Chelsea. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
DENNIS WISE knocked in an equaliser 11 minutes from time that cut short what had begun to look suspiciously like a Rangers' revival at Loftus Road last night.
With one side coming off an FA Cup semi-final victory and the other off a run of three comprehensive defeats, it would have been wrong to expect full-bloodied entertainment but that was what these sides provided in the second half.
While QPR started by trying to avoid repeating recent mistakes, Chelsea appeared frightened of picking up injuries ahead of their 14 May return to Wembley. Unfortunately Tony Cascarino, the Republic of Ireland centre-forward, limped off looking miserable in the 37th minute.
By that stage the game had come to life with three chances in quick succession. Ian Holloway shot wide of the Chelsea goal from Devon White's 27th minute knockdown and then Chelsea broke with Cascarino heading wide from John Spencer's chipped cross.
The flurry came to a climax with QPR's best move of the half. Les Ferdinand sent Ray Wilkins away on the right and White's header from the cross had Dimitri Kharin scrambling back to pull the ball away from the far post.
Shortly before the interval White was cautioned after raising his arm and catching Wise as the Chelsea winger tried to tackle back.
After the break Rangers put the pressure on straight away with Ferdinand having a header from a Wilkins' corner touched past the post for another. White tried his luck, too, but it was his defensive qualities that were needed in the 62nd minute. Just after Karl Ready and the Chelsea substitute, David Hopkin had been booked for a scuffle, White cleared off his own line after Gavin Peacock's header from a flicked-on Wise corner had beaten Tony Roberts.
Four minutes later Holloway crossed from the right and White, in his more usual central striking position, knocked the ball down for Ferdinand to put Rangers in front.
The goal sparked QPR to greater, more fluent attacks and Bardsley hit the post. But it was Bardsley's error that cost them the advantage, the full-back allowing Hopkin's cross to drift over him to Darren Barnard whose low return ball was slid home by Wise.
Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Roberts; Bardsley, Ready, Yates, Wilson; Impey, Holloway, Wilkins, Barker; Ferdinand, White. Substitutes not used: Brevett, T Sinclair, Stejskal (gk).
Chelsea (4-4-2): Kharin; Clarke, Johnsen, Kjeldberg, F Sinclair; Wise, Newton, Peacock, Barnard; Spencer, Cascarino (Hopkin, 37). Substitutes not used: Spackman, Hitchcock (gk).
Referee: R Milford (Bristol).