REPORT: QPR 2 ALBION 2
- Dale Stephens and Rajiv van La Parra on target for Albion
- Charlie Austin nets twice to earn QPR a point
- Albion end the match with ten men after Lewis Dunk’s dismissal
- The Seagulls drop to second in the Championship table
Brighton & Hove Albion were forced to settle for a point as Charlie Austin’s brace saw Queens Park Rangers recover from 2-0 down to claim a share of the spoils in scintillating match at Loftus Road.
The result extends Albion’s unbeaten league run to 22 matches and equals West Ham’s record of going the first 21 games unbeaten in a second tier campaign, but was not enough to keep them top of the Championship following Middlesbrough’s win over Burnley.
Albion created their first opening inside the first two minutes when Lewis Dunk met Rajiv van La Parra’s deep corner but his header was comfortably saved by Rob Green.
The hosts had a chance of their own just moments later as Austin cut inside the Brighton defence and saw his left-footed strike tipped to safety by David Stockdale.
Stockdale was called into action again to tip over a dipping effort from Matty Phillips, in a frenetic start to the game.
QPR were dealt an early blow though as James Perch was forced off injured after a coming together with Jamie Murphy, and was replaced by Gabriele Angella.
Austin then played in a cross towards Phillips inside the box, but his shot was kept out with a superb clearance on the line by Inigo Calderon and Sandro fired the rebound wide.
Rangers had a shout for a penalty when Austin claimed his strike struck Dunk’s hands inside the area, but referee Paul Tierney dismissed the striker’s appeals.
The defender had a chance to open the scoring at the other end, only to see his downward header saved by Green from van La Parra’s corner.
James Wilson drifted in from the right and his speculative effort was saved by Green in almost the last action of the half.
Hughton’s men created their first opportunity after the restart when Murphy’s side-footed volley was diverted over the bar by Green.
But the deadlock was broken in audacious fashion in the 53rd minute when Dale Stephens reacted quickly to Dunk’s header across the box and his low overhead kick flew into the bottom corner.
Albion doubled their lead just two minutes later after a speculative long-range strike from van La Parra took a deflection and squirmed under Green.
The hosts still carried a threat though and Austin’s volley forced Stockdale into another fine low save.
The striker then brought the Hoops back into the game in the 65th minute after he latched onto a Phillips delivery into the box and clinically fired the ball past Stockdale.
Less than a minute later, Stephens took advantage of some space in a central position and his low strike was tipped away by Green.
Rangers had a golden opportunity to equalise after Leroy Fer headed wide at the far post - Calderon doing just enough to unbalance the winger.
Sebastian Polter replaced Fer in the final ten minutes and almost made an immediate impact, but he somehow failed to make a connection with a corner into the box.
The task facing Hughton’s men was made more difficult when Dunk was sent off for a second bookable offence after a challenge on Alejandro Faurlin - Uwe Huenemeier coming on to strengthen the defence.
But Albion were denied all three points when Austin scored his second of the game with a well-executed header from Faulin’s corner after 88 minutes.
Phillips was inches away from ending Albion’s unbeaten run deep into stoppage time when his strike clipped the outside of the post, but the spoils were shared.