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Furlong rolls back the years to relegate Luton
Furlong rolls back the years to relegate Luton
Monday, 9th Apr 2007 22:04

QPR made it nine points from nine over Easter with a last gasp win over Luton Town.

Ever since Jesus rolled over and thought "it's a bit cold in here, I'll roll the boulder back and let some sun in" Easter has had a bit of a reputation for come backs.

Quite frankly a second coming of Christ seemed more likely than QPR raising themselves from a 2-1 deficit against the league's worst side at one stage on Monday. Shawn of their three most potent attacking midfielders through injury and looking leggy and tired after a long week it looked like they would struggle to score one, never mind two, even if they were allowed to play on through the night.

In the end only the God awful quality of the opposition and the late introduction of Paul Furlong prevented QPR doing what QPR do best. Just when it looked like they had done it, turned the season round, secured their status, won the day, they almost, almost contrived to snatch a ridiculous defeat from the jaws of victory in supposedly their easiest match of the run in.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Furlong. I was losing sleep over the fact that his penalty miss against West Brom might be his last meaningful action in a QPR shirt, assuming this is his last season as a first team player with Rangers. What a wonderful way to banish that memory, a vintage Furlong header, guided into the far corner with pin point accuracy. Now that's something to remember a great QPR player by, not some poxy penalty miss.

You didn't have to look far to see why Ranger struggled, even against such a terrible team. Take Lee Cook, Martin Rowlands and Inigo Idiakez out of any midfield in the division and the team would struggle. When you're forced to replace them with Jimmy Smith, Steve Lomas and Stefan Moore then, through no fault of the players or management, the team will struggle.

Adam Bolder made up the midfield four with Bignot, Stewart, Cullip and Kanyuka in defence behind them and Camp in goal. Up front Nygaard partnered Dexter Blackstock.

Luton, asset stripped and suffering from decimated morale and confidence, offered a starting eleven for this match which contained a thin scattering of mediocre Championship players and a thick slice of absolute crap. That former QPR midfielder Richard Langley still cannot make the starting eleven in this God awful side despite everything that's gone on this season and their recent results highlights his continued backward momentum and waste of talent.

Luton started the game by far the better team and spurned numerous opportunities to take the lead inside the first ten minutes. David Bell set up Matthew Spring who had a low shot deflected wide of the post with Camp beaten and from the corner Heikkinen headed wide when placed to do better. Andrew's looping header in the tenth minute was well claimed under pressure right underneath the cross bar by Lee Camp.

Stefan Moore fired a tame shot straight at Luton keeper Dean Brill in QPR's first attack but all in all the crowd was quiet and the team were off colour.

The first controversy of the match came just before the quarter hour mark. Lee Camp raced out of his area to clear a long ball into the channel and was caught very late by a cynical kick on the leg from Talbot. The former Sheff Wed striker showed some vague concern for his opponent after a good two minutes of treatment but he clearly meant to leave his boot in, a dangerous thing to do when the man dolling out the retribution at Loftus Road these days is Danny Cullip.

To make matters worse referee Clive Penton committed the cardinal sin of refereeing and watched the ball instead of the incident so while he had his eyes very closely on the ball in the key attacking area of the pitch - the East Paddock - Talbot was leaving his mark on QPR's goalkeeper unpunished. A desperate look across to his linesman fifty yards away on the other side of the pitch didn't dig Penton out of the hole either. To make matters worse still when Brill was caught late in similar circumstances in the second half he got the full treatment from the ref - lots of treatment, a free kick and a lecture for the offender.

More injury concern for QPR followed when a typically full blooded challenge from Ainsworth on Robinson left both players on the deck. Ainsworth attempted to get up and run it off but he soon hit the deck again, understandably so as it turns out he's broken his leg. He was replaced by Jimmy Smith.

That meant that all four of QPR's main attacking midfield threats were now out of the side injured and although Stefan Moore skinned Keane and set up Lomas a moment later the former West Ham man took a fresh air shot from the edge of the box and Rangers struggled to create anything else.

At the other end Luton had a goal disallowed, Talbot flagged offside as he nutmegged Camp after making a late run in to the back post to meet Spring's cross. Talbot had two goals disallowed against Southampton at the weekend as well so his luck is definitely not in. Camp did well to deny Bell soon after as Luton threatened to cause a shock.

It seemed only a matter of time before the Hatters opened the scoring but taking chances and making the most of pressure is not a trait normally associated with the bottom placed club and it was in fact QPR who opened the scoring against the run of play four minutes before half time.

Marc Nygaard hooked a throw from Lomas over his head to Moore at the back post, his bobbling pass found Stewart who lost his footing but still smuggled the ball back to Blackstock who rolled the ball into the corner from ten yards out.

It looked like the R's would go into the sheds at half time with a fortunate lead but Luton managed to get their deserved equaliser in an extended period of injury time. Bell sent a cross into the area and with nobody tracking Coyne the ball bounced agonisingly into the far bottom corner with Camp caught in two minds. Both Coyne and Bell looked to have good claims for the goal but whoever it was that got the crucial touch mattered little, Luton were level and deservedly so.

Gregory couldn't say anything to turn the tide at half time either. A weak shot by Blackstock easily saved by Brill was quickly followed by a bizarre incident that gave Luton the lead. A cross into the box from Morgan was poorly cleared by Lomas straight back to him when it should have gone out into the stand, the second ball into the box was inexplicably punched away at full stretch by Nygaard for a handball penalty even more blatant than the one Preston weren't awarded at Loftus Road earlier in the week. It reminded me of a penalty QPR got against Luton in the last minute of an FA Cup 3rd round match at Kenilworth Road in 2001 which earned them a replay.

Just like Gavin Peacock that day, Bell slammed home the penalty with a minimum of fuss.

A one goal deficit against a team as poor as Luton isn't a great problem normally but Rangers were so poor, so devoid of ideas, that Bell's goal looked to be the defining moment in the game. Lee Camp's sprawling save from Talbot was Gregory's cue for action and he sent on Timoska and Furlong for Nygaard and Kanyuka.

Luton sent on a sub of their own - Richard Langley replaced Morgan who in turn had replaced Brkovic before half time. Langley got straight at it with Moore and Bignot, plenty of verbals and off the ball incidents from the moment he came onto the pitch.

Now I'm not one for booing former players, hell I even gave Danny Dichio a bit of a clap the other night, but Richard Langley's miserable conduct at Kenilworth Road earlier this season turned me against him somewhat. By the time he'd finished behaving like an arrogant tosser for 20 minutes on Monday he was public enemy number one and rightly so.

Furlong's first action was a theatrical fall under a rash challenge from Heikkinen which Penton unsurprisingly waved away. Unsurprising because Mr Penton has made a habit of waving away QPR appeals regardless of the incident this season. Heikkinen didn't learn his lesson though, and five minutes later Furlong was hauled to the ground in the area again, this time Penton couldn't ignore it.

It seemed a silly thing to do by a defender I normally rate quite highly because I don't think Furlong would have got to it. After the penalty was awarded Langley took centre stage, delaying the taking of the kick for over a minute with some pathetic mind games which Dexter Blackstock ignored and calmly stroked the ball into the corner. Not that I knew, after abandoning my usual routine of turning my back on QPR penalties for Furlong's effort against West Brom I returned to it for this one and Blackstock made no mistake.

It seemed we'd escaped with a draw. Timoska's thumping challenge on Langley by the Ellserlie Road Stand could have been the highlight had things not taken a dramatic turn in injury time.

Moore sent a pass down the line to Lomas who made up for his earlier poor clearance with a fantastic left footed cross which Furlong brilliantly steered into the far corner with a trademark header. Loftus Road erupted as Furlong was mobbed by his team mates.

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of teams in the football league we'd have beaten with that starting eleven playing like that. Luckily Luton are on that list and Kevin Blackwell has all on there to prevent them dropping right through League One into the basement division next season.

We need another point, we might get away without it but with Southend and Barnsley suddenly turning in a decent performance each I wouldn't like to bet on it. Cardiff at home looks the key one for me - their manager has said they're tired and off the pace, they're falling away while others are gaining. Hopefully we can get a nice win there and lounge in the sun on the last day.

I would say "but this is QPR and they don't do things like that" but on Monday, for once, they did. Maybe it's time to have a little faith?

QPR: Camp 6, Kanyuka 5 (Timoska 62, 7), Cullip 6, Stewart 6, Bignot 6, Bolder 6, Ainsworth 6 (Smith 22, 6), Lomas 6, Moore 6, Nygaard 5 (Furlong 64, 7), Blackstock 8
Subs Not Used: Cole, Ricketts.
Booked: Bolder (foul)
Goals: Blackstock 41, 81 pen, Furlong 90.

Luton: Brill 6, Keane 5, Coyne 6, Heikkinen 5, Emanuel 5, Brkovic 6 (Morgan 41 4, Langley 5)), Spring 5, Robinson 5, Bell 7, Andrew 5, Talbot 6 (Idrizaj 85, -)
Subs Not Used: Foley, Perrett
Booked: Andrew (foul), Heikkinen (foul)
Goals: Coyne 45, Bell 51 pen.

QPR Star Man - Dexter Blackstock 8 - Two goals, including a calmly taken penalty under great pressure, to go with his usual fantastic work rate and commitment to the cause.

Referee: C Penton (Sussex) 5 Failed to book Langley when he spent 20 minutes begging for a card, allowed Luton to engineer a two minute delay before the penalty was taken and missed Talbot's nasty challenge on Camp because he was watching the ball instead of the incident. Luton have also questioned the penalty decision but both spot kicks looked pretty blatant to me. Attendance: 14,360

Photo: Action Images



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