Championship - QPR battle for point in Bristol
Top held bottom in the Championship as still-unbeaten Queens Park Rangers came from behind to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with a spirited Bristol City side in an entertaining clash at Ashton Gate.
The home side went ahead thanks to John Stead’s superb 16th-minute opener and had their chances to extend the lead before QPR’s pressure finally told, substitute Patrick Agyemang finishing from close range late on.
Both sides pushed for a winner but a point was the fair result, with the draw meaning QPR - who have drawn three on the trot - stay three points and 11 goals clear of Cardiff City, who visit Leeds United on Monday night.
City stay bottom, behind Preston North End on goal difference.
As expected, QPR had more possession than the hosts but the bottom club were strangely dangerous on the break.
Steven Caulker headed straight at Paddy Kenny on 10 minutes, with QPR responding as Jamie Mackie fired tamely at David James.
Hogan Ephraim was agonisingly close to finding an unmarked Heidar Helguson but it was City who took the lead after they punished a sloppy free-kick from the head-scratchingly erratic Adel Taarabt.
Taarabt, who looked composed and direct running with the ball but whose passing and shooting was frustrating to say the least, passed the ball straight to Jamie McAllister, who released Tottenham loanee Danny Rose down the left wing.
He slid the ball inside to Stead, who cut in to create space and fired a thumping effort in off the post from all of 20 yards.
QPR slipped into a spell of possession football but City were picking them apart at the back, with Albert Adomah giving makeshift left-back Clint Hill a torrid time with his pace and determination.
Kenny was forced into another save, batting away Rose’s effort with his left foot, while Danny Haynes curled over after a quick-fire counter and Hill pulled off a remarkable goal-line clearance with Rose’s cross headed for the unmarked Stead to put into an empty net.
For QPR Kaspars Gorkss should have scored when he headed Ephraim’s perfect cross over from close range, while the impressive Kyle Walker - another Spurs loanee - fired inches wide with James beaten.
Neil Warnock’s promotion favourites were back in their groove and edged closer throughout first-half stoppage time, as Shaun Derry overhead-kicked wide in the closing seconds.
The second half kicked off in breakneck fashion as QPR had an equaliser chalked off straight from kick off.
City went to sleep as Mackie surged into the box, his cut-back was met by Helguson, James saved and Mackie headed into the empty net only for poor Helguson - now in an offside position thanks to his momentum - to touch the ball in on the line as he desperately tried to get out of the way.
The hosts should have doubled their lead seconds later as Stead’s pass was deflected into Haynes’s path only for his finish to be diverted wide of goal by the heel of Hill.
Rangers were dominating possession but faced a rugged and organised City side, marshalled by the excellent young Caulker, another player on loan from Tottenham.
The match was brought back to life when, midway through the half, Marvin Elliott lashed a vicious drive towards the top left only for Kenny to pull of a super save.
Kenny was again called into action, getting down low to tip behind when Stead turned and shot from the edge of the area, while QPR should have levelled when Matthew Connolly met a corner with a powerful downward header: James was beaten but McAllister cleared off the line.
Taarabt’s poor night was compounded when he was hauled off seconds after wasting a free-kick on the edge of the box but his replacement Agyemang fared somewhat better.
Haynes had dragged a low finish just wide and, five minutes after coming on, former Bristol City striker Agyemang stood on the line to meet Connolly’s flick on from a low corner.
QPR sensed the win and dominated the closing stages without really testing James.
There was a rally from the home side in injury time, with Elliott denied a rather soft appeal for a penalty when he collided with Hill, but a draw was a fair result.
The point means Rangers maintain their away run, which sees them unbeaten on their travels since April, while City add to Tuesday's win over Reading as they look to claw out of the relegation zone.