|Rangers denied at the death again|
Saturday, 10th Dec 2005 00:36
Rangers were denied victory over Ipswich by a last gasp strike from youngster Danny Haynes.
Things were looking desperate after the Hull game, we'd taken one point from five matches and had two away games to come, the pressure on Ian Holloway was growing. Two weeks on and while the garden still isn't rosy, it has at least stopped smelling like a convenience for the neighbourhood's dogs.
Two away trips to very happy hunting grounds have brought four much needed points and hauled Rangers back into the top half of the table. With a less than daunting list of opponents to come over Christmas and New Year maybe this season won't turn out so bad after all, and we have two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum to thank for turning it round!
A day out in Stoke is like trying to watch a football match in Baghdad, whereas Saturday in Ipswich was like walking into a Care Bears movie with complimentary candyfloss. Enjoying the nice ground, friendly people and cracking pubs was so much better for the blood pressure than dodging bits of flying brick in Staffordshire.
In fact the only thing the two trips have in common is QPR's propensity to take three points from both. Richard Langley's penalty plundered the annual three point haul from the Britannia last week and, but for Ipswich starlet Danny Haynes' late intervention, Furlong and Moore would have turned that into six in Suffolk.
Rangers looked more accomplished than a week ago, though plenty of rough edges were still evident. Ball retention was better, and there was a little more football played that resulted in too superbly worked goals however we didn't defend one corner competently all afternoon and by the time the stoppage board was shown our eleven men were so far behind the ball Ipswich could have legitimately charged them for seats in the North Stand.
Holloway kept the same side for the second week running, despite relying on hefty doses of good fortune for the win at Stoke in the last match. That meant there was again no place for Ian Evatt with Mauro Milanese and Danny Shittu the centre backs, Lloyd Dyer continued out of position at left back. Marcus Bignot started right back as usual with Gareth Ainsworth in front of him, Martin Rowlands moved inside to partner Marcus Bean in central midfield while Langley moved out to the left flank. Paul Furlong and Stefan Moore were the forwards.
For Ipswich, Joe Royle gave a full debut to youth team striker Billy Clarke in the absence of QPR fan Sam Parkin. He partnered Nicky Forster up front.
QPR started the game in fine form. Terrific work from Gareth Ainsworth down the right presented Furlong with a chance from eight yards but the big striker volleyed a first time effort past the post with only ninety seconds played. Moments later, terrific awareness from Gavin Williams prevented Marcus Bignot's raking through ball finding Furlong unmarked in the penalty area again.
Furlong looked like he was really in the mood, no doubt buoyed by his goal at Stoke a week ago, but the ugly side of his character that has bubbled so close to the surface all season soon burst through once again. Marcus Bean was fouled by Jimmy Juan wide on the Rangers left and the set piece was left to Richard Langley to swing over right footed.
Langers whipped a pacy delivery into the near post and Town keeper Lewis Price flung himself to his right. The ball flew into the side netting which had the majority of Rangers fans at the other end of the ground on their feet celebrating a goal. The chance was long dead when Furlong decided to try and hurdle the prostrate goalkeeper, ultimately landing rather clumsily on Price's head.
The young Welsh stopper had his wounds tended to while the home players and fans bayed for Furlong's dismissal. Whether referee Matt Messias deemed the collision an accident or simply bottled the decision because it was so early in the game we'll never know, but Furlong received only a yellow card and can count himself very fortunate not to have collected a third red card of the season.
He's had his critics this year but few can doubt that we really miss Furlong when he doesn't play, especially with Marc Nygaard permanently off the scene. This makes his constant desire to wound all around him and the inevitable sendings off he receives for this so frustrating. If he'd been sent off again at Ipswich, just five minutes in, for stamping on a twenty one-year-old keeper's head, after the ball had gone out, I'd gladly have shaken him warmly by the throat!
With eleven still on the pitch, Rangers continued to attack Ipswich at will. Danny Shittu should have hit the target when he powered a Richard Langley free kick towards goal ten minutes in but sadly his effort sailed well wide.
The first Ipswich threat of the day came from their first corner. Darren Currie swung a devilish delivery over from the Town left that flashed across the face of Royce's goal with nobody on hand to touch it home. QPR had been warned.
Currie's corners couldn't have been further from the visiting side's thoughts in the twenty sixth minute though as they took the lead in some style. Marcus Bean broke up an Ipswich attack deep in Rangers' territory and suddenly the break was on. Richard Langley carried play to the halfway line before sending Moore away with a gorgeous cross-field pass. The former Villa forward sprinted to the edge of the penalty area before widening the move to Ainsworth on the right and by the time Wild Thing had swung over the perfect cross Moore had taken up a position at the near post that allowed him to run onto the ball and power a header into the bottom corner without breaking stride.
A better looking, more competently set up goal you're never likely to see and it was terrific for Stefan Moore to be rewarded for a bright opening with his second goal of the season.
Typically QPR couldn't make it through the infamous ten-minute spell after taking the lead without conceding. Immediately after the goal another Currie corner caused panic in the visiting defence, Jimmy Juan had a shot blocked away by Royce for another set piece which Furlong headed over his own cross bar and the third consecutive cross from Currie bounced across the face of goal and out.
It was no surprise when, just nine minutes after Moore's goal, Currie picked out the unmarked De Vos from another corner and the big Canadian centre back almost burst the net with an equalising header.
I do wonder if we'd perhaps look more assured at the back with Evatt at centre half and Milanese at left back, but Holloway seems to like Dyer there. As far as I'm concerned Dyer is a left-winger and should be played there or sent back. Obviously I'm wrong.
Mauro Milanese found himself in Matt Messias' book ten minutes before the break as Rangers started to rock a little. Milanese had already welcomed Clarke to the professional game with some robust treatment and his cynical lunge on Nicky Forster was enough for Messias to produce his second card of the day.
But QPR didn't let their heads go down as they had done at Plymouth and against Preston at home. In fact they came back strongly and Paul Furlong restored the lead inside six minutes.
Marcus Bean chested the ball down on the edge of the Ipswich area and fed Langley who in turn rolled a lovely twenty-yard ball out to Ainsworth. Wild Thing took Wilnis to the byline and beat him for pace before standing a dream cross up to the back post where Furlong used his strength to beat De Vos to the ball and slide it into the corner.
So Rangers went into the break in front, and deservedly so. They'd played the better football and created more chances than their hosts. Only Currie looked anything like a threat to the red and black defensive line and his chances to shine were being limited to corners and free kicks.
It's amazing what fifteen minutes in the dressing room can do for a side though. In the second half Rangers crawled into their shell, binging everybody back behind the ball, relying on long balls to Ainsworth and Furlong to get them out of numerous sticky situations. An Ipswich side low on confidence after one win from ten matches were invited back into a game they should have been out before it got dark.
Joe Royle shuffled his pack during half time with Ian Westlake replacing youngster Clarke who'd been given a torrid introduction to league football by Mauro Milanese. No doubt Billy was a bit sore when he woke up on Sunday morning. Richard Naylor moved into the attack with Fabian Wilnis moving to centre half in his place.
Marcus Bean did have a chance to make it three one when he bundled his way into the penalty area but in the end the pressure of De Vos, Wilnis and Price was enough to make Bean spoon the ball past the post. Other than this it was forty-five minutes of Ipswich pummelling a ridiculously deep lying QPR defence with everything they could think of.
Rangers continued to threaten on the counter attack for a while. Richard Langley's twenty yard free kick was turned round the post by Price after Williams had fouled Bean and the keeper did well to deny Furlong when the former Chelsea forward connected with yet another Ainsworth cross around the hour mark.
Increasingly though Stefan Moore was left to plough a lone furrow in the Ipswich half. He did get the ball in a one on one situation against De Vos once but lacked the conviction or energy to go past his opponent and sent a tame long range effort wide.
Ipswich weren't creating many chances with their copious amounts of pressure, but all sorts of corners, free kicks and crosses continued to fly across the face of Royce's goal and Holloway moved to rectify this by introducing his big men from the bench. Lloyd Dyer came off for Ian Evatt with Milanese going to left back, and Georges Santos moved into the midfield, taking the place of Richard Langley.
As the guile and creation in QPR's midfield pulled on its tracksuit, Royle introduced Jim Magilton to his central line up and this turned out to be the key move in what was becoming a giant game of chess. Magilton's added experience and ball playing ability started to open Rangers up for the first time. Juan thought he'd scored with ten minutes to go but Furlong took the chance off his toe. Matt Richards picked up the pieces of a deflected Magilton through ball but fired well over the bar and Ian Westlake badly miscued a twenty-yard effort as time ticked on.
Currie's corners were still causing mayhem despite the introduction of Evatt and Santos, De Vos forced a fine save from Royce in the eighty fourth minute and Naylor headed over when well placed to do better just forty seconds later.
There were a few Rangers players out on their feet by this stage and Royle played his final card, introducing young Danny Haynes for Jimmy Juan. I had the privilege of watching Haynes play for Ipswich's academy up at Leeds the week before and he was the best player on the park so his introduction against a tired QPR side worried me greatly.
Ultimately the craft of Magilton and the exuberance of Haynes undid Rangers, just when they thought they'd weathered the storm.
As the worst referee in the football league Jarnail Singh came to the touchline with a board displaying four added minutes Magilton took possession forty yards from goal and slowed everything down to a walking pace. Whether it was the relief of a sudden drop in tempo, good running from Haynes, magnificent craft from Magilton or a little of everything I can't be sure but Rangers fell asleep, believing the job to be done, and that's when Magilton struck.
He drew his right foot back and sent a world-class ball into the path of the onrushing Haynes and the youngster arrowed his header perfectly over Royce and into the bottom corner.
Rangers had snatched a draw from the jaws of victory once again. Surely after Preston away we've now had our quota of last minute heart break this season, though with this negative style of play coming into action every time we take the lead anywhere I wouldn't count on it.
Strangely there were more positives from a drawn game with seventeenth placed Ipswich than a victory over play off hunting Stoke City.
Richard Langley put in a much-improved performance wide on the left and Martin Rowlands was superb in the centre of the park. Marcus Bean acquitted himself very well and seems to be settling into the Championship after his loan at Swansea. Gareth Ainsworth was immense wide on the right, setting up both goals and ripping into three different players Royle tried against him on the day.
Paul Furlong scored his second goal in as many games to take his season tally to four, hope springs that he may be able to get back to something like the form that saw him bag seventeen goals last season. Stefan Moore alongside him was a different man to the one who made no impact at the Britannia a week ago and his goal was superbly worked and finished.
Ipswich will probably be grateful for their point. Royle's men are in a rotten run of form currently and despite dominating most of the second half had to rely on a last minute goal from a young kid to get them a point. They've missed out on the loan signing of Rasiak from Tottenham this week but with Bowditch on his way back and Clarke and Haynes coming through they should start to pick up soon.
They'd do well to keep Magilton fit and running though, he makes a massive difference to them when he comes on.
On to the dreaded televised match next for QPR. Coventry City visit W12 next Monday night and Ian Holloway will surely be confident of continuing the team's recent resurgence against one of the division's worst sides. QPR will be out to avenge a bizarre three nil defeat at the Ricoh earlier this season and even the presence of George Gavin and his bright lights shouldn't be enough to stop them taking maximum points.
Nothing's ever that simple with Rangers though!
Ipswich: Price 7, Sito 7, Naylor 6, De Vos 7, Wilnis 5, Currie 8, Juan 6 (Haynes 82, 7), Williams 7 (Magilton 69, 8), Richards 6, Forster 6, Clarke 5 (Westlake 45, 6).
Subs Not Used: Supple, Garvan.
Booked: Williams, Sito.
Goals: De Vos 34, Haynes 90.
QPR: Royce 7, Bignot 7, Dyer 6 (Santos 74, 6), Milanese 6, Shittu 7, Bean 7, Langley 8 (Evatt 74, 6), Rowlands 8(Cook 80, 7), Ainsworth 8, Moore 8, Furlong 7.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Baidoo.
Booked: Furlong, Milanese.
Goals: Moore 26, Furlong 42.
Ref: M Messias (S Yorkshire) -7 - Probably should have sent Furlong off for nailing Price early on but otherwise this was a fairly quiet outing by his outlandish standards. No massive decisions missed and only four cards, a blessed relief from the circus his matches often turn into.
QPR Star Man - Gareth Ainsworth - 8 - Martin Rowlands, Richard Langley and Stefan Moore all played very well, Moore especially so, but Ainsworth was just everywhere! One minute he'd be hoofing a corner out from under his own cross bar, the next tormenting Wilnis and delivering a telling cross. He set up both goals and was unlucky not to add another couple of assists to that total. The man is fitter than ever before in his time at Loftus Road and is in the form of his life currently. Long may it continue.
Photo: Action Images
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