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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Press Reports & Post-Match Comments as Ian Holloway's Plymouth Drew 1-1 at Loftus Road

Updated 11:30 am GMT:

Sunday People - By ROBERT PAUL

IAN HOLLOWAY left his old Loftus Road stamping ground with his dignity intact and a point on an emotional first return to the club where he remains a cult hero.
The 32nd-minute opener from skipper Lilian Nalis - later sent off for two needless yellow cards - ensured 'Olly' departed with something from the club where he was lauded as both player and a promotion-winning manager.
Lee Cook's controversial 59th-minute equaliser spoiled what would have been a real fairytale homecoming for Holloway, whose five-year tenure ended last February, with an extended gardening leave session before taking over at Plymouth.
Holloway said: "I told my players not to get caught up in the emotion of it. I almost did once or twice, but I'm delighted I kept my dignity.
"It was all a very surreal experience - I didn't really enjoy it.
"I wish it had ended in a different way and I wish things were said that were right
"And I wish Rangers all the best because you don't give five years of your life without caring. I had some marvellous moments here, but you've got to move on."
The result was a relief for Rangers' relegation-threatened manager John Gregory, a former Plymouth boss, but he sympathised with Argyle's protests because keeper Luke McCormick was fouled for Cook's equaliser. People

Plymouth Official Site - Ian Holloway - HAPPY WITH A POINT
ARGYLE manager Ian Holloway admitted "we didn't quite get things right today" after a QPR comeback saw his current and previous clubs draw 1-1 at Loftus Road.
Argyle captain Lilian Nalis scored the opener after 32 minutes before being sent off later on, partly for protesting about Lee Cook's second-half equaliser which appeared to come after a foul on Pilgrims' goalkeeper Luke McCormick.
Ollie said: "I wouldn't have complained that much if QPR had got all three [points] if they had stuck in one of the chances they had created, but I didn't like the one they got.
"I thought the referee should have disallowed it, then my captain out there would not have got sent off.
"When you get an equaliser in that fashion, which was so obviously a foul to me, I'm a little bit hurt.
"It was blatant. Everybody in the ground saw it. I think the referee, when he sees that, will [realise he has] got it wrong
"On the balance of play, I felt that we were fortunate to go out with a point in the end, the way the game was going."
Nalis received his first yellow card for remonstrating with referee Richard Beeby about the QPR goal and a second for dissent following a skirmish with Rangers' midfielder Gareth Ainsworth.
"I felt we showed a lack of discipline," said Ollie. "Lil got booked for moaning about [the goal] - you are never going to change their mind - and then he kicks the ball away.
"He hasn't put a foot wrong for me since I've been here - he's a wonderful fella - but he could have cost us, big time.
"I said, at half-time, 'Don't get caught in it'. Sometimes the extra emotions are a waste of energy. Under pressure, you have to be able to take it, deal with it and be calm.
"With a young team, I needed people like Lil doing that.
"I told him not to get caught up in the emotion of it - I almost did, once or twice, but I'm delighted I managed to keep my dignity."
Ollie felt that Argyle did not get the rub of the green from Beeby.
"In such a fervent atmosphere and with challenges left, right and centre, you expect them to come out 50-50," he said.
"All do I know, when I was a kid and I tossed a coin, sometimes it was heads and sometimes it was tails, and I thought that, if fairness is fairness, then Gareth Ainsworth, who I brought here and who I'm very proud of, should have been booked at least a couple of times, and, as for [Adam] Bolder, lunging in right, left and centre."
Following the recent victories over Derby and Colchester, Ollie admitted: "We were a bit off it, but you are not always going to be as good as we were in the last two games.
"This pitch is quite compact and the crowd are on top of you. Whether some of my young ones were quite up for it or ready, I don't know, but they have grown in stature.
"That wasn't us, really.
"[Rangers] were absolutely out of the box, flying. It looked like they had the bit between their teeth. Well done to them, and onwards and upwards for all of us.
"They had a couple of clear-cut chances, and I can't remember that many for us. I would have wished, in an ideal world, that they would have scored, then some of our lot might not have been able to make any excuses."
Asked about the warm reception he received from Rangers' fans, Ollie said: "I'm very pleased I get the reception I do from the Plymouth fans.
"I'm not very pleased when people keep calling me 'madcap'. I'm passionate, but I'm certainly not mad and I haven't got a cap. You get labelled, but it's absolutely rubbish.
"Now, I'm a Pilgrim; I am member of the Green Army; I have got the number 12 on my pyjamas. Plymouth

Telegraph - Andrew Warshaw - Holloway feels at home

A week after the excitement of steering Plymouth into the FA Cup quarter-finals, Ian Holloway returned to his old stamping ground for the first time yesterday and saw his team add to the impending sense of doom in this part of west London.

As expected, the eccentric Pilgrims manager got a warm reception at the club he managed for five years prior to moving to Devon last summer,and left with a point that heaped even more anxiety on struggling Rangers.

To make Holloway feel even more comfortable in familiar surroundings, he was given his old dugout back by Rangers manager John Gregory - a nice gesture, yet hardly one that could disguise the unease around Loftus Road. While Holloway has made an immediate impact in his native West Country, turmoil is the only word to describe recent events at Rangers.

First there was the mass brawl against a Chinese Olympic team which led to suspension of assistant manager Richard Hill, then the unrelated departures of the goalkeeping coach and press manager. Combine that with a recent slump on the pitch that had seen Rangers take only seven points from 27 prior to yesterday, and you can see why the natives are getting so restless.

Gregory was given the proverbial vote of confidence in the programme by his chairman. Gianni Paladini. who denounced all speculation about the manager as "nonsense" and said he had "no intention" of sacking him Yet with Rangers lurching from one crisis to another, the one confidence boost Rangers needed was on the pitch. They had a strong start, Luke McCormick pulling off an excellent double save from Dexter Blackstock and the much-touted Lee Cook in the first minute of the game. But with 32 minutes on the clock, it was the 3,000 visiting fans who were in full voice as David Norris' free kick was headed home by captain Lillian Nalis.

Parity was gained just before the hour. Gary Ainsworth's goal-bound shot was deflected wide and, from the resultant corner, Cook forced the ball over the line despite fierce protests from the Plymouth players that McCormick had been impeded just beforehand.

Nalis' sending-off for a second bookable offence 10 minutes from time gave Rangers renewed heart. Try as they might, they simply could not claim a winner despite strong appeals for a penalty and a Paul Furlong strike in added time that was ruled out for offside.

Meanwhile, "we're going to Wember-lee," was the refrain from the Plymouth faithful after watching their heroes cling on for a draw." Telegraph

The Times - February 25, 2007 - Holloway hurt by equaliser
QPR 1 Plymouth 1: Ian Holloway was uncharacteristically restrained on his return to Loftus road, despite only taking a point
Barry Flatman at Loftus Road

Given the celebrity factor surrounding some managers, as much attention was understandably afforded to the touchline as the pitch. And while Ian Holloway, returning to the club that a year ago suspended him on full pay and sent him on extended gardening leave, was by and large a model of restraint in difficult circumstances, he still made more interesting viewing than most things produced by both sets of players.

Holloway was insistent that he merited no fuss on his return to the club he often managed in the most unconventional way for more than five years. In seasons gone by, he had even wandered into the crowd on occasions just before kick-of to gauge the feelings of the fans and he also possessed the potential to do the unpredictable.

“I didn’t really want to come, to tell you the truth, and I didn’t really enjoy it. There’s one or two things that I’d rather not whinge about, but I didn’t like the QPR goal. It was blatant to anybody in the ground and should have been disallowed,” he said.

Perhaps Holloway is mellowing, because when first QPR were awarded a dubious equaliser to cancel out Lilian Nalis’s first-half goal he did not rant at the referee and then refused to react as Nalis was shown a red card for two of the most petty offences.

Plymouth were certainly the more poised and creative team in a fixture that showed the inadequacies of Championship football. The inability to actually score goals has been one of QPR’s major problems this season, as five blanks in their preceding six games demonstrated. With just a minute played, a glorious chance went to waste and once again it looked to be a barren day for the team from Shepherds Bush. First Dexter Blackstock and then Lee Cook were allowed close-range efforts but goalkeeper Luke McCormick was equal to both.

Reverting to type, QPR then struggled with all the hallmarks of a side haunted by the possibility of relegation. Their approach play was devoid of any pattern, there was a huge chasm of green between the midfield and strikers and if the ball advanced to forward areas, shots on goal were snatched and hopeful rather than measured attempts.

Though hardly gloriously inventive in their approach, Plymouth at least seemed more comfortable on the ball, better versed with their tactics and at least likely to cause problems from well-rehearsed set pieces. Therefore, nobody should have been too surprised when they took the lead just past the half-hour mark. David Norris’s free kick was flicked on by Krisztian Timar and captain Nalis broke clear of his marker to score his third goal of the season.

Throughout QPR’s low points this season, and there have allegedly been many, the one reason for optimism is the skill and potential of Cook. He is nimble, tricky and not afraid to try the unorthodox, but whether his 59th-minute equaliser adds anything to his value or indeed was a legitimate goal is open to debate. After a corner was swung into the goalmouth, there was sort of melee more associated with park football. Blackstock appeared to have a header blocked before Cook finally stabbed home from close range with McCormick certainly looking impeded. Doubtless angry that the lead had disappeared, Nalis pointed to his captain’s armband as he argued vehemently but his rank did nothing to avoid a yellow card. With 11 minutes left, the Frenchman was also shown red as he kicked the ball away. Plymouth were forced to weather an stoppage time scare when substitute Paul Furlong seemed to have claimed all three points after he volleyed into the net from close range but a linesman’s flag was raised for offside.

Star man: Michael Mancienne (QPR)

Player ratings. QPR: Camp 6, Mancienne 8, Cullip 6, Stewart 6, Timoska 5, Ainsworth 6, Lomas 5, Bolder 5, Rowlands 6 (Furlong 79min), Cook 7, Blackstock 6

Plymouth:McCormick 7, Connolly 6, Timar 6, Seip 6, Sawyer 5, Gosling 5 (Halmosi 63min), Nalis 5, Norris 7, Sinclair 6, Ebanks-Blake 6 (Hodges 82min), Fallon 6

Scorers: QPR: Cook 59 Plymouth: Nalis 32

Referee: R Beeby

Attendance:13,757 The Times

QPR 1 Plymouth Argyle 1: Cook spoils Holloway's comeback
By Amar Azam at Loftus Road

Published: 25 February 2007

A second-half goal from Lee Cook ruined Ian Holloway's return to his former club Queens Park Rangers. Plymouth Argyle, who he joined after he left West London last February following a five-year spell, failed to build on a lead given to them by captain Lilian Nalis. They were left to share the points with John Gregory's men in an enjoyable game at Loftus Road.

There was little between the teams in an entertaining start to this contest. The home side almost took the lead in the opening seconds, but Plymouth's goalkeeper Luke McCormick blocked chances from Cook and Dexter Blackstock in quick succession.

Plymouth, in confident form having lost just twice since the start of the year, responded well. On 13 minutes striker Sylvain Ebanks-Blake had a powerful drive saved by Lee Camp. As the half wore on, Plymouth composed themselves and on 32 minutes took the lead through Nalis after he headed home a free-kick from Paul Connolly.

QPR were much stronger after the break and equalised on 59 minutes. Cook bundled in the ball after Plymouth had failed to clear a corner. Plymouth's players protested that McCormick had been fouled in the melee and it seemed the case was justified.

Plymouth's response was disappointing. Their reluctance to push forward only served to boost the confidence of QPR who thought they had the winner late on but Paul Furlong's effort was ruled offside. Nalis was sent off on 80 minutes after kicking the ball away in anger, his second booking of the game. Independent


John Gregory praised his side, despite admitting they should have made their numerical advantage count late on.

Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk in the wake of the 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle, Gregory said: "It was a battle today. We scrapped for everything.

"We really went for the three points and although I'm happy with the performance, I'm not satisfied with the result.

"The important thing is that we're still hanging in there.''

Gregory added: "A good barometer of a football match is how busy goalkeepers are and Luke McCormick was by far the busier of the two.

"Lee Camp had very little to do in the second half, apart from gather a series of crosses.

"All in all it was a sound performance and I'm delighted with the lads.''

Rangers trailed to Lillian Nalis' 32nd minute opener, before Lee Cook put the hosts on terms on the hour mark.

Argyle's players were incensed that referee Mr Beeby failed to spot an apparent nudge on goalkeeper Neil McCormick in the build-up to the goal - and Gregory sympathised with his opposite number, Ian Holloway.

"I can sympathise with Ollie for our goal - maybe there was a nudge on their keeper.

"But in general, I think Ollie will leave here more relieved with the point.

"The chance was there to get the three points, but it wasn't to be today.'' QPR


Plymouth boss Ian Holloway attacked referee Richard Beeby for allowing the goal which forced his 10-man team to settle for a 1-1 draw at former club QPR.

Holloway, who managed Rangers for five years before being placed on gardening leave last February, saw his team take a 32nd-minute lead through Lilian Nalis in this Coca-Cola Championship clash, but Lee Cook equalised for Rangers following a goalmouth scramble 14 minutes after the break.

Holloway admitted his former club had merited at least a point, but was convinced there had been a foul on his goalkeeper Luke McCormick before Cook's leveller.

"I would not have complained that much had QPR won, but I didn't like the goal they scored," said Holloway, who saw Nalis sent off for a second booking 10 minutes from full-time.

"The referee should have disallowed it. Everyone in the ground could see it was a foul on our goalkeeper.

"The ref got that one wrong, but QPR deserved at least a point."

Holloway received a warm reception from the home supporters, but was keen to reduce the level of emotion surrounding the match and took his seat in the dug-out only seconds before kick-off.

Holloway's departure from Loftus Road came under controversial circumstances, and many Rangers fans believe the club have gone backwards since he left.

Holloway continued: "There will always be a part of me which belongs to Rangers, but I am a Pilgrim now.

"No matter what happened at QPR, I tried to keep my dignity, and put the club badge first. I like to think I managed that.

"But I wish QPR well, and I wish John Gregory well. He is a good manager, and always has been.

"He can keep them in this division, and that is what I would like to see him do

Hull's win over Birmingham means Rangers are above the relegation zone on goal difference alone, and manager John Gregory admitted his team might have enjoyed the rub of the green with their equaliser.

Speculation at the beginning of the week indicated that Gregory was to be dismissed and replaced with former Nottingham Forest and Luton boss Joe Kinnear, only for chairman Gianni Paladini to insist there was no truth in the rumours.

Gregory said: "Gianni was a bit upset with the story which came out, because there was nothing in it.

"He wanted to assure me of that. The players read these things and they start to wonder about the future, so Gianni tried to calm the situation down.

"The opportunity to win was there for us today, especially after Nalis was sent off. Their goalkeeper made two or three very good saves.

"Plymouth probably had every justification to complain about the goal. Players do not surround the referee for no reason." Sporting Life

Ian Holloway felt Queens Park Rangers' equaliser should have been disallowed, while John Gregory supported the Plymouth Argyle manager's argument.

Upon his return to Loftus Road, former R's boss Holloway saw his Plymouth side take a 32nd minute lead through Lilian Nalis, who was later sent off.

Lee Cook levelled for QPR in the second half, and while Holloway had no complaints about the eventual outcome, he was upset with the equaliser, feeling keeper Luke McCormick had been fouled.

"I would not have complained that much had QPR won, but I didn't like the goal they scored," said Holloway.

"The referee should have disallowed it. Everyone in the ground could see it was a foul on our goalkeeper.

"The ref got that one wrong, but QPR deserved at least a point."

Holloway also backed Gregory to keep the club in the Championship, adding: "I wish QPR well, and I wish John Gregory well. He is a good manager and always has been.

"He can keep them in this division and that is what I would like to see him do."

Gregory could understand Plymouth's frustration with Cook's goal, but cursed missed opportunities which denied his side a much-needed win.

"The opportunity to win was there for us today, especially after Nalis was sent off," said Gregory.

"Their goalkeeper made two or three very good saves.

"Plymouth probably had every justification to complain about the goal. Players do not surround the referee for no reason." Skysports

See Also Earlier QPR-Plymouth Reports - QPR Report

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