Queen's Park Rangers 0 Leeds United 1

Hulse spares Healy blushes

"We knew that after a poor performance against Sheffield Wednesday that this would be a tough test," said Blackwell, after watching his striker floor QPR midfielder Marc Bircham after the red mist had descended. "I am delighted to say that they did put a good response in to that."

He added: "I saw David go to the ground and get up quickly. He then went round the back of the fourth official from where I was watching but then I looked over his shoulder and he was off. I'll have to look at it again."

Rangers' first real chance came in the 14th minute through their burly striker Paul Furlong. It warmed a crowd, who though basking in the September sunshine were decidedly on edge with a limp opening by Ian Holloway's men.

Rangers were failing to make inroads against their visitors, who were flourishing with the possession allowed to them. Healy was buzzing with a purpose in the early stages and his Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez, watching from the stands, would have been delighted with the striker's role in Leeds' 20th-minute opening. The resulting shot by the midfielder Jonathan Douglas, after a finely carved move, flew over goalkeeper Simon Royce's bar.

Dean Sturridge nearly found the opener for the home side after 30 minutes after seizing upon a mistake by central defender Sean Gregan. A low drive, however, was not enough to find its way past an alert Neil Sullivan. At the other end, Healy's subtle touch put Douglas away after 34 minutes, as the diminutive front man continued to make a nuisance of himself, but the midfielder could not fire his shot accurately.

Seven minutes later, Rangers broke under the continued onslaught, giving way when Eddie Lewis's free-kick into the penalty area found the feet of Rob Hulse. The unmarked striker tapped in from six yards for what will probably turn out to be one of the easiest goals of his career.

A tired-looking Rangers looked devoid of energy and ideas, and as the second half wore on failed to turn the tide. Leeds, while not exactly thrilling in possession, were looking relaxed.

The game was blown wide open after 64 minutes when Healy was sent off. Frustrated by a decision going the other way when he accused Bircham of blocking him, he charged up to the Rangers midfielder and stamped on the back of his opponent's leg in full view of the referee. Peter Walton immediately brandished a red card with the 26-year-old scurrying off in shame. Rangers failed to take advantage as Healy, no doubt, thanked his lucky stars.