Bore Draw At The Bush
QUEENS Park Rangers missed the opportunity to go top as they were held at home by Blackburn Rovers in a fairly lifeless affair at Loftus Road.
Rovers frustrated the hosts who were firmly shut out by a resolute rearguard. Charlie Austin hit the post while Matt Phillips picked out 'keeper Eastwood at point-blank range.
In a game dominated possession-wise by Rangers, it was the hosts that failed to scythe open a stubborn back line - and when Redknapp withdrew both wide-men it rather compounded the fact.
Junior Hoilett was roundly heckled by the Rovers supporters and did little to convince either sets of support that his career has improved by joining Rangers, who remain second with Burnley and Leicester City trading places around them.
Harry Redknapp made one change from the side that defeated AFC Bournemouth during the week. Matt Phillips came back in at the expense of Gary O'Neil, who would have to wait for his 400th professional appearance.
Rob Green started behind an unchanged back four of Danny Simpson, Richard Dunne, Clint Hill and Benoit Assou-Ekotto. The midfield quartet consisted of Phillips, Joey Barton, Tom Carroll and Junior Hoilett. Andy Johnson partnered Charlie Austin up front.
Rovers started with Simon Eastwood behind a defence of Adam Henley, Scott Danny, Grant Hanley and Tommy Spurr. The midfield trio consisted of Chris Taylor, Jason Lowe and Lee Williamson with Ben Marshall and Tom Cairney playing off Jordan Rhodes.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v BLACKBURN ROVERS
Two sides that have felt the sting of a recent Premier League exodus met in W12 today, with varying degrees of success thus far in their relevant bids to push their way back to the top flight.
The opening stanza of this clash was particularly frustrating. Rovers pressed in good areas to force lapses in possession, but weren't in command of the necessary counter-attacking skill to force opportunities.
Charlie Austin saw an early sighter blocked at the School End while Chris Taylor was reduced to rubble and resembled Stephane Mbia in the way he wrapped the turf with great anguish - he also resembled the Sevilla loanee in the way he leapt up unscathed just moments later.
While Rangers were controlling vast swathes of possession it was Rovers that were carving out the bulk of chances. First Lee Williamson took the shot on and clipped the ball wide of Green's left hand upright before the chance of the fixture thus far.
Ben Marshall found some space down the left and delivered a fine far post cross towards Jason Lowe. The midfielder nodded the ball beyond Rob Green only to find the ever-committed Clint Hill, who raced back for the goal-line for an acrobatic clearance.
Rangers were being pinned back at times and all they could offer in riposte was a Benoit Assou Ekotto drive that found the scoreboard with great ferocity. Hoilett was getting roundly heckled by the visiting support and was doing relatively little to raise cheer among the home fans.
The atmosphere was tepid at best, with supporters' expectations to win certainly tempering an atmosphere that at times last season was deafening. With five minutes to go to half time Rovers spurned another chance to take the lead.
Tommy Spurr found some space down the left and crossed for Taylor, but the former Oldham Athletic man nodded aimlessly over the bar when perfectly placed. Down the other end and Rangers had a useful chance before the break.
Danny Simpson's miscued cross found its way to Phillips. The Rs right winger saw his resultant effort blocked in the heart of the area when well placed. Jordan Rhodes then nearly snuck home a goal from nothing when he flicked a header from a Spurr long throw just past the post.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, Rangers looking lively in certain areas - particularly the engine room - but lacking the creativity to carve out an opportunity. Joey Barton put a free kick straight down the throat of Eastwood - in for Jake Kean.
Junior Hoilett's pot-shot from the edge of the area didn't test Eastwood while Taylor once again went down holding his legs, arms, elbows - but was up miraculously to run off the pitch and howl at the referee to let him back into the game immediately.
To say the official did not use his common sense was an understatement. With Rovers on the attack he allowed Taylor back onto the pitch, unmarked down the right flank. He was immediately picked out but his cross from the by-line was ably fielded by the Rs defence.
Joey Barton hared around like a man possessed after a defensive effort and dispossessed Taylor in front of goal in a truly inspiring effort to regain the ball. His ball down the line to Johnson. His centre was dummied by Austin and Phillips drew an unbelievable save from Eastwood.
Harry Redknapp made two changes on the hour mark, and they were bizarre ones in truth. Hoilett was rightfully withdraw, but Redknapp also took off other winger Matt Phillips, the only player likely to make things happen for the hosts.
In return he took on perennial fitness worries Gary O'Neil and Niko Kranjcar, immediately cutting the width of the side and becoming heavily reliant on the full-backs to get forward and support the attacking effort.
Blackburn responded by throwing on Josh King at the expense of Tom Cairney - he looked immediately brighter and livened up the attacking effort for Rovers. Rangers however, started to turn the screw.
Barton and O'Neil chanced their arm from distance before Austin spurned a guilt-edge chance. Assou Ekotto got reluctantly forward down the left. His venomous cross found Austin in the middle, his header beat Eastwood all ends up as the ball crashed back off the post.
Former QPR forward DJ Campbell came on for Jordan Rhodes to a mixed reception, in truth there wasn't a lot of noise around the ground so it was difficult to ascertain. Niko Kranjcar saw an effort blocked while Austin glanced a corner harmlessly wide.
King was causing problems for Rovers down the right and a useful run culminated in Taylor engineering a shot, but it was comfortable for Green low to his right. King then had to be withdrawn through injury with David Dunn making his 350th league appearance.
Redknapp threw on Armand Traoré at the expense of Assou Ekotto seemingly through injury. It was to no avail as the sides shared the spoils in a bore draw.
FULL TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0-0 BLACKBURN ROVERS
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