A Rob Dickie thunderbolt helped QPR beat the defender’s former side Oxford United 2-0 at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium to claim a place in the third round of the EFL Cup.
It is Dickie’s defensive prowess that has seen him draw links to the likes of Leeds United and Wolves this summer but he’s now found the net four times this season, with his 26th-minute top corner strike tonight surely the best of the lot.
Ilias Chair dazzled as well and added the R’s second via a deflection just before the break.
Warburton has made his frustration at his side’s busy schedule no secret in recent weeks and he named just four substitutes on the bench, all academy players, but despite making six changes to his starting XI didn’t feel able to leave out Dickie, with the former Oxford man wearing the captain’s armband for the night.
The man in the opposing dugout promised a host of changes ahead of the game and was true to his word but even so it was the visitors that started the brighter of the two sides.
Oxford’s passes were crisper, their movement more dynamic, and their support in louder voice but the offside flag put an end to the best of their opportunities in the opening 10 minutes.
In fact, were it not for a brilliant block from Dickie and an excellent last-ditch tackle from Jimmy Dunne, Sam Winnall likely would’ve given the U’s the lead inside a quarter of an hour.
The hosts weren’t kept quiet for too long, however, with Chris Willock stinging the hands of Simon Eastwood after 20 minutes before Chair saw a close-range effort parried by the goalkeeper a few minutes later.
It was Dickie, the former Oxford man and R’s captain for the night, that broke the deadlock after 26 minutes with his fourth goal of the season and undoubtedly the best of the lot.
The centre-back played a one-two with Chair on the halfway line before driving forward to the edge of the box and smashing a piledriver into the top corner leaving the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium in raptures – though the defender himself refused to celebrate as a show of respect to his former club.
Buoyed by the bouncing home support, the R’s looked as though they might double the deficit in the proceeding 10 minutes with Chair running riot down the left.
The 23-year-old was excellent throughout the first half, with quick feet and guile on show, and eventually did score the second five minutes before the break when his low strike deflected off Leon Chambers-Parillon and past Eastwood into the corner.
Jordan Archer was the first of the two keepers to be called into action after the break and he proved equal to Winnall’s 53rd-minute strike.
The Oxford striker’s reluctance to find a teammate saw another chance go begging six minutes later while at the other end Charlie Kelman and Willock were inches away from killing the game from a third but couldn’t quite connect with a low cross.
In the 75th minute, the travelling Oxford support came to life when Archer sent Daniel Agyei flying with a low sliding tackle on the edge of the box but the referee rightly waved away appeals for a penalty.
They were asking again five minutes later but this time the offside flag saved the R’s and left Robinson’s side feeling that tonight just wasn’t going to be their night.
21-year-old Stephen Duke-McKenna nearly capped off the evening for the home side in the dying moments but his low strike rolled just wide, denying him a first professional goal.
Ultimately, the quality of the R’s proved too much on a night that proved once again what a masterstroke the signing of Dickie has been.
The defender was given a standing ovation from both sets of fans when he was replaced to give him the perfect end to an evening that could barely have gone better for Dickie if he’d written it himself.
FULL TIME: QPR 2 – 0 Oxford United