QPR 2-2 Middlesbrough
Striker Nahki Wells went from hero to villain as his catastrophic back pass cost his side all three points in a 2-2 draw with Championship strugglers Middlesbrough, writes Jack Flannigan.
The away side were staring a fourth loss in six games in the face before Wells made his mistake that allowed Boro striker Britt Assombalonga to grab his second of the game as he coolly lifted the ball over onrushing Rs goalkeeper Joe Lumley.
Wells continued his goal scoring ratio this season of a goal every other game to cancel out Assombalonga’s first before QPR’s first-half comeback was completed a minute before half time after an own goal by Jonny Howson.
A free header for Rangers defender Grant Hall was parried by Boro goalkeeper Darren Randolph onto Howson who saw the ball nestle into the back of his own net.
In what was an end to end game, QPR had the lionshare of the ball with 61 per cent possession. Rs midfielders Ebere Eze and Ilias Chair caused the Middlesbrough defenders all sorts of problems with their explosive pace.
The Moroccan Chair assisted for Wells goal with a lovely through ball to get QPR back on level terms before having a tail in the form of highly rated Boro defender Dael Fry for the remainder of the game.
It was the away side who threatened early into the game and Boro had the ball in the back of the net courtesy of defender Daniel Ayala within the first two minutes before it was chalked off for offside.
Rangers are yet to keep a clean sheet so far this season and continued to look vulnerable with home debutant Lee Wallace making a couple of vital last ditch challenges to deny the Middlesbrough strikers.
Whilst both managers could come away from the game thinking their side had chances to take all three points the draw is a better result for QPR as it keeps the home side only two points off the playoffs heading into the international break.
QPR manager Mark Warburton was understandably frustrated with the mistake that led to his side conceding, but also said that the culprit Wells was only human:
“It (the backpass) didn’t help but he’s also the man that’s scored a lot of goals for us and got us out of some sticky situations and he’s human.
“If we take responsibility at the other end and put the ball in the back of the net then it relieves that burden and that (the backpass) is not the main talking point.
“Nahki is a top pro and he came straight into the dressing room and put his hand up for it, but for me it’s not about that – he’s human and you learn from your mistake and move on.”
Jonathan Woodgate was in positive spirits after the game, despite the result seeing his side’s struggles continue to nine games without a win.
The Boro boss said: “They (the Middlesbrough players) want to play for us. That was really positive. It shows what the players are like – they want to stick together and they want to play for me. For the situation we’re in, there’s no negativity. Everyone’s positive and that’s really important for me.”
QPR: Lumley, Kane, Hall, Wallace, Manning; Cameron, Amos (Scowen 60), Ball, Eze, Chair (Hugill 60), Nahki Wells. Unused subs: Barnes, Smith, Pugh, Mlakar, Osayi-Samuel