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  • Writer's pictureBy Dan Evans

Lowe's Loftus Road return not enough to end QPR's winless run


Queens Park Rangers (1) 1 Lowe 27

Swansea City (0) 1 Fulton 81


Even Jamal Lowe’s return to west London was not enough to end QPR’s wait for a win as their hopes of reaching the Championship play-offs continue to dissipate.


Lowe’s expert first-half control and finish, on what was his first start in blue and white hoops, looked set to move Rangers within two points of the top six, only for Jay Fulton to equalise late on and leave them mired in mid-table and without a win since before Christmas.


Neil Critchley is still searching for a first home victory as manager, and Saturday’s display suggested that even the loan acquisition of Lowe from top-flight Bournemouth may not be enough to give QPR the edge over their rivals in the hunt for a top-six finish.


Released by Rangers at 14, Lowe’s journey to the top has included spells at Hayes and Yeading, Borehamwood and Hampton and Richmond, and he could have been forgiven for thinking he was back in the National League South for much of Saturday’s encounter at Loftus Road.


With practically no action of note other than a Tyler Roberts header straight at Swansea ‘keeper Steven Benda taking place in the opening quarter of the game, it quickly became obvious that it would take something above and beyond the ordinary to avoid an afternoon of second-tier drudgery.


QPR had responded to an early spell of composed Swansea possession by launching balls in the general direction of Lyndon Dykes, and whilst it was a rudimentary tactic to say the least, the panic created in the opposition backline gave Critchley’s men a foothold in the contest.


A smarter, more calculated pass in the direction of Dykes from Ethan Laird led to the opening goal. After three defenders were drawn to the Australian-born Scottish target man, Lowe had all of the time and space he could ever need to steady himself and find the far corner from his strike partner’s knock-down.


The accuracy of the finish was a level above anything else on display, and long-looked destined to be the decisive moment.


The home side were enthused by the impact of their Harrow-born hero and went about their closing down with an added vigour as Swansea continued to try and send the ball to sleep with their ever so gentle passing.


Even Benda had grown weary by his side’s attempts to keep the ball at all cost by the start of the second half, picking up a Harry Darling back-pass before saving bravely at the feet of Ilias Chair from the indirect free-kick that followed.


The lack of quality on show had possibly even got to Lowe by the hour mark, as after Roberts picked him out from the right flank, he could only bounce an effort against the crossbar from close range.


He arguably had an even better chance to secure the win with fifteen minutes remaining, as he was denied by substitute goalkeeper Andy Fisher after Swansea’s insistence on playing from the back almost embarrassed a second goalkeeper of theirs in one afternoon.


After letting his former employers off the hook on that occasion, Lowe was made to pay before the game was out as the visitors’ aimless passing morphed into incisive attacking play just in time to set up Fulton to slot home from the edge of the box and earn a share of the points.


Out of both cup competitions and now in the bottom half of the league table, QPR will be hoping Lowe can drag them up to his level before they haul him down to theirs.


QPR: (4-2-3-1) Dieng – Laird (Kakay 38), Dickie, Dunne, Paal – Iroegbunam (Dozzell 89), Field – Roberts (Adomah 89), Lowe, Chair – Dykes (Willock 58). Subs not used: Archer, Clarke-Salter, Johansen


Swansea: (4-4-2) Benda (Fisher 61) – Latibeaudiere, Cabango, Darling, Manning – Fulton, Allen (Ntcham 58), Grimes, Cooper – Piroe, Cullen (Cundle 58). Subs not used: Wood, Naughton, Sorinola, Congreve

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