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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Additional Match Reports


A Richard Langley finish ten minutes from time gave QPR a thrilling 4-3 win at Gresty Road. It wasn't exactly the end we would have wanted to a disappointing 2005, especially after Eddie Johnson had given us a 15th minute lead and then led 3-2 at the interval following further goals from Luke Varney and Billy Jones. In a topsy-turvy game, second half strikes from Martin Rowlands and Langley sealed our fate though and left us feeling awfully deflated on this New Year's Eve. Crewe enter 2006 at the bottom of the league following wins for Millwall and Sheffield Wednesday.

Centre-half Richard Walker returned to the sixteen-man squad after overcoming his leg injury. The Stafford based defender replaced Adie Moses on the substitutes bench which also included the scorer of our goal on Wednesday evening, Luke Rodgers.

For the visitors Paul Furlong dropped down the substitutes bench with Shabazz Baidoo starting for QPR.

The start of a rip-roaring first half nearly saw Eddie Johnson give us a lead in the opening minute. The on-loan Manchester United youngster, who recently agreed to extend his loan spell with us until the end of the season nearly finished off a fine passing move, but his looping shot cleared Simon Royce's crossbar.

Johnson was again involved a few minutes later after being picked out superbly by Kenny Lunt and his final shot made Royce to make a decent enough save. It was evident that both sides were going to create chances.

Lee Cook was the main outlet for the blue and white hoops and a probing run was only halted by a timely interception by Chris McCready. Richard Langley saw his long-range shot drift over Ross Turnbull's bar before Crewe took the lead on 15 minutes.

Young Gary Roberts was the creator supreme, smartly turning away from Cook close to the touchline before feeding Steve Jones down the left wing. The Northern Ireland International kept his composure to look up and pick out Johnson, who slotted into the bottom corner for his fourth goal of the campaign.

Crewe had an early advantage but a topsy-turvy affair would see that lead disintegrate within a minute. It was that sort of match, which had you on the edge of your seat.

In their quest to draw themselves level, Cook and then Langley shot straight at Ross Turnbull before QPR lost their influential midfielder Marc Bircham with a re-occurrence of his hamstring injury. He was replaced by Gareth Ainsworth, who played on the right and Martin Rowlands moved into the centre.

QPR came move into the game and pushed Crewe back into our penalty area. David Vaughan was called upon to do his defensive duties in clearing a Lee Cook free-kick before Steve Jones forced a fine save from Royce at the other end of the pitch.

It was end-to-end stuff and the match turned on its head in the 34th minute. Darren Moss was caught in possession by Lee Cook and the former Watford man drilled it past Ross Turnbull.

Barely 60 seconds later, the visitors were quite unbelievably ahead. Cook and Martin Rowlands were involved in the build up and Gareth Ainsworth's cross to the far post was converted by Shabazz Baidoo.

To compound the situation, Eddie Johnson was unable to continue with what looked to be a hamstring strain and he was replaced by Luke Varney, who went about his business with real purpose. He was spoken too unfairly really for putting himself about that giant of a man Danny Shittu before scoring with his first touch!

Steve Jones unsettled Shittu and despite being impeded he still managed to flick the ball into the box where Varney accelerated onto the loose ball to sweep the ball past Simon Royce for 2-2.

That was not the end of the first half scoring. Steve Jones fired a low shot against the legs of Royce before another flowing move saw Crewe take the lead again!

The tenacious Roberts was again involved with some sublime close control close to the by-line and his pass released Steve Jones, who again rolled the ball across the box to invite the supportive Billy Jones to score his fifth of the campaign. That goal, a minute before the break climaxed one of the most entertaining first half's at Gresty Road.

With a 3-2 lead, Crewe were in a fine position to go on and secure just our fourth win of the season - but again defensive lapses would cost us everything. Credit must be given to Ian Holloway's side, who showed great character to fight back again and secure another win on the road.

It looked to be another exciting half when Steve Jones had another effort cleared off the line and the next goal was always going to be crucial. Danny Shittu headed goalwards from a corner and tried his luck from distance before Crewe again shot themselves in the foot again from our own thrown-in. This time it was Lunt caught out and Martin Rowlands punished him fully with another spectacular effort from 25 yards. His arrowed drive went straight into our top left corner to give Ross Turnbull little chance.

In fairness, QPR enjoyed a lot more possession in the second period, and always looked the more likely to score again. Substitute Paul Furlong fired at the legs of Turnbull after being sent clear through the middle of our defence.

Crewe had their chances too though, with Man-of-the-Match Gary Roberts forcing a decent save from Royce after a forceful run by Royce and Stephen Foster was close to reaching a wicked free-kick delivery from Kenny Lunt.

Crewe then lost left back Anthony Tonkin through injury, thus allowing Luke Rodgers to come on and play in a three upfront. Moss switched over to left back and Billy Jones filled in at right back.

Billy Jones was then cautioned for a trip on the influential Cook before Naiboo again tested the busier Turnbull.

With ten minutes remaining, QPR grabbed the decisive goal. Richard Langley latched on to a through from Furlong and raced clear of the intentions of Roberts and the trying to recover Foster before dispatching his shot with aplomb. It was like a knife through the heart at that stage of the game and overall was a little harsh on the Railwayen.

There was still time on the clock for a couple of Kenny Lunt free-kicks to cause an element of confusion inside the QPR box before Furlong had another opportunity at the death to make it appear more comfortable for the visitors, but Turnbull stood firm to deny the veteran striker a goal.

Crewe huffed and puffed in the closing stages, with Rangers conceding a number of free-kicks, but with Shittu getting his head on most things, real chances were few and far between. From a good position at the break, Crewe had somehow lost the match. http://www.crewealex.premiumtv.co.uk/page/Match/MatchReport/0,,10414~30487,00.html

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