MATTY Taylor’s close-range finish gave Oxford United victory against Queens Park Rangers in a pre-season friendly at the Kassam Stadium.

The striker missed one glaring chance just after the break, but made no mistake when a corner fell his way ten minutes later.

Although Rob Dickie was left out of the squad, fuelling speculation about his departure, United’s centre back pairing of Elliott Moore and Rob Atkinson had relatively few problems in a game of few clear chances.

United’s main concern will be over Joel Cooper, who had to come off after 23 minutes with a knock just a week before their competitive games start.

Simon Eastwood and Mark Sykes started for United after knocks, but the big news was the absence of Dickie from the hosts’ squad.

Linked with a move away all summer, it appeared to confirm he was heading closer to the exit – with visitors QPR believed to be in pole position to buy him.

United had started brightly in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace, but in much colder conditions they struggled to warm to their task.

Rangers saw most of the ball once the game settled down and on 12 minutes Eastwood was in the right place to keep out Geoff Cameron’s firm header at a corner.

The hosts’ frustrating start continued when Cooper was withdrawn midway through the half. It was not clear what had prompted the move, but the winger had spent some time talking to boss Karl Robinson and the medical staff a couple of minutes earlier.

With just a week left until the competitive games start, there was no sense in taking any risks.

United’s one clear chance of the half arrived after half an hour. Alex Gorrin got away with what looked a foul near the centre circle and slipped in Cameron Brannagan, whose cross deflected awkwardly for Taylor and the striker could not keep his effort down at the back post.

The only shot on target of the half came from Ilias Chair, who had seen several other shots go wide. When he did find his range from 20 yards it was routine for Eastwood.

Taylor headed a glorious chance over seven minutes into the second half after James Henry had crossed to put the ball on a plate six yards out.

But last season’s top scorer did not miss out for long. Just after the hour mark his backheel from close range opened the scoring after Rob Atkinson had won the header from Brannagan’s corner.

Robinson rang the changes as the game entered the final 20 minutes, bringing on seven substitutes at once.

One of those was Anthony Forde, who quickly laid on a chance for Henry, but instead of volleying on goal he sought to set up Derrick Osei and goalkeeper Liam Kelly dived on the soft pass.

Osei did get a shot away in the closing stages after being cleverly found by Rob Hall, but the low effort skimmed wide from just inside the box.

United held firm to see out the game and have just one more run-out, a game on Tuesday against an as-yet unnamed opponent.

Oxford Utd (4-3-3): Eastwood, Clare (Long 74), Moore, Atkinson (Mousinho 74), Ruffels, Gorrin (Kelly 74), Brannagan (Forde 74), McGuane (Hall 74), Sykes (Agyei 74), Taylor (Osei 74), Cooper (Henry 24, Napa 83).

Unused subs: Stevens.

QPR (4-2-3-1): Kelly, Kakay (Kane 60), Masterson, Barbet (Hamalainen 75), Wallace (Manning HT), Ball, Cameron (Bettache 75), Osayi-Samuel (Shodipo 75), Amos (Alfa 75), Chair (Smyth 75), Dykes (Oteh 75). 

Unused subs: Lumley, Gubbins.

Referee: John Busby (Oxfordshire).