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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gregory on Staying Up...Cullip on Gregory...Moore on his Future (By Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times)

[All three pieces by Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times]

Gregory: one more to be safe - Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times 10 April 2007

QPR manager John Gregory believes one more win will seal Championship survival after his side's dramatic 3-2 victory over Luton on Easter Monday.

Substitute Paul Furlong headed a last-minute winner to clinch Rangers' third success in six days and gain them a seven-point cushion over the bottom three.

The Rs had been trailing fellow strugglers Luton 2-1 with 10 minutes left, but Dexter Blackstock converted a penalty - his second goal of the afternoon - before Furlong sparked frenzied scenes of celebration.

Although his side's next assignment is a daunting one, away to league leaders and form team Sunderland, Gregory is confident the momentum of those three wins can sweep Rangers to safety.

"Coming back shows what we're all about," said the QPR boss. "I don't think I've ever known the team spirit this lot have anywhere in my career.

"Often the boys that are not in the team are our best supporters. They support each other through thick and thin and, if one of our lads gets kicked, we're all limping.

"If we win at Sunderland I think that'll keep us up. Another three points, I'd say, would be enough.

"Our boys do seem to raise themselves against the better teams - all our best performances this season have been against sides at the top end and we'll be very fired up for Sunderland."

Gregory leads the Rs to the Stadium of Light without talismanic winger Gareth Ainsworth, who will miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg in the first half on Monday.

Martin Rowlands, who has been out for the past month with a hamstring injury, could replace Ainsworth in the starting line-up, while Lee Cook (knee) and Inigo Idiakez (hamstring) are also set to return to the squad.

Defender Michael Mancienne should also be back in the reckoning after missing both Rangers' Easter fixtures with the facial injury he picked up against Preston last week.

Their absences made it harder for Gregory to ring the changes against Luton and Rangers, playing their fourth game in nine days, looked jaded until they snatched a 41st-minute lead against the run of play.

Stefan Moore's cross was held up by Damion Stewart inside the Hatters' penalty area and Blackstock pounced to slam the ball past keeper Dean Brill.

But Luton levelled on the stroke of half-time when the Rangers defence switched off and skipper Chris Coyne stole in to glance David Bell's cross into the net.

Bell gave Luton the lead early in the second period, sending Lee Camp the wrong way from the penalty spot after Marc Nygaard had handled Dean Morgan's centre.

Camp then kept Rangers in the game with a point-blank save from Drew Talbot and Blackstock equalised from the spot after Markus Heikkinen bundled Furlong over in the box.

And the Loft erupted when Steve Lomas found space on the left and sent in a cross for Furlong to direct his header past the helpless Brill and into the far corner.

That completed a poignant reversal of fortunes for the veteran striker, whose failure to convert a penalty had seen Rangers slip to defeat against West Brom prior to the start of their winning streak.

Gregory added: "He's very well respected by the fans for what he's done for this club. He was devastated after the West Brom game, he felt he'd let the lads down, but walks away now quite justifiably the hero.

"I thought his header was going past the post and I just saw it nestle in the corner of the net. After that all hell broke loose. Kilburn Times

Credit the gaffer, says Cullip - Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times

DANNY Cullip says there is only one man who can take the credit for QPR's recent defensive improvement - manager John Gregory.

Cullip led the back line with a commanding presence at Coventry as Rangers recorded their second successive win and clean sheet to move further away from the relegation zone.

The big centre-back insisted: "It's the manager who works on our defending more than anyone - he doesn't leave any stone unturned and ensures that we work as a team.

"It's been a superb effort, but it's not just about the back four - it's about the boys at the front working hard, that's where defending always starts.

"If they're winning headers and challenging people, then the ball doesn't come back, it's easier for the midfielders to pick it up and we're limiting teams to not many chances in a game.

"Since I came here I think we've played well - Southend aside. Anyone watching the Plymouth or Sheffield Wednesday games would certainly say we should have won and we were very unlucky not to get something out of the West Brom game."

With regular skipper Marcus Bignot rested on the bench at the Ricoh Arena, the experienced Cullip became the seventh player to lead Rangers out this season.

He added: "I was just looking after the armband for Biggy, really. I was delighted to be asked to wear it, but I'm giving it straight back to him.

"It doesn't matter who wears the armband - we're a close-knit group, and everyone works hard. Kilburn Times

Plenty Moore time yet - By Ben Kosky Kilburn Times - April 10, 2007

FORGOTTEN man Stefan Moore insists he can still build a career with QPR following his shock first-team recall at the Ricoh Arena.

Moore, signed from Aston Villa in 2005, had not figured in the Rangers side for almost a year until Saturday, when he completed 90 minutes on the left side of midfield.

And the 23-year-old, who retained his place in the side in Monday's 3-2 win over Luton, admitted: "People were probably wondering whether I was still at the club.

"Everyone has ups and downs in their career and the last two haven't been the best for me, but I'm only 23 now and I've got time to come back and play a big part here.

"I've got another year on my contract and we'll see what happens. I'm more than confident we'll still be in the Championship and this is a good club to be at."

Moore arrived at QPR with a reputation as a bright young prospect and that label seemed to be justified when he netted his first goal for the club in his second appearance, a 2-1 home win over Sheffield United.

But that was about as good as it got for the Birmingham-born forward and, although he found the net again in a 2-2 draw at Ipswich, manager Ian Holloway was already planning to send him out on loan.

By the end of that season, Holloway's successor Gary Waddock had placed Moore on the transfer list and then loaned him to League One side Port Vale in September.

Nine starts and a goal followed in the Potteries and, since returning to Loftus Road in the new year, Moore sensed that his prospects were looking more favourable under John Gregory.

Having been an unused substitute in Rangers' 2-1 defeat by Ipswich at Portman Road last month, Moore finally made his first-team comeback last weekend.

He said: "With the last manager, I wasn't in his plans at all, but it was good to get some games at Vale and since then things have brightened up a bit.

"When I came back, the gaffer basically told me I needed to be fitter to play in his team. He said 'get yourself fit and ready and you'll be in and around the squad'.

"So that's what I've tried to work on. Hopefully I'll be involved in the remaining games this season and when chances come my way I'll take them. Kilburn Times

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