Rangers are now favourites to continue their pursuit of an immediate return to the Premier League as away goals do not count in Football League playoffs.
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Robert Green made the only save of the opening 45 minutes, strongly keeping out a 42nd-minute Jordi Gomez volley after the Spaniard had manufactured room for a shot following Gary Caldwell's forward punt.
QPR's fast breakaways provided them with a couple of opportunities, although Armand Traore, after getting in front of Jean Beausejour, could not keep his header down from Junior Hoilett's central dink over the top.
There was more intent about the way in which Rangers attacked after the interval and they soon created an opening, when Traore's shot on the turn was well parried away by Scott Carson, diving to his left.
Somehow Green also went untested at the other end when Marc-Antoinie Fortune blazed over the crossbar from eight yards, after Kiernan's miscued shot fell to him in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.
It was the miss of a striker who has gone 17 games without a goal, and one that prevented the Latics taking a lead to Loftus Road for the return fixture against Harry Redknapp's side on Monday.