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Monday, April 02, 2007

QPR's WBA Loss - Further Reports and Comments

QPR 1 West Brom 2: Gregory rounds on left-footers after Furlong penalty miss
By Conrad Leach

Published: 02 April 2007
What have Diego Maradona and Gheorghe Hagi got in common? A lot, certainly, but one more thing can be added to the list. John Gregory does not like either of them. For that matter, you can add Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle.

Not that he has got anything personal against that starred list of players. And you can throw Paul Furlong, the Queen's Park Rangers forward, into that group.

They do not cut it in one respect in the eyes of the Hoops' manager. Why? Because they take penalties with their left foot.

Gregory was feeling embittered after this result. Having fallen behind to a Kevin Phillips strike, after Furlong had missed a presentable chance 30 seconds earlier at the other end of the pitch, QPR clawed their way back. Dexter Blackstock scored with a header and then Furlong won a penalty after 68 minutes.

The former Chelsea and Birmingham striker took the spot-kick himself. He struck it well, left foot and all, low to Dean Kiely's right, but the goalkeeperturned the ball around the post.

That miss, or save, prompted Gregory's opinion on left-footed penalty takers, without expanding as to why he felt they were presumably technically deficient in some department. When reminded that Maradona and Hagi were both of that ilk, he quickly replied with Waddle's and Pearce's names, as if the England pair's penalty misses in the semi-final of Italia 90 had been last week.

If Furlong's effort had gone in, Gregory was convinced that QPR would have won, "3-1, 4-1, perhaps". But after 84 minutes, a cross by West Brom's Nathan Ellington found fellow substitute Zoltan Gera who volleyed past Lee Camp from eight yards out.

Even Gregory appreciated that. Maybe because it was with Gera's right foot.

Goals: Phillips (49) 0-1; Blackstock (63) 1-1; Gera (84) 1-2.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Camp; Mancienne, Cullip, Stewart, Bignot; Ainsworth (Ricketts, 84), Idiakez (Lomas, 15), Bolder, Cook; Furlong, Nygaard (Blackstock, 62). Substitutes not used: Cole (gk), Kanyuka.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Kiely; McShane, Sodje, Clement, Robinson; Koren, Carter (Ellington, h-t), Greening, Koumas; Kamara (Chaplow, 87), Phillips (Gera, 71). Substitutes not used: Daniels (gk), Albrechtsen.

GUARDIAN - QPR fans buck mocking trend

Mark Tallentire at Loftus Road

Either there is no such thing as blame culture at Loftus Road or the majority of the crowd have better things to do with their Saturday evenings than watch low-rent TV as their reaction to a moment that cost QPR the lead in a game they needed to win did them great credit.
At the end of a week in which a bonfire was lit beneath the England manager and Sir Alex Ferguson mused that Britain's "mocking culture" is a result of tacky talent programmes, the home fans' support for their errant penalty taker suggested a solidarity that bodes well for the run-in.

Within a minute of his spot-kick being saved by Dean Kiely three sides of the ground sang "There's one Paul Furlong" and, although QPR went on to lose the game, the same fans applauded them off.
That West Bromwich won was due to the opportunism of the substitute Zoltan Gera, who scored with a sumptuous volley from a tight angle, but it was Kiely's save that took them a point clear of sixth-placed Wolves. That had looked unlikely in a poor first half but Tony Mowbray introduced Nathan Ellington at half-time and switched to three up front and within minutes Jason Koumas played in Kevin Phillips, who fired a right-foot shot between two defenders.

Rangers brought on Dexter Blackstock, who scored with a neat header, his first touch, from Gareth Ainsworth's cross and moments later Furlong was brought down by Paul Robinson. With neither regular penalty taker on the pitch, Kiely saved the 38-year-old's spot-kick low to his right.

QPR stay fourth-bottom but John Gregory promised to rotate his squad for tomorrow's visit of Preston, with Steve Lomas and Blackstock sure to start: "Had the penalty gone in I think we'd have gone on to win three or four-one but Kiely's made a great save and kept them in it."

Man of the match Gareth Ainsworth (QPR) Guardian

Telegraph/Nick Hoult
Kiely save puts Rangers close to the edge

Queens Park Rangers (0) 1 West Brom (0) 2

As Paul Furlong celebrated winning a penalty in the 66th minute, Rangers were looking at a 2-1 lead and a vital victory in their scramble to pull away from the bottom three.

The match was about to be decided by the two most experienced players on the pitch with Furlong, 38, opting to take the kick himself. He aimed low and left, Dean Kiely guessed correctly, and a compelling second half lurched into a new direction.

"I've never fancied left-footed penalty takers," reflected Rangers manager John Gregory on what could be a season-defining moment for these two sides. "Had we scored I think we could have gone on to win three or four one," he said. "We were so fired up at that point and they were on the back foot. Dean Kiely kept them in it."

"We were rocked and it was an edgy time for us," agreed Kiely.

It had been a tricky afternoon for West Brom's talented side as Rangers followed Gregory's pre-match instruction of "no surrender". Inspired by an energetic performance by Gareth Ainsworth, Rangers punched above their weight and were unlucky to have come away with nothing.

As Rangers look over their shoulder - only one point separates them from the bottom three - West Brom are trying to manoeuvre themselves back into the top two. "We are pushing on and there are six more big games left," said manager Tony Mowbray. "Eighteen points is what we are looking at. On paper they are against teams we are would hope to beat but on any given day there are no easy games, as we found out here."

This was a match decided by substitutions, and both managers were rewarded for correct calls. Having failed to make a clear cut opportunity in the first-half, Mowbray switched to 4-3-3 in the second half with Nathan Ellington bolstering the forward line. Three minutes later they were ahead. A quick break saw Jason Koumas open up the defence for Kevin Phillips, who finished neatly.

Gregory swapped the ineffectual Marc Nygaard for the pace of Dexter Blackstock and the effect was immediate. Good work from Ainsworth on the right enabled him to float over a cross and Blackstock headed past Kiely from close range.

Furlong was then tripped by Kiely for the penalty and the game's two old soaks took centre stage. Kiely's save gave Mowbray's side time to regroup and within seven minutes of his introduction Zoltan Gera scored from an acute angle. Telegraph

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