Report | Queens Park Rangers 1 Swansea City 1
Swansea City came from behind to claim a point at Loftus Road with Jay Fulton’s late strike cancelling out a first-half opener from Jamal Lowe.
After initially starting well, the Swans were thwarted by a well-organised Queens Park Rangers side and Lowe opened the scoring shortly before the half-hour mark with one of only two shots on target in the first half.
The second half, however, exploded into life. The home side had two big chances to extend their lead, the first from an in-direct free kick which was blocked by Harry Darling, and the second when a mishit kick by Andy Fisher – who had replaced the injured Steven Benda – left Lowe with an empty to net to aim for. The goalkeeper recovered to make the stop.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, and roared on by the travelling away support, Fulton finished off a good move to seal a point on the road.
Both sides had chances to win it in a frantic final few minutes, but in the end the points were shared.
Russell Martin reverted to the same starting XI that lined up against Sunderland in the previous league match, with seven changes to the side who suffered defeat to Bristol City in the FA Cup in midweek.
Benda, Ryan Manning, Fulton, Darling, Joe Allen, Liam Cullen, and Ollie Cooper all regaining their places in the side.
The Swans made a bright start. Cullen, Cooper, and Grimes all had effort blocked while Darling and Ben Cabango connected with Manning’s corner deliveries but weren’t able to test Seny Dieng in the QPR goal.
But after seeing out some the early Swans chances, the R’s hit back with a few corners and free-kicks of their own. And, while Joel Piroe was on hand to head most of the deliveries clear at the near post, the Swans couldn’t really clear the pressure with the home side continuing to ask questions.
Most of the play was in the Swans half but the QPR only tested Benda once, a Tyler Roberts header from a corner which was well held by the German.
A fine finish by Lowe gave the home side the lead just before the half-hour mark.
Roberts fired a ball into the box, Lyndon Dykes teed it up for Lowe who did well to turn and send it just inside the find post with an inch-perfect finish.
The west London outfit looked the most likely in the closing stages of the first half without finding the target while things just weren’t clicking for the Swans.
Forward passes were picked off and through balls were intercepted as they looked to play through the thirds while long balls into Piroe were being headed clear.
Swans had the first chance of the afternoon, when some smart play from kick off allowed Cullen to tee up Grimes, but as the skipper was about to shoot, it was pinched off his toes and rolled through to Dieng to pick up.
The home side were then given an excellent chance to double their lead, when Benda picked up an under-hit back pass by Darling conceding an in-direct free-kick eight-yards from the goal.
With the entire Swans team on the goal line, the ball was rolled to Ilias Chair whose effort on target was blocked by Darling.
Swansea were quickly under pressure again, this time Roberts drilled a ball into the back post but Lowe – under pressure from Fulton – could only rattle the crossbar from close range.
With an hour played, Martin opted for a double change with the introduction of Olivier Ntcham and Luke Cundle also signalling a change of shape for the visitors, while two minutes later – after initially trying to continue -Benda had to replaced after landing awkwardly when reacting to Lowe’s effort.
Andy Fisher was called into action a few minutes after coming on, but Roberts’ effort from distance was well held by the substitute.
Cundle rode his luck a little as he worked his way into the by-line, but the cut back was perfect. There was no one in Swans colours to capitalise. Second later, the Wolves loanee was involved again linking up with Cooper, but the Swans were only able to win a corner which was dealt with by QPR.
Lowe really should have put the match out of site for QPR with just over ten minutes remaining. A misplaced pass by Fisher allowed him to run on to the ball at the edge of the box with an empty net ahead of him, but the Swans keeper somehow recovered to make the save.
Swans found an equaliser with ten minutes remaining.
Manning, who had been one of the brighter sparks on the night, got down the left and cut the ball back into the path of Cundle. The midfielder could have shot, but opted to square it for Fulton who drilled the ball into to the bottom corner right in front of the more than 2,000 travelling Jacks.
In the end, it was the Swans who could have won it late on. Ntcham had a shot from a narrow angle saved, while Piroe turned well in the box but the effort was blocked. Ntcham did have the ball in the net in injury time, but the flag was up for offside against Piroe.
Swansea City: Steven Benda (Andy Fisher 61’); Joel Latibeaudiere, Ben Cabango, Harry Darling, Ryan Manning; Jay Fulton, Matt Grimes (captain), Joe Allen (Luke Cundle 59’), Ollie Cooper; Liam Cullen (Olivier Ntcham 59’), Joel Piroe.
Unused subs: Nathan Wood, Kyle Naughton, Matty Sorinola, Cameron Congreve.
Queens Park Rangers: Seny Dieng, Jimmy Dunne, Rob Dickie, Lyndon Dykes (Chris Willock 59’), Ilias Chair, Tyler Roberts (Albert Adomah 89’), Sam Field (captain), Jamal Lowe, Kenneth Paal, Ethan Laird (Osman Kakay 37’), Tim Iroegbunam (Andre Dozzell 89’)
Unused subs: Jordan Archer, Jake Clarke-Salter, Stefan Johansen.