Leeds United fans were given a reality check as their side’s unbeaten record went against promotion favourites QPR at Elland Road.
In the end it was a scruffy goal that won a scruffy game, but it was the London outfit celebrating a 1-0 win.
Leeds created precious few chances against a solid Rangers back line and the only goal of the game came 15 minutes from time when Clint Hill bundled the ball over the line from close range after it had dropped to him kindly from a Joey Barton free-kick not cleared.
Maybe it was justice for the visitors, who could have been one up in the ninth minute when Barton had the ball in the net only to be ruled offside in a marginal decision. But United could also complain after they were denied a strong shout for a penalty for handball against Danny Simpson in the second half.
They were also unlucky in the very last seconds when skipper Rudy Austin hit a thunderbolt of a volley from all of 35 yards out only to see the ball smack the crossbar.
But the Whites only managed two efforts on target all game and both brought comfortable saves from Rangers keeper Robert Green from Dominic Poleon efforts.
In the first half Leeds edged it, but lacked quality in the final third with strikers Luke Varney and Noel Hunt well shackled and the only efforts coming from long range, Paul Green, Austin and Ross McCormack all shooting wide.
QPR, for all their big spending, were no better as they could only count a weak header by Shaun Wright-Phillips as their only effort of note apart from the Barton strike that was ruled out.
The visitors did improve after the break with Charlie Austin presented with a chance after a loose Stephen Warnock pass back. He raced into the box, but saw his angled shot saved by Paddy Kenny.
Striker Austin hit another effort wide, but both sides were still guilty of giving the ball away too much
Leeds made changes, throwing on Matt Smith and Poleon up front, but it was Rangers who had the next chance as Austin’s shot was comfortably saved by Kenny then they got their winning goal from a free-kick well delivered by their busiest player, Barton.
Another change saw El Hadji Diouf brought on and he livened up the home attack. Poleon got on the end of a Smith flick on, but could only send a weak shot in and Jason Pearce then came up from the back to send a header just wide.
Lee Peltier fired over after electing to shoot on the run while in a finish to the game that was much more exciting than the earlier part of the game Junior Hoilett went close for QPR.
However, when Austin’s powerful volley found the woodwork with keeper Green well beaten it was all over and Leeds were left to rue their first defeat of the season.
Manager Brian McDermott said: “We didn’t do enough with the ball. Without it we were diligent and solid and never looked like losing.
“We were done by a set play, which was disappointing.”
Leeds United 0
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Wootton, Warnock, Green (Diouf 80), Austin, Murphy, Hunt (Poleon 57), McCormack, Varney (Smith 57).
QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Onuoha, Hill, O’Neill (Hoilett 64), Barton, Henry (Faurlin 72), Wright-Phillips, Johnson (Jenas 88), Austin.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.