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Full-time: QPR 0 Blackburn Rovers 0
ROVERS became only the second side this season to take a point off QPR at Loftus Road as they earned a share of the spoils with Harry Redknapp’s high flyers.
It was the Ewood Park outfit’s first clean sheet away from home in the Championship since October 3, 2012 – a run of 29 matches – and it was one they thoroughly deserved after producing an outstanding defensive performance from back to front.
Rovers made boss Gary Bowyer made four changes to the side which had started the desperately disappointing 3-1 defeat to Ipswich Town on Tuesday.
The biggest casualty was goalkeeper Jake Kean.
Kean paid the price for a series of individual errors – the latest being in the midweek second-half collapse at Portman Road – and was replaced between the posts by Simon Eastwood.
Eastwood, a summer signing from Portsmouth, was making his league debut for Rovers.
And it is one he will remember with pride.
Eastwood enjoyed a comfortable first half as the fired-up visitors completely snuffed out the threat of their expensively assembled hosts.
As well as being resolute at the back Rovers created good openings going forward and they could and should have been ahead at the break.
In the 18th minute the recalled Ben Marshall dug out a cross from the left to the back post where Jason Lowe was arriving.
The midfielder’s connection was not clean but his volley would have nestled in the back of the net had Hoops captain Clint Hill not got back to head it off the line and over the bar.
Chris Taylor – back in the side after missing the match against Ipswich because of personal reasons – wasted an even better opportunity in the 42nd minute when, totally unmarked 10 yards from goal, he headed Tommy Spurr’s left-wing cross over.
And there was still time for Rovers to go close again through captain Scott Dann, whose flicked header from a long Spurr throw landed inches past Rob Green’s left-hand post.
Bowyer’s team were put under more pressure after the restart and they were thankful to Eastwood for pulling off a quite breathtaking save in the 58th minute.
Seconds after Joey Barton had robbed Jordan Rhodes of a shooting opportunity inside the QPR box, a rapid counter attack ended with Andy Johnson sending over a low cross from the right.
Charlie Austin dummied it for the on-running Matt Phillips, who was brilliantly denied by Eastwood from point-blank range.
With Hoops substitutes Gary O’Neil and Niko Kranjcar making the impact their manager Redknapp would have desired, Rovers were coming under serious pressure.
And they survived an almighty double let-off in the 72nd minute.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s driven cross from the left was headed on to the post by Charlie Austin.
The ball then rebounded off Eastwood into the path of O’Neil, whose goal-bound strike hit former Burnley striker Austin and went wide.
That was the closest QPR went as Rovers held on for a point which leaves them 13th in the Championship, seven points behind the play-off places.
QPR: Green, Simpson, Hill, Dunne, Assou-Ekotto (Traore 87), Phillips (O’Neil 59), Barton, Carroll, Hoilett (Kranjcar 59), Austin, Johnson. Subs: Murphy, Onuoha, Jenas, Henry.
Rovers: Eastwood, Henley, Dann, Hanley, Spurr, Lowe, Williamson, Cairney (King 63, Dunn 85), Taylor, Marshall, Rhodes (Campbell 86). Subs: Kean, Kilgallon, Rochina, Judge.
Booked: Henley, Dann, Taylor, Spurr.
Referee: Darren Drysdale.
Attendance: 15,987 (809 away).
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