West Brom forfeited the lead late on at Loftus Road against league strugglers QPR as Keiron Dyer’s late goal kept the R’s in the FA Cup.
QPR played extremely competently but Shane Long’s deflected effort looked to have consigned them to defeat until Dyer grabbed a late equaliser.
Harry Redknapp handed a debut to new signing Tal Ben Haim, lining up at left-back, while captain Ji-Sung Park made a long-waited return from injury. DJ Campbell, returning from a loan spell with Ipswich where he scored 10 goals in 17 games, was picked to lead the line.
Steve Clarke made three changes to the side that lost against Fulham on New Year’s Day, with Boaz Myhill deputising for the rested Ben Foster, 19-year-old George Thorne replacing African Cup of Nations-bound Youssuf Mulumbu and Long partnering Romelu Lukaku up front.
The home side started the match well, with Esteban Granero, Adel Taarabt and Park all dropping into pockets of space to receive the ball. There was a measure of authority and confidence about QPR’s play, typified by a back-heel from gritty stalwart Ryan Nelsen.
But for all the Hoops’ slick possession, it was West Brom – looking a threat on the break – who came closest to opening the scoring as Thorne rifled a shot just wide of Julio Cesar’s far post.
As the Baggies grew into the game, and with play hampered by a lengthy stoppage due to an injury to Zoltan Gera, the match – and QPR – began to lose a lot of its early fluidity.
And it was West Brom who relished the increasingly scrappy contest. First Long rushed on to a Lukaku flick-on, stinging the palms of Cesar, before the Belgian picked up the loose ball and fired a low shot into the clutches of QPR’s Brazilian shot-stopper.
Morrison’s influence on the match was growing; first he crossed to the back-post for Lukaku to thump a header towards goal that was well saved by Cesar, before the Chelsea loanee returned the favour, squaring the ball for the Scot who prodded the ball inches wide.
West Brom flew out of the traps after half-time, with Lukaku bursting onto a though-ball and fizzing a shot wide of Cesar’s far post, but QPR were presented with a great opportunity of their own when Park crossed into the box for Campbell who, unmarked, headed over from close range.
Though Granero was withdrawn at the break, replaced by Jay Bothroyd, QPR continued to enjoy a large amount of possession and territory with Park excelling in a deeper role. Despite their superiority, QPR never tested Myhill in the West Brom goal.
The Baggies seized the initiative through Thorne; the youngster attempted a shot from range, which rebounded back into his path, before scooping a pass to Long. The Irish forward took a touch and stroked the ball towards goal, with a deflection from Nedum Onuoha wrong-footing Cesar.
But QPR rallied late on, and clung onto their FA Cup hopes when Dyer arrived unmarked at the back post to pass a delicate left-footed shot into the back of the net from a deep cross.