QPR underlined their continued growth and development as a squad with a thoroughly-deserved 1-0 win at Swansea City, with Lyndon Dykes hitting a 90th minute winner at the Liberty Stadium.
While the Swans were looking to stay on the tails of second-placed Watford, QPR were the side who, over the course of 90 minutes, seemed to have the greater determination to take maximum points.
After a superb, open first half which saw both sides go close, Rangers dominated the second period and just when it looked like time was running out, Dykes notched his sixth goal in seven games to move the R’s up to eighth in the table.
Mark Warburton made three changes from the side that beat Middlesbrough on Saturday, bringing in Joe Lumley for the suspended Seny Dieng, Dom Ball for Albert Adomah, who was named on the bench, and Niko Hamalainen for Lee Wallace, who missed out with a minor knock.
It meant Rangers lined up with Lumley behind a back three of Yoann Barbet, Ball and Dickie, with Hamalainen and Ossie Kakay operating as wingbacks.
Stefan Johansen was in the centre of the park behind a trio of Ilias Chair, Chris Willock and George Thomas, while the in-form Lyndon Dykes led the line.
Charlie Austin, fresh from his three-game ban, was named on the bench.
The empty terraces could not hide the enormity of this fixture for the hosts – with games running out, surely only a win would do if they are to catch Watford for that second automatic promotion spot.
Rangers meanwhile had a target of their own – cement a top-ten slot and continue their impressive run of form since the turn of the year.
The visitors made a solid start at the Liberty Stadium and Chair had a shot from distance blocked.
However, the hosts quickly grew into the game. Jamal Lowe’s drive from 20 yards flew comfortably over Lumley’s crossbar on seven minutes.
The first real opening of the match came three minutes later when Wayne Routledge was released after the ball was lost in midfield, but just as the former R was about to pull the trigger, Barbet – captaining the side in the absence of Geoff Cameron and Wallace – pulled off a superb last-ditch tackle.
It was an open and entertaining start, and quickly evident both sides were keen to play on the front foot.
Chair came within inches of opening the scoring in the 20th minute when Willock’s teasing delivery from the right found its way through to Chair at the far post but before the Rangers No.10 could get the ball under his control, it bounced off his knee and against the post before eventually being hacked to safety.
On 28 minutes a brilliant move by QPR cut Swansea open, with Willock playing a great pass into the path of Chair, who directed the ball beyond host keeper Freddie Woodman, but it bounced back off the same upright he had hit eight minutes earlier.
The R’s were now enjoying a sustained period of pressure, with Willock, Chair and Thomas linking up well, and the trio combined on 34 minutes to give the latter a shooting chance from 16 yards but his effort was quickly charged down.
Routledge reminded us of Swansea’s threat on 36 minutes when he struck the foot of the post following an excellent move from the hosts, with Dickie getting a crucial touch to divert it onto the upright as it looked destined for the bottom corner.
It was frantic stuff, and four minutes before the break Kakay put in a great cross from the right which was brought down by Dykes, and the Scotland striker fizzed a volley just wide.
Three minutes later, Rangers were caught on the break – and should have been punished. Lowe broke down the right and played a perfect pass for Routledge, but his touch was heavy and Lumley was able to race out and smother the ball.
And on the stroke of half-time, QPR had Lumley to thank as he pulled off a great stop to deny Korey Smith from ten yards.
It was a frantic opening 45 minutes, and the nature of the second period was much the same – both sides playing attractive, attacking football and interesting only in maximum points.
Willock, who was producing arguably his best performance in a QPR shirt, saw a low drive from 18 yards gathered by Woodman and on 67 minutes Austin was brought on for the impressive Thomas.
Matt Grimes warmed the palms of Lumley on 71 minutes while Willock nearly caught Woodman out from distance, but the Swansea stopper was able to parry to safety.
For the final 15 minutes, Warburton underlined his intentions to push for maximum points by replacing Kakay with the more attack-minded Adomah on the right.
Moments later, Dickie almost found Austin in the box, and then Adomah went close to getting on the end of a cross from the left as Rangers pushed for that opener.
With Swansea pinned back, it seemed their threat was limited to catching Rangers on the break.
Field was introduced for the influential Chair in the closing stages.
On 81 minutes, Austin showed his natural instinct with a lovely swivel and shot which went a foot wide of the upright with Woodman beaten, and it was certainly QPR who were finishing this game the stronger, brighter and seemingly fitter.
They never gave up, kept pressing and on 90 minutes they grabbed the winner when Adomah slid a perfectly-weighted ball for Dykes to confidently take a touch before slamming the ball beyond Woodman.
It was a great end to a fascinating fixture and Swansea could have no complaints with the result, as it was QPR who pushed and pushed, and eventually got their reward, chalking up their 17th win of what has quickly turned into a very encouraging campaign.
Austin nearly added a second with a clever lob while Liam Cullen went close to a late leveller, but there were to be no more goals in this one.