By Simon Cheshire
For the first time in 22 years Queens Park Rangers will be in the draw for the 4th round of the FA Cup, after a 2-1 victory over Championship leaders Leeds United.
Going into the game both sides made numerous changes, most noticeably Aramide Oteh and Bright Osayi-Samuel came into the side for Nahki Wells and Pawel Wszolek respectively, to lead the Rs attack with Eberechi Eze and Luke Freeman.
Leeds started the brighter side, with Tyler Roberts almost having an instant impact on the game: his long-range shot beating Matt Ingram before striking both posts and going safely out of play.
Following this Rangers picked themselves up, and the pace of Oteh, Eze and Osayi-Samuel started to cause an inexperienced Leeds defence a huge amount of problems. Oteh and Jake Bidwell had QPR’s first real chances of the game, but these were well saved by Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the Whites' goal.
In the 23rd minute Rangers dominance finally prevailed as Bidwell drew a challenge from Leif Davis inside the box, adjudged a foul by the referee. Oteh stepped up to convert the spot kick, to score only his second ever professional goal, and his first at Loftus Road.
Following the restart, the visitors had a route straight back into the game: Lewis Baker's shot saved by Ingram, but he could only parry the shot straight to of Aapo Halme, and parity was instantly restored.
The pulsating game continued to be end to end, with both sides having opportunities; but at the half time whistle the score remained 1-1.
Following the break, the half started much like the previous one had ended, with both sides throwing everything forward and seemingly looking to avoid an unwanted replay at Elland Road.
Jordon Cousins had the most noticeable effort of the early exchanges of the second half, as his bursting run and long-range shot was expertly tipped onto the post from youngster Peacock-Farrell.
In the 75th minute Bidwell had his close-range header tipped away by the busy keeper, but from the resulting corner Bidwell met Freeman’s inswinging corner and headed home to give the Rs a deserved lead.
Despite some late Leeds pressure, it was Rangers who looked more likely to seal the win: as Freeman’s excellent free-kick somehow was kept out by the post.
QPR held on to what is an historic victory at Loftus Road, and for the first time in two decades and are now eyeing up a famous fourth-round tie.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
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