Oxford United bowed out of the Carabao Cup this evening when a superb strike from former skipper Rob Dickie and a deflected effort from Ilias Chair gave QPR a 2-0 win.
United gave their incredible away following plenty to cheer about, especially in the opening minutes, settling quickly and playing their usual brand of neat football but were left chasing the game after two goals for the R's half way through the first half gave them just too much to do.
Dickie, outstanding on the night, made one superb early tackle and also blocked a second attempt from the hard woirking Sam Winnall that floated just over the bar, with another ex-U’s player Jordan Archer beaten. Alex Gorrin dragged a 16th minute drive wide and United had matched their higher league opponents for the first 15 minutes, but then the Hoops started to get on top.
Simon Eastwood got down well to deny Chris Willock at his near post then made a magnificent save to deny Chair from close range soon after. However, it would have taken Eastwood with Jack Stevens on his shoulders to stop Dickie’s opener when he chested the ball down in the centre circle, played a one-two, rampaged forward from his own half and drove an unstoppable shot into the top left corner for a superb goal. Credit to Dickie who refused to celebrate in front of the away fans (I would still be doing laps of Loftus Road now).
Eastwood made another good save from Chair as United held on to try and get to half time, although an outstretched boot from Winnall lifted a Seddon free kick onto the top of the bar to underline the fact that the U’s weren’t out of it at a goal down.
Sadly, with five minutes to half time the task became a whole lot harder when Chair got Loftus Road rocking. This time it came from the left wing and Chair’s well struck shot took a wicked deflection off stand-in right back Leon Chambers-Parillon to wrong-foot Eastwood and give the R’s a 2-0 half-time advantage.
Bizarrely, United made a double substitution at half time without intending to. Marcus McGuane went off for Cameron Brannagan as planned, but Nathan Holland trotted back out then tweaked something between tunnel and centre circle and was also replaced, by Gavin Whyte.
With little to lose, United tried all they knew to get back into the game, with their fans roaring their team on. Winnall almost reciprocated by finding space and driving a shot goalwards only for Archer to beat it away at the base of the right-hand post. Seddon fired wide of the opposite upright just before the hour and Agyei was beaten by a superbly timed tackle from Archer as United chased the game. Agyei hit the post (admittedly when offside) and there was no doubting the commitment from the men in black.
On the night they just came up against a side challenging at the top of the early Championship table and in top form. United's target remains the same: to reach that division and play these sort of games week in, week out.
First step on that road? Lincoln at home on Saturday. See you there.
Report by Chris Williams. Pictures Steve Edmunds, Steve Daniels, Darrell Fisher, Rex Shutterstock