QPR 1 Derby County 1
By Ian Cooper THE fans who half-filled Loftus Road must have hoped for better – Rangers stalemate with Derby County on Tuesday night was a painful reminder of their ever-fragile league position. The knowledge that victory should have been assured after
By Ian Cooper
THE fans who half-filled Loftus Road must have hoped for better - Rangers' stalemate with Derby County on Tuesday night was a painful reminder of their ever-fragile league position.
The knowledge that victory should have been assured after Lee Cook's first league goal since Boxing Day 2008 made that even harder to swallow - but in truth Rangers rarely rose above the mundane, even before Shaun Barker's second-half equaliser.
Neil Warnock's sixth game in the QPR dug-out was a painfully uninspiring contest for long periods, with a snapshot from the returning Jay Simpson and a long-range effort from Alejandro Faurlin - both easily dealt with by Stephen Bywater - all that Rangers had to show for their plentiful early possession.
Derby, inconsistent on their travels all season, were content to hit their hosts on the break, and it was 33 minutes before Rangers' on-loan keeper Carl Ikeme had his gloves dirtied, an easy save from Robbie Savage's free kick.
Rangers made the breakthrough they barely deserved in the final minute of first-half stoppage time. Adel Taarabt, the Hoops' best player in the first half, played in Lee Cook on the left, and the winger rattled a shot past Bywater.
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The second half began in similarly drab fashion, a rare moment of alarm for the hosts coming when Ikeme fumbled the wet ball from a corner, and Damion Stewart had to sweep the ball off the goal-line to safety.
If Rangers were poor, Derby were little better, yet they snatched an equaliser on 68 minutes. Savage's free-kick into the area was only half-cleared, and Barker composed himself before slotting past Ikeme.
Faurlin saw his shot deflected wide as Rangers finally responded to the groans of anguish sweeping the stands, but Derby suddenly looked threatening on the counter.
One final chance arrived six minutes from time as Rowan Vine latched on to a flick on, but his thunderous shot from the edge of the area crashed off the top of the crossbar and to safety.
The draw made it nine points from six matches for Warnock's side, against a Derby team who have now stretched their unbeaten league record at Loftus Road to 25 years.