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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crystal Palace 2 QPR 1 - Reports & Comments

The Guardian - Morrison seizes the day as Palace stave off gallant Rangers Rob Smyth at Selhurst Park Wednesday February 15, 2006The Guardian

Rarely are matches as two-faced as this. For the first half Crystal Palace ignored the absence of the injured Andy Johnson to give an attacking display of thrilling verve and electricity. A 2-0 lead was the least they deserved. By the end, however, their victory was barely deserved. QPR, reinvigorated by a crucial tactical change, ran them ragged for much of the second half and probably should have had more to show for it than Paul Furlong's bullet header.
Palace made six changes to the side that drew at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, including the enforced absence of Johnson with a thigh injury. That meant the return of Clinton Morrison, who injected instant urgency and capped Palace's rampant start with the opening goal in the third minute. Ian Evatt's lumbering challenge was poor but Morrison rolled him expertly to lash a close-range volley past Paul Jones.
If Morrison was the epitome of carpe diem, his palpably unfit strike partner Jon Macken looked like he would seize up any minute; he lasted 15 before being substituted to the delight of an unsympathetic crowd. No matter, it was all Palace before and after: so unemployed was their goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly that his distinctive pyjama pants could have been used in a Persil advert.
At the other end, Palace's attacking play remained whiter than white. Ben Watson's short free-kick was raked just over the bar by Wayne Andrews, Darren Ward got under a header six yards out, and the inevitable second goal came when the pitiful Evatt was beaten by substitute Dougie Freedman, whose deliberate pull-back was sidefooted in by Jobi McAnuff.
QPR's caretaker manager Gary Waddock attempted to shut the stable door by bringing on Furlong and switching to 4-4-2 before half-time, and his side were much more threatening after the break. Lee Cook finally worked Kiraly from the edge of the box after a sinuous run and then Richard Langley, teed up immaculately by Marc Nygaard, curved his shot just wide. It was left to Furlong to bring Rangers back into the game after 55 minutes, thumping a splendid header into the bottom corner from Scott Donnelly's cross.
From there, Palace lost their composure completely. Watson smashed a free-kick straight off McAnuff's head and later needed treatment after comically hoofing the ground. Rangers carried the cohesive threat, most notably when Cook's corner was bundled onto the underside of the bar. Palace survived, but it should never have been quite so hairy.

Crystal Palace -Gabor Kiraly, Emmerson Boyce, Mikele Leigertwood, Darren Ward, Gary Borrowdale, Jobi McAnuff, Tom Soares, Ben Watson, Wayne Andrews (Michael Hughes), Jon Macken (Dougie Freedman), Clinton Morrison
QPR - Paul Jones, Marcus Bignot (Paul Furlong), Ian Evatt, Mauro Milanese, Matthew Rose, Daniel Shittu, Richard Langley, Steve Lomas, Lee Cook, Scott Donnelly (Shabazz Baidoo), Marc Nygaard

By Tom Collomosse, PA Sport
Crystal Palace boss Iain Dowie urged the home fans to temper their expectations after the 2-1 win over QPR.
First-half goals from Clinton Morrison and Jobi McAnuff were enough for Palace to seal victory and strengthen their place in the Coca-Cola Championship play-off zone, although Rangers showed plenty of spirit after the break and pulled a goal back through substitute Paul Furlong.
And Dowie - who came within a whisker of keeping Palace in the Barclays Premiership last term after promotion the previous season - believes some supporters have forgotten how quickly their club has risen over the past three years.
"The crowd was 17,550 tonight, and we are hoping for at least 20,000 - particularly when we are challenging for the play-offs," Dowie said.
"I heard a few rumbles among the fans, and sometimes we forget that we were fourth from bottom in Christmas 2003 when I took over as manager.
"Sometimes the edginess in the crowd gets to the players. The fans get anxious and so the players get anxious - even when you try to make them relaxed."
Dowie admitted his team had not been at their best in the second period, when they were fortunate not to concede an equaliser as Rangers pressed.
But Palace also wasted chances of their own. Substitute Dougie Freedman, Darren Ward and Morrison all went close to restoring their two-goal advantage.
"We dominated the first half totally and created plenty of chances in the second," Dowie continued. "But Rangers will always make it hard for you at set pieces, because they have so many tall players.
"We have played better than that this season and lost. What is most pleasing about the result is that is has allowed us to re-assert ourselves in the play-off picture."
Rangers caretaker-boss Gary Waddock was left to rue Morrison's third-minute goal that put his team on the back foot from the beginning.
The west Londoners looked far more comfortable when they switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 - but Waddock denied he had been too cautious at the outset
"Letting in that goal in the third minute meant our gameplan went out of the window," Waddock admitted.
"But we were really positive in the second half, and gave them a run for their money."
Waddock continues to search for an experienced coach as he takes his first steps in management - this was only his second game in charge after replacing Ian Holloway, who was put on gardening leave last week.
Waddock added: "I'm speaking to two or three people. I know who I want - but they might say no.
"We don't have a game until February 25, and I will use this period to stamp my authority on the squad."


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