THERE was late drama at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as former striker Nahki Wells came off the bench to clinch a dramatic 2-1 victory for Bristol City.
Chris Martin converted just before the break to give the visitors the lead, but Sam McCallum’s effort seemed to have got the R’s back on track however as Mark Warburton’s side pushed for a winner this left the defence vulnerable to an attack and that is exactly what happened.
31-year-old Wells pounced late on and snatched the points for the Robins.
R’s boss Warburton made two changes from the side that suffered defeat on the south coast on Tuesday evening, with Moses Odubajo and Andre Gray coming in for Osman Kakay and Dominic Ball respectively.
This meant the R’s lined up with Seny Dieng behind a back five of Odubajo, Rob Dickie, Jordy De Wijs, Yoann Barbet and McCallum.
Stefan Johansen captained Rangers from midfield behind a creative duo of Ilias Chair and Chris Willock with Dykes leading the line alongside home debutant Gray.
Bristol City headed into this one on the back of disappointing draw with Luton Town, which saw the Hatters stealing a share of the points late on.
In contrast, the R’s were looking to maintain their undefeated home run which heading into this one now extended back four games.
And it was Warburton’s side who started bright in west London, with Odubajo creating the first opening of the game - only for the former Hull City man to be denied at the all-important moment.
Rangers continued to dominate the opening exchanges, with Gray having the first shot on goal of the game. The 30-year-old could only fire over, but it certainly served as a warning to the City backline, of the attacking threat that the R’s could possess.
But the Robins grew in confidence and by the 13th minute, midfielder Han-Noah Massengo who was at the forefront of the visitor’s attacks, had carved out a couple of threatening opportunities, with de Wijs having to be on hand to clear the danger on both occasions.
Rangers continued to trouble down the left-hand side and, in the 20th, minute a skilful run and eventual cross from Willock found Dykes inside the box and as he met the perfectly weighted ball, the post could only deny the Scottish international from his 4th goal of the campaign. But the ball stayed out and was hacked away, ensuring it remained goalless in W12.
With 27 minutes on the clock, Dykes had two opportunities in quick succession, initially the 25-year-old found himself free in the box, but his pull-back was weak.
But only a matter of seconds later the ball fell to the R’s frontman once again, however he couldn’t make a full connection with his goal-bound header and Daniel Bentley in the Robins goal calmly collected the ball, meaning the chance had gone.
Warburton’s side continued to exploit the left-hand side, with Barbet now able to drive with the ball in front of the Ellerslie Road stand.
The Frenchman whipped in a dangerous cross, which found the head of Odubajo, but his diving header flew across the box and to City’s relief it sailed safely out of play.
As we approached the 37th minute Rangers created the best opening of the half so far, a wonderful piece of skill from Barbet saw him beating Massengo, before finding Gray who cut inside only to be denied by Bentley and his follow up effort was then eventually hacked away.
With the half-time whistle starting to appear in everybody’s mind, the game seemingly burst into life.
Bristol City created an opportunity, only for Andreas Weimann to lose possession at the vital moment. Before Rangers troubled the visiting backline themselves.
Willock tried his luck from distance, before captain Johansen forced Bentley into a fine reaction save to deny the Norwegian from the edge of the box.
Dutchman de Wijs then saw his header going narrowly wide, but despite Rangers’ dominance it was visitors who took the lead on the stroke of half-time.
A fast counter attacking move eventually fell to Chris Martin who smashed the ball past a helpless Dieng.
The R’s tried to find an instant response but at the break City led.
Rangers came out for the second half with a sense of determination, with Gray continuing to trouble the backline, with the intentions of getting an equaliser as soon as possible.
W12 almost burst into life in the 52nd minute, when Odubajo played a wonderful through ball to Gray, but just as the Jamaica international was about to pull the trigger the official’s flag was sharply raised and the chance had gone.
This opportunity spurred the R’s on and in the 54th minute fresh off the back of his first QPR goal on Tuesday evening, McCallum smashed a loose ball home, making it all square.
Rangers had grown in confidence, with chances quickly coming the Super Hoops way, Dykes was first when he quickly found himself through on goal, but as the Rangers frontman tried curling the ball round Bentley, the former Southend United shot stopper was equal to it, but that was just the beginning.
Barbet was next to go close, with his speculative effort skimming past the post, before the influential Willock curled his strike round the frame of the goal.
The 64th minute saw the arrival of Charlie Austin and Albert Adomah, as they replaced Gray and Odubajo respectively, signalling a sign of attacking intent from the R’s boss.
31-year-old Austin almost instantly had the perfect start to the afternoon, Dykes pounced on a loose ball before finding the experienced striker, but he could only fire straight at Bentley and the chance quickly passed.
Rangers continued to push forward with Dykes the next to go close, a wonderful one-two with Willock split up the Robins defence, before the Scottish man fired the ball goalward. To City’s fortune Bentley was on hand to expertly tip the ball round the post and it remained all square.
The visiting boss Nigel Pearson brought on Antoine Semenyo and Wells a man we all know well from his time here previously, to inject some energy into his side, but it was the hosts who continued to threaten.
With fifteen minutes left on the clock the game had really opened up with both sides pushing for a winner.
Massengo had a perfect opportunity on the counterattack for the visitors, but his touch let him down at the vital time, before substitute Jay Dasilva whipped in a dangerous ball which was tipped away by Dieng an opportunity which could have served as a warning to Rangers.
As we approached the final five minutes of the game, Rangers pushed for the winner, Chair having a half chance at the far post, which was cut out.
The referee added an additional five minutes which ignited the Rangers faithful, the ball then quickly pinged around the City box with substitute Dominic Ball and Johansen looking to get a shot on goal, but deep into injury time Wells stole the show for the visitors.
A quick counter attacking move fell to the 31-year-old who calmly slotted home, wrapping up all three points for the visitors in the most dramatic of fashions.
Rangers pushed for what would have been a late equaliser but as the referee’s full-time whistle blew it was the School End which was delirious, and Warburton’s sides undefeated home record had come to an end.