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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Match Report

46th-minute goal for recalled Danish striker Marc Nygaard proved enough for QPR to overcome Cardiff at Loftus Road.

In a lacklustre first half, Nygaard struck the bar, Jason Koumas went close, and Neil Alexander saved well from Cardiff old boy Richard Langley.

Within a minute of the restart Lee Cook broke down the left and floated a delightful cross for Nygaard to head powerfully past a helpless Alexander.

Cameron Jerome had a chance to equalise but shot straight at Simon Royce

Official Site Report

Rangers gained a much needed and thoroughly deserved three points against Cardiff.

Marc Nygaard notched the only goal of a one-sided match inside 60 seconds of the second half to cap a first rate display from Rangers.

The goal was no more than the Dane and his team-mates deserved, after an impressive display, that had seen R's come close to scoring on a number of occasions throughout the 90 minutes.

Nygaard came closest to opening the scoring in the first period when he latched onto Martin Rowlands' pass, only to see his fizzing volley cannon off the top of the crossbar and to safety.

Rangers' starting line-up showed five changes from the side which lost at Brighton on Boxing Day.

Simon Royce returned after completing a one-match suspension, as did Georges Santos at the heart of the R's back four.

Matthew Rose returned at left back, while Marc Bircham and Marc Nygaard also took their places in the starting line-up after prolonged spells on the sideline.

Rangers forced the first corner inside two minutes, but Richard Langley - playing against his former club for the first time - was unable to provide the killer delivery and Cardiff comfortably cleared their lines.

Just two minutes later Lee Cook's stinging 25 yard left footed drive forced Neil Alexander into a terrific full length save at this far post, as Rangers' positive start resulted was rewarded with a first shot on target.

Rangers continued to enjoy the lions share of possession in the opening exchanges and on 11 minutes Paul Furlong dragged a shot wide after decent link up play with Nygaard.

Furlong registered his first attempt on goal on the quarter hour, applying the deftest of touches to Martin Rowlands' cross, only to see his header easily held by Cardiff stopper Alexander.

Fine work from the lively Cook provided Furlong with another opportunity on 18 minutes, but again his header failed to test Alexander

Just a minute later Rowlands' deft chip fell into the path of Nygaard, who having evaded the attention of Bluebirds defensive duo Chris Barker and Glenn Loovens, saw his stooping volley clip the top of the crossbar and fly to safety.

Rangers were encamped in the visitors half, but as the clock ticked on, you could sense the home faithful were becoming increasingly frustrated.

On 32 minutes and to the delight of a vocal travelling crowd, Langley was booked for a late lunge on Jason Koumas and from the resultant 25 yard free-kick, the West Bromwich Albion loanee curled a dipping effort inches wide of the far post.

With half-time fast approaching Langley's 25 yard free-kick took a huge deflection off Loovens, but yet again Alexander came to Cardiff's rescue with a superb finger tipped save.

With neither manager choosing to make changes at the break, it was pretty much business as usual for the R's, who continued to take the game to the visitors.

And their fast start to the half was rewarded inside 60 seconds when Cook floated in an inch-perfect left footed cross and Nygaard stooped between Cardiff skipper Neil Cox and Loovens to power his 10-yard header past the sprawling Alexander and into the corner of the net.

With his confidence at an all-time high, Nygaard began to lead the visitors a merry dance and just three minutes later his mesmerising run took him deep into Cardiff territory, only for Loovens to produce a timely tackle to thwart the rejuvenated Rangers front-man.

But Cardiff are resolute if nothing else and on 55 minutes Koumas' 20-yard effort brought the best out of the returning Royce, ho dived to his right to palm the ball to safety.

Although Cardiff's five-man midfield provided extra defensive cover, they were all too often guilty of inviting the hosts on to them.

Yet it was the Bluebirds who fashioned the next chance, when top scorer Cameron Jerome powered a stinging 10-yard effort into the arms of the grateful Royce.

Like their visitors, Rangers were also guilty of sitting back at times and as the clock ticked towards the hour mark, Cardiff enjoyed their best passage of play in the contest.

Ian Holloway introduced Shabazz Baidoo at the expense of the tiring Nygaard on 66 minutes and the teenager made an immediate impact, winning a free-kick on the edge of Cardiff's 18-yard box.

That came to nothing, but the young striker was at it again five minutes later, forcing Chris Barker to concede a needless corner by harrying the defender into a cul-de-sac.

Cook fizzed a shot just wide on 72 minutes and was soon replaced by fans favourite Gareth Ainsworth.

Cardiff huffed and puffed, but it was Rangers who created the next opportunity on 76 minutes when Langley's corner was headed powerfully over by the unmarked Shittu.

Rowlands had the chance to ease the nerves of the home crowd when Badioo escaped the offside trap and pulled the ball back to the end of the penalty box. But the Northern Ireland midfielder rushed his effort and sent it flying over the bar.

He almost made amends a minute late though, when a fine individual run ended with an inch perfect pull back into the path of Baidoo. But Alexander stood firm, flinging himself to his left to produce a stunning top drawer save.

Play soon switched to the other end, where Royce had to be at his agile best to palm Willie Boland's shot to safety.

The full-time whistle came as a huge relief to the hosts, who were delighted to celebrate a first home victory since October 22.

QPR: Royce, Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Bircham (Milanese 81), Rowlands, Santos, Cook (Ainsworth 71), Furlong, Nygaard (Baidoo 66), Langley

Subs: Cole, Donnelly.

Bookings: Langley (32)

Cardiff: Alexander, Barker, Whitley (Parry 78), Cox, Ardley, Koumas, Jerome, Boland, Loovens, Ledley, Cooper (Lee 69).

Subs: Margetson, Darlington, Ricketts.

Bookings: Boland (21)

Attendance: 12329



It was a case of better workrate, but still no bite up front as the Bluebirds now make it one goal in the last five games. City fell by a single goal to rivals Queens Park Rangers, with an early second half header from Marc Nygaard that proved the difference at Loftus Road - the win bein Rangers first home win since late October.

A changed team and formation from Dave Jones looked more solid than they did against Plymouth, but a distinct lack of final third action and too much reliance on Jason Koumas' free-kicks meant that we never really looked like scoring. It might have worked at Elland Road, but in London we were less fortunate.

Next up come Southampton, who also lost on the night to second place Sheffield United. We're sure that both teams will demand goals and better attacking play on the final day of 2005.

Team News

Dave Jones had promised changes after the loss to Plymouth, and he didn't change his mind. Not only was Darren Purse missing after his red card appeal was denied, but Jones also gave a start to Neal Ardley in the place of Rhys Weston at right back.

The formation from Boxing Day was also shuffled, with both Ricketts and Alan Lee on the bench. Jones had opted for the 4-5-1 formation used successfully at Elland Road. As at Elland Road Neil Cox partnered Glenn Loovens at the back, guaranteed also a chance to play at Ninian Park against Southampton

Detailed Report

QPR opened the game with intent and were the early pace setters at Loftus Road. After five minutes a Willie Boland foul gave Rangers a chance from a free-kick twelve yards in front of the penalty area. Richard Langley tapped the ball to Rowlands who then hit the ball hard, blocked by Jeff Whitley to end the danger.

All images in this report via Sportsbeat, our Official Away Photographic Partner

The Bluebirds in their new line up and formation however looked improved themselves from the lacklustre display on Boxing Day. As per Leeds the solid inclusion of Boland with Whitley in the centre gave room for Ledley, Cooper and Koumas to create more.

Rangers continued to be dominant and almost got the opener after eighteen minutes as Marc Nygaard was forced into a chipped shot by Neil Alexander - the 'keeper doing well to force an early shot that thankfully from our perspective hit the bar and went out for a goal kick.

City continued to frustrate their hosts, with the pack mentality and defending mindset preventing any other real chances for Rangers. Their style of play however also prevented many opening chances for the Bluebirds.

Just after the half hour mark Richard Langley was booked for bringing down Jason Koumas ten yards outside of the area, with a chance for Koumas to try his dead ball magic. Despite his great bending effort beating the R's 'keeper Royce, the ball flew narrowly wide and hitting the support beams.

Rangers then had an identical opportunity at the other end as Paul Furlong was brought down by Glenn Loovens. Up stepped Langley who's shot hit the City wall for a deflection, with the ball looked like going in until Alexander excellently dived to save for a corner.

City looked a lot more composed as the half ended, matching their hosts with attacking chances, though neither could find much action in their respective penalty areas.

Half Time: QPR 0 - 0 Cardiff

Whatever Ian Holloway said at half time it worked, as after seventy seconds of the restart Rangers had the lead. Lee Cook made a great run down the right wing and crossed the ball well for Nygaard to rise and powerfully head past a helpless Alexander.

QPR 1 - 0 Cardiff (46 mins)

The goal gave Rangers a lift, but the Bluebirds also responded well, refusing to lower their heads at Loftus Road. After fifty four minutes Jason Koumas spanked a great half volley towards the low corner, forcing Royce to dive at full stretch and palm to safety.

City continued to fire forward with a sense of urgency about them and minutes later again called Royce into a save as Ledley first did well in a wide position to then cut in and feed the ball to Jerome. Despite Jerome hitting the target, Jerome aimed the ball too close to the 'keeper to save.

With Cardiff looking more dangerous, Rangers were always capable of taking advantage on the break, with Lee Cook looking the most dangerous in a hooped shirt.

Substitutions were made on either side, as Alan Lee was introduced for Kevin Cooper and City reverting to a 4-4-2 formation. QPR introduced former loan Bluebird Gareth Ainsworth and Shabazz Baidoo.

The changes made no real difference to the game in terms of attacking opportunities with little to report in terms of penalty area action. Paul Parry was then introduced for Jeff Whitley and Bircham made way for Milanese.


With just under ten minutes on the clock Ainsworth set up Rowlands for a certain goal, but somehow Rowlands managed to skew his drive and the two goal advantage disappeared. Immediately after Rangers again were denied a certain goal as Alexander saved a Baidoo effort - City living far too dangerously and back too deep to find an equaliser.

With just five minutes on the clock Willie Boland almost got his 'goal of the season' with a stunning twenty five yard drive that Royce did well to save. It looked at this point as if it wasn't to be our night no matter what.

City then illustrated the point further as a good spell of possession and passing ended with Cameron Jerome with a free header that sailed well wide.

As four minutes of injury time were displayed City looked to have their last throw of the dice as again we looked to Koumas to save us from a free kick six yards outside of the area. His strike however hit the wall and fell to nothing.

Rangers like Plymouth on Boxing Day understandably ran out time to the best of their ability - the referee calling time as the four minutes fell away.

We now sit a further spot down the table in eleventh place, leapfrogged by Luton who beat Brighton 3-0 on the night. We're still in touching distance of the play-off places, but the three points seem a lot bigger based on our Christmas performances and a dire lack of goal scoring opportunities created in our opponents final third.

Full Time: QPR 1 - 0 Cardiff

QPR: Royce, Bignot, Shittu, Rose, Bircham (Milanese 81), Rowlands, Santos, Cook (Ainsworth 71), Furlong, Nygaard (Baidoo 66), Langley

Subs: Cole, Donnelly. Bookings: Langley (32)

Cardiff: Alexander, Barker, Whitley (Parry 78), Cox, Ardley, Koumas, Jerome, Boland, Loovens, Ledley, Cooper (Lee 69).

Subs: Margetson, Darlington, Ricketts. Bookings: Boland (21)

Attendance: 12,329 http://www.cardiffcityfc.premiumtv.co.uk/page/Match/1stTeamReport/0,,10335~30609,00.html

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