Celina wonder goal but to no avail at Loftus Road
Bersant Celina scored a wonder goal but it wasn’t enough to rescue a point for Town.
The Manchester City loanee weaved past three players before firing a 20 yarder into the corner of the net on 89 minutes.
Fellow loanee, Callum Connolly almost levelled for Blues with a shot blocked, then another debutant, Tom Adeyemi, volleyed over in a grandstand finish but Town couldn’t find that second goal.
Jamie Mackie had put Ian Holloway’s side ahead on 43 minutes with a crisp finish and Luke Freeman was allowed too much time to extend the lead four minutes after the break to take Rangers to what appeared to be the formality of three points until Celina’s late strike.
Town made two changes to the side that went down against Fulham before the international break, Connolly came in for his debut after joining on loan from Everton for the season. Flynn Downes, fresh from England U19 action in midweek, lining up in midfield, with Freddie Sears and Myles Kenlock dropping to the bench.
Bartosz Bialkowski dealt with Josh Scowen’s shot comfortably, Town responding with David McGoldrick bursting into the box but his cross was cleared as Martyn Waghorn threatened at the back post.
Blues had a scare when Pawel Wszolek put in a terrific cross that begged to be headed home but the ball evaded Alex Baptiste by inches.
Mackie had a shot blocked by Jordan Spence, Massimo Luongo then almost found Conor Washington with a through ball as Rangers tried to assert pressure on the Town defence.
McGoldrick rallied for Blues, his header after good build up play, saved by Alex Smithies, Bialkowski then forced into much greater action to deny Freeman after the Ranger had weaved his way into dangerous territory.
Bialkowski tipped Scowen’s effort over the bar, Jonas Knudsen then forcing a corner at the other end, Joe Garner not able to get a clear header on target in an evenly contested first-half.
McGoldrick broke clear - after Downes won possession and then found the striker - but Nedum Onuoha held firm and seconds later, Rangers were ahead. Town appealed for handball but Wszolek found space on the right and his cross was buried into the bottom corner by Mackie to give Ian Holloway’s side a first-half lead.
That advantage was doubled four minutes after the break, Freeman allowed too much space outside the Town box and his left foot strike found the bottom corner.
McGoldrick forced a save from Smithies as Blues looked for a way back into the game, Bialkowski quickly off his line to clear as Washington looked to get in, then the Northern Ireland international forcing Bialkowski into a comfortable save.
Cole Skuse occupied the right area as Wszolek got around the back of the Town defence, the midfielder taking the cross away from danger, former Blues’ loanee Luongo then bringing a save from Bialkowski at full stretch with a 25 yarder.
Bialkowski held on after Washington got on the end of a ball over the top, Knudsen heading just wide at the other end.
Town made a double change midway through the half, with Adeyemi on for his debut, Sears the other swap with Downes and Waghorn making way.
Rangers couldn’t force the ball home in a goalmouth scramble that ended with Garner diverting Onuoha’s shot wide from five yards, Dominic Iorfa fizzing the ball across the home goal as Town countered.
Matt Smith hit the bar for Rangers as they threatened a third but it was Celina who struck, giving Town a lifeline with a brilliant individual goal.
Connolly and Adeyemi both had chances as Blues poured forward looking for a late but ultimately elusive leveller.
QPR: Smithies, Baptiste, Onuoha, Robinson, Wszolek (Wheeler 76), Luongo, Scowen, Freeman, Bidwell, Washington (Smith 81), Mackie (Lua Lua 81). Subs not used: Furlong, Manning, Lumley, Osayi-Samuel. Booked: Freeman.
Town: Bialkowski, Connolly, Spence, Iorfa, Knudsen, Waghorn (Sears 66), Skuse, Downes (Adeyemi 66), Ward (Celina 75), McGoldrick, Garner. Subs not used: Gerken, Rowe, Woolfenden, Kenlock.