers lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation: Joe Lumley; Todd Kane, Toni Leistner (captain), Conor Masterson, Ryan Manning; Dom Ball; Clarke, Ilias Chair, Ebere Eze, Marc Pugh; Jordan Hugill.
Garry Monk’s Sheffield Wednesday team came into this tie on the back of a surprising 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers.
The reverse owed much to former R’s midfielder Mass Luongo’s harsh early dismissal. That red card has since been rescinded, though the Aussie ace – who made a summer switch to Hillsborough – wasn’t involved on this occasion.
When the game got underway, chances were non-existent inside the opening quarter-hour – with both sides feeling each other out.
Wednesday produced the first real moment of note on 18 minutes. From deep, Sam Hutchinson’s sensational cross-field ball was taken on by Jacob Murphy, whose subsequent box effort forced a smart low save from Lumley.
Rangers fashioned their first notable attempt five minutes later. The hosts broke at pace and, when Chair pulled the ball back for Pugh from the left, the latter’s 20-yard blast fizzed just wide of the left-hand post.
Opportunities continued to be scarce for the remainder of the first period – a stop-start affair in all owing to a couple of Wednesday injuries.
But there would be a goal before half-time, the visitors edging in front in the 43rd minute.
It was a disappointing goal to concede from a defensive point of view. Rangers switched off and, when Wednesday’s Hutchinson took a quick throw-in down the left, Fox strode into the area unchallenged before seeing his low effort squirm under the body of Lumley and in.
Could the R’s muster a second-half response?
Come the hour mark, this contest had continued to be rather unspectacular, with hardly anything to note in terms of goalmouth action.
So Rangers made a first change in the 66th minute in a bid to get back into the tie. The in-form Bright Osayi-Samuel replaced Clarke.
That substitution seemed to lift the home crowd, while QPR also produced their first shot on target in the second half shortly after. Eze’s low drive was gathered by Cameron Dawson.
Moments later, Kane dragged wide after an intricate R’s move. Then, in the 70th minute, Chair’s fierce low shot darted only inches wide of the target.
This was Rangers’ best spell of the match and Hugill spurned another fine home chance a minute later, miscuing past the left-hand post following Kane’s pinpoint right-wing cross.
As the R’s appeared to move closer to an equalising goal, Wells was brought on for Chair in the 72nd minute.
Warburton’s men were throwing bodies forward at every opportunity. After a defensive mix-up between Lumley and Masterson almost cost Rangers dear in the 77th minute, the home side were soon back on the attack as Eze drove straight at Cameron after bursting into the box.
The R’s continued to huff and puff in the closing stages, though a second Wednesday goal in second-half stoppage time ultimately put the tie beyond Rangers – Winnall tapping home sub Adam Reach’s left-flank centre.
A goalkeeping error helped to give QPR a glimmer of hope in the third of four added minutes, as Wells capitalised on Dawson’s poor clearance to slide in for his 15th goal of the campaign.
Rangers couldn’t ultimately complete the unlikeliest of comebacks, however, despite a corner at the death causing an almighty Loft End scramble.