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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"QPR Looking Good For Promotion"...View of Blackstock and Rowlands and QPR's Defensive Frailty...Blackstock's Perspective...Reserve Report

Telegraph/Huw Turbervill - Queens Park Rangers looking good for promotion push
Loftus Road has had a Changing Rooms-style makeover in an attempt to reflect the lofty ambitions of the club's owners, Flavio Briatore and his fellow Formula One impresarios.
The iron skirting that surrounds the top of the stands has had a nice, new blue paint-job, the advertising boards have been spruced up and the School End has a flash big screen sitting on top of it.
Unkind people would say it is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig (sorry for resurrecting that phrase again, Obama), but I've always liked the place, with the pitch almost on top of the fans.
The face-lift is presumably confirmation that any moves to relocate have been put on hold by Mr Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal; just as Fulham owner Mohamed Fayed decided Craven Cottage was not too bad after all.
QPR are going nicely now under Iain Dowie after Sunday's 4-1 win over Southampton. He was a surprise appointment after the unexpected departure of the charming Luigi De Canio at the end of last season - a far cry from some of the glamorous names being floated about, like Zinedine Zidane - but it appears a sensible choice, especially as he took Crystal Palace into the Premiership in 2004.
The owners' recruitment has been relatively conservative, as well. Daniel Parejo, Samuel Di Carmine and Emmanuel Ledesma are exciting loan signings, but otherwise men like Peter Ramage and Patrick Agyemang are strong, determined players; pragmatic signings who have plenty to prove.
Events at Newcastle and Liverpool show how fans can turn quickly on wealthy owners, but in July, Briatore paid off the £10million debt QPR owed the ABC Corporation, a big worry for fans, and they feel they are in safe hands.
Some sceptics suggest QPR could merely be a winter plaything for the motor-racing men; a lively backdrop for rich people to meet and discuss F1 deals, and a vehicle to penetrate the Premier League and cash in on those lucrative TV deals, but even if that was all true, there is no doubt QPR are in a better position than they have been for a long time. And Briatore is going to all the games, home and away.
Crystal Palace are also finally up and running with their first league win. The transfer window was painfully distracting for them. Ben Watson, who had been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park right up until the last minute, scored in the 2-0 home win against Swansea on Saturday. Warnock's quote about Watson - "I have no problem with Ben, especially when he scores goals like that. One or two of his acquaintances I have a problem with, but never with him" - also made me chuckle.
A trip to Wolves on Tuesday is a tough assignment, so we shall see if they can keep things going.
Charlton's form is worrying. After two home wins and two away defeats they needed to take something out of the visit of Wolves on Saturday. Manager Alan Pardew complained about some key decisions that went against them, but when you add the embarrassing Carling Cup exit to Yeovil into the equation, fans are worried again. Many, I'm sure, wouldn't mind seeing Alan Curbishley back one day, now he has left West Ham."
Huw Turbervill is covering the Capital’s Championship clubs – Charlton, Crystal Palace, QPR and Watford – plus Reading. He has been writing on cricket, accompanying England to Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, and football for the Telegraph since 2000. Before that he spent four years reporting on Ipswich Town FC and Suffolk cricket for the East Anglian Daily Times Telegraph

Dave McIntyre/BBC 606 - Blackstock and Rowlands make their mark
The 4-1 scoreline certainly flattered Rangers, whose central-defensive frailties in particular still need to be addressed.
Fitz Hall will be an improvement when he returns from a groin injury but he won’t solve the problem, and in any case is injury prone.
Hall is back in training but isn’t ready to play for the reserves today, although he could be available for Saturday’s game at Coventry.
Ten-man Southampton were level at 1-1 and worrying Rangers before Martin Rowlands and Patrick Agyemang came off the bench.
Rowlands is now likely to reclaim a starting spot and with Rangers playing three games in six days, Dani Parejo may be rested at some stage.
Hogan Ephraim replaced the suspended Emmanuel Ledesma on Sunday, partly because Dowie does not want to play Rowlands wide on the right – especially in a three/five-man midfield.
In a four-man midfield, Rowlands may sometimes feature on the flank, as he did when Rangers changed formation after Sunday’s double substitution. Otherwise, he will only be considered for a central midfield role.
He’s more than happy with that and judging by the reception he received when he came on against the Saints, the fans would be equally happy to see him restored to the starting line-up.
It was also good to see Dexter Blackstock score again, with his two goals taking his tally for the campaign to five – one less than he managed throughout the whole of last season.
In fact, given that Blackstock scored four in seven at the end of last season, it’s safe to say he’s back in business after a difficult spell in his career.
I never doubted his ability, especially compared to some other strikers being touted for moves to Rangers, but I have been surprised at how quickly he has grown into the lone striker role – a job I didn't think he'd ever be suitable for.
So, Blackstock has so far:
- Scored 14 goals in a season (his first full season in League football) for a struggling team.
- Got many of those goals in high-pressure matches during a relegation battle and a couple of them were belters – proving even at a young age that he can deliver in big games.
- Shown he can bounce back from a terrible run of form and dip in confidence.
- Coped with the pressure of the club being linked with dozens of players and held onto his place when almost all of his old team-mates were losing theirs.
- And now, at 22, shown he can adapt his game to play in a role that initially didn’t suit his strengths at all.
That’s pretty impressive for a forward of his age and suggests the elusive 20-goal striker many have been crying out for has been at the club all along.
What’s most encouraging is that the lone striker role in this QPR side is all about doing a job for the team rather than taking the glory. It’s about working defenders and creating space for Rangers’ attacking midfielders to get into key areas.
To perform that task should itself secure Blackstock’s place in the side. To do it and still be chipping in with goals of his own is an immense contribution. BBC606

Dexter Blackstock is adamant there is more to come from him following his Super Sunday against the Saints.
The free-scoring striker bagged a brace against his former Club Southampton on Sunday afternoon, as Rangers climbed to fourth in the second tier with a handsome 4-1 victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
The 22 year-old's double also sent him to the summit of the top goalscorer charts in the Championship with four goals, one clear of a host of front-men including Kevin Doyle, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Michael Kightly.
Speaking after his man of the match performance against the Saints, Blackstock told www.qpr.co.uk: "It was a well deserved three points in the end.
"They made it hard for us when they went down to ten men, but we were the better side over the 90 minutes and were good value for the three points."
Blackstock opened the scoring after just 37 seconds, before going on to bag the all-important third 13 minutes from time.
"The early goal really settled us down and my second and our third, effectively killed the game," he said.
"Last season was tough for me, it was very stop-start - but I've been delighted with how I've started this season and I'm really enjoying playing in a side with such great attacking options." QPR

QPR Reserves maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a 1-1 draw against a strong Reading outfit at Loftus Road.
Samuel Di Carmine opened the scoring for the R's early in the second half for Gareth Ainsworth's side, only for Kalifa Cisse to bag an unlikely equaliser for the visitors in the final minute of normal time.
In truth, Rangers deserved more for their efforts, on an afternoon when Damiano Tommasi made his first start in the famous Blue and White Hoops.
The former Roma midfielder produced an assured performance in heart of the R's midfield engine room, dovetailing neatly with the outstanding Adam Bolder and fit-again Akos Buzsaky.
Reading included England Under-21 front-man Leroy Lita in attack, as well as First Team regulars Graeme Murty, Brynjar Gunnarsson, Cisse and Sam Sodje.
In an even opening, James Henry fired an early warning shot for the visitors, when he shot wide from 15-yards in the fourth minute.
Seconds later, Gunnarsson tried his luck from distance, only to see his powerful drive comfortably saved by Lee Camp.
Reading were the dominant force and when Sodje rose to meet Olivier Bozanic's free-kick eight minutes later, the giant defender headed over from six-yards.
Rangers grew in stature as the half wore on though and following a neat piece of build-up play involving Buzsaky and the excellent Bolder, Romone Rose fired straight at Mikkel Anderson.
The second period was barely five minutes old when Rangers took the lead.
Murty misjudged Ainsworth's clearing header and as the ball fell at the feet of Bolder, the R's suddenly found themselves four-on-one on the halfway line.
Bolder ran fully 40-yards with the ball at his feet before playing an incisive pass in to the path of Di Carmine, who fired home with aplomb past the exposed Anderson.
Buoyed by their goal, the R's began to play some impressive counter-attacking football.
Rose played provider with a searching long ball for Matteo Alberti in the 58th minute, only for the Italian to fire wide from an acute angle.
Despite the R's improved showing, it was Reading who should've scored the next goal of the contest in the 68th minute.
Lita evaded the last line of the Rangers defence, but with Camp committed, failed to hit the target, as his attempted lob landed just wide of the right hand post.
At the other end, Tommasi's sublime centre was only inches away from the head of substitute Chris Flood, before Rose's excellent run and shot ended with his stinging strike cannoning off the upright.
Clovis Kamdjo headed against the angle of post and bar late on, before Cisse rose unchallenged to hand the visitors an unlikely point.QPR Reserves: Camp, Ainsworth, Ilesanmi, Bolder, Harris, Oastler, Alberti, Tommasi, Di Carmine (Flood 73), Buzsaky, Rose. Subs: Bulmer, Wright, Arthur, Maguire.

Reading Official Site - Cisse scores; Brynjar is back
QPR 1 (Di Carmine 50) Reading 1 (Cisse 87)
Returning midfielder Kalifa Cisse scored a late equaliser for our reserves at on Monday afternoon, and fellow injury victime Brynjar Gunnarsson got 70 minutes in his first appearance since January.
Samuel Di Carmine had opened the scoring for the hosts, but Cisse flicked home a good header with three minutes left to level matters.
Gunnarsson had been out for eight months with groin then knee injuries, and comfortably came through this match at Loftus Road.
Cisse had been out since last month with a toe problem and got a good flick onto James Henry's late free kick to earn us a point.
Reading: Andersen; Murty (Spence 62), Golbourne, Cisse, Sodje (Kamdjo 62); Gunnarsson (Bignall 71), Sigurdsson, Henry, Bozanic; Lita, Mooney
Subs: McCarthy, Hateley
Manager Brian McDermott told readingfc.co.uk, "It was difficult in the first half, we didn't play particularly well and didn't hit our usual level.
"Rangers were up for it, they scored on 50 and we were better after that. We had a few chances, Leroy had a few and credit to the players for coming back.
"Brynjar and Cisse hadn't played in a while, Bryn was smashing and there were no problems. Cisse scored a goal and he needed the game as well.
"Murty and Sodje got an hour, and Mooney got through another game.
"Given the chances we had it would've been injustice if we'd lost. We didn't compete as well as we could have early on and that's a lesson."
Video highlights will be on Reading World this week. Reading

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