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QPR and Stoke draw a blank

QPR’s Stefan Johansen shoots at goal during the Sky Bet Championship match (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
QPR’s Stefan Johansen shoots at goal during the Sky Bet Championship match (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

QPR and Stoke played out a 0-0 draw in a Sky Bet Championship match of few clear-cut chances at Loftus Road.

Stoke had the better of the first half, with Dwight Gayle in the thick of the action. The Potters striker had an early goal disallowed for offside, shaved the top of the bar with a free-kick and dragged a shot wide of the target as the visitors caused Rangers some problems.

But Gayle, who later faded from the game and was substituted in the second half, has now failed to score in 38 appearances – a run stretching back to December 2020.

Apart from an effort by Stefan Johansen, which was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Josef Bursik, QPR offered very little before the interval.

That prompted boss Mick Beale to make an attacking change at half-time, sending striker Lyndon Dykes on in place of midfielder Andre Dozzell.

Rangers responded with a lively start to the second half, with Dykes’ shot deflected wide and Kenneth Paal having a shot blocked before Bursik produced a fine save to deny Jimmy Dunne at point-blank range after the centre-back had been found by Ilias Chair,

Scotland international Dykes was clearly keen to make an impact, having recently been dropped from the starting line-up after managing just one goal this season and missing a number of chances.

He sent another effort wide as the home side tried in vain to break the deadlock, but Stoke defended well and deserved at least a point.

Chair should have done better with a header from Paal’s cross, and the impressive Bursik produced another important save, this time at his near post to deny Ethan Laird after the on-loan Manchester United right-back had robbed Tariqe Fosu.

Having won three of their previous four matches, the dropped points at home will be a disappointment for Rangers.

Stoke, meanwhile, look to be making steady progress under Alex Neil, who picked up his first victory at the helm in midweek at Hull.

Four points from two games and back-to-back clean sheets is an encouraging return for the new boss, whose team almost snatched a late winner when Aden Flint’s firm header was pushed over by keeper Seny Dieng, before Tyrese Campbell fired wide in stoppage time.