HARRY Redknapp’s home introduction failed to yield the all-important first win as Aston Villa fought for the desired point at Loftus Road.
Redknapp’s Rangers found themselves on the back foot when some self-inflicted defensive errors afforded Brett Holman the chance to curl through the hands of the desperate Rob Green.
The home supporters got behind their charges and saw their team level it up when Jamie Mackie glanced home, potentially from an offside position.
Rangers lost influential duo Samba Diakité and Stephane M’Bia to injury in a tough second period that saw Villa contented to retain possession and create little in terms of threat.
Redknapp will look upon this as an unbeaten start with improvements to come as his side travel to Wigan Athletic in search of their first victory of the season.
Harry Redknapp made one change from the side that got a point up at Sunderland with Shaun Wright-Phillips the surprise inclusion at the expense of Djibril Cissé. The Frenchman lined-up n the bench alongside Park Ji Sung and Fabio da Silva.
Rob Green started behind a back four of Jose Bosingwa, Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen and Armand Traoré. Samba Diakité and Stephane M’Bia started in the heart of midfield with Adel Taarabt, Estaban Granero and Wright-Phillips playing behind lone forward Jamie Mackie.
Aston Villa made two changes from the side that defeated Reading with Enda Stevens and Andreas Weimann making way with Eric Lichaj and Chris Herd coming into a youthful Aston Villa side.
Brad Guzan started behind a back four of Matthew Lowton, Nathan Baker, Ciaran Clark and Lichaj. The midfield comprised of Ashley Westwood, Herd and Brett Holman with Barry Bannan and Gabriel Agbonlahor playing off Christian Benteke.
KICK OFF: QUEENS PARK RANGERS v ASTON VILLA
Having picked a point and a clean sheet against Sunderland during the week, Harry Redknapp would have been hoping for a reaction as Rangers hosted a youthful Aston Villa in the hope, the eternal hope, of a first maximum this season.
The lack of strikers at Redknapp’s disposal necessitated the requirement to field one forward which is not something that is highly desirable in a fixture at home, some would arguably suggest a must-win fixture – even before Christmas.
The home side elected to change ends and attack the Loftus Road end and they pressed their visiting counterparts in the early stages. A couple of dangerous crosses and a speculative drive from distance from the enigmatic Adel Taarabt were all that the hosts could muster.
While some might suggest naivety is the biggest drawback of a youthful side, the exuberance is certainly a positive and it was this that forced the error-strewn QPR defence into another of a string of self-inflicted wounds.
Firstly Armand Traoré attempted to be cute in his chipped clearance to Stephane M’Bia, which rather set the tone for the panic-stricken mayhem that ensued in the heart of the penalty area. Christian Benteke saw his drive well halted by the recovering Clint Hill.
Rangers defence failed to recover from the madness and saw themselves behind when Ashley Westwood was able to retrieve a half clearance and find BRETT HOLMAN whose half volley curled through the outstretched arm of Rob Green and into the back of the net.
A decent start for the hosts once again shattered by defensive indecision and mistakes and provided the opportunity for the visitors to strike and the ruthlessness purported by Villa put the nervous rearguard to the sword and the nervous crowd on tenterhooks.
Rangers responded positively and M’Bia drifted a header wide from a Taarabt corner before his midfield partner Diakité struck over from distance – a good reaction from Redknapp’s Rangers to going behind a home.
The home side continued to press but Villa came closest moments later when Eric Lichaj, introduced to the side at the expense of the injured Enda Stevens, struck an ambitious wide from distance.
Rangers were not to be denied their equaliser however in a well-worked goal in front of the Loftus Road End. Good work down the right from Jose Bosingwa and Diakité saw the latter sweep in a curling cross only for JAMIE MACKIE to come back from what appeared an offside position to glance beyond the forlorn Brad Guzan.
There was little the American could do about an excellently-guided header by the former Plymouth Argyle front-man. Rangers’ support now rose in voice and backed their side to turn the game entirely on its head before the break.
Rangers’ seemed intent on giving the visiting side a helping hand with misplaced passes – notably from Taarabt – being capitalised upon by the away team. Benteke twisted and turned only to be denied by a last ditch Hill challenge, much to the defender’s credit.
The home side started pressing with more vigour and should have been in front after some neat interplay. Esteban Granero played a neat ball over the top for Shaun Wright-Phillips, who to his credit did excellently to find the space and take the ball with a sublime first touch.
The pacy wide-man was thwarted by Guzan on this occasion as a player who thrives on confidence seems to have hit rock-bottom in recent years. He did come to light moments later, firing a sharp drive from distance that cannoned back off the upright.
A bitter blow for QPR as midfield talisman M’Bia was withdrawn with an apparent neck injury after an innocuous clash with Gabriel Agbonlahor. Shaun Derry came on in his stead after a long delay, prompting seven minutes of injury time.
Agbonlahor’s effort from distance shortly before half time, firmly displayed Green’s shortcomings when the tame shot was inexplicably parried back out into a crowded area – rather a bad habit that has haunted him throughout his career – thankfully the defence was I hand to clear at the second attempt.
With that the half time whistle was blown and the home side could look to build on the positive aspects of a first half that promised positive signs, but gave a timely reminder of the shortcomings that continue to blight QPR.
HALF TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-1 ASTON VILLA
Sensing the state of the encounter Redknapp replaced the over-run Granero with Park Ji Sung and Rangers hoped for a more positive start than in the first period. Mackie’s wayward drive from distance, coming in from the left, was all they could offer in the early offing.
The home side were starting to offer a little more in attack and Wright-Phillips had evidently not let his missed opportunities get him down, as he turned away neatly from his counterparts before seeing a powerful shot deflected wide for a corner.
From the resultant set-piece, Nelsen hooked the ball back into the area only for the ball to eventually drop to Diakité – the Malian’s effort was precise and thoughtful but also well-fielded by Guzan, who watched the effort into his hands.
Neat interchange from Rangers created another opportunity as Taarabt’s neat reverse pass found South Korean midfielder in acres of space. Despite time at his disposal, Park inexplicably elected to shoot with his weaker foot and forced Guzan into a smart save at his near post.
While Fabio da Silva was being prepared, presumably to replace The tiring Traoré only for Diakité to pick up an injury at a crucial time – after attempting to run it off he conceded defeat and was replaced by Junior Hoilett.
Villa meanwhile made three changes in close succession with Chris Herd, Barry Bannan and Brett Holman coming off with Derrick Williams, Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi coming on in their stead.
Very little in terms of attacking endeavour ensued from both sides, with Traoré and Bosingwa clearly struggling for fitness and unable to get forward to support the attacking threat with any meaning or potency – Traoré did however shoot from distance straight at Guzan.
It was becoming abundantly clear that Villa were contented with a point as they resembled a Brendan Rodgers Swansea City side – backwards, sideways and backwards against as they looked to draw the hosts forward in search of gaps.
In truth Green had very little to do in a second half bereft of visiting opportunities as they seemed happy enough to maintain possession and provide very little in terms of attacking impetus – a fact borne out in the statistics.
Rangers in truth had little in response for this calibre of play, struggling to get hold of, and more importantly keep hold of the ball in key areas as the supporters vocalised their concern at times at the state of the fixture at large.
Karim El Ahmadi had an effort drift wide in the latter stages while Taarabt’s over indulgence at times didn’t help the overall effort as both sides had to be contented with a point and Rangers now looking at Wigan next week as the opportunity for the first victory.
Back to back draws for Redknapp, who will undoubtedly feel that more is still to come from Rangers who require a little more luck – in terms of injuries – if they are to better the Latics next week.
FULL TIME: QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1-1 ASTON VILLA