|Furlong strikes late winner to lift R's|
Sunday, 25th Sep 2005 18:51
Rangers picked up their first away win of the season on Saturday, beating Leicester 2-1.
Amazing what a difference a goal can make. With ten minutes to go Rangers were staring down the barrel of an embarrassing draw against a poor Leicester side reduced to ten men in the first half. The anti-Holloway message board users were just cracking their fingers in readiness for another assault on our manager and the few Rangers fans that actually made the trip to the Midlands were restless.
Then, one miss hit shot by Furlong bounced agonisingly over the keeper and into the net and everything in the garden is rosey again. Holloway's a legend and people want to know what all the fuss was about. The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.
Rangers played well in the first half. Richard Langley came into the side for his first start and made the world of difference. Suddenly from just pumping long balls to Ainsworth out there we were actually forced to pass the ball, with Langley right and Cook left we boasted two exceptionally talented footballers with the ball at their feet and once we started to give it to them things happened in a way not seen since the Ipswich home game.
Langley's presence made Marcus Bignot look a much better player, not that he looked poor before, and with debutant left back Matthew Hislop looking superbly confident and assured despite his tender years both flanks worked nicely in the first forty five. Suddenly, with decent football down both sides, Furlong and Nygaard started to look like decent footballers for the first time this season.
The stick the two of them have received so far has been over the top. Furlong didn't become a bad player over night and Nygaard didn't get Danish caps simply because nobody else turned up. So far this season Shittu, Santos and Royce have lumped high unplayable balls up to our forwards and people have moaned when they haven't been able to bring the ball down and play a pass. Even the best target man in the world would struggle to bring one of Shittu's monster kicks down with Chris Coyne or some other big hairy centre back crawling all over them.
In the first half on Saturday Furlong and Nygaard were starting to receive balls from the wide, in behind the defenders, giving them something to actually attack. They also found the ball arriving at their feet more often thanks to Langley and Rangers looked a decent outfit.
In the second half though all the old demons crept back in. Against ten men Rangers elected to try and sit on their lead, a criminal mistake. It wasn't that we needed to go out and paralyse Leicester and beat then 4-0, but we certainly didn't need to bring everybody behind the ball and cling on. Langley and Cook saw much, much less possession and the front two were back in the old routine of chasing lost causes and high punts.
Luckily Leicester scored with time still on the clock, time to revert to something like the first half tactics again, time to score the killer goal and shut the moronic minority of home support right up.
Holloway sprung a surprise before the kick off, just for a change, preferring the much maligned Nygaard in attack ahead of Sturridge and Moore. Lomas came in for the suspended Doherty next to Bircham once more, Langley and Cook were the wingers, Georges Santos kept his place ahead of Ian Evatt who can count himself unlucky not to have started, Hislop made a debut at left back, Royce returned to his former club in goal.
The first chance of the game fell to Furlong after terrific work wide left by Cook. Furlong, still desperate for that illusive goal at this point, planted a header wide when well placed to do better.
His new partner in attack did better with just twelve minutes played. Richard Langley had shown nice touches and a good work rate early on and won a free kick wide on the right after tricking former Blackburn man Johansson into a needless foul. Lee Cook came over from the left and swung a glorious dead ball into the box where Nygaard used all of his six foot seven frame to divert the ball into the corner of the net.
An important goal for Rangers who started to play with some real confidence after this, and for Nygaard whose confidence must have been shot after a poor one on one miss against Luton and stick received from the crowd.
A small band of travelling support high in the corner of the soulless Walkers' Stadium rejoiced at their unexpected good fortune, and things were to get even better. On nineteen minutes Furlong flew into a challenge on Maybury on halfway. The Scottish full back took exception to this and after Furs emerged with the ball Maybury clattered into him with a sickening high challenge that caught the Rangers man square in the gut.
Ian Holloway went ballistic on the touchline and a melee ensued during which Marc Bircham seemed to throw a punch, and Danny Shittu certainly did! Both players were lucky the referee missed this. The man in the middle, Colin Webster, reached for his back pocket almost as soon as the tackle was made but with the fight taking over he replaced the red card and tried to calm things down. It appeared he would bottle the decision in front of the home crowd but to his credit the red card was produced.
Furlong also found himself booked, possibly for the challenge that angered Maybury although it made little contact with the man and took the ball, possibly for his involvement in the ruck. Either way the card would turn out to be crucial later on.
Leicester kept two strikers up top despite a numerical disadvantage and tried to play their way back into things. Sylla and De Vries had efforts on goal which tested Royce. Iain Hume was giving Santos a torrid time and Shittu had to be on typically good form to repel the home side's advances. Big Georges was booked before the break for hacking own the Canadian as he threatened to run past him again. Rangers were wary of a loose cannon of a referee who seemed determined to even things up after the sending off with the home fans on his case.
Despite this Rangers had the best chance for the second goal of the game five before half time. Richard Langley swung over a glorious cross which Furlong headed down and wide from six yards out. He really should have scored and doubts were beginning to set in.
These doubts only increased when Rangers emerged for the second half with a terrible attitude. Everybody was pulled back behind the ball and much of the neat passing from the first half had gone. Suddenly Bircham, Lomas, Shittu and the other defenders were the key men in red and black with Langley and Cook passengers in a defensive effort.. Without counting the players you'd have thought it was Rangers reduced to ten men so desperate was their defending at times.
Georges Santos headed a Lee Cook corner wide in a rare foray down field but with Sylla and Gudjohnson both hammering efforts in on goal, narrowly missing the target, the visitors were needlessly sweating over the points. Gudjohnson tried another effort on sixty seven minutes that Royce did superbly to not only save, but hold ahead of the on rushing De Vries.
The most bizarre booking of the afternoon came the way of goal keeper Simon Royce with twenty five left to play. Royce had engaged in some cynical time wasting to this point but when he was finally punished for it the decision was wrong! Royce planted the ball for a goal kick but waited for Leicester to make a sub, pointing to the ref that the home side were trying to introduce Elvis Hammond. The referee booked Royce and then allowed the change to take place. I ask myself if Royce had ignored the sub and hoofed the ball away down field would he have been booked for kicking the ball away and wasting time? Probably.
The biggest cheer of the day came when rent a clown ref Webster was clonked on the back of the head with the ball kicked by Bircham. The whistle had already gone for an offside and the ref had his back turned to Birch who seized his moment. I'm pretty certain it was a deliberate shot, though cynics would suggest Birch is incapable of such an accurate pass, but by the time Webster turned round the QPR midfielder had long since scarpered from the scene of the crime!
The key moment for both sides came with twenty minutes to go. Matthew Hislop and Mo Sylla crashed into each other on the edge of the penalty area and lay striken on the turf. There was no foul but the injury to Hislop looked horrible and the youngster was obviously in agony. He was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle while the less educated members of the home crowd chanted "You're going home in a Leicester ambulance." Nice.
On came Dominic Shimmin and the nerves really started to set in. Shimmin had looked nervous on his two appearances for the R's so far, while Hislop slotted in beautifully, never losing a tackle, passing the ball nicely and showing a level of maturity far beyond his years. The defence hadn't settled itself when the inevitable equaliser came.
A ball through the middle from De Vries found Santos foolishly trying to nip in and intercept twenty yards from goal only to be turned by the sub Hammond. Shittu appealed desperately for offside but Shimmin had clearly played the former Fulham man on and he hammered a shot past Royce and in for the equaliser.
The Rangers fans found themselves slumped in their seats. The team had allowed an average Championship team with one less player to equalise and there now only looked like being one winner. The away end was brought to life again very quickly though, the Leicester fans choosing to celebrate their goal with chants about the London bombings. Very classy.
Hammond went close to winning the game as the clock ticked down but in a rare trip downfield Rangers grabbed a winner against the run of play. Furlong flicked a long clearance up in the air, Nygaard brought it down and touched the ball back to Furlong who hammered a bouncing shot into the corner over keeper Rab Douglas. The Rangers fans erupted as the Burberry clad scum of the earth trooped out disconsolately from the side stand.
There was more drama still to come though. Leicester forced a series of free kicks and corners as the referee added on five extra minutes. Douglas the keeper even made his way forward a few times to no avail. As the game petered out Paul Furlong was handed a second yellow card after an ill-advised clash with Gudjohnson on the edge of the penalty area. Leicester couldn't take advantage in the time they had left and as the travelling fans cheekily chanted "We've only got ten men," the ground emptied and the game was brought to a close.
So a much needed win for the R's. Had they failed to beat a side with ten men in these circumstances there would have been uproar among the supporters, but a scarcely deserved two one victory will pacify people at least until Millwall on Tuesday.
Richard Langley and Lee Cook were excellent in the first half but barely used in the second, the key to beating ten men is to get the ball into wide areas, not drag everybody behind the ball, and this was disappointing. Still a win's a win and somehow QPR find themselves two points away from the play off positions in eighth. Crisis, what crisis?
Leicester Douglas 6, Maybury 5, McCarthy 6, Dublin 6, Johansson 6, Sylla 7, Gudjonsson 7, Kisnorbo 6 (Stearman 57 6), Hughes 6 (Tiatto 78, 6), Hume 7(Hammond 67, 8), de Vries 8.
Subs Not Used: Henderson, Williams.
Sent Off: Maybury (20).
Booked: McCarthy, Hughes, Hammond.
Goals: Hammond 73.
QPR Royce 8, Bignot 7, Shittu 8, Santos 6, Hislop 7 (Shimmin 70, 6), Cook 8 (Evatt 90, -), Lomas 6, Bircham 6, Langley 8 (Ainsworth 81, 6), Furlong 7, Nygaard 7.
Subs Not Used:Sturridge, Moore.
Sent Off: Furlong (90).
Booked: Furlong, Santos, Royce, Ainsworth.
Goals: Nygaard 12, Furlong 86.
Ref: Colin Webster (Tyne & Wear). 4 - Got all caught up in the controversy. Rightly sent Maybury off for a bad tackle but then set about trying to keep everybody happy. A dodgy decision to Leicester was met with howls of derision from QPR so he promptly awarded the next fifty fifty call against Leicester. Instead of just judging everything on its merits he was constantly trying to rectify an earlier poor decision and the result was disorganised chaos for long periods. The strangest decision came when Danny Shittu hammered the ball into the face of an opponent and received a free kick
! Man of the Match - Richard Langley - 8 - Close run thing between him and Cook but such was the refreshing sight of a right winger calmly passing the ball, beating players and causing problems rather than just blood and thunder and trying to head on high balls Langers shades it. Even managed to put in some winning tackles as well! Honourable mention to Nygaard who looks like he could possibly fill the cult hero void vacated by Devon White.
Photo: Action Images
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