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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Role Reversal! - QPR Score (Twice) At The Death to Draw Against Preston!! - De Canio: Ainsworth "Heart and Soul of this Club"

QPR came from 0-2 with two 90th minute goals from Ainsworth and Blackstock.
QPR now have 54 points from 42 games and must surely be absolutely safe! Updated Table
Coventry 42 49
Southampton 42 49
Leicester 42 47
Sheff Wed 41 47
Barnsley 40 46
Scunthorpe 42 39
Colchester 42 36

Luigi De Canio praised the contribution of super sub Gareth Ainsworth, as the R's staged a stunning comeback to draw 2-2 with Preston North End.
Ainsworth scored one and provided the assist for Dexter Blackstock's last-gasp equaliser, to the delight of his Manager.
"Gareth is the heart and soul of this Club," he told www.qpr.co.uk.
"He's an extraordinary individual, who has the respect of everyone who knows him.
"He is the spirit, the heart and the attitude of QPR and he deserved to be the hero today."
De Canio added: "Before the game we were confident of getting the three points, but it didn't look like we would get anything as the clock ticked down. It looked like being one of those days, when everything we tried didn't work.
"Preston were very good and they made it very hard for us throughout.
"But the players responded with a great demonstration of character in the final moments and they deserve a lot of credit for that."
The R's First Team Coach dedicated the comeback to Rowan Vine, who faces a prolonged spell on the sidelines after fracturing his left leg in training earlier in the week.
"The draw, and especially the last few minutes, were for Rowan," he told www.qpr,co.uk.
"Like Gareth, he identifies the spirit of this Club and we were determined to play for him today.
"I'm sure he would have had a big smile on his face when he saw the comeback!" QPR

Gareth Ainsworth came off the bench to inspire Rangers to an unlikely share of the spoils against Preston North End.
The R's midfielder scored one and made another, as Luigi De Canio's men staged a late salvo at Loftus Road.
Trailing to Neil Mellor's first half strike and a Matthew Connolly own goal, Ainsworth fired an unstoppable half-volley past Andy Lonergan in the 90th minute, before Dexter Blackstock soared to head home an equaliser in the third minute of added time.
With injury ruling out Rowan Vine and Akos Buzsaky, De Canio was again forced to shuffle his pack.
Martin Rowlands returned following a recent neck complaint, while Patrick Agyemang led the line against his former Club.
In-form hit-man Mellor retained his place in the Lilywhites line-up, playing alongside Chris Brown in attack.
And it was the former Liverpool front-man who was presented with the first chance of note inside the opening three minutes.
A fortunate ricochet fell into the path of the burly striker, but Lee Camp reacted to the danger superbly, darting from his line to save at the striker's feet.
Camp was Rangers' busiest player in the opening exchanges, saving with his feet again five minutes later, as Simon Whaley thrashed a right foot shot on target from 15-yards.
The R's early frustrations were summed up in the 13th minute, when Rowlands was booked for a late challenge on Darren Carter.
De Canio's men improved as the half wore on though, with Damion Stewart driving forward at every given opportunity, and that man Rowlands orchestrating proceedings from the middle of the park.
However, despite their improved offering, the Rangers faithful were made to wait until the 36th minute to see their side fashion a goalscoring opportunity.
Dexter Blackstock fired straight at Andy Lonergan and the save proved decisive, as the Whites raced straight up the other end to open the scoring.
Mellor was gifted the freedom of the six-yard box, as he slammed home a right footed volley, after Youl Mawene flicked on Paul McKenna's corner kick.
In the absence of playmakers Vine and Buzsaky, Rangers lacked a cutting edge.
Right back Michael Mancienne went closest to putting the R's on level terms on the stroke of half-time, when he fired a yard or so wide from fully 25-yards.
The visitors were forced into a change at the break, with a hamstring injury ending goalscorer Mellor's day prematurely, as he was replaced by Tamas Priskin.
Rangers began the second half with renewed vigour, with Rowlands firing wide in the 52nd minute following neat approach play from Gavin Mahon.
Chances remained at a premium though and sensing his side were becomingly increasingly frustrated, De Canio introduced Angelo Balanta at the expense of Hogan Ephraim on the hour mark.
But it was the visitors who bagged the crucial second goal of the contest moments later, when Chris Sedgwick's centre was unceremoniously directed into his own net by the unfortunate Connolly.
It was all Preston now and Priskin nearly made it three five minutes later, when his stooping header was magnificently tipped around the post by the overworked Camp.
Blackstock prodded the ball inches wide as the clock ticked down, before Ainsworth smashed an unstoppable arcing volley into the roof of the net to give Rangers hope.
And the comeback was complete three minutes later, as Blackstock rose tallest to glance Ainsworth's cross into the far corner.
It was a quite sensational end to an otherwise disappointing display from the hosts, but De Canio won't care a jot, as his side stretched their unbeaten home run to five matches.
QPR: Camp, Mahon (Ainsworth 67), Stewart, Mancienne, Blackstock, Rowlands, Connolly, Agyemang, Ephraim (Balanta 62), Hall, Leigertwood. Subs: Barker, Pickens, Lee. Scorers: Ainsworth 90, Blackstock 94
Bookings: Rowlands 13, Connolly 41
Preston North End: Lonergan, Davidson, Mawene, Sedgwick, Brown, Carter, St Ledger, Whaley, McKenna, Jones, Mellor (Priskin 46).
Subs: Chaplow, Hill, L Neal, C Neal.
Scorers: Mellor 37, Connolly 65
Bookings: Brown 66
Referee: Mr C Penton
Attendance: 14, 966 QPR


90+4 min: It's all over. Scenes of celebration for QPR fans but though it's another game unbeaten and another vital point it feels like a defeat for Preston as they lose all three points in awful circumstances.

90+2 min: Guess what. It's a sickener for PNE. Dexter Blackstock deep into injury-time heads home to equalise and all of North End's good work is undone. To be fair QPR threw everything but the kitchen sink at Alan Irvine's side in the closing stages and it paid off in dramatic style.

90 min: All the talk before the game was of Patrick Agyemang getting a goal against his former club but it was another former North Ender who hands QPR a lifeline, Gareth Ainsworth with a fortuitous looping lob that beats Lonergan all ends up.

85 min: QPR are enjoying their best spell of the game and there are a few goalmouth scrambles that the PNE defence have to deal with but they hold their nerve and stand their ground well.

82 min: A bizarre sequence of events almost leads to QPR getting a goal back. Sedgwick smashes the ball clear but it cannons off the referee and ends up in the opposite direction and out for a QPR throw-in. The action continues and a ball is floated across the box to the back post, Lonergan and Mawene both leave the ball for each other and Blackstock almost sneaks in.

79 min: Fitz Hall tries a shot from distance, although trading standards might be on to me for calling it a shot, it was more a trickly effort that ended up somewhere near the corner flag.

76 min: The midfielder is back on the field but it's Agyemang who is in the thick of the action. He takes advantage of some indecision in the PNE defence and almost profits, he got a toe to the ball before Lonergan arrived on the scene but unfortunately for Patrick the ball trickled the wrong side of the post.

76 min: McKenna, the skipper draws blood after Mikele Leigertwood leaves a stud-mark in his face!

74 min: It's raining at Loftus Road, but the PNE fans are singing in the rain.

68 min: Comply Or Die wins the National but it's North End who almost go clear of the field when Tamas Priskin rises unmarked in the box and powers a header towards goal, it takes an acrobatic save from Lee Camp to stop the ball landing in the back of the net.

64 min: It's 2-0 to North End!!! Majestic skills from Sedgwick on the left flank take him past two defenders in the QPR box and he drills the ball into the six-yard box, Priskin is in there and the ball seems to richochet off a QPR player and off the Hungarian into the box. Priskin's claiming it.

60 min: We've just lost one striker and we almost lost another as Tamas Priskin is left flattened in the centre-circle for a good minute or two whilst QPR launch a strong attack. The ball is finally put out of play for the Hungarian to receive treatment. QPR make a change during the break in play with Rowlands being replaced by Balanta on the right-wing. Priskin also comes onto the pitch after a bit of treatment.

59 min: Today's attendance is 14,966 and a lot of those fans are resplendent in bowler hats. Yes, of course, it's the Return of the Gentry.

57 min: They're off in the National.

53 min: Hogan Ephraim must have had a half-time rocket up the backside as he's been involved in everything good about QPR's play in the second half. The diminutive midfielder bursting onto the ball in the box and he almost comes up with the ball clean through on goal but it just left him at the last minute,

47 min: Priskin makes an immediate impact and is upended twice in the space of a minute. The second time of which is significant because it comes in the QPR penalty-box. Amazingly neither the linesman or the referee spot Fitz Hall clipping the Hungarian's heels. That's just daft.

46 min: There are some TV screens in the press-box which are mercifully showing the Grand National coverage so we'll keep you updated.

1604: Priskin's on and Mellor's off, the rumours were right!

1601: I must have missed it but apparently Neil Mellor has picked up an injury of sorts in the closing stages of the first-half and there are rumours that he will be replaced. Shame really as he was posing all sorts of problems for the Hoops defence.

1550: It's half-time entertainment, but not as we know it! Four inflatable Pritt-Sticks have just been placed on the pitch, I'm saying inflatable but one of them is looking a little deflated. There are several kids on the pitch waiting in earnest, it's my guess that they are going to be dribbling around these obstacles.

45 min: Two minutes of added time are indicated by the fourth official and just as that happens Michael Mancienne is given plenty of room to get at goal and he drifts in from his right-back position before hammering an effort that looks like it has Lonergan beaten but it drifts just wide.

45 min: Another corner from the right causes consternation for the Hoops. This time Sean St. Ledger is given the freedom of the Borough of Hammersmith to power a header at goal. The defender will feel that he should have done a lot better with his effort though as it almost found the second tier of the stand!

44 min: Stewards enquiry. Apparently it was Paul McKenna's corner which led to Preston's opener. Sorry Kenna.

42 min: The second booking of the afternoon is another one for QPR. Connolly sliding in late onto Billy Jones' ankle, Ouch, that looked like it hurt.

37 min: Lonergan's save might have been the turning point of the game as North End are ahead!!! The ball was pumped right up the other end of the field and Fitz Hall was forced to concede a corner. Carter stepped up and sent an inswinging one into the box, Mawene flicked it on and Neil Mellor was there to power the ball into the back of the net on the volley. Get in!!!

36 min: The Hoops fans soon have something to get loud about. As Youl Mawene's touch lets him down in front of goal and Dexter Blackstock is through on goal, Blackstock gets to the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that Lonergan does brilliantly to parry wide, great save by the keeper, how many times have we said that this season!

35 min: It's gone a bit quiet and the North End fans are reminding the QPR fans of that fact by going shush!

29 min: Preston really are playing the better football and both Sedgwick and and Whaley are getting in behind their full-backs and putting balls in across the six-yard box. QPR have two bean-pole central defenders in Fitz Hall and Damion Stewart and they don't look comfortable in trying to deal with the low stuff. Keep it up North End!

25 min: The older drunken gentleman I referred to earlier is getting a talking to from the stewards. He's standing up too much and as we all know that's against the draconian rules which are in place at football grounds these days. All of a sudden the crowd are in full support of the old geezer and if I could understand their funny London accents I'd be able to tell you what they were chanting.

22 min: North End carve QPR open again down the left flank. This time Brown sends Whaley away and the speedy wingman clips the ball to the far post where Sedgwick is waiting to square a ball into the path of Mellor, the striker has the goal at his mercy but the ball is behind him and Mellor has to lay it back to Carter who slices the ball over the bar. Great football from Irvine's men.

21 min: St. Ledger is on the end of a Carter corner on the right and he loops a header towards goal but Camp deals with it comfortably.

20 min: A QPR fan down to the left of the press box is trying to rouse the Loftus Road crowd with a virtuoso chanting and singing performance, he's a bit old, and slightly worse for wear after one two many pre-match shandies. He's being ignored by most of the fans around him.

14 min: The first glimpse of Agyemang's pace and it takes him clear of Mawene down the left flank. But Agyemang's ball across the face of goal is comfortably dealt with by Billy Jones.

13 min: Martin Rowlands is the first name in the book, a late lunge on Darren Carter earns him a stern chat from referee Mr Clive Penton.

9 min: PNE are all over them like a cheap suit! Whaley has a chance on the left again, this time as Brown slots the winger through in the channel, Whaley's left-footed shot heads towards the near post and Camp is forced to turn it around for a corner. PNE take it quickly and Whaley dabs a ball across the face of goal and Sedgwick flicks a header into the path of Brown who has a shot at point-blank range, a combination of defender and keeper steer the ball wide for another corner.

7 min: A positive starts from Alan Irvine's men. They are enjoying the territorial advantage in the opening exchanges of the game and QPR are having to hit PNE on the break.

4 min: A great chance for PNE. Whaley, Davidson and Carter are pinging the ball about on the edge of the box and Davidson attempts to play a ball through into the box and it richochets into the path of Mellor in the left channel. Camp comes out to close the angle down and makes a good save at Mellor's feet.

2 min: Apologies for the lack text. The BBC's resident North End fan Paul Fletcher was bending my ear on Preston's prospects for the season. As you've probably guessed, we are underway.

1443: There's a lot of money around these parts and that is clearly evident by the number of security guards and body guards that are in the vicinity. Wonder whether Flavio Briatore will be here or at the Bahrain Grand Prix this afternoon.

1438: This is my first visit to Loftus Road and though it is quite a little compact ground the press box is surprisingly spacious.

1436: Regular Whites World listeners can listen to BBC Radio London's commentary should they prefer a slightly more experienced commentry experience.

So no changes for North End this afternoon, the only difference being that Alan Irvine's team are lining up in the all-red kit. The last time they played in that kit they demolished Derby County in the FA Cup.

QPR: Camp, Mahon, Stewart, Mancienne, Blackstock, Rowlands, Connolly, Agyemang, Ephraim, Hall, Leigertwood. Subs: Pickens, Barker, Ainsworth, Lee, Balanta.
PNE: Lonergan, Davidson, Mawene, Sedgwick, Brown, Carter, St. Ledger, Whaley, McKenna, Jones, Mellor. Subs: C Neal, Chaplow, Hill, Neal, Priskin.

1427: Dave Whillis and Gareth Hollinghurst are the Whites World commentary duo this afternoon. A couple of Preston North End fans they've been drafted in at the last moment to provide some biased views. It's their first effort so be gentle with them.

1424: No team news as yet but both teams are being put through their paces on the Loftus Road turf.

1421: We're finally online after a few technical difficulties. Hopefully that will be the only problem we encounter this afternoon. - Preston

Early Sporting Life Report!


Neil Mellor notched his eighth goal of the season to put in-form Preston on course for victory at the expense of Coca-Cola Championship rivals QPR.

North End arrived in the capital having won five and drawn one of their previous six outings to all but stave off the threat of relegation to Coca-Cola League One.

Mellor's 37th-minute strike - a predatory volley from six yards - was his third goal in two games and was the least his side deserved for their first-half superiority.

The former Liverpool forward, who scored a brace in last week's 3-1 home win over Sheffield United, went close after only four minutes.

He collected possession following a quick throw-in from strike partner Chris Brown and engineered the space to crack in a low left-footed shot, which Rangers goalkeeper Lee Camp did well to tip round a post.

Not surprisingly, North End looked full of purpose and vigour as they sought to build on their recent run of rich form.

They carved out another opening in the ninth minute when highly-rated winger Simon Whaley drilled in a low shot, which forced Camp into another smart stop.

Moments later, it was Brown's turn to go close as he stabbed in a close-range shot that Martin Rowlands did well to block.

Rangers offered little in the opening quarter and looked to be there for the taking.

However, resurgent Preston struggled to make the most of their territorial advantage as midfielder Darren Carter failed to hit the target with a shot from distance in the 22nd minute.

The visitors continued to probe and a dangerous cross from Mellor in the 28th minute forced Rangers centre-back Damion Stewart into a vital clearance.

They were finally rewarded for their endeavour in the 37th minute when Mellor struck in such clinical fashion.

It stemmed from a corner from the right by Paul McKenna, which defender Youl Mawene headed into the danger zone.

Mellor made no mistake with a right-foot volley that flew past Camp and gave Preston a deserved lead.

It should have been doubled a minute before the break as Sean St Ledger headed another McKenna corner wastefully over the crossbar.

HT: QPR 0 Preston 1 - Sporting Life

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