Nottingham Forest 2 QPR 2

By Ian Cooper YOU DON T always get what you deserve in football, and Rangers monumental effort at the City Ground on Saturday certainly merited far more than a single point. A draw away from home and a nine-match unbeaten run should have had the Hoops f

By Ian Cooper

YOU DON'T always get what you deserve in football, and Rangers' monumental effort at the City Ground on Saturday certainly merited far more than a single point.

A draw away from home and a nine-match unbeaten run should have had the Hoops fans heading back to London satisfied at another tentative step towards the play-offs.

Instead, they were left to reflect on a catalogue of missed opportunities and a couple of individual errors that cost two precious points and a chance to close on the top six.

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It was a performance encapsulated by summer signing Matteo Alberti, who, in only his second start for the club, conceded the penalty from which Lewis McGugan slammed Forest ahead, but responded with a clinical double to turn the match around.

But another mistake - this time from the otherwise excellent Lee Camp in goal - gifted Forest their second-half equaliser, and a deserved Rs win frustratingly slipped away.

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The points were there for the taking as Paulo Sousa's men outplayed and out-thought a strangely subdued Forest side.

As early as the seventh minute, the excellent Liam Miller's corner caused mayhem in the penalty area, and both Samuel Di Carmine and Alberti saw their shots cleared off the line.

And as Forest front-man Nathan Tyson went off injured with a head wound, Rangers merely tightened their grip, with Mikele Leigertwood spinning and unleashing a snap shot against the base of the post, and Gavin Mahon heading another corner wide.

Forest put together precious few attacks of their own during the first 45 minutes, so it was a shock when the hosts stumbled ahead three minutes before the break.

Luke Chambers surged into the box, and when Alberti clumsily hauled him to the ground, it was left to McGugan to stroke the spot-kick high into the net.

But parity was restored barely a minute later. Matthew Connolly got free on the right, and his brilliant low cross was gleefully turned home by Alberti to bring the Rs level with his first goal in English football.

Three minutes after the break Alberti was in the thick of things again, as he latched onto Routledge's flick-on and clipped a shot into the top corner.

With the City Ground stunned into silence, Rangers took a stranglehold on the game as Mahon and Miller bossed a busy midfield. Routledge fired wide and Damien Delaney shot over, as the Rs threatened a third.

But just as Forest seemed to be running out of ideas, Chambers swung a hopeful cross to the back post, and the back-pedalling Camp lost the ball in mid-air, allowing Chris Cohen to nod the equaliser and set up a frantic finale.

Leigertwood thought he had headed the winner from another Routledge corner, but Paul Smith produced a stunning save, diving to his left to tip the ball away.

It was the last real opportunity for Sousa's side, who were left to rue what might have been, and while the manager insisted he was happy with a point, he, like everyone else, must wonder how they failed to take all three.

QPR: Camp, Delaney, Stewart, MAHON*, Leigertwood, Routledge, Gorkss, Connolly, Miller (Ephraim 70), Alberti (Balanta 82), Di Carmine (Blackstock 59)

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