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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Further Reports & Comments

The Sun
QPR 2 Leeds 2

RANGERS snatched an injury-time equaliser through sub Shabazz Baidoo and manager Gary Waddock insisted: You can’t write us off.

Baidoo, 18, turned the ball in at the near post after Gareth Ainsworth pulled back a Lee Cook cross.

Waddock said: “Many people have been saying we’re going to struggle but I don’t think that and neither do the players here.

“People can write us off — I don’t mind that. Our fitness levels are good and I felt we could have got even more out of the game.

“I thought the game changed when Ray Jones came on in the second half. He and Shabazz are only 18 but they were a handful.”

Leeds were ahead in the 65th minute when Steve Stone’s cross was headed against the bar by David Healy. Geoff Horsfield got the ball back from the by-line and Eddie Lewis volleyed in.

Rangers were level after 81 minutes when Stephen Crainey fouled Ainsworth in the box and Martin Rowlands blasted the spot-kick past Tony Warner.

The home side looked to have been sunk a minute later when Steve Stone’s pass found Horsfield, and the former Fulham man volleyed past Paul Jones.

Then in injury time sub Baidoo gave the home fans plenty to cheer.

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell was seething though. He said: “We will have to go up the motorway now knowing we have shot ourselves in the foot.

“I didn’t think their first equaliser was a penalty, but then you only have to fart in the box to concede a penalty these days.

“I’ve given the players a tongue-lashing afterwards. A few of them had better buck their ideas up or they won’t be here long enough to find out what will happen to them.”

- The Sun

Blackwell angry - QPR 2 - 2 Leeds United
By Rich Baggott - August 8 2006Sportsnetwork

Leeds manager, Kevin Blackwell was fuming with his players following the 2 - 2 draw with QPR, despite and impressive performance from Leeds

Leeds took the their travels for the first time this season with an away trip to QPR, a team favored by many to be fighting relegation towards the end of the season and an unchanged line up from the team that beat Norwich last Saturday took to the field.

Within the opening minutes it became clear that QPR were packing out the midfield and finding the space on the ball needed. Blackwell changed it round, dropping Healy deeper but playing him in a creative role in front of the midfield. The move worked and Leeds quickly began to dominate for long periods of the first half.

Leeds evened out the goal efforts tally from the few that QPR had created in the opening exchanges. Horsfield nearly latched on to a poor back pass and butler had a good chance with a header - next Healy had a chance and midfielder, Steve Stone, fully recovered from the injury nightmare of the past two season had two great chances that were well saved by Paul Jones in the QPR net.

The Leeds side continued to push with the midfield passing well and push for an opening. Lewis linking up well to fire in the crosses and even Kelly had an excellent chance just after the half hour mark. A goal was looking inevitable.

Bakke, who appeared to be carrying a knock was substituted just after half time, making way for new signing, Westlake and the change did nothing to dampen the Leeds charge. Lewis, Healy, Horsfield and Stone were all pushing and looking dangerous and the goal finally came on 64 minutes. Healy fired a shot onto the bar and Lewis latched on to the rebound and struck a clean shot that left Jones with no chance.

Still Leeds pushed and could have added to the telly straight way with another Horsfield effort and it looked in danger of becoming a whitewash for the QPR fans.

Against the run of play though, a QPR attack ended up with a clumsy challenge from Stephen Crainey - who again had an impressive night prior to the foul. Penalty awarded and Martin Rowlands pulled the scores level.

Refusing to accept a draw as an acceptable end to the game, Leeds responded immediately and restored their one goal advantage. An excellent ball by Stone set up Horsfield superbly and the loan signing opened his account for Leeds with a smart finish.

In the final ten minutes though, Leeds let down their guard and QPR began to come back into the game - A side that looked well organsied and determined for so long suddenly rolled over and invited QPR in to equalise. Two minutes into injury time, the inevitable happened and substitute Shabazz Baidoo poked home from close range to bring the scores level.

In his post match interview, Leeds manager could not hide his anger and frustration with the players for throwing the game in the way they did - whilst acknowledging the stylish and impressive performance, he made it clear that it was not acceptable to perform like that and then lose 2 points. To quote a number of players had received some "Harsh Words" in the dressing room, with Blackwell even stating that players who didn't perform to the required level would be OUT of the club!

It's 4 points from two games from Leeds and Blackwell reaction, coupled with the impressive performance this evening, demonstrates clearly the high standards the club has set itself this year!



Kevin Blackwell was an angry manager today after watching his Leeds United side dominate the Championship game against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road last night before suffering a late sucker punch.

Eddie Lewis gave United the lead after 65 minutes but Martin Rowlands equalised from the penalty spot nine minutes from the end. United deservedly went back into the lead a minute later when Geoff Horsfield netted his first goal for the club only for substitute Shabazz Baidoo to grab a last gasp equaliser for Rangers.

The ending left Blackwell fuming. "I told my players if they don't buck their ideas up they will not be around here long enough to make me unhappy again. They have felt the sharp edge of my tongue," he said.

"The players were feeling very down in the dressing room because they knew they had shot themselves in the foot. We were our own worst enemy. I am angry for the players because they were brilliant for most of the game but you have to hope that people learn from their mistakes.

"If people make mistakes and they are genuine ones then fair enough but if it is something I think they can control then they are in danger of losing their place and if they lose their place it is going to be difficult to get it back," he added.

After watching his side play some excellent football and create numerous chances, the gaffer was understandably left feeling frustrated to have seen two points snatched from his team right at the end.

"We have competition for places because we are a club in demand and I am demanding of the players. Make no bones about it if they don't do it then they will suffer for it," he said.

"I think the lads let themselves down after what had been a first class performance. People saw a very good Leeds United side and if we play like that and create ten or eleven chances and dominate the game as much as that you have got to win more games than you lose," he added


Leeds Today

The one that got away
In the shadow of Loftus Road lies Batman Close, a curiously-named street which makes the home of Queens Park Rangers a suitable location for make-believe. . .

Superheroes are in short supply at the London club but, on the evidence of Leeds United's evening in the capital, their appetite for tall stories is vigorous. The records will list last night's result as a 2-2 draw, but a simplistic result cannot come close to depicting the fortuitous nature of QPR's point.

In the space of only four days, Kevin Blackwell has experienced a contrast of emotion rarely associated with first week of a new season. After parrying suggestions that his players were ill-deserving of their 1-0 win over Norwich City on Saturday, United's irate manager stepped on to the other side of the fence yesterday evening to explain exactly how their dominant performance had yielded a deflating draw. But as angry as he felt last night, perspective will be Blackwell's most reliable friend between now and his return to London on Sunday.

By the time Leeds kick off against Crystal Palace this weekend, the benefit of time will allow him to see last night's game for what it was – a mis-match between two clubs whose seasons should bear no comparison by the turn of the year. United's issue was simply one of ruthlessness. Gary Waddock, the QPR manager, would not be expected to entertain notions that his side escaped lightly, but privately he will wonder why Rangers were given the chance to slip the noose.

Between the start of the second half and Rangers' first goal, which came from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, the hosts were barely given a sniff of Tony Warner in United's goal. While Blackwell's defence often lacked conviction, Rangers' threat had diminished to the point of non-existent by the time Stephen Crainey felled Gareth Ainsworth inside the box and breathed life into a match which seemed ready to reward Leeds with a second straight victory.

Had the win been forthcoming, United would have joined the three-way tie which exists at the top of the Championship. But, after two games of the season, the division is already revealing the importance of staying in touch, rather than leading the way. Escaping by Christmas, as Reading and Sheffield United did last season, may prove impossible, but prominence by March is nothing short of vital for those clubs who covet Premiership status.

Last night's performance contained enough quality to mark out Leeds as a team capable of maintaining pace with the pack, although Blackwell's squad is still in need of a sustained period of polishing. United's manager was again forced to reshape his line-up at an early stage last night - as he had on Saturday – by dropping an increasingly ill-fated 4-4-2 system and employing a five-man midfield.

For all his creditable attacking attentions, the first week of the season may have convinced Blackwell beyond doubt that his players are best suited to a solitary striker. There is no question that their games against Norwich and QPR have both turned on tactical alterations, and last night's switch was an important answer to the early threat posed by Rangers.

For a team tipped to be derailed by the Championship this season, QPR started like a train. Blackwell had predicted as much, but even he will have been surprised by the attacking verve shown by Waddock's players.

Pushed forward by Nick Ward, the creative link between QPR's midfield and lone striker Adam Czerkas, the hosts found themselves eye-to-eye with Warner twice inside the first four minutes.

Czerkas wasted the first chance – created by poor communication between Warner and Matthew Kilgallon - by scuffing his shot, and Ward drove a low strike in the hands of United's keeper after running into a huge gap between Kilgallon and Paul Butler.

But the onslaught was predictably brief, and the change of shape implemented by Blackwell allowed the chances to flow for Leeds before half-time.

Eddie Lewis' 19th-minute corner created the clearest opportunity which David Healy stabbed against the legs of Paul Jones, and the Northern Ireland international brought another good reaction from the QPR keeper eight minutes later.

Healy's second opportunity was the direct result of the creativity of Steve Stone, a player whose performance above all others will have given Blackwell reason for optimism last night.

Stone's appearances have totalled six since his move to Elland Road last summer, and it is barely contentious to say that yesterday evening's performance was his best in a United shirt to date.

But the 34-year-old is beginning to offer another option to Blackwell and, though brought on board to run the right wing, Stone played with the aura of midfield playmaker during his 90-minute appearance.

His tireless running was complemented by slick passing and decisive vision, and Stone had a hand in both of the visitors' goals in the second half.

Sustained pressure from Blackwell's side eventually burst the dam in front of them when Healy connected with Stone's 64th-minute cross, lifting his header over Jones and against the underside of the crossbar. The ball bounced kindly to Lewis, who drove a controlled volley into the corner of the net with Rangers' keeper badly out of position.

The goal should have been sufficient to settle the match, but the game – and the revival of Rangers' flagging optimism – hinged on a contentious penalty decision 10 minutes before full time.

Referee Kevin Friend, whose fussy officiating punctured the game's flow, penalised Stephen Crainey after the Scottish defender clattered into the back of Gareth Ainsworth, and Martin Rowlands beat Warner with a well-struck penalty.

United's response was brutal, however, as Stone's lob 60 seconds later dropped over Rangers' defence and into the path of Geoff Horsfield, who took a touch before volleyed his first goal for United past Jones.

Blackwell was ready to travel home happy, but his defence had one more gift to offer Rangers as the match edged into injury time. Lee Cook sent a cross arcing over the head of Crainey, and when Ainsworth cut the ball back from Warner's byline, Shabazz Baidoo reacted first to turn his shot into the net.

QPR might – and should – have stolen the points during a finish which resembled a cup-tie and presented two inviting chances for Ray Jones, but Blackwell's sense of an opportunity missed could not have been deepened by a third QPR goal.

His anger will persist today, although is should not last for long. In the grand scheme of the Championship, two points dropped in August are unlikely to bite United in May. And if last night's result is to be of long-term value, it will be in teaching Blackwell's players to control their own destiny, and not to trust to luck.



1 Crystal Palace 2 3 6
2 Burnley 2 3 6
3 Luton 2 3 6
4 West Brom 2 2 4
5 Leeds 2 1 4
6 Cardiff 2 1 4
7 Wolverhampton 2 1 4
8 Plymouth 2 1 4
9 Birmingham 1 1 3
10 Coventry 1 1 3
11 Norwich 2 1 3
12 Stoke 2 1 3
13 Barnsley 2 0 3
14 Southend 2 -1 3
15 Southampton 1 0 1
16 Sheff Wed 2 -1 1
17 Derby 2 -2 1
18 QPR 2 -2 1
19 Preston 2 -2 1
20 Sunderland 1 -1 0
21 Colchester 2 -2 0
22 Ipswich 2 -2 0
23 Hull 2 -3 0
24 Leicester 2 -3 0


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