|Langley makes Quashie pay the penalty|
Saturday, 14th Jan 2006 00:52
QPR beat Southampton 1-0 at Loftus Road on Saturday thanks to Richard Langley's first half penalty.
Holloway made some changes and started with Royce in goal behind a back four of Bignot, Shittu, Santos and Matthew Rose at left back. The midfield consisted of the returning Lomas, Cook, Langley and Ainsworth while Furlong and Shabazz Baidoo filled the striking places. There was a place on the bench for new loan signing Andrew Taylor, as well as transfer listed Ian Evatt and Scott Donnelly after his encouraging substitute appearance at Ewood Park.
The Saints were backed by a large, noisy contingent who'd made the short journey from the south coast. Theo Walcott was in the starting line alongside fellow youngsters Blackstock and Dyer and ex-Ranger Nigel Quashie.
Just before kick-off a minutes silence was observed perfectly by the 15,494 in the crowd, it was a mark of respect for club chaplain, Dave Langdon, who had passed away during the week.
The game started at a decent pace with both sides looking to attack and press the opposing defence. Early on Lee Cook, already having done more than he did the week before, tested Smith in the Saints goal with a shot from outside the box. At the other end, Southampton almost broke the deadlock when Darren Powell, forced a goal-line clearance from Marcus Bignot. The defence had obviously taken notice of the lack of a defender on the line following the first goal we conceded last week.
The team looked far more settled compared to previous weeks, the midfield had a better balance about it and Lomas was the key. Not only was he talking and organising the midfield, he provided some steel in the centre of the park and some much needed cover. This allowed Cook and Langley, far more attack minded players, to be able to do what their good at.
With just over 20 minutes gone a Lee Cook shot was blocked by Smith, a scramble occurred in the penalty box and Ainsworth was bundled over by Higginbotham and the ref immediately pointed to the spot. A penalty kick is a rare occurrence for the R's and recently we've been treated twice in less than two months. Richard Langley calmly stepped up and fired home past Smith for his third of the season.
After a bright start it was deserved in terms of possession, we looked more dangerous going forward than in previous games at LR and the main difference was that we actually managed to fire shots in and make their keeper work.
Meanwhile, Southampton started to come back in the game and Nigel Quashie was seeing plenty of the ball in midfield. They are a side blessed with lots of pacy players going forward but to our credit we managed to somewhat starve them of the ball. Walcott was a menace when running with the ball but Bignot managed to do a decent job on him all afternoon.
Minutes later Rangers had the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. Pigbag was ringing around the stadium but the ref ruled it out, again a shot came in from distance and this time Furlong was on hand to sweep home the ball after the keeper parried the ball.
Simon Royce produced another in a long line of excellent saves this season. Despite being largely uncalled upon during the game he was alert enough to save well from the wonder kid Walcott after he cracked a strong shot at goal. Royce saved well and his follow-up shot was blasted well over the bar.
At half time Burley made a change by bringing on Fuller for Dyer and switched to playing two players upfront. Then during the second half he made another sub by bringing Kenwyne Jones on for Blackstock. Southampton have a conveyer belt of home-grown attacking players - an envy of almost certainly all the clubs in this league. Shittu and Santos had been steady all game and were winning everything in the air - but they had a real test on their hands now with added aerial threats.
Santos went to ground with around 15 minutes remaining and looked to be in a fair bit of pain as he was rolling around on the floor. A stretcher was called for and big Georges was taken from the field. Prav signalled to the bench that he could do with another minute to look at the big man off the pitch. Meanwhile, Southampton continued to pile more pressure on the already stretched 10 man Rangers. We continued to delay the sub and during this time the Saints earned themselves a penalty. A cross went into the box from the right and Quashie went to ground in a crowd of players following a clash with Lomas.
Quashie dusted himself down and took the penalty himself. He stepped up and hit the left hand post, much to the delight of the home crowd. He then followed up with a shot which was saved by Royce, a free-kick was then awarded as he'd been the first to touch the ball.
Andrew Taylor came on for Santos after it was decided he couldn't continue and Rose moved to centre back. It was a substitution that really should have made immediately as we under a great deal of pressure. We had a ready made centre half in Rose and either Taylor or Milanese to bring on at left back. Taylor looked very comfortable on the ball and despite us being under the cosh was happy enough to get forward and support Cook when he could.
With five minutes or so remaining Donnelly and Moore came on to inject some pace into our attack in place of the tired Baidoo and Ainsworth. Moore chased things down for the final few minutes and even came close to scoring when he got the better of Lundekvam but his shot was saved well by Smith. Donnelly also did well, putting pressure on Southampton and keeping possession well down by the corner flag in front of the Loft.
All in all it was an improved performance from the R's today. This season hasn't been easy for those who swallowed the price hikes and quite frankly we've seen some bad stuff at LR this season. But today's game had a fair bit of entertainment with plenty for both sets of fans to talk about.
Southampton proved tough opponents and once Burley makes his impact they will be no doubt dramatically improve. They brought a tremendous following who made lots of noise and especially during the second half were a real help to the Saints side.
Overall we played far better as a team. Royce was again solid and made an excellent save when called upon. Shittu and Santos managed to deal with everything Southampton chucked at them and were solid throughout. Bignot had a tough job on his hands dealing with pacy players but overall done very well. Rose also did well and managed to get forward a fair bit. I'm still not a big fan of him at left back and would be far happier having a naturally left-sided player there.
In midfield and overall really the big difference was Lomas. He kept the team together and was a real leader on the pitch. Cook, Ainsworth and Langley were allowed no rest bite and if they did slack they suffered a verbal bashing from Lomas. Langley had a very encouraging first half with some nice touches and was working well with Lomas. He fell away a bit during the second but got the goal that mattered. Cook had a far better game that his abysmal showing at Blackburn and Ainsworth as always worked hard but sometimes couldn't produce the finished cross.
Furs and Baidoo worked hard and probably didn't have enough chances to equal their work rate. Baidoo was right up against it and Powell was all over him all afternoon. He received a yellow card but on numerous occasions got away with shirt pulling and manhandling young Shabazz.
It was a marked improvement on previous efforts - lets juts hope that our inconsistent team can try and find some form now. We still look a little short upfront and it's a big ask of Baidoo and Furlong, two players at the opposite end of their careers, to be able to carry the goals for the team.
Luton are up next, in what will be a tough test. Holloway has the benefit of the new Polish signing to add competition for places and he will no doubt be looking to add further faces this week.
QPR: Royce 8, Bignot 7, Shittu 8, Santos 7 (Taylor 78, 7), Rose 7, Ainsworth 7 (Donnelly 88, 7), Lomas 8*, Langley 7, Cook 7, Baidoo 7 (Moore 84, 7), Furlong 7.
Subs Not Used: Milanese, Evatt.
Goals: Langley 21 pen.
Southampton: Smith, Lundekvam, Powell, Higginbotham, Dyer (Fuller 45), Quashie, Oakley, Belmadi, Prutton, Blackstock (Jones 68), Walcott.
Subs Not Used: Cranie, Bialkowski, Mills.
QPR Man of the Match: Steve Lomas - A welcome return of some much needed steel to the Rangers midfield. His best game by a mile so far for the R's - he continually talked to his team-mates and was organising for the whole game. Provided a tough test for one of the best midfielders in this league in Nigel Quashie Apart from one mistimed pass late on which could have cost us dear he was superb today.
Ref: M Jones (W Yorkshire). 7 - A steady performance from the ref. Again we didn't have a player booked, have our players turned over a new leaf?! He was assisted by two less than competent linesman who made some errors, especially during the second half. The man in black should have also booked Powell far earlier as that way he might have stopped fouling during the second half!
Photo: Action Images
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