DARNELL Furlong quietly went about his business as QPR picked up a fully-deserved point at Fulham on Saturday afternoon, but the importance of his role should not be underestimated.
The hosts had won their previous nine league fixtures at Craven Cottage, conceding only twice in the process.
A major reason for that rich vein of form has been the continued emergence of Ryan Sessegnon.
Having netted 13 goals in his previous 21 games, the 17 year-old was undoubtedly one of Fulham’s real dangermen.
His form has been so impressive, in fact, there has been a growing clamour for him to gatecrash Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup squad.
Yet his impact on this game was largely limited. Credit for that must go to Furlong, the QPR full-back whose job it was to shackle him.
“Coming into the game I was definitely aware of his threat and the problems he can cause,” Furlong told www.qpr.co.uk.
“I knew I had to shut him out and there needed to be more of a defensive performance from me.
“He is one of their players, along with others, who can really hurt you and change the game so my main goal was to stop him and I felt like I done that so I was very pleased.”
Facing such a precocious talent, Furlong says he was mentally switched on throughout the game as Rangers battled their way back from a two-goal deficit courtesy of goals from Massimo Luongo and Pawel Wszolek.
“You have to be focused and switched on all the time,” said the 22 year-old, who has been at QPR since the age of ten.
“If you switch off, even for a second, that’s when a player like that can really hurt you, so I worked on making sure that I was focused throughout the game.”
The R’s showed their strength of character to battle back from the brink of defeat, although Furlong confesses he left the pitch with a tinge of disappointment over the result.
“I felt in the second half we were much the better team and there was almost a feeling at the end that we were gutted we didn’t win it!” he said.
“We had a few chances but we have to be happy with the point and now we can go into the international break full of confidence.”
Rangers’ deserved point at fourth-placed Fulham came on the back of an impressive 3-1 win over Aston Villa, who sit third in the Championship.
The top two sides, Wolves and Cardiff City, have also been beaten this season by the R’s.
These are results which surely highlight the potential of Ian Holloway’s squad, and the Rangers boss is working hard to convince his group about how good they could be.
“The manager has told us that we are far better than we think we are,” Furlong explained.
“We are such a level-headed group that it can almost work against us – we almost don’t think we are one of the better teams in the division.
“When we are full of confidence we can beat the better teams in the league so it’s really promising for the rest of the season and for next year.”
For Furlong, his target is to retain his place in the starting XI.
He has made more appearances this term for QPR (16) than in any previous season with the club (he managed 15 last year).
And his spell out of the team at the start of this campaign seems to have made him even more determined to succeed with Rangers, if that was possible.
“At the start of the season I wasn’t playing and it was a difficult time for me,” he admitted.
“Since I have come back into the team I wouldn’t say I value it more but it has made me realise the stresses of not playing!
“I am just trying to continue to play and do as well as I can.”