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Saturday, September 22, 2007

QPR Draw 1-1 Against Leaders Watford

QPR picked up their first home point of the season with a 1-1 draw against league Leaders Watford. Watford went ahead. QPR equalized from sub, Moore. QPR's recent 900,000 pound signing, Mikele Leigertwood was sent off, near the end. A crowd of just over 14,000 was there. Table after today
Played Points
Norwich 7 7
Leicester 6 6
Preston 7 5
QPR 6 3
Sheff Wed 7 3

See: Minute-by-Minute Match Report

Timoska and Ainsworth returned for QPR. Moore dropped to the bench...No Nygaard, Ward, Rehman or Doherty, even on the bench.
QPR Camp; Barker, D Stewart, Cullip, Timoska; Ainsworth, Rowlands, Leigertwood, Bolder (c); Blackstock, Nardiello.
Subs: Cole (gk), Bignot, Curtis, Ephraim, Moore.

Watford Poom; Doyley, Shittu, DeMerit, J Stewart; Johnson, Mahon (c), Williamson, Smith; King, Henderson.
Subs: Lee (gk), Mariappa, Ellington, Priskin, McAnuff.

en-man Rangers shared the spoils with table-toppers Watford in a pulsating local derby in W12.

Substitute Stefan Moore's first goal since December 2005 proved decisive, as the R's came from behind to gain a morale-booting point against Aidy Boothroyd's high-fliers.

Earlier, Middlesborough loanee Adam Johnson put the Hornets in front in the 49th minute, when he headed home Tommy Smith's back post cross.

Moore put Rangers on terms though with a spectacular close range strike, and after Mikele Leigertwood saw red for two bookable offences, Rangers had strong appeals for a spot-kick waved away, when Dexter Blackstock appeared to be sent tumbling to ground by Lloyd Doyley.

John Gregory made two changes to the starting XI after Tuesday's defeat against Plymouth Argyle.

Finnish international Sampsa Timoska replaced Zesh Rehman at right back, while Gareth Ainsworth made his first start of the season, at the expense of Moore.

It was combative midfielders' first appearance since breaking his leg against Luton Town in April.

Boothroyd opted for the fire-power of Marlon King and Darius Henderson in attack, which meant Club record signing Nathan Ellington had to make do with a place amongst the Hornets' substitutes.

Backed by 3,000-plus fanatical Hornets fans, Boothroyd's men should have been in front as early as the fourth minute.

King linked up efficiently with Smith and when his cross from the by-line fell into the path of the roaming Lee Williamson on the edge of the penalty box, the midfielder fluffed his lines, skewing the ball high and wide.

Undeterred, Rangers were on the front foot moments later. Blackstock was gifted far too much time and space from an Ainsworth throw-in and when he tricked his way past former Rangers defender Danny Shittu with comparative ease, he volleyed wide with the goal gaping.

In an end-to-end opening, Shittu - returning to Loftus Road for the first time since his move from QPR to Vicarage Road - saw his header tipped onto the bar by Lee Camp, while at the other end, the inspired Ainsworth thrashed a cross into the six-yard box, which Blackstock just failed to poach home.

Smith should have opened the scoring in the eighth minute, but he was wasteful from eight-yards, dragging his right foot shot a yard wide of Camp's right hand post.

Rangers were by no means second best though and as the clock ticked towards the 27th minute, Blackstock stole a march on Jay De Merit, only to glance his header inches wide of Mart Poom's left post.

Adam Bolder was impressing in the heart of the R's midfield and it was the Rangers skipper that provided the next chance on 33 minutes.

Having evaded Gavin Mahon's last-ditch tackle, Bolder centred for Blackstock, who was only denied by a superbly timed block by Lloyd Doyley.

The R's were dealt a huge blow five minutes before the break, as Danny Nardiello was forced from the fray with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and replaced by Hogan Ephraim.

Blackstock headed another enticing Timoska cross over the bar 60 seconds later, while at the other end, Camp thwarted King, when the Hornets front-man let fly from 20-yards.

Henderson was first to react to the rebound, only to be denied yet again by the retreating Camp, who like his team-mates, was unaware of the linesman's raised flag for offside.

On the stroke of half-time, Ephraim broke away at pace down the right before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Blackstock at the far post. Unfortunately, the Rangers front-man's first-time volley flew high and wide from 10 yards.

Gregory replaced the hardworking Ainsworth with Moore at the break, while the Hornets also made a change, with Adrian Mariappa entering the fray in place of De Merit.

The second half was just four minutes old when Watford opened the scoring.

Smith capitalised on a moment of hesitancy from Chris Barker and his pull-back was headed home at the far post by the unmarked Johnson.

The lead lasted just eight minutes though, as Rangers showed courageous character to respond.

Neat interplay between Rowlands and Ephraim saw the latter feed the ball out wide to Moore, whose first time cross was met by the towering Blackstock at the far post.

The frame of the goal came to Poom's rescue, but there was nothing the Estonian goalkeeper could do to prevent Moore from smashing home the rebound off the underside of the crossbar.

Buoyed by the equaliser, Rangers really began to take the game to the visitors, with former R's defender Shittu sticking out a foot to thwart Blackstock, as the Hoops striker was ready to pounce.

The same player should have forced the overworked Poom into yet more work 20 minutes from time, only to scuff his left footed effort wide, after Rowlands again played provider.

Sensing his side had lost their way, Hornets boss Boothroyd made a double change in the 73rd minute, introducing Ellington and Jobi McAnuff to the fray in place of Henderson and Smith.

It was Rangers who continued to ask all the questions though, with Bolder and Rowlands leading by example in the R's midfield.

But the hosts were dealt a huge blow in the 80th minute, when Leigertwood was shown a second yellow card and a resultant red, for a late challenge on Doyley.

Buoyed by their numerical advantage, Watford threw everything at Rangers in the dying moments.

Shittu, now playing in an advanced role, nodded the ball down for King, whose saw his shot on the turn saved by Camp and then hacked off the line by Moore.

Seconds later, another aerial assault from the Hornets saw the ball fall at the feet of Ellington, whose thunderous drive was again expertly saved by the R's number one, albeit at the second attempt.

Vocal late appeals for a QPR penalty fell on deaf ears, when Blackstock appeared to be dragged to ground by Doyley, before Moore's sublime solo run ended with his shot being deflected wide for a corner.

QPR: Camp, Barker, Cullip, Stewart, Bolder, Nardiello (Ephraim 40), Blackstock, Ainsworth (Moore 46), Rowlands, Timoska, Leigertwood.
Subs: Cole, Bignot, Moore, Curtis.
Scorers: Moore 58
Bookings: Bolder 14, Leigertwood 45 & 80, Cullip 53
Red Cards: Leigertwood 80

Watford: Poom, Stewart, Shittu, De Merit (Mariappa 46), Mahon, King, Henderson (Ellington 73), Doyley, Williamson, Smith (McAnuff 73), Johnson.
Subs: Lee, Priskin.
Scorers: Johnson 49
Bookings: Mahon 62, Doyley 88
Red Cards:
Referee: K D Hill
Attendance: 14,240 QPR

DESPITE the form guide, this was a game that was tighter than most would have thought - and indeed closer than Aidy Boothroyd would have liked.

The first half was end to end, but it wasn't until after the break when the goals started to flow.

Adam Johnson gave the Hornets the lead, but it was short lived as Stefan Moore equalised just ten minutes later.

The sending off of Mikele Leigertwood for a second bookable offence gave Watford the advantage, but they couldn't make it count as both teams sat out the draw.

Aidy Boothroyd said that he wouldn't be scared to change a winning team and that's exactly what he did, bringing Marlon King back into the starting line up alongside the in form Darius Henderson.

The fit again Lee Williamson returned at the expense of Aidy Mariappa and loan signing Adam Johnson retained his place in the starting eleven.

Two minutes in and Watford had their first attack on goal, albeit a wayward strike from Gavin Mahon from outside the area.

Then following a hashed clearance from keeper Lee Camp, Lloyd Doyley picked up the loose ball and pelted it down the line for Tommy Smith. The winger then waltzed it to the by-line and cut it back for Lee Williamson, but his finishing had the same outcome as Mahon's minutes earlier.

Dexter Blackstock suffered a similar fate at the other end before Watford were on the attack once more, this time with Damion Stewart almost diverting into his own net.

From the resulting corner, Dan Shittu almost allowed Watford to take the lead against his former club when his header was tipped onto the bar by Camp.

It was certainly end to end stuff now, with just eight minutes gone and it was Rangers on the attack with Gareth Ainsworth missing a glorious chance and blazing the ball over the bar.

Barely able to keep up with the chances now, Smith struck the ball and held his head in his hands as it flew inches wide. It was a case of simply not knowing which team was going to take the lead as the opening ten minutes certainly didn't look like a top versus near bottom clash.

The attentions of Danny Cullip and Adam Bolder saw Johnson go to ground in the box, but the referee waved play on rather than pointing to the spot.

A flurry of Watford attacks ended with Williamson's shot being blocked by Sampsa Timoska and Williamson on the floor. Watford were quite literally throwing themselves at the QPR goal.

Jay DeMerit then had to come to the rescue with a flying headed clearance after Bolder delivered a deep cross into the box. Both teams were producing the goods - Watford out of class and QPR out of sheer desperation.

The attentions of Doyley then managed to thwart Martin Rowlands as he dribbled into the box, weaving this way and that. Doyley however was far more cute with his intentions and merely robbed the midfielder in his stride.

Doyley was the hero once more when Dexter Blackstock picked up the ball and was just about to stroke it home, but somehow, the Hornets stalwart got his body in the path of the ball and knocked it out for a corner.

QPR were certainly throwing the kitchen sink at Watford, it's amazing what a local derby can enable a team to produce. This time, Blackstock headed over, but Poom looked comfortable had it been on target.

Watford had their best chance to take the lead four minutes before the break. Marlon King stormed through and saw his shot deflected by Camp. Henderson was on hand to follow up the rebound, but somehow the grounded Camp managed to throw himself in front of the ball and deflect it away. But with the linesman's flag aloft, it was probably better that it didn't hit the back of the net.

Given that, on current form, this game should have been wrapped up by now, Rangers were certainly giving the Hornets a run for their money and Aidy Boothroyd will certainly have had some words of wisdom for his men at half time.

And he was clearly concise with whatever words he chose to issue, because the Watford boys were out ten minutes later, jogging lengths of the pitch and doing a few extra exercises.

One notable absentee was DeMerit who made way for Aidy Mariappa.

Watford wasted no time in going on the attack, King just couldn't dig the ball out well enough to beat Camp. But worry not, for the Hornets were about to take the lead through wonder loan signing Johnson.

Tommy Smith carved open the defence in the same way that he has all season. Sprinting to the by line and cutting the ball back in a similar style to that which lead to Shittu's goal against Ipswich.

The ball looped to the far post where the Boro boy was waiting for its descent and with one deft touch, it was 1-0.

It was short lived however as Stefan Moore scored QPR's first goal of their home Championship campaign. Ready to scoop up the ball as it clattered back off the crossbar following Blackstock's shot, Moore drove the ball past Poom.

Buoyed by the goal, QPR enjoyed a spell on the attack while Watford looked happy to soak up the pressure. Aidy Boothroyd said after the win at Cardiff that they liked to make life hard for themselves and it looked as though his men were doing it once again.

Clearly unhappy with the lackadaisical nature of his men, Boothroyd man a double change, introducing Nathan Ellington and Jobi McAnuff for Henderson and Smith.

Ellington's first touch was a free kick from outside the area, on target, but gathered, and then dropped by Camp. Williamson slid in with every right to get the ball and caught the Rangers keeper, causing a melee involving a few Rangers players, but the referee's card stayed firmly in his pocket.

He was reaching for the red moments later however when Mikele Leigertwood clattered into Doyley. His second yellow card saw him departing for an early bath to give Watford the one man advantage.

A free for all in the box moments later saw Stefan Moore's goal line clearance from King deny the Hornets the opportunity to take the lead and score the winner.

Substitute Ellington brought the best out of Camp then when his shot on the turn surely stung the hands of the keeper. His vicious shot looked to be every inch the goal, but for the one handed save of the former Derby stopper.

There was to be no late strikes to give the Hornets the win this time, despite their best efforts. A game that they should have won, and tried in earnest to. But sometimes, it's just not meant to be. Watford

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