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Sunday, March 02, 2008

QPR vs Stoke Previews

By Timothy Abraham, PA Sport

Stoke 6/4, Q.P.R. 6/4, Draw 11/5

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has admitted he will not let personal accolades distract his focus ahead of the Potters' Coca-Cola Championship clash with QPR.

Pulis was handed the Manager of the Month award for February after he steered his side to five wins out of their last six games.

The Potters suffered a 2-0 defeat to Preston during the week and Pulis is keen for his side to get their bid to win promotion to the Barclays Premier League back on track at Loftus Road.

"QPR is a massive game for us on Sunday and everyone is concentrating on that," Pulis told the club's official website.

"The players are well motivated at the moment. They've got an aim, that, fingers crossed, we can achieve this season.

"I'm really, really pleased with the way things have gone and now we have got to make sure we keep pushing."

Stoke defender Leon Cort should be fit enough to return for trip to Loftus Road despite initial concern that he had broken an ankle against Preston.

The Potters are without Rory Delap who will serve a one-match ban after he picked up his fifth booking of the season.

Paul Gallagher is pressing his claims for a start, but Gabriel Zakuani (broken toe) and Dominic Matteo (foot) will both miss out.

QPR youth coach Steve Brown has backed rookie striker Angelo Balanta to continue his impressive start to life with the club's first team.

The Colombian-born 17-year-old marked his recent full home debut against Sheffield United with his first goal for the club and Brown is certain there is plenty more to come.

"He's got so much natural ability it's frightening, he is the most natural player I've ever worked with and this is a great club for him to ply his trade," Brown told his club's official website.

"He gets himself into great positions, and for that reason alone he'll score goals in this division. He can hurt people because once he's got the ball at his feet he is devastating. Without wanting to put any pressure on him, I'm convinced there."

QPR midfielder Gavin Mahon is rated as "touch and go" by boss Luigi De Canio as he struggles to overcome a a medial ligament injury which has sidelined him for two games.

Striker Rowan Vine was dropped to the bench at Barnsley in midweek as De Canio freshened up his side and can probably expect a recall with Dexter Blackstock the likely fall guy.

Centre-half Damion Stewart was also rested at Oakwell and could struggle to regain his place with Fitz Hall and Matthew Connolly performing well in the goalless draw.
Sporting Life


Sunday 2nd March 2008 Queens Park Rangers vs Stoke City
Coca-Cola Championship Loftus Road Kick Off 1.15pm


The Potters will be looking to bounce straight back from the midweek defeat to Preston North End on Tuesday night.

Bristol City's win over Hull City means Pulis' side drop to second place but a win at Loftus Road will see the team regain top spot.

With Carlo Nash's loan signing still not completed, Russell Hoult will temporarily return to the squad following his 90 minutes for Notts County in their draw at Macclesfield Town.

Midfielder Liam Lawrence is expected to pull through his thigh strain and feature while Leon Cort, who suffered an ankle injury in the defeat at Preston, may miss out. Gabriel Zakuani is still on the sidelines, meanwhile, with his broken toe.

New signing Chris Riggott may replace him at the heart of the defence following his arrival from Middlesbrough, while Tony Pulis will have another selection dilemma in midfield with Rory Delap's one game suspension.


QPR go into the game in sixteenth position in the Championship and without a win in three games.

Tuesday night's goalless draw away at Barnsley was the first time they'd failed to scored in the league since the 0-0 at home to Wolves in mid-December.

Boss Luigi De Canio splashed the cash in the January Transfer Window and ex-Preston striker Patrick Agyemang has already begun repaying the Italian by netting eight goals in eight league games so far this season.

Gavin Mahon should be fit enough to play after a recent knee injury, while Ricardo Fuller's Jamaican team-mate Damion Stewart may be recalled.


Tony Pulis

"It's always difficult going down to QPR - it's such a tight ground.

"If we don't get some rain it'll make it a hard pitch and then it'll be a lively game.

"They've brought a lot of players in and they're a much better team than the one that we played against earlier this season.

"You can expect, from what everyone says about the money they've got, that they'll become a force in the Championship again."


Chris Barker, Cardiff City (free)
Daniel Nardiello, Barnsley (free)
John Curtis, Nottingham Forest (free)
Michael Mancienne, Chelsea (loan)
Ben Sahar, Chelsea (loan)
Hogan Ephraim, West Ham United (loan)
Lee Camp, Derby County (£300,000)
Simon Walton, Charlton Athletic (£200,000)
Mikele Leigertwood, Sheffield United (£900,000)
Rowan Vine, Birmingham City (loan)
Jason Jarrett, Preston North End (loan)
Martin Cranie, Portsmouth (loan)
Akos Buzsaky, Plymouth Argyle (loan)
Scott Sinclair, Chelsea (loan)
Bob Malcolm, Derby County (loan)
Akos Buzsaky, Plymouth Argyle
Matthew Connolly, Arsenal (£1,000,000)
Hogan Ephraim, West Ham United (£800,000)
Patrick Agyemang, Preston North End (£350,000)
Fitz Hall, Wigan Athletic (£700,000)
Rowan Vine, Birmingham City (£1,000,000)
Damien Delaney, Hull City
Matt Pickens, Chicago Fire
Kieran Lee, Manchester United (loan)
Gavin Mahon, Watford (loan)

Paul Jones (released)
Mauro Milanese (released)
Armel Tchakounte (released)
Andrew Howell (released)
Ian Evatt, Blackpool (free)
Kevin Gallen, MK Dons (free)
Marc Bircham, Yeovil Town (free)
Lee Cook, Fulham
John Munday, Kidderminster (free)
Paul Furlong, Luton Town (free)
Simon Royce, Gillingham (free)
Steve Lomas, Gillingham (free)
Marcus Bignot, Millwall (free)
Shabazz Baidoo, Dag & Red (free)
Pat Kanyuka, Swindon Town (free)
Kieron St Aimie, Barnet (free)
Dominic Shimmin, Crawley
Danny Cullip, Gillingham (free)
Sean Thomas, Wealdstone (loan)
Stefan Bailey, Oxford (loan)
Kieron St Aimie, Oxford (loan)
Marcus Bignot, Millwall (loan)
Dominic Shimmin, Bournemouth (loan)
Tom Doherty, Wycombe Wanderers (loan)
Daniel Nardiello, Barnsley (loan)
Simon Walton, Hull City (loan)
Adam Bolder, Sheffield Wednesday (loan)
John Curtis (released)
Nick Ward (released)
Sean Thomas (released)
Marc Nygaard (released)


League - Played 27, Won 8, Drawn 6, Lost 13
FA Cup - Played 1, Lost 1


Referee - Andy D'Urso (Essex)
Games 31 - Yellow Cards 72 - Red Cards 2

Last refereed Stoke in our 1-1 draw at home to Hull City in April 2007.
Was in charge of QPR's 5-1 defeat at West Brom at the end of September.
Last game was Swansea's 1-0 win at MK Dons last month.

Referee's Assistants - J Devine & M McDonough
Fourth Official - R Lee


Should Play - Griffin, Shawcross, Pugh, Lawrence, Whelan, Cresswell, Sidibe, Fuller.
Could Play - Simonsen, Nash, Wilkinson, Dickinson, Riggott, Diao, Gallagher, Parkin, Pericard.
Suspensions - Delap
Doubts - Cort, Matteo
Definitely Outs - Zakuani


Should Play - Camp, Delaney, Hall, Mancienne, Connolly, Buzsaky, Rowlands, Leigertwood, Agyemang.
Could Play - Pickens, Lee, Stewart, Balanta, Ephraim, Ainsworth, Blackstock, Vine.
Suspensions - None
Doubts - Mahon
Definitely Outs - None
FORMGUIDE (last six league games, most recent last)

Stoke City - WWWWWL

Stoke City 2-1 Cardiff City
Wolves 2-4 Stoke City
Stoke City 3-2 Southampton
Stoke City 3-2 Scunthorpe United
Stoke City 1-0 Ipswich Town
Preston North End 2-0 Stoke City


Cardiff City 3-1 QPR
QPR 3-0 Bristol City
Southampton 2-3 QPR
QPR 2-4 Burnley
QPR 1-1 Sheffield United
Barnsley 0-0 QPR


26th February - Barnsley 0 QPR 0

FA Cup quarter-finalists Barnsley were brought down to earth by QPR who left the home side without a win in three league games.

The Tykes dominated the first half and Istvan Ferenczi went close when his headed effort rattled the post.

The Hoops fought back after the break with Martin Rowland foring Luke Steele into saving a 25-yard effort.

Akos Buzsaky's low cross should have been converted by a QPR team-mate while Lewin Nyatanga denied Angelo Balanta.

Line-Up: Camp; Delaney, Hall, Mancienne, Connolly; Buzsaky (Stewart 90), Rowlands, Leigertwood, Balanta (Ephraim 62); Blackstock (Vine 78), Agyemang. Subs (Not Used): Pickens, Lee.


City go into the game as slight favourites at 8/5, while the home team are 13/8.

Richard Cresswell is favourite to open the goalscoring for the Potters at 11/2 while Ricardo Fuller is at 6/1 and Ryan Shawcross 16/1.

Stoke City Win - 13/8 (64/40) - Draw 23/10 - QPR Win - 8/5 (65/40).



This week's issue of the Football League's online magazine, League Leader, is now available to download.

To view the magazine in PDF format, CLICK HERE.


The Daily Mirror's interview with Tony Pulis ahead of the game is available HERE.

The Independent will also cover the Potters in Sunday's newspaper, while chairman Peter Coates is on Andy Townsend's talkSPORT on Sunday morning at around 10.00am.


If you can't get to the game then stokecityfc.com is the next best place to be.

We'll have the full line-ups as soon as they are handed over by Assistant Manager Dave Kemp along with an updated score and line-ups throughout the game.

A full and in-depth match report will then be available right on the full-time whistle, along with plenty of post-match reaction.

Stoke City World

With Stoke City World you'll also be able to listen to live full-match commentary with Nigel Johnson and the boys from 1.30pm - the only website that allows you to do so while helping the club financially at the same time.

Live text commentary is also available at the same time via our BRAND NEW Stoke City Match Live Centre along with score updates from around the divisions and live league tables too!

Stoke City World will also have highlights of the game on Monday along with video reaction from the men that matter.

Stoke City World Match Live Stoke

INDEPENDENT - Managing nicely by guiding Potters to the promised land

Tony Pulis couldn't care less about winning ugly and will pull off a minor miracle if he earns promotion with Stoke. By Ronald Atkin

'I've always worked with the British market because you can find out about their background'

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Stoke City's tribute to their finest son, Stanley Matthews, is paid with not one but three statues on a plinth outside the Britannia Stadium, a reminder of the better days that may be on their way back to a now unfashionable club who are suddenly in the forefront of the Championship's promotion race.

Should Stoke achieve promotion, their manager, Tony Pulis, may need to dispatch a crate of bubbly to Harry Redknapp, the man he regards as his mentor, for helping to show him how to go about it. The 50-year-old Pulis, who was at Bournemouth, first as a player and then a coach, in the days when Redknapp was manager, says: "Harry's big thing, and this has always stuck with me, is that football management is knowing about the industry. The most important thing in the industry is your stock, and your stock is the players.

"I can be out two or three nights a week watching games, because if you don't know where the players are, when it comes to getting them you are always taking chances. I have seen managers with enormous budgets who have brought in players you would never bring into your own club. I do pride myself on knowing the industry, and you only do that by working hard."

Stoke's total of 59 goals from 35 League games this season, second only to West Bromwich, is also down to the work ethic of Pulis. "We always look as though we're going to score," he said before the team set off for today's televised game at QPR. "We have people in the team who always look threatening."

More than one Championship club have had a whinge this season about the nature of that threat, accusing Stoke – composed almost entirely of players6ft tall and above – of crudity, physicality and relying on goals from set-pieces. Pulis dismissescomplaints with a smile. "I don't think we win ugly," he said. "Ask our supporters, they think we win beautifully. Teams don't like playing us because we are very well organised."

After today's visit to Loftus Road, Stoke's 10 remaining games appear manageable, since they include only two close rivals, Watford and Bristol City. "By those standards, Preston last Tuesday was manageable, and we got beat 2-0," he said of what was only Stoke's second defeat in 19 League games. "That Preston result says everything about this division. The Premier League is the best-quality league, but the Championship is the most exciting and closely contested because you could turn up anywhere in the country, watch two teams play and not know who was at the top and who was at the bottom. So we have to concentrate on all our remaining fixtures, starting with QPR."

A player with Bristol Rovers, Newport County, Bournemouth and Gillingham, Pulis obtained his FA coaching badge at 19 and his Uefa A licence at 21. At the age of 50, he is in his 16th year of management, at Bournemouth, Gillingham, Bristol City, Portsmouth, Plymouth and, for the second time, Stoke. The nature of those jobs has meant that his achievements have always been against the odds, something he relishes.

"It's lovely to feel you have overachieved," he said. "People never look at the resources you are given or what you are competing against. We are playing against Charlton, Sheffield United, Watford and West Brom, who have £6 to £7 million [parachute] revenue before the season starts. They've also got bigger crowds, they pay bigger wages and are more attractive, so if there is a player in the market and you are interested in him, if one of those fancy him you've no chance. So we have to work around that and try to be cuter."

That cuteness consists of working the loan system for all it is worth, using the Redknapp-style "industrial knowledge" to tempt Premier League footballers to give Stoke a try. Pulis dismisses any suggestion that he might be envious of people with better resources at bigger clubs by documenting his background: "I come from the docks area of South Wales, a family of eight in a three-bedroom terrace house. Every day I wake up, I'm in professional football, the luckiest man alive. It's a tough job and there is lots of stress and pressure, but reality sets in when I consider my childhood."

The pressures associated with expectations of promotion are regarded by Pulis as "good times, to be honest" compared to his first time at Stoke. "When I arrived they were struggling, and we only stayed up by winning the last game of the season." That spell, 2002-05, ended with him being sacked by the then chairman, the Icelander Gunnar Gislason, for "failing to exploit the foreign transfer market".

Pulis remains unrepentant, numbering just Salif Diao, Mamady Sidibe and Ricardo Fuller as his foreign contingent. "I have always worked with the British market because you can find out about their background," he explained. "There are some fantastic foreign players in this country, but there are a lotwho are no better than we already have here and they have certainly blocked the system up."

That said, he acknowledges that, in the event of Stoke getting into the Premier League, that attitude might have to change. Typically, he has already spoken to managers at similar clubs who have gone up and struggled. One of his problems, he concedes, would again be in attracting the right home-bred players. However, it would be another challenge for Tony Pulis to relish and, should promotion come, be assured it will be done Harry's Way. Independent

SKY SPORTS - Today's matches
QPR v Stoke City; Championship, Sky Sports 1, 1.15pm

Match Facts Preview Last 6 results Queens Park Rangers
Barnsley - QPR 0 - 0
QPR - Sheff Utd 1 - 1
QPR - Burnley 2 - 4
Southampton - QPR 2 - 3
QPR - Bristol City 3 - 0
Cardiff - QPR 3 - 1

Stoke City
2 - 0 Preston - Stoke
1 - 0 Stoke - Ipswich
3 - 2 Stoke - Scunthorpe
3 - 2 Stoke - Southampton
2 - 4 Wolverhampton - Stoke
2 - 1 Stoke - Cardiff

Sky Sports

Also: Past QPR vs Stoke Matches

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