A superb Nahki Wells free kick secured a point from behind for the Terriers in their final game of 2015 at Queens Park Rangers; the least that David Wagner’s side deserved.
Enjoying 63% possession throughout the 90 minutes, Wagner’s side always looked more likely but a goal from a long throw with barely 10 minutes of the game left put QPR in charge before the Bermudian whipped home a free kick to restore parity in the score-line and secure a first draw for Wagner in his eighth game.
After slow starts to the previous two games, it was perhaps no surprise to see David Wagner’s side start pretty well at Loftus Road. After a scrappy opening five minutes, it was the Terriers who got the ball on the floor and starting dictating play; frustrating the home fans to an increasing degree as the half continued.
QPR’s biggest threat was from the excellent set piece delivery of midfielder Daniel Tozser. On three occasions the Hungarian whipped dangerous deliveries right into the heart of the Town box, only for Jonathan Hogg and Mark Hudson – twice – to produce equally impressive defensive headers to clear the danger under heavy pressure.
Wagner may have made six changes to his starting XI due largely to the 48 hour turnaround following Saturday’s win over Preston, but it was his side that looked right at home. A 20 pass move inside the 20th minute led to the best chance of the first half; Aussie left back Jason Davidson was eventually set free down the left and his excellent cross found top scorer Nahki Wells, whose header produced a good reaction save from former England goalkeeper Rob Green.
With Jonathan Hogg dropping between the two centre backs to collect the ball off the recalled Joe Murphy, Town always found the extra man in midfield to build moves. Paterson was given license to drift around the pitch in the number 10 position, whilst Mustapha Carayol showed on more than one occasion that he was keen to try and take on QPR Captain Nedum Onuoha at every opportunity.
Wells was guilty of wasting a great crossing opportunity just 10 minutes later after a swift counter saw Wagner’s men pour forward in support. On the right side he placed his cross right into Green’s hands with the impressive Jamie Paterson crying out for the pull-back.
Rangers didn’t manage a shot on target in the first 45 minutes and it took until 39 to muster a shot at all; Matt Phillips’ weak effort drawing ironic cheers from the home fans as it rolled wide.
However, Rangers – specifically Junior Hoilett – did improve slightly as the half came to an end; the Canadian international twice drifted off the Town right before sending long range efforts off target.
Town continued to take the game to the hosts in the second 45 minutes, with Wagner shuffling his pack in typical fashion by introducing Chilwell, Lolley and later Scannell to add renewed impetus to the attack and reaction pressing he demands.
Despite all their dominance, the Town players were soon grateful to Murphy after the Irish custodian produced a point-blank save to deny Matt Phillips. Veteran left back Paul Konchesky got a yard clear of Smith after a neat one-two and sent a low cross into the box that managed to evade everyone before dropping to the winger at the back post; he should have scored, but credit to Joe for an excellent low reaction save.
A big chance fell to Jamie Paterson on the 70 minute mark; he got on the end of a Chilwell cross when unmarked in the penalty area, but the cross was mere inches too high for him and he could only divert it over at full stretch.
After such a good performance, Wagner and his charges will have been disappointed with the QPR goal in the 80th minute. Sub Jay Emmanuel-Thomas made his way to the right flank and bowled an enormous throw to the near post, where the ball ricocheted around before dropping to sub Polter to divert past Murphy at close range.
To credit the Terriers, their reaction was terrific; taking the game back to Rangers from the kick-off. That endeavour was capped in the 86th minute; after Joe Lolley was brought down by Tozser, Wells stepped up around 25 yards out and curled a precise effort between Green and his right hand post right in front of the ecstatic travelling faithful for his eighth of the campaign.
It was Wagner’s side that had the better chances to win all three points in the final few minutes, with the best falling to sub Sean Scannell. Ben Chilwell came on and impressed once again and it was his pacey low cross found its way to the winger at the back post, who couldn’t quite bundle it across the line as it bounced up towards his chest.
However, it was still the Town fans cheering at the final whistle – with the players and Wagner acknowledging their support.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Joe Murphy; Jason Davidson (Ben Chilwell, 60), Martin Cranie, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Emyr Huws, Jonathan Hogg; Mustapha Carayol (Joe Lolley, 60), Jamie Paterson (Sean Scannell, 72), Harry Bunn; Nahki Wells
Lloyd Allinson, Philip Billing, Joel Lynch, Flo Bojaj
Mark Hudson (76); Emyr Huws (89)