REPORT FROM QPR.CO.UK
FULL TIME: RANGERS 2 MANSFIELD TOWN 2
Rangers salvaged a point at Loftus Road this afternoon when Kevin Gallen struck in injury time against Mansfield Town.
The visitors were forced to play with 10 men for three-quarters of the game after the dismissal of debutant Andy Jones, but turned the match on its head with a brace from Iyseden Christie after Paul Furlong's opener.
Rangers had looked in control in the early stages, but in the end looked short of ideas and it was to the great relief of the Loftus Road crowd that Gallen fired home from 30 yards, having earlier missed a penalty.
Rangers had begun so brightly and could easily have taken the lead inside two minutes. An almighty scramble saw the ball run free to Paul Furlong who stabbed the ball agonisingly wide from five yards out.
Three minutes later a Leroy Griffiths cross from the left was deflected in to the path of Richard Langley who mistimed his shot from 12 yards out, allowing Mansfield to clear.
Rangers were then left to wonder quite how the breakthrough would come when on 11 minutes they squandered another excellent opportunity. Marc Bircham floated a beautiful cross in from the left and Paul Furlong met it with a firm header. Once again though his effort went just the wrong side of the post.
Rangers kept pressing and on 18 minutes Keith Welch had to scramble away to his right to tip away a speculative Kevin Gallen drive. Mansfield were holding on at this stage but only just and it seemed only a matter of time before the home side made their dominance pay.
An expectant Loftus Road crowd didn't have long to wait. Two minutes later, Kevin Gallen released Furlong who pulled off his marker before rifling a fierce drive in to the bottom right hand corner.
But if Rangers thought this would open the floodgates, they were in for a rude awakening only four minutes after Furlong's goal. A looping header from Junior Mendes deceived Nick Culkin only to rebound off the crossbar and in to the path of the unmarked Iyseden Christie who nodded the ball home from six yards out.
But having thrown away their advantage Rangers were then boosted by a red card for Andy Jones. Jones, making his professional debut, had only been on the pitch for nine minutes having replaced the injured Matthew Gadsby, but received two yellow cards, the second for an ugly lunge on Richard Langley.
The home side immediately went on the attack and a thunderbolt drive from Gino Padula was only parried by Welch. Gallen followed up with a header which came back off the bar and Mansfield were relieved to clear.
Mansfield now enjoyed their best spell of the half forcing two corners in quick succession but Rangers went back on the attack and forced one of their own after good work from Gallen and Langley.
But any thought that a depleted Mansfield would roll over and die in the second half was quickly dispelled when Christie beat the Rangers offside trap, latching on to Craig Disley's through ball before coolly slotting home from 12 yards.
Rangers' misery was further compounded only 90 seconds later when a Kevin Gallen penalty was saved by Welch. The Town keeper guessed right and pushed Gallen's low drive away after Keith Curle had shoved Furlong in the box.
Two minutes later, Mansfield thought they should have had a penlty of their own. The impressive Christie slipped the ball past Culkin and went down under the keeper's challenge, but referee Robinson saw nothing untoward.
Despite their one-man disadvantage, Mansfield were giving as good as they got whilst Rangers' efforts were becoming more and more desperate. Bircham and Bean both squandered opportunities as the clock ticked down and the crisp passing of the first half was replaced by a more direct approach.
On 67 minutes, Ian Holloway replaced Marcus Bean with Dennis Oli and almost straight away had to bring Danny Murphy on for the injured Gino Padula, but it had little immediate impact with the 10 men comfortably repelling the home side as the game headed towards a conclusion.
With five minutes to go, Marc Bircham hit the side netting after Leroy Griffiths goal bound effort was blocked and Griffiths sent a shot wide in injury time but otherwise Rangers were unable to create anything of real note in the closing stages despite enjoying the majority of possession.
The game apeared to be petering out until Gallen struck at the death to save Rangers' bacon.
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