BURTON ALBION 1-1 QPRJamie Ward's first goal in a Burton Albion shirt was not quite enough for the Brewers to notch a third Championship win of the season, substitute Sebastian Polter poking home an equaliser just five minutes after coming on to rescue a point for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink on his first return to the Pirelli Stadium for a League game.
The 300th competitive Burton Albion fixture at the Pirelli Stadium was not exactly one of the more memorable games since the Brewers moved from Eton Park but despite not being at the fluent best, still missing the influential Chris O'Grady in attack, Albion looked like they might just take all the points when Ward dived to head home from close range just before the hour mark and with Rangers struggling to score from open play this season hopes were high that one might be enough for the three points. Rangers however are not easily put to the sword and, just as they had done on Saturday against Birmingham City, they hit back and ultimately could have gone back to West London with all three points with Polter making a big difference after his introduction on 64 minutes.
As on Saturday Brewers boss Nigel Clough made three changes to his starting line-up as the injuries and suspensions continued to clear. Having served his three match ban, Kyle McFadzean returned to the back three where he was joined by Ben Turner who also returned after suspension and a calf strain that kept him out of Saturday's defeat at Norwich City. The return of the two experienced defenders allowed Tom Naylor to resume his midfield role. The third change saw Lee Williamson return on the right side of midfield as Lucas Akins pushed forward into the attack to take over from Stuart Beavon. For Rangers, former Albion striker Nasser El Khayati was left on the bench and there would be no opportunity for the Dutchman to come on and influence the game.
Rangers were quickly out of the traps with manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink clearly intent on putting on a good show on his return to the Pirelli ten months after his departure. Albion got themselves into something of a defensive mess on eight minutes and it was only the strong challenge of McFadzean that prevented the visitors getting a clear effort on goal as the ball bobbled around on the edge of the six yard box.
Having been caught offside rather carelessly on a couple of occasions Albion almost sprung the trap on 18 minutes when Mousinho's long ball over the top eluded Grant Hall and Akins could not make meaningful contact to beat Alex Smithies advancing from his goal.
Rangers should have probably been in front on 22 minutes when Pawel Wszolek was superbly denied by Turner at the back post. The Pole made a dash to get onto Massimo Luongo's header back across the box after meeting Conor Washington's cross in from the left.
Jamie Ward went into referee Scott Duncan's book for a petulant little kick out on Tjaronn Chery. The forward was frustrated at conceding possession and it was a cheap yellow card to pick up. Washington followed him into the referee's book for a none too subtle pull back on Turner as the big defender latched on to a loose ball. The free kick was whipped in by Ward with only a tiny deflection taking it wide of Smithies and denying him his first goal in Albion colours.
Chery tested McLaughlin on 39 minutes with a curling free kick after Matty Palmer had been penalised. Albion's keeper had to move quickly to his left to punch the ball clear of danger as Rangers came close again to breaking the deadlock.
It had been a first half bereft of much in the way of quality. Both sides were hoping for better after the break.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 QPR
Lee Williamson failed to reappear for the second half with Marcus Harness the man sent on as an attacker and Lucas Akins pulled back to his normal right wing back role.
The pace of Harness was soon in evidence as he scampered on to a through ball from strike partner Ward with Smithies having to race from his line to cut out the danger.
Matty Palmer did well to burst away down the right on 50 minutes despite being dragged back by Jake Bidwell. Albion's influential midfielder made good progress up the right hand side before delivering a low cross that Ward could only help go wide. Having let the play continue referee Duncan went back to show Bidwell a yellow card for his indiscretion.
After a scrappy start to the half it was Albion that grabbed the lead on 58 minutes. Ward started and finished the move bursting through from half way and feeding the ball out to Dyer in plenty of space on the left. The winger cut inside and slightly over ran the ball before stretching to shoot. The ball looped up off a defender and it was WARD that was there to plant the ball past Smithies with a diving header.
Rangers added to their attacking armoury on 64 minutes with midfielder Ariel Borysiuk sacrificed for striker Sebastian Polter as Hasselbaink went in search of the equaliser.
The move paid handsome dividends for the visitors with Polter notching the equaliser for Rangers on 69 minutes. Albion allowed Bidwell to run unchallenged into the last third before whipping in a low ball that the big German substitute stretched out a leg to poke past McLaughlin.
Having played his part in the Rangers equaliser, Bidwell was to take no further part after a nasty shoulder injury ended his game. After lengthy treatment the former Brentford man was stretchered off to be replaced by Joel Lynch.
Polter almost grabbed a second with a cheeky backheel on 82 minutes. Showing good hold up play the big striker played in Wszolek who made good ground down the right before playing the ball in for his partner who back to goal tried to catch out the Burton keeper.
Both sides continued to look for a winner in what proved to be eight minutes of added time, most of which was for the injury to Bidwell and Polter's flashing header, wide of the near post was probably the closest that either side came. It would have been cruel on the Brewers had they not taken something from the game but a point from a game where they were not at the attacking best has to be better than coming away from much brighter performances with nothing to show for their efforts.