Being a referee can be a thankless task.
It is a tough job and nigh on impossible to get every decision right.
But Sheffield Wednesday were left to rue two big officiating calls going against them on a frustrating night in the capital.
It is not the first time referee Andy Haines has made a howler when officiating an Owls match. In March 2014, he failed to send off Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi for bringing down Jacques Maghoma before dubiously awarding a spot-kick to the Latics in the closing stages which Jordi Gomez duly converted.
Last night, QPR should have been reduced to 10 men in the 43rd minute after Clint Hill scythed down Modou Sougou. Hill clearly denied a goal-scoring offence but Haines somehow deemed the challenge not even worthy of a foul.
To compound Wednesday’s woes, Sougou was stretchered off with what looked like a serious looking injury.
Haines further angered the Owls after the restart when substitute Lucas Joao appeared to be clipped by Paul Konchesky but awarded no spot kick.
Wednesday can count themselves unfortunate not to have come away with maximum points after a disciplined, workmanlike performance.
Head coach Carlos Carvalhal raised eyebrows with his team selection, making seven alterations. Only Keiren Westwood, Tom Lees, Barry Bannan and Fernando Forestieri were retained from Saturday’s draw with Hull City.
Carvalhal changed three of his back four, although one was enforced with Michael Turner sidelined by a knee injuryagainst the Tigers.
Liam Palmer, Glenn Loovens, Rhoys Wiggins, Modou Sougou, Jose Semedo and Lewis McGugan made their first starts since the cup victory over Newcastle United.
The changes highlighted the size and strength of the squad at Carvalhal’s disposal. His rotation policy has at times been criticised, but his troops did not let him down and they deserved more for their efforts. Watched on by musician Jarvis Cocker, QPR made most of the early running, with Sandro sending a free header wide from a Daniel Tozser, one of three changes for the hosts.
Sandro was in the thick of the action again in the ninth minute when he unceremoniously brought down Semedo with a late and reckless tackle which earned him the first yellow card of the contest.
Wednesday shaded possession in the opening half an hour, with McGugan pulling the strings, but did little with it.
It took a fine interception by Semedo to cut out Matt Phillips’ low delivery as QPR threatened to unlock the visitors stubborn rearguard.
The Owls hunted and harried in packs, trying to give their opponents as little time on the ball as possible. Their pressing game almost paid off when Forestieri dispossessed Grant Hall just inside QPR’s half. Forestieri linked with Nuhiu but the little Argentine slipped at the vital moment and it came to nothing.
In the absence of top-scorer Charlie Austin, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas spearheaded the Hoops’ attack at a flat, subdued Loftus Road and he cut inside from the right flank and unleashed a rasping drive which Westwood could only parry straight to Tjaronn Chery, who failed to turn in the loose ball.
Sitting deep and inviting QPR on to them, Wednesday almost caught them with a suckerpunch when Bannan tried his luck from distance after more good work off the ball by Forestieri only for the Scotland international to send his right foot piledriver high into the stands.
Then came the first controversial moment two minutes before the interval.
Hill’s sloppy first touch got him into trouble and Sougou seized on his indecision and looked set to break clear but the defender tripped him up. Given he was last man, Hill ought to have been given his marching orders.
Despite strong appeals from McGugan and the Owls’ 1,700 plus travelling fans, referee Andy Haines was not interested and waved play on. It was a lucky escape for QPR.
After a seven minute stoppage, Sougou was taken off and replaced by Ross Wallace.
When the half-time whistle, it was no surprise Haines and his fellow officials were booed off. Wednesday were also livid after Joao waltzed past Hill before appearing to be felled by Konchesky. No spot-kick was awarded and Carvalhal’s passionate complaints fell on deaf ears.
QPR, relegated from the Premier League last season, looked a side short on confidence
However, Phillips, who spent a month on loan at Sheffield United in 2011, came close to breaking the deadlock in the 57th minute, drilling a venomous effort narrowly over.
Westwood, named in the Championship’s PFA team of the season, produced a stunning stop to keep out Chery’s rasping volley.
Both sides created chances in the closing stages, with Tozser shooting over for QPR before Bannan blazed over.
Carvalhal will be delighted they recorded their third Championship shut-out, but it could have been a different story had officiating decisions gone their way.
QPR: Green; Onuoha, Hall, Hill, Konchesky; Tozser, Sandro; Chery, Luongo, Phillips; Emmanuel-Thomas (Fer 69). Substitutes: Smithies, Fer, Doughty, Faurlin, Henry, Hoilett, Angella.
Wednesday: Westwood; Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Wiggins; Sougou (Wallace 45), Semedo, McGugan (Lee 69), Bannan; Forestieri (Joao HT), Nuhiu. Substitutes: Wildsmith, Hutchinson, Lee, Sasso, Pudil.
Attendance: 15,471 (1,721)
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).