QPR battled it out with Leicester City in their final pre-season friendly fixture, with an entertaining clash ending 3-3 at Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
A first half strike from Charlie Austin and second half efforts from defensive duo Yoann Barbet and Rob Dickie ensured Rangers remained undefeated during the warmup games, as preparations for the Sky Bet Championship opener against Millwall cranked up another notch.
For the final time before the curtain raiser next week, R’s boss Mark Warburton started with Seny Dieng in goal, with Moses Odubajo, Rob Dickie, Jordy de Wijs, Yoann Barbet and Lee Wallace across the backline, with Dom Ball and Andre Dozzell sitting behind Ilias Chair and Chris Willock, while Charlie Austin led the line for Rangers.
Warburton’s side were up against current FA Cup holders, Leicester. Who themselves were looking to sharpen up ahead of next weekend’s FA Community Shield clash with Manchester City.
In an even start to things in west London, it was our visitors who looked likely to break the deadlock through Youri Tielemans. but the Belgian international could only fire his effort straight at Jordy de Wijs, before Rob Dickie was able to hack the ball away from danger.
Rangers’ first chance of the afternoon arrived in the 15th minute, a weighted wide free-kick from Chair, found centre-half Dickie, but Caglar Soyuncu was committed enough to put his body on the line, ensuring it remained goalless.
Lee Wallace was next to try his luck, but his speculative volley from the edge of the box drifted wide of Eldin Jakupovic’s goal and queued the ironic cheers from the Leicester fans.
The R’s continued to enjoy large spells of possession, with a fine counter attacking move eventually forcing the Foxes keeper into the first save of the afternoon.
Direct runs from Chair and new signing Moses Odubajo eventually saw the ball falling to Chris Willock who could only fire straight at the 36-year-old.
As we approached the 27th minute, the visitors probably should have been ahead. A long ball from the back, instantly turned defence into attack and as it kindly fell to former England international Jamie Vardy in the Rangers box, many were expecting the net to bulge, but he could only drag his shot wide.
As was the case in the Manchester United game only a week ago, 33-year-old Wallace continued to trouble down the left-hand side, with numerous runs and crosses threatening to be met by one of the R’s front line, but as of the 39th minute it had come to no avail.
However, with the half-time whistle looming the R’s were ahead!
A delightful passing move, eventually saw the ball falling to Chair, who cleverly picked out Austin and as the ball rolled into the path of the R’s striker, he smartly arrowed it into the top corner, leaving Jakupovic with no chance and with that Mark Warburton’s side headed into the break ahead.
The R’s made one change at the break, with Scottish international Lyndon Dykes replacing Dozzell as Rangers heading into the second half with a more attacking emphasis.
Warburton’s side had started brightly, with Chair and Wallace continuing to appease the W12 faithful with a display of fine flair and skill down the left-hand side, the attack itself ultimately came to nothing, but it certainly highlighted the confidence flowing through Rangers.
So unlucky… the R’s thought their lead was going to be extended when Willock produced a fine curling effort, but the former Benfica man was so unfortunate when his strike rattled the woodwork and somehow stayed out.
But only two minutes later it was to be two for the Super Hoops. Chair’s corner eventually was flicked on by Austin and as it kindly fell to Barbet, the Frenchman was on hand to head home from close range.
As we approached the hour mark, Leicester made numerous changes only highlighting the fact that this is still only a pre-season clash as this seemingly changed the momentum of the game.
Rangers made changes for themselves in the 67th minute, with Jimmy Dunne and George Thomas replacing Jordy de Wijs and Charlie Austin respectively.
And the former was straight into the action, another great run from Wallace saw the Scottish full-back picking out the former Leicester City man, but the Welshman’s effort was fired straight into a group of defenders and the chance had quickly passed.
With 74 minutes on the clock Rangers were on hand to make another couple of changes, the influential Wallace was replaced by Sam McCallum, whilst Odubajo was replaced by Albert Adomah.
However, only seconds after the changes, Leicester had found a route back into the game.
A fine finish from substitute Kiernan Dewbusry-Hall ensured we were in for an exciting climax in west London.
And in the 78th minute Leicester’s Premier League class oozed through, and just like that they were level.
A quick counter attacking move eventually saw Patson Daka breaking through the R’s backline before slotting home and making it 2-2.
As we approached the final ten minutes both sides pushed for what surely would be a winner and in the 83rd minute Rangers thought they had found it.
Dunne’s header cannoned back off the woodwork, before Dickie smashed the ball home, restoring Rangers’ lead.
During the celebrations Chair was replaced by Faysal Bettache, as Warburton looked to hold onto the lead, by adding more steel to the midfield.
But, there was to be another twist in W12, when in the 88th minute Dieng was adjudged to have brought goal scorer Daka down in the box and referee James Linington didn’t hesitate to point to the spot.
Kelechi Iheanacho stepped up and emphatically dispatched his spot-kick, meaning it was all square once again.
With three minutes additional time to be played, both sides pushed for what surely would be the winner this time, but it wasn’t to be and an entertaining game at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium wrapped up what has been an impressive pre-season campaign for the R’s.
QPR XI: Dieng, Odubajo (Adomah 74’), Dickie, De Wijs (Dunne 67’), Barbet, Wallace (McCallum 74’), Ball, Dozzell (Dykes 45’), Willock, Chair (Bettache 84’), Austin (Thomas 67’).