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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

QPR's Crucial Luton Victory - Further Reports

See also: Simon Skinner/QPR Net - Match Report of QPR 3 Luton 2


After the highs of Monday's last-gasp win against Luton, John Gregory was in rather reflective mood on Tuesday morning.

Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, the gaffer failed to his obvious disappointment at the news that Gareth Ainsworth suffered a broken fibula in the first half against the Hatters.

"X-rays last night confirmed our worse fears that Gaz will miss the remainder of the season,'' he said.

"However, being the positive person that he is, Gaz reliably informed me that he will only miss four games!

"It's a big, big blow for us; he's been inspirational, particularly in the last five or six weeks, where he has turned in possibly his best performances of the campaign.''
Ainsworth is due to see a consultant later today (Tuesday) QPR Official


John Gregory believes three more points will see Rangers over the final Furlong in their quest for Championship survival.

Speaking after the R's stunning 3-2 victory against the Hatters on Monday afternoon, the gaffer told www.qpr.co.uk: "I believe another three points would be enough.

"Coming back (from 2-1 down) shows what we're about. No surrender - that runs through our dressing room.

"I don't think I've ever known team spirit like this - that's what has helped to get us into this position."

The R's gaffer also praised the heroics of super-sub Paul Furlong, who won the crucial penalty that led to Rangers' equaliser, before netting the all-important winner in the final minute of normal time.

"A few fingers were pointing at him after the West Brom match. He was devastated and felt he let the team down,'' said Gregory.

"But football's sometimes like that, it can be so wonderful. You get a chance to come on as a second-half substitute and score the winning goal. He walks away the hero."

Gregory added: "It wasn't pretty, but we got the result.

"We're fighting for our lives, so we're not here to be pretty, just effective."

A LAST-MINUTE winner from Paul Furlong sent QPR into seventh heaven as they moved seven points clear of the drop zone.

Veteran Furlong also won the penalty which saw QPR draw level as battling Luton threatened to pull off a shock win.

But Furlong's 90th-minute header condemned Luton to an eighth defeat in nine games, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table and inching Rangers closer to safety.

"I believe another three points would be enough," said QPR manager John Gregory. "Coming back shows what we're about. No surrender - that runs through our dressing room.

"I don't think I've ever known team spirit like this - that's what has helped to get us into this position."

And Gregory was full of praise for 38-year-old Furlong, who bounced back from a missed penalty in the tight loss to West Brom 10 days ago.

Gregory said: "A few fingers were pointing at him after that. He was devastated and felt he let the team down.

"But football's sometimes like that, it can be so wonderful. You get a chance to come on as a second-half substitute and score the winning goal. He walks away the hero."

Rangers scored first against the run of play through Dexter Blackstock, but Luton equalised thanks to a goal from Chris Coyne.

The Hatters then took the lead in the 51st minute after Paul Nygaard used his elbow to deal with a cross from substitute Dean Morgan and referee Clive Penton pointed straight to the spot. Ian Bell stepped up to calmly send keeper Lee Camp the wrong way with his penalty.

QPR were stung into action and were awarded a penalty of their own when Furlong appeared to be pulled down by Markus Heikkinen, and Blackstock converted the chance.

Furlong then came along with his late show, but Luton boss Kevin Blackwell was angry about the earlier penalty. He said: "It was dubious to say the least. Furlong has used all his experience to lean on our lad and as he's gone down he's pulled him down.

"These games are too big to be calling dodgy penalties like that. It's got to be clear-cut." Mirror


HOW does it feel to get relegated? For supporters it has to be the lowest of the low, worse even than losing a play-off final. Sat in a half-empty stand, sick to the stomach, the sinking feeling of failure, the bottomless pit of despair. How many of you have been there?

Many fans I speak to, who follow teams like QPR and Luton, can be too ready to accept their fate. They force themselves to face their fear in the hope it will soften the blow. Most fans are natural-born pessimists – anything but the drop a massive bonus.

Over the course of a season, do more fans across the top four divisions worry about going down than going up or
winning trophies? According to my back-of-a-beer-mat calculations, they do.

In the Premiership, the ‘Big Four’ only ever look upwards. Tottenham, Everton, Bolton and Newcastle are fairly safe bets, but would you put your mortgage on them never flirting with the bottom three? At best, eight clubs out of 20 are always safe.

Admittedly, there are more upwardly-mobile clubs in the Championship. The current top eight are all immune to the attractions of League One. Cardiff, Colchester and Plymouth have been nowhere near the trapdoor this term, but at one point or another, everyone else has.

So that’s 11 teams out of 24 with no anxiety attacks. and it’s a similar picture in League One, but remember four teams go down. I reckon 10 to 12 have never feared the fall, so half or more have chewed the odd nail.

In League Two only two drop out of the League, but the bottom six are right in the relegation picture, and several more clubs have only climbed away from trouble recently

Again, half looking up and half looking down seems a fair split. Numbers have never been a strong point, but my research suggests two-thirds of the 92 clubs get that uneasy, even queasy sensation – the kind I used to get in maths exams.

What a difference a rash of well-timed wins makes. Waiting since November, Burnley have found three in a row to surge away from danger, and QPR have done the same.

The perfect way to settle your fans’ fraying nerves, and yet how fickle supporters can be, how quick to pounce on another team’s woes. “Going down,” sneered the R’s fans at Loftus Road, surveying Luton’s plight from comparative safety.

They scarcely deserved this win. Dexter Blackstock’s goal was erased by Chris Coyne’s header
and an inexplicable handball by Marc Nygaard gave Luton a penalty, which was converted by David Bell.

But with nine minutes to go a Blackstock penalty at the other end put QPR level and Paul Furlong’s very late header sent the home fans delirious.

QPR are seven points away from danger now, while Luton are seven points from safety and for new Hatters’ manager Kevin Blackwell, the cupboard is a little bare. Put Curtis Davies, Kevin Nicholls, Carlos Edwards, Steve Howard and Rowan Vine back and they would be nowhere the bottom.

Whatever the merits of some of Mike Newell’s remarks, his question of what happened to the £9million from those sales is still pertinent. I sincerely hope the Luton board live up to the financial promises and pledge of a new stadium.
Telegraph -Furlong caps Luton's misery By Tony Stevens
Queens Park Rangers (1) 3 Luton Town (1) 2

The classic saying, "when you are down at the bottom, things tend to go against you", certainly rang true for Kevin Blackwell's Luton in this loss.

The Bedfordshire club remain bottom of the table with only one League win in their last 18 games. But they will feel they deserved more from a game which was won by a last-minute Paul Furlong goal.

Luton are seven points from safety with just four games left and even their manager Blackwell conceded his team may "need snookers" in order to stay in the Championship. But his main grievance was over the penalty decision which allowed Rangers to go level at 2-2 with 10 minutes left.

advertisementFurlong appeared to be pulled over by Markus Heikkinen at a corner, but the former Leeds manager said: "I feel for the boys. It's not a penalty because Paul used all his experience to lean on the lad and then pull him over so they both went down."

Dexter Blackstock stepped up to calmly slot home the spot-kick and leave the stage set for 38-year-old Furlong to grab all three points in injury time. Blackstock had earlier given Rangers a 41st-minute lead against the run of play, but goals from Chris Coyne and a David Bell penalty had given Luton the lead just after the break.

Home manager John Gregory was delighted with QPR's third straight win, which puts them seven points clear of the relegation zone. "It wasn't pretty but we got the result," he said. "We're fighting for our lives, so we're not here to be pretty, just effective." Telegraph

The Sun
QPR 3 Luton 2

PAUL FURLONG rolled back the years to fire QPR nearer to safety — and pile more woe on doomed basement boys Luton.

The ex-Chelsea veteran, 38, leapt off the bench and won a controversial equalising penalty, then nabbed a dramatic injury-time winner.

John Gregory’s side now have a crucial seven-point cushion on the drop zone ahead of a daunting run-in — where they face four promotion contenders.

Delighted boss Gregory said: “Paul’s very well respected by everyone here and he’s definitely the hero tonight.

“We’re fighting for our lives but everyone’s sticking together and the team spirit is the best I’ve known in my career.”

But Luton chief Kevin Blackwell was furious with Rangers’ late spot-kick, awarded after Furlong had been pulled down by Markus Heikkinen.

Blackwell groaned: “Furls used all his experience to win that penalty but these games are too big to be giving dodgy decisions.

“We’re lacking experience in a pressure-cooker situation and we need a few snookers now.”

Furlong’s late cracker capped a stirring fight-back — but there was no hint of the drama to come in a tedious first half.

Neither side created a clear-cut chance until the 41st minute when a long throw sparked chaos in the Hatters’ area and Dexter Blackstock fired home.

But Chris Coyne nodded Luton’s equaliser and the visitors forged ahead in the 51st minute when David Bell belted home a penalty after a crazy handball from Marc Nygaard.

The Loftus Road faithful were getting twitchy before Furlong changed the course of the game and perhaps the season.

With 10 minutes left he tumbled under Heikkinen’s clumsy challenge and Blackstock kept his nerve to bang in the penalty.

And Furlong sealed what could be a crucial win deep into stoppage time by heading into the bottom corner after being picked out beautifully by Steve Lomas.

SUN STAR MAN - DEXTER BLACKSTOCK (QPR). The big striker kept his cool amid the chaos to put Rangers on course for a precious win. The Sun

Earlier reports & Comments on QPR vs Luton: QPR Report

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