Lawrence scores a stunner but late goal gives Rangers the win
Tom Lawrence scored one of the goals of the season but it wasn’t enough to give Town anything at Loftus Road.
The Wales international smashed in a brilliant equaliser from 25 yards early in the second-half to cancel out Idrissa Sylla’s opener.
Lawrence, Brett Pitman and David McGoldrick all went close as Town looked the more likely to find a winner but with seven minutes left, a routine long ball wasn’t dealt with by Blues and Pawel Wszolek showed a great touch to find the net from a tight angle.
Town made one change to the side that beat Bristol City on Friday, with Josh Emmanuel coming in for Grant Ward as Mick McCarthy adopted a wing-back system, with Myles Kenlock retaining his place down the left.
James Perch whipped in a dangerous cross inside the first minute, Emmanuel staying strong to clear at the far post, Bart Bialkowski holding firm from Jamie Mackie’s delivery.
Luke Chambers recovered well to deny Wszolek getting in behind, Kenlock then sending in a good delivery at the other end that was destined for Brett Pitman until Grant Hall intervened.
Sylla tested Bart Bialkowski from 25 yards, Alex Smithies then off his line to punch clear from Kevin Bru, the QPR ‘keeper just doing enough to keep out McGoldrick’s drive at the nearpost as Blues pushed the hosts back.
Emmanuel linked up well with McGoldrick, his cross forced away by Joel Lynch at full stretch, then Lawrence sent in a terrific cross that was arrowed for McGoldrick but the striker couldn’t divert on goal.
McGoldrick was denied by Lynch after a driving run but against the run of play and out of nowhere, Rangers took the lead on the half hour - Perch’s long throw wasn’t cleared and Sylla volleyed into the roof of the net.
The goalscorer was forced off moments later after lengthy treatment, Conor Washington the replacement, Chambers lashing over in the last chance of the half as
Rangers made it to the break with their lead intact.
Ward replaced Emmanuel at half-time in Town’s first change, with Chambers moving across to a back four. Three minutes into the second-half, Blues were level in sensational style - Lawrence thumping a piledriver into the net from 25 yards.
Pitman had a chance to add a second when Ward lifted the ball over the top but his shot was blocked, then Washington was denied by Bialkowski at the other end as the game sprung into life.
McGoldrick and Pitman both went close, Jamie Mackie seeing a shot blocked at the other end.
Kenlock showed a lovely touch to create an opening for himself inside the Rangers box, Smithies forcing his shot over the bar.
Lawrence won a corner with another blistering shot deflected wide before Bru was replaced by Jonathan Douglas on 68 minutes, Jonas Knudsen on for Kenlock soon after.
Lawrence - who was a real problem to the Rangers defence throughout the second-half - blazed over after a surging run, McGoldrick similarly off target after Pitman set him up.
It was Rangers who found the net though seven minutes from time, a long ball over the top escaped the Town defence and Wszolek showed great composure to round Bialkowski and score from the angle.
Town: Bialkowski, Emmanuel (Ward 46), Kenlock (Knudsen 76), Berra, Webster, Chambers, Skuse, Bru (Douglas 68), Lawrence, Pitman, McGoldrick. Subs not used: Gerken, Dozzell, Varney, Sears.
QPR: Smithies, Bidwell, Hall, Lynch, Borysiuk (Onuoha 57), Cousins, Mackie, Wszolek, Perch, Sylla (Washington 37), Manning (El Khayati 68). Subs not used: Ingram, Ngbakoto, Shodipo, Sandro.