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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

QPR's Vital Victory - Compilation of Reports & Comments

QPR 1 Preston 0

INDEPENDENT - Blackstock's stunning strike gives Rangers new hope
By Mike Rowbottom

A stupendous piece of finishing from QPR's top scorer Dexter Blackstock earned his side a potentially crucial victory that took them four points clear of the Championship relegation area last night and in all likelihood ended Preston's hopes of an automatic promotion place. Blackstock's 11th goal of the season, which appears to have doomed Preston to a third successive involvement in the play-offs, was saluted in novel fashion by his manager John Gregory.

The former QPR midfielder ran on to the field to embrace his striker after the referee had finally blown the whistle on five minutes of added time that had agonised the raucous Loftus Road faithful, and then pulled Blackstock's shirt off his back before wrapping it round his shoulders.

Blackstock's decisive contribution occurred four minutes into the second half when he chested down a long ball from his forward partner Marcus Nygaard and turned away from his marker before lashing home a waist-high shot with his left foot from 25 yards.

Before that moment the home team appeared set for further frustration following Saturday's last-gasp defeat at home to West Brom.

Nine minutes before the break Gareth Ainsworth's 20-yard drive deflected to Nygaard, but the Dane hooked the ball over the bar from 10 yards. Five minutes later Lee Cook played in Ainsworth on the right, but the midfielder squared to a non-existent team-mate.

Preston should have been 1-0 up at that point, but David Nugent, England's most recent scorer, proved uncharacteristically wanton in front of an open goal within a minute of the kick-off. As Preston's manager, Paul Simpson admitted, it was the visitors' only decent chance of the game.

"Our forwards caused them no problems tonight," he said. "Now we need to win six games out of six to have a chance of an automatic place."

QPR weren't the only strugglers to win last night though, with Burnley beating Plymouth 4-0, and an hour after the game Gregory had tempered his joy. "My players wanted to win this game like you'll never believe," he said. "But there's still a lot of work to be done." Independent

THE TIMES - Blackstock gives QPR fresh hope - Kaveh Solhekol

Who needs David Nugent when you have Dexter Blackstock? Nugent made a name for himself when he scored on his England debut in the 3-0 victory away to Andorra, but the 21-year-old forward was upstaged at Loftus Road last night by a striker who was deemed to be surplus to requirements at Southampton last summer.

Blackstock’s performances have been the silver lining of another disappointing season for Queens Park Rangers, but the 20-year-old’s stunning second-half goal — his eleventh of the season — was enough to lift John Gregory’s side two places and four points away from the Coca-Cola Championship relegation zone.

Preston North End had to win to get their push for automatic promotion back on track after last Friday’s defeat away to another relegation-threatened side, Leeds United, but despite an enterprising start, Paul Simpson’s side fell apart after the interval and look destined to have to settle for a place in the play-offs for the third year in a row.

Simpson took the defeat on the chin, but it did not escape his attention that Keith Stroud, the referee, appeared to miss a blatant handball by Blackstock in his own penalty area after 78 minutes.

“It is a massive disappointment, but if I have any complaints it is that we didn’t get a penalty,” the Preston manager said.

A draw was little use to either side, so it should have come as no surprise that the first goalscoring opportunity was created after only 30 seconds when Nugent found space between Damion Stewart and Danny Cullip, the QPR centre backs, to meet a cross by Matthew Hill with a right-foot volley that flew inches wide.

With Michael Ricketts providing the brawn alongside him, Nugent used his pace and touch to unsettle the QPR defence in the first half, but the England forward was largely anonymous after his side went behind six minutes into the second half. There seemed to be little danger when Marc Nygaard hit the ball forward, but Blackstock controlled the pass with his chest before striking a sweet, left-foot volley into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

“It was a truly outstanding goal,” Gregory said. “His first touch was sublime and it was a magnificent volley. It was worthy of a better match than this.”

That was the signal for Simpson to throw caution to the wind and Preston ended the game with four forwards, but even in the dying minutes, QPR created the better chances and Blackstock would have scored again had Andy Lonergan not made the save of the match in injury time.

“QPR were meant to one of the whipping boys, but we didn’t play as a forward-thinking side,” Simpson said as his side remained six points behind second-placed Birmingham City having played a game more. “We might have to take the play-offs now.” QPR have two crucial fixtures over Easter, away to Coventry City and at home to Luton Town, but if Gregory’s side play like this, survival seems assured. “There is tremendous spirit here and the hardest thing for me is going to be settling everyone down because there is a lot of hard work left to do,” he said. Burnley ended a 19-match winless run with a 4-0 victory at home to Plymouth Argyle last night. Steve Cotterill’s side were three goals ahead before the interval through Mike Duff, Paul McVeigh and Steve Jones before Wade Elliott added a fourth in the second half. Times

GUARDIAN - John Ashdown
Blackstock deals blow to Preston push for promotion

Surely now the race for automatic promotion in the Championship is all but a three-horse affair. Preston's hopes of joining Derby, Birmingham and Sunderland in the sprint for the finish took a heavy blow with this defeat, a result that might leave North End fans questioning whether even a place in the play-offs is the guaranteed Plan B that it has for so long appeared. Dexter Blackstock's sumptuous strike was enough to give QPR their first home win over North End since 1973 and, more importantly, extend their lead over the bottom three to four points.

Article continues
Simpson's side remain eight points adrift of the leaders and the Preston manager may be glancing nervously down the table this week rather than hopefully upwards. Southampton and Cardiff loiter five points behind and, such is North End's form, that margin appears uncomfortable. "If the worst we get is the play-offs I'll be delighted" was Simpson's view.

Mild pessimism was the theme of the Preston manager's post-match analysis. "We haven't done ourselves any favours in the last week," he said of his team's now remote prospects of catching the top two. "Before tonight we had seven games left and we were looking at six wins to get us into those top two places. Now we've got to get six out of six. The group of players is capable of doing it but we've got to be much better than we were tonight."

Defeat at Leeds last Friday, followed by wins for the top three over the weekend, had piled the pressure on Preston and the burden of league position seemed to weigh more heavily on the visitors than their relegation-threatened hosts. David Nugent prodded wide from six yards within 90 seconds - perhaps the game's best chance - but QPR's win was well deserved. The home team showed a greater appetite for a scrap. Steve Lomas and Adam Bolder, with a combination of teeth-shaking tackles and tireless harassment, held the midfield ascendancy throughout, though goalscoring opportunities were at a premium.

The half-time martial arts display in the centre-circle was in keeping with Rangers' combative display and John Gregory's side took the lead that their dominance merited five minutes after the interval. Blackstock took Marc Nygaard's long, lofted pass superbly on his chest before crashing an emphatic 20-yard volley past Andy Lonergan for his 11th goal of the season.

Preston's response was underwhelming. Michael Ricketts curled a freehttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif-kick just wide but the home side - with one win in eight before last night - maintained their superiority. The slender cushion meant Rangers had to hold their nerve in the closing stages as the visitors pressed for an equaliser and both managers agreed that the visitors should have had a late penalty after Blackstock handled.

QPR, though, celebrated at the final whistle as if survival was assured. "It was ugly, it wasn't very pretty, it was hard to watch sometimes but we got three points; at this stage of the season that is imperative," said Gregory. "We still need two more wins. Two more might just be enough.



DEXTER Blackstock produced a superb volley to put England newboy David Nugent in the shade and bag a priceless three points for QPR.

Nugent, the 21-year-old Preston striker who scored on his international debut against Andorra last week, missed a golden opportunity to put North End in front after just 53 seconds.

And Blackstock, who will be 21 next month, made the promotion-chasing visitors pay with his spectacular second-half goal to move QPR four points clear of the drop zone.

Delighted Rangers boss John Gregory said: "Nugent should have put them 1-0 up - we had a let-off there.

"Keeping him quiet was done very effectively. He almost disappeared in the second half. Dexter's finish was worthy of a slightly better setting and a slightly better game. His goal was truly outstanding - his first touch was sublime. It was a magnificent goal and worthy of being the match-winner."

Preston, pushing for their third consecutive play-off appearance, should have gone in front in the first minute, but Nugent could only volley Matthew Hill's cross wide.

QPR signalled their attacking intentions three minutes later but Blackstock's powerful close-range volley was into the ground and bounced over the bar. Lee Cook was causing Preston problems, and his corner saw Gareth Ainsworth glance the ball wide at the back post. It took until the 50th minute for things finally to fall into place for Rangers.

Marc Nygaard's 50-yard ball found strike partner Blackstock. He controlled it perfectly on his chest before cutting inside to unleash a thunderous half-volley from the edge of the area which flew into the top corner.

QPR face four promotion-chasing sides in the run-in, but this win and the good performance in the loss to West Brom at the weekend gives Gregory hope his side will stay up. He said: "Our boys seem to raise themselves for those games - our best performances have been against sides at the top end. There's tremendous spirit among the players.

"They wanted to win this game like you wouldn't believe.

"The hardest thing for me really is settling everybody down again because there's still a lot of work to be done."

Disappointed Preston boss Paul Simpson said: "We haven't done ourselves any favours. It's a massive disappointment."

QPR: Camp, Mancienne (Kanyuka 46), Stewart, Cullip, Bignot, Ainsworth, Lomas, Bolder, Cook (Ricketts 46), Blackstock, Nygaard, Ricketts (Smith 83).

PRESTON: Lonergan, Alexander, St. Ledger, Chilvers, Hill (Wilson 78), Songo'o (Agyemang 62), Whaley (Dichio 75), Sedgwick, Pugh, Nugent, Ricketts.
The Mirror

THE MAIL - Blackstock blast rocks Preston's promotion hopes


Dexter Blackstock’s screamer gave Queens Park Rangers’ survival hopes a shot in the arm and left Preston staring at a third successive play-off bid.

Blackstock rifled the winner six minutes into the second half to take John Gregory’s side four points clear of the relegation fight.

It was a second away defeat in five days for Preston, whose chances of finishing in the top two now look remote.

Preston boss Paul Simpson had Simon Whaley back in midfield for the first time since breaking a big toe in a nighttime collision with a coffee table during the team’s break in Spain.

An injury to Brett Ormerod meant Simpson was also able to boast two England strikers in his side, namely David Nugent and Michael Ricketts.

They have a cap each — Ricketts played a forgettable 45 minutes against Holland five years ago while Nugent scored his 17th goal of the season on his international debut against Andorra last week.

But Nugent missed a glorious chance to break the deadlock in the first minute last night when unmarked in front of goal after left back Matty Hill swung a deep cross into the penalty area.

There was time to take a touch but instead he tried to nurse the ball goalwards with a side-foot volley and miscued badly.

Preston had lost seven of their previous 10 away League games, the last of those defeats — at Leeds on Friday.

But Rangers, having clawed their way out of the relegation places, were also keen for maximum points.

It made for nervy football, especially in front of goal.

Former Preston winger Gareth Ainsworth climbed well to meet Lee Cook’s 10thminute corner but missed the target with his header.

Ainsworth, darting in from the right, then forced Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan into a scrambling save low to his right.

QPR keeper Lee Camp saved twice in quick succession from Hill but Rangers went closest to a breakthrough before halftime when Ainsworth’s 25-yard shot was deflected towards Marc Nygaard with keeper Lonergan committed to the first shot, but the Dane was unable to turn his shot on target at full stretch.

Cook, who needed treatment in the first half, did not return for the second. He was replaced by Rohan Ricketts and Gregory’s men were soon in front.

Blackstock collected a pass from Nygaard on his chest, turned and smashed the bouncing ball into the top corner from 25 yards.

Michael Ricketts went close with a free-kick for Preston.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS (4-4-2): Camp; Mancienne (Kanyuka 46min), Cullip, Stewart, Bignot; Ainsworth, Lomas, Bolder, Cook (R Ricketts 46, Smith 83); Nygaard, Blackstock.
Booked: Cullip, Bolder.
Scorer: Blackstock 51.

PRESTON NORTH END (4-4-2): Lonergan; Alexander, St Ledger, Chilvers, Hill (Wilson 78); Songo’o (Agyemang 62), Sedgwick, Pugh, Whaley (Dichio 75); M Ricketts, Nugent.
Booked: St Ledger.
Man of the match: Gareth Ainsworth.
Referee: Keith Stroud. MAIL


DEXTER BLACKSTOCK grabbed QPR’s winner and left promotion-chasing Preston boss Paul Simpson saying: We’ll have to win our last six games.

Blackstock’s goal was special. He took a long ball down on his chest and hit an unstoppable 25-yard volley into the net after 50 minutes.

It was North End’s second successive defeat after they had crashed to Leeds on Friday.

Simmo said: “We have not done ourselves any favours again tonight and we have to win six out of six to reach automatic promotion.

“We are capable of doing it, but we have to play much better than this.

“Our forwards David Nugent and Michael Ricketts did not do a job to win the game for us.

“David missed a great chance in the first minute — and that was our only clear opportunity of the match.

“QPR have been one of the whipping boys for the promotion-chasing sides but we could not do it.

“As a group of forwards, we did not have the quality.”

Rangers boss John Gregory joked that he is even more nervous about his side’s survival hopes now they are four points clear of the drop zone.

They are now only five points shy of what Gregory believes is their 48-point target but he has urged his players not to get carried away with this latest success.

Rangers have a run-in which includes Sunderland and Wolves, which is why Gregory said: “I’m even less confident than I was this morning.

“But we’re effectively five points clear because of superior goal difference.

"Teams below us have to win two matches to get past us, but everyone must appreciate it’s only four points.” SUN

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