A LATE Tjaronn Chery spot kick was enough to level proceedings in a damp squib of a fixture at Elland Road.
The Dutchman converted from the penalty spot after Giuseppe Belluschi brought down Sebastian Polter with barely minutes on the clock to earn Rangers a hard-fought point.
A fairly even – albeit uneventful – encounter, came to life when Chris Wood converted a Luke Murphy cross, bundling past Alex Smithies with 20 minutes remaining.
Leeds had chances to extend their advantage in a cagey affair, with Rangers by and large struggling to mount an assault on the home rearguard.
Once Polter was bundled over by Belluschi they had the lifeline that Chery ably and confidently grasped – it could have been cruelly snatched away but for a fine double save at the death by confident ‘keeper Alex Smithies who thwarted Lewie Coyle and Chris Wood.
A fixture that failed to inspire for the most part but saw QPR manage to take what was probably a fair share of the spoils at Elland Road.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made three changes from the side that was defeated at home by promotion-chasing Middlesbrough – Karl Henry, Tjaronn Chery and Sebastian Polter dropped out with Massimo Luongo, Junior Hoilett and Conor Washington all coming in.
Alex Smithies started behind an unchanged back four of Nedum Onuoha, Hall, Gabriele Angella and James Perch – Ale Faurlin linked up with Luongo in the middle with Jamie Mackie, Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips starting in behind Sebastian Polter.
Leeds United made four changes from the side defeated by Rotherham United – Bailey Peacock-Farrell came in for his debut in goal with Gaetano Berardi, Giuseppe Bellusci, Liam Cooper and Charlie Taylor making up the defence. Liam Bridcutt and Luke Murphy were holding with Lewis Cook, Stuart Dallas and Mustapha Carayol playing in behind Chris Wood.
BERARDI – BELLUSCHI – COOPER – TAYLOR
BRIDCUTT – MURPHY
DALLAS – COOK – CARAYOL
ONUOHA – ANGELLA – HALL – PERCH
LUONGO – FAURLIN
PHILLIPS – MACKIE – HOILETT
Keen to avenge a late defeat to Neil Warnock’s Rotherham United – Leeds United were visibly fired up in the early offing. The home side started the brighter of the two teams but were unable to make a flurry of corners count.
Indeed for their continual pressure a dipping volley from midfielder Stuart Dallas was all that the home side could muster – ably fielded by the ever-impressing Alex Smithies. Chris Wood then tried to force an opening only to see his deflected effort fly wide.
Jamie Mackie was forced to withdraw 25 minutes into the clash when he couldn’t shake off an early knock – Sebastian Polter came on to make it 4-4-2, partnering Conor Washington in attack.
After a positive start, Leeds were playing with an element of nervousness to their game – the crowd silenced for the large part, contributing only to inform their players of their displeasure at times.
Chances were few and far between for both teams with Rangers attempting to play on the counter-attack but in truth seeing the ball caught up in midfield for the most part. Matt Phillips attempted an effort from distance which flew wide, while Gaetano Berardi flashed an effort across goal that failed to trouble Alex Smithies.
The challenges were starting to fly in as the game developed a bit of bite as the lively Hoilett could only curl over from the edge of the area. Leeds in truth had the better of possession and pressure but failed to create chances of note.
Rangers rounded off the half with a shot from distance – albeit tame – from Massimo Luongo. The returning midfielder had struggled with the numerical disadvantage in midfield but managed to break free in that instant to fire straight at Peacock-Farrell.
The second half started in a similar pattern to the first – the home side doing the majority of the pressing without ever looking like stretching Alex Smithies. Rangers by comparison were struggling to get a foot-hold in the fixture – looking into the channels for Washington and Polter to chase.
The home support was starting to raise the volume and midfielder Murphy responded in kind – forcing Smithies into a save from just outside the area. Moments later and the Whites went closer still. The tricky Carayol engineered some space and squared for Dallas, the former Brentford man could only fizz and effort wide.
Rangers had a moment on the counter-attack when both Matt Phillips and James Perch were denied at point-blank range – manful blocks from Bellusci and Berardi respectively.
The visiting side were starting to build a bit of momentum, piling crosses into the box. The latter one saw Ale Faurlin cross for substitute Polter – the big German headed wide when well-placed. The hosts then took advantage of a break of play to catch Rangers cold and open the scoring.
Rangers allowed Luke Murphy the freedom of Elland Road to cross the ball deep – it evaded Hall and Angella, allowing CHRIS WOOD to steal in on the far post to bundle home for the home side.
QPR responded by throwing on Tjaronn Chery at the expense of Junior Hoilett – while the Canadian international had looked lively in patches the lack of end product was more than noticeable, with two centre forwards remaining firmly devoid of service – Chery’s first action was to drive a free-kick straight into the wall from 25-yards.
Rangers continued to look for the leveler and Conor Washington was found by the driving Luongo, but it was ably stopped by the young ‘keeper Peacock-Farrell – who was visibly growing in confidence. It was Washington’s last action of the game as Nasser El-Khayati was introduced with ten minutes remaining.
Leeds threw on Toumani Diagouraga to add some extra steel to the midfield, and it appeared to have the desired effect as Rangers were contributing very little in the way of attacking threat.
That was until five minutes from time when Sebastian Polter got beyond Giuseppe Belluschi on the left-hand side of the penalty area and was brought down – referee Adcock had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. TJARONN CHERY stepped up and fired into the roof of the net to level matters – an emphatic spot-kick.
As the board was put up for added on time both sides pressed – first Onuoha went close, heading wide from a Chery cross to winning it before Smithies pulled out a fine double save to deny substitute Lewie Coyle and scorer Wood.
Referee Adcock did eventually call time on proceedings, with a share of the spoils relatively deserved for both teams in a fixture by and large that resembled every bit the mediocre end of season dead-rubber, injury time withstanding.
QPR: Smithies, Onuoha, Angella, Hill, Perch, Faurlin, Luongo, Phillips, Mackie (Polter 24), Hoilett (Chery 74), Washington (El-Khayati 80)
Subs not used: Ingram, Robinson, Henry, Gladwin.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Belluschi, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 82), Dallas (Coyle 85), Cook, Carayol (Mowatt 89), Wood.
Subs not used: Grimes, Bamba, Adeyemi, Antenucci.
Attendance: 17388 (342)
Referee: Mr J Adcock