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Friday, April 25, 2008

QPR's Last Games Against Norwich

Norwich Official Site recalls QPR's previous meeting with Norwich this season, back in October, when QPR picked up their first win of the season under caretaker manager, Mick Harford at a time when the takeover had just been completed, and Francesco Guidolin was supposedly set to be named as QPR's new manager.
Norwich also recalls, as well QPR's last visit to Norwich at the end of December 2006, which Norwich won 1-0. All QPR fans need no reminding of their terrible April 1976 loss to Norwich.
QPR won the earlier encounter this season 1-0. (QPR's team included some players no longer with the club: Camp, Barker, Stewart, Bolder, Ainsworth (Jarrett 85), Rowlands, Sahar (Moore 69), Ephraim (Timoska 90), Vine, Leigertwood, Cranie SUBS NOT USED: Cole (GK), Bignot).
See also Match reports of QPR's First Win of the seasonreports and comments
The table, a week after their Norwich win:
Crystal Pal 11 11
Sheff Utd 11 10
Preston 11 10
Sheff Wed 11 9
Norwich 11 8
QPR 10 7

QPR's team for their December 2006 game at Norwich: Royce, Bignott (c), Milanese, Gallen (Blackstock 78), Rowlands (Ward 42), Lomas, Cook, Stewart, Furlong, Jones, Mancienne. Subs: Cole, Baidoo, Kanyuka, Blackstock.

Whilst they are by no means favourites to occupy the third and final spot in the Championship relegation zone, the threat of demotion to League One continues to loom large for Norwich City.

Glenn Roeder's men currently lie just three points clear of 22nd place Sheffield Wednesday, but with a run-in that includes tomorrow's potentially tough home clash against in-form Rangers, as well as a trip to fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday on the final day of the season, the work is far from complete for the Carrow Road outfit.

Experienced front-man Darren Huckerby, who is nearing the conclusion of his fifth campaign at the East Anglia Club, certainly believes at least one more victory is required before they can start look ahead to next season in the second tier.

"We still definitely need a win," he said following the Canaries' recent 2-1 defeat to local rivals Ipswich Town.

"I'm confident we'll stay up, yes, but we still definitely need a win."

Confidence is one thing, but if Norwich's below-par display against the Tractor Boys in the East Anglia derby is anything to go by, relegation could yet be a serious issue.

Victory in their biggest away date of the season would have all but guaranteed Championship survival. Instead, City suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat and the scoreline didn't tell the whole story.

City were second best throughout, yet while former R's hero Roeder was honest enough to concede bragging rights to the Tractor Boys, he insisted he was staying positive ahead of the all-important run-in.

"I have always believed the greater the challenge, the greater the response and that's what we've got to think in the next few games," he said.

Defeat against West Bromwich Albion last time out hardly helped matters, but Roeder is adamant City will convert 'some of the numerous chances that came their way' when Rangers come to town on Saturday.

Speaking after the 2-1 reverse, Roeder said: "We had at least four glorious chances and we didn't take them and that has been a feature of this season for us.

"All we can do now is try to play like we did today against QPR next week and hopefully the chances will go in."

Earlier this season: October 8, 2007 Norwich Official Site QPR 1 Norwich 0

A JUBILANT Loftus Road celebrated Queens Park Rangers' first win in any competition as Martin Rowlands' 66th minute penalty was enough to clinch a bottom of the table Championship clash.

The Canaries' horrible goal drought extended to six games and over nine hours of open play - and although the award of the penalty against Ian Murray for a foul on Rowan Vine may have been debatable, Rangers also hit the woodwork and were only stopped from winning by a wider margin thanks to an excellent display from David Marshall in City's goal.

For their part City simply failed to threaten former Canary Lee Camp's goal enough and can have few complaints about the result.

With Gary Doherty injured, City skipper Jason Shackell returned to the starting line-up after serving his three-match suspension and was joined in the heart of the Canaries' defence by Dion Dublin.

Up front young striker Chris Martin, who struck the woodwork against Scunthorpe last Tuesday night, was partnered by Darren Huckerby. In midfield Rossi Jarvis started in the centre with Darel Russell, with Lee Croft on the right and Simon Lappin on the left.

Ian Murray shrugged off a foot injury suffered in the Scunthorpe game to join Gilks, Chadwick, Brown and Strihavka on the City bench.

For QPR loanees Rowan Vine, former City player Jason Jarrett and Martin Cranie were all making their home debuts.

Although Sky were naturally focussing on a big game for both clubs in their pre-match build-up, for the newspaper photographers the excitement before kick-off centred around the appearance of glamorous celebrities Naomi Campbell and Tamara Beckwith in the directors' box.

With both sides eager to win there was some crisp passing in the opening exchanges with neither 'keeper troubled as players for either side found their feet.

The first threat to the City goal came in the ninth minute, Vine cutting the ball back from the byeline to tee up Leigertwood who drilled his low shot wide of the post from 16 yards.

Two minutes later Sahar picked the ball up and ran at the City defence after Russell lost possession in the centre circle, but his shot was eventually blocked by a superb block from Dublin at full stretch.

In the 16th minute Adam Drury was left prone on the pitch apparently clutching his shoulder after competing for a header and received lengthy treatment but thankfully was able to get to his feet and continue after a couple of minutes.

Lee Croft nearly cut in behind the Rangers defence in the 21st minute to pick up a clever pass from Chris Martin but just couldn't find the time and space to get a shot off and was eventually forced wide and away from danger by good QPR defending.

Dion Dublin received the game's first yellow card from referee Mr P.Walton in the 27th minute after a tussle for the ball in the centre of the pitch with Adam Bolder.

Just after the half-hour Huckerby and Otsemobor combined well but the City right-back seemed caught in two minds as he found himself carving into the Rangers box and eventually drilled a shot from tight angle straight at former Canary 'keeper Lee Camp.

Play switched to the other end and Hogan Ephraim warmed the palms of David Marshall with a fierce drive from 25 yards which the City custodian palmed away well.

In the 36th minute after Shackell conceded a corner, Marshall was again alert to palm away Ephraim's in-swinging flag kick from under the crossbar and away to safety.

In the closing seconds of first-half injury time Lappin's corner from the right was met by the towering figure of Dublin but he planted his header well over the bar.

Half-time: QPR 0, Norwich City 0

City made a change at the break, Ian Murray coming on for Dion Dublin - Manager Peter Grant perhaps conscious of the yellow card Dublin picked up in the first half.

But it was QPR who looked the more dangerous in the opening exchanges of the half - and they were centimetres away from breaking the deadlock in the 47th minute. The City midfield and defence seemed almost to stand off as Martin Rowlands arrowed forward from defence and he had time to blast a low shot from 25 yards which cannoned off the foot of the far post with Marshall beaten.

It was a let-off for City who had started the period firmly on the back foot - and within a couple of minutes they had another scare as they survived loud claims for a Rangers penalty after Vine went down under Shackell's challenge.

In an effort to change the balance of the game, Grant made a tactical shift on 52 minutes with Huckerby slotting in on the left of a five-man midfield and Martin left as lone striker.

Rowlands was having a lively second half and on 59 minutes he forced a smart reaction save from Marshall with a curling free kick from 30 yards which was arrowing towards the top corner.

Four minutes later with Norwich now firmly on the back foot Grant made his sceond change of the evening, striker David Strihavka replacing Lappin and joining Martin up front as the Canaries reverted to 4-4-2 once again.

On 65 minutes Lee Croft was booked for a foul on Ephraim - but if that looked harsh there was worse to come a minute later as Ian Murray was controversially adjudged to have brought down Vine in the box and a penalty was awarded.

Martin Rowlands capped a great personal performance by stepping up to ram a perfect spot kick low and to Marshall's left, giving the City keeper no chance whatsoever.

Rangers caretaker boss Mick Harford immediately made a substitution, Stefan Moore replacing Sahar.

The home side was definitely on top at this stage - two chances in the space of 60 seconds coming on 70 minutes as first Ainsworth's acrobatic volley was deflected inches wide by the head of Drury and then Stewart's powerful header from the resulting corner was saved at full stretch by Marshall.

A minute later Rowan Vine was the next to test Marshall's reflexes, forcing yet another excellent save on the line from the Canary keeper.

Somehow City needed to find a way back into a game in which they had failed to significantly threaten the Rangers goal. Grant responded by bringing on Chris Brown for Martin with 15 minutes to go.

Almost immediately there was a slight improvement as Russell hit a half-volley from 22 yards which Camp saved comfortably. It was City's first shot in anger of the second half but did at least give the City fans behind the goal something rare to cheer about.

The Canaries once again had Marshall to thank for keeping them in the game in the 82nd minute when he stuck out a leg to deny Ephraim's blast from eight yards.

Two minutes later a long raking ball forward from Otsemobor was nodded down well by Strihavka, but Brown got under his shot and sent it well over from 25 yards.

QPR then made their final change, another former City man Jason Jarrett coming on for Ainsworth with five minutes of normal time to go. Rangers were understandably happy to try and run the clock down as they closed in on what would be there first win in any competition - and Ephraim took his time leaving the pitch as he was replaced on 90 minutes by Sampsa Timoska.

The referee duly awarded five minutes of injury time

NORWICH: Marshall, Otsemobor, Drury, Shackell, Huckerby, Croft, Dublin (Murray 46), Lappin (Strihavka 63), Russell, Rossi Jarvis, Martin (Brown 75)
SUBS NOT USED: Gilks (GK), Chadwick.

QPR: Camp, Barker, Stewart, Bolder, Ainsworth (Jarrett 85), Rowlands, Sahar (Moore 69), Ephraim (Timoska 90), Vine, Leigertwood, Cranie
SUBS NOT USED: Cole (GK), Bignot. Norwich

QPR's Last Visit to Norwich

Norwich Official Site - Norwich 1 QPR 0 30/12/2006
THE Canaries got back to winning ways at Carrow Road, ending 2006 with a win over QPR thanks to a single goal from Dion Dublin.

Dublin pounced midway through the second half to end City's festive blues, latching onto a great ball from Robert Earnshaw to slot home from 12-yards.

It was no more than the Canaries deserved for a vastly improved display after the bore-draw against Southend on Boxing Day, and their victory could have been greater had it not been from a combination of wasteful finishing and good defending.

As expected, Youssef Safri was restored to the starting line-up in the absence of the suspended Carl Robinson.

Also returning to the line-up was skipper Adam Drury, passed fit after missing the draw with Southend due to a hip injury. Jurgen Colin also returned to the side at the expense of Andy Hughes, who was given a place on the bench.

In attack manager Peter Grant kept faith with the partnership of Dion Dublin and Robert Earnshaw.

City got off to a lively start, enjoying the bulk of possession inside the first five minutes without creating a clear-cut chance.

Indeed, the first clear chance arrived on nine minutes. Huckerby's cross from the left was headed back across goal to the unmarked Earnshaw by strike partner Dublin.

And even though the Welshman missed from just six yards out with his stooping header, the assistant referee had already flagged for offside.

QPR registered their first shot on target three minutes later. Croft's attempted cross-field ball was easily cut-out by Martin Rowlands, and with Drury back-peddling furiously, he shaped to bend a left foot shot inside Gallacher's right post.

But he miscued his effort, with the ball bobbling well wide.

But they came closer to grabbing the first goal on 17 minutes, with only the alertness of Norwich 'keeper Gallacher denying them.

Rowlands flighted a ball over to the far post from the right and found veteran striker Furlong unmarked.

He connected well with his downward header, but the Scottish international did well to push the ball away at his near post, with his defenders eventually hacking the ball to safety.

On 26 minutes City came within inches of winning a penalty. Defender Damion Stewart - sporting a protective face mask - dallied on the by-line as he tried to shield the ball and allow it to run behind for a goal kick.

But Earnshaw had not given up on it, scooting round the big defender, leaving the Rangers man with little choice but to haul him down. Earnshaw fell in the box, but referee Phil Dowd awarded a free kick just outside, which promptly came to nothing.

Stewart's clumsiness should have earned him a booking, but his skipper Marcus Bignott was not so fortunate a minute later, given a yellow for dragging down Huckerby in full flight on the left.

On 34 minutes there was a stoppage after Drury took a boot to the face stretching for a 50-50 ball with Rowlands down on the left 20 yards inside the Rangers' half.

He certainly looked to be in some discomfort, but after treatment from physio Neal Reynolds was able to continue.

On 38 minutes visiting goalkeeper Simon Royce was forced into action for the first time in the half.

Croft swung a cross over from the right which was brilliantly headed back into Earnshaw's path just inside the area by Dubling.

Earnshaw's shot was struck sweetly, but Royce was able to parry the ball up and away and over the line for a corner.

And as the rain began to fall at Carrow Road, that was to be the last of the action of the first half as both sides entered the break honours even.

Half time: Norwich City 0-0 QPR

There were no changes for either side at the break, with City returning to the pitch looking to turn their possession into clear scoring chances.

And City had a clear site of goal within the first two minutes of the second period.

Norwich won a corner in front of the N&P Stand, and Safri delivered an excellent out-swinging ball which found Shackell's head.

Unfortunately the young defender could not keep his effort down, powering his attempt yards over.

Seconds later and City were behind the QPR defence once more. This time Colin played a nice one-two with Croft before darting into the area at an angle.

But his final product was found wanting, shooting wastefully into the side-netting at the near post when a pass or a shot across goal might have reaped more reward.

City were competing well, but were still lacking the kind of invention needed to break the stubborn visitors down as the game went past the hour mark.

Of course, QPR were also looking for three points to arrest their own recent slump, and on 66 minutes midfielder Steve Lomas gave Norwich a warning when he flashing a right foot shot just wide of Gallacher's left post from 25 yards out.

But any nerves were finally settled on 69 minutes when Norwich took the lead.

QPR were slack at the back, gifting the ball to Earnshaw just outside the area. And he showed great vision to loft a ball into the box to find Dublin completely unmarked to side-foot past the exposed Royce from 12 yards out.

It was a cool finish and a deserved goal for the 37-year-old, who had been outstanding all game once again.

On 75 minutes City had a great chance to double their lead amid the downpour.

A good positive run from Colin took him deep into QPR territory before sliding a pass into Huckerby's stride in the area.

But the winger could not sort out his feet in time, taking too heavy a touch and allowing Royce to gather comfortably at his feet.

Two minutes later and Grant made his first chance of the match, replacing Croft with Andy Hughes on the right side of midfield.

With the game in the final 10 minutes, City were good value for their lead, with only good defending from Mancienne preventing Earnshaw connecting with a great ball from Dublin.

With five minutes left City should have put the game out of the visitors' reach. Hughes played a great one-two with Dublin just outside the area before finding Huckerby unmarked on the far side of the area. But the winger could only slice his shot horribly over the bar.

And with the game in stoppage time City again had a clear chance to end matters - Earnshaw put in the clear by Hughes' astute through-ball. But as the Weldshman pulled the trigger just inside the area, Stewart did brilliantly to recover his ground and divert his goalbound shot over the bar.

Full time: Norwich City 1-0 QPR

Norwich City: Gallacher, Drury (c), Shackell, Huckerby, Croft (78), Dublin, Earnshaw, Safri (McVeigh 88), Etuhu, Colin, Doherty. Subs: Lewis, Fleming, Ryan Jarvis.

QPR: Royce, Bignott (c), Milanese, Gallen (Blackstock 78), Rowlands (Ward 42), Lomas, Cook, Stewart, Furlong, Jones, Mancienne. Subs: Cole, Baidoo, Kanyuka, Blackstock. Norwich

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