|Another decent performance, but only one point|
Saturday, 4th Mar 2006 01:05
Rangers gain a point through a well-crafted nil nil draw.
QPR took on a Wolves side buoyed by a run of four straight wins and still vying for a play off place. Before this fixture QPR had only beaten Wolves just once in their last eleven meetings. Carl Cort had scored goals in the previous three meetings between the teams. Hoddle was still under pressure from Wolves fans to get them back to the Premiership even though they have only spent one season in the tap flight in the last 21 years or so. A 0-0 draw was a fair result based on the performances on display.
Gallen started the game - his first game back from his injury. Waddock also handed his first full debut to Bailey, the young 18 year old who signed his first deal with the club earlier in the week. The line up looked a little unorthodox with no Lomas or Bircham in the middle. The formation was 4-4-2 in front of Jones in goal. Bignot, Shittui, Rose and Milanese made up the back line. The midfield consisted of Ainsworth, Langley, Bailey and Cook. The old pairing of Gallen and Furlong made up the strike force.
The first half started with Wolves having the lion's share of possession, playing in the QPR half pitch for the first few minutes. QPR looked a little startled by Wolves at this point and had not settled into the game. Jones made an easy save from the first shot on target.
Furlong made an early run into the Wolves penalty aarea in the first meaningful Rangers attack. The Wolves' defence pulled him back but nothing was given.
On six minutes Bailey set up the next attack with some neat interplay in the middle of the field but the final shot went wide.
The early jitters of the Rangers team disappeared as the half wore on with some resolute defending from Rose and Shittu and the odd flurry into the Wolves half. The midfield of both teams were neutralising each other at this point and both defences were doing their jobs. At one point Rangers started to defend too deep and encourage Wolves onto them to attack. But Jones ushered them out again.
Furlong was having a decent game though none of his speculative attacks bore fruit. Some neat passing play by Rangers set up a great attack but the final ball did not trouble Postma in the Wolves goal.
Rangers won the first corner of the match on 35 minutes after some dazzling play by Ainsworth. The resulting corner did not amount too much and it a throw in was awarded.
At this point I noted that Wolves did look the much better team in the opening skirmishes but that QPR were holding their own. It was hard to tell who costs millions and who cost nothing. Ince was getting increasing frustrated in the middle giving away fouls and this would tell later in the second half. Lescott was not giving Furlong much room at all and was neutralising him.
Wolves broke again into the QPR area on 40 minutes looking dangerous but the final shot went wide.
The first of Jones great saves came in the dying minutes of the half after another Wolves attack down the left hand side resulted in a diagonal shot by Miller. Jones saved with his feet to clear the ball to safety.
The half petered out and both teams went in not having scored.
The second half started much the same as the first with Wolves in possession but not really penetrating. The only difference now was that Hoddle was on his feet.
The pitch at Molineux was wider than Loftus Road and it looked like the Wolves players could not get a handle on playing on such a narrow pitch.
Obviously, Hoddle had spotted something in the first half and had instructed his team to keep a fairly high defensive line to thwart Furlong who was caught offside a number of times.
Rangers had possession in a dangerous attacking area outside the Wolves penalty area. The ball was passed neatly between the midfielders and attackers but nobody took a shot and the play broke down.
QPR won another corner that Shittu headed straight at Postma for an easy save. The game became a midfield battle with no team winning it. There was no deep penetration into the opposing half apart from the odd bit of hoof ball by Wolves.
On 62 minutes Gallen came on for Sammy Youssouf. Obviously Gallen was not 100% match fit yet.
It was time for Shittu to join the attack from open play. He picked up the ball deep in the Rangers half and ran straight down the field with it. Wolves defence and midfield just let him do it and Shittu takes a shot from about 40 yards that goes wide on the right.
The first yellow card of the game arrived on 67 minutes after Miller fouled Bignot and argued his case with the referee. It had not been a dirty game but Wolves' nerves were fraying at their lack of progress, as QPR did not let them play their own game. Cook put in a fantastic free kick that was going in and had to be dealt with by Lescott to concede a corner. However the corner came to nothing.
QPR should have had a penalty on 69 minutes when Naylor diverted the ball away from the incoming Ainsworth with his hand. The referee did not give it and neither did his assistant. It was handball in the penalty area (Hoddle said so himself) and that would have given Rangers all three points but it was not to be.
The game gets a bit tasty with fouls being conceded by Wolves. One of the free kicks results in Bignot firing over the bar.
Kennedy came on for Anderton on 71 minutes as Hoddle tries to change things up a bit for the last minutes of the game.
Youssouf makes his first real contribution to the game by heading an up and under ball from midfield over the bar. With a bit more composure and direction that could have been the header to win the game.
Bailey was having a great game for someone so young. He was pitted against players from Wolves with vast experience but he was not overawed and he did his job well. By contracts Cort, who had terrorised us in recent encounters with Wolves, was virtually anonymous.
On 76 minutes Ricketts came on for Davies. Just after the substitution Cook was sliced down by Ince that resulted in the Wolves' man going into the referee's book. The tackle looked far worse than it actually was but Inces' frustration was there to see.
On 79 minutes another Rangers attack down the left results in a low dangerous ball that flashes right across the face of goal in the six-yard box. All it needed was a final touch from Furlong but it was not to be.
Jones saves from a dangerous looking Wolves cross into the area. Less then a minute later Aliadiere puts in a fierce shot from 6 yards that Jones did brilliantly to save. The rebound fell to Cort who shot from point blank range for Jones to make another world class save. The ball hits the post and Shittu boots the ball out to safety. Rangers fans were cheering as though we had scored. Cort was astonished that he had not scored. Even the Wolves fan applauded this sequence of play by their former keeper.
The game petered out with no more dangerous attacks. A fine performance from Rangers considering who Wolves were and what their team cost to set up, and the fact that Bircham and Lomas were missing from midfield. A draw was a fair result but with that penalty that was not given we might have nicked all three points.
The Waddock era continues with another fine performance. Onwards and upwards.
QPR: Jones 9, Bignot 7, Shittu 8, Rose 7, Milanese 7, Ainsworth 7, Langley 6, Bailey 7, Cook 8, Gallen 6(Youssouf 62 6), Furlong 6.
Subs: Thomas, Santos, Kus, Baidoo.
Wolves: Postma, Naylor, Lescott, Ince, Edwards, Anderton (Kennedy 71), Miller (Frankowski 89), Ross, Aliadiere, Cort, Davies (Ricketts 76).
Subs: Oakes, Lowe.
Bookings: Miller 67, Ince 77
Referee: P Armstrong
Attendance: 14, 731
QPR Man Of The Match: Paul Jones 9. After his performance at Bramall Lane and his international stint for Wales, Jones goes from strength to strength. Clearing with his feet a goal bound effort by Naylor in the first half and then double save from Aliadiere and then Cort was met by rapturous applause from the QPR faithful. That was the defining moment of the match and it would have been cruel for QPR not to get anything from the game.
Ref: P. Armstrong 7. Armstrong had a reasonable game and let it flow by keeping his cards in his pockets. He did miss the shout for the penalty but if he didn't see it he didn't see it.
Photo: Action Images
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