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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reports & Comments on QPR 3 Northampton 2


A first goal in senior football from Ray Jones finally finished off the Cobblers in a thrilling first round tie.

The R's second half substitute headed home in the 87th minute to clinch the Hoops a deserved place in round two.

In a free-flowing second half, Kevin Gallen handed the R's a dream start with the second goal of the game inside the opening two minutes.

Dexter Blackstock's foray down the left flank resulted in a Rangers free-kick and the skipper curled a low shot past the unsighted Bunn.

But the Cobblers refused to lie down and second half substitute Jerome Watt pulled a goal back seven minutes later with a 25-yard thunderbolt.

And when Andy Kirk pulled the Cobblers level 13 minutes from time, extra time loomed large.

But Jones had other ideas, sparking huge celebrations and the prospect of a plum Premiership draw in round two with a stunning late winner.

Earlier, Rangers led 1-0 at the break courtesy of Lee Cook's 17th minute solo goal.

In an R's side showing wholesale changes from the 1-1 draw with Preston North End on Saturday, Cook repaid the faith shown in him by gaffer Gary Waddock by opening the scoring at a sparse Loftus Road.

Those that did make the effort to attend were duly rewarded when Cook's jinking run and shot was deflected past Mark Bunn to hand the R's a deserved advantage.

In all, Waddock made seven changes for the visit of the League One outfit to Loftus Road - the most significant of which saw 18 year-old Andrew Howell come in for his first team debut.

Jake Cole, Marcus Bignot, Marc Bircham, Stefan Bailey, Shabazz Baidoo and skipper Kevin Gallen were also given their chance, as the R's boss played 'tinkerman' with one eye on the visit of Ipswich Town on Friday night.

It was the returning Gallen who was gifted with Rangers' first chance, when an out-swinging cross from Bignot wasn't dealt with by the Cobblers back three.

Unfortunately for the R's veteran, his impromptu header cannoned off the back of Luke Chambers, before being hacked to safety.

Cole spared the hosts' blushes on five minutes, diving full stretch to his left to claw James Quinn's half volley round for a corner.

It was a Rangers regular that almost opened the scoring six minutes later.

Cook was gifted far too much time and space on the edge of the box and the R's left winger duly let fly, unlucky to see his fizzing 22-yard drive fall narrowly wide of Bunn's left hand post with the keeper seemingly beaten.

Dexter Blackstock's perseverance almost paid dividends on 15 minutes, but after his superb run and cross from the by-line, Gallen's looping header finished inches wide of the post.

The hosts' impressive start deserved a goal and it duly arrived on 17 minutes, courtesy of that man Cook.

Gallen's hooked clearance on the edge of his own box found Blackstock and when he fed Cook, the winger tricked his way past two Cobblers defenders before his deflected shot completely wrong-footed Bunn.

Cook was being gifted the freedom of the park by the League One side and when the Cobblers defenders continued to back off in the 24th minute, only the width of the post stood between the left winger doubling his and his side's tally.

Baidoo - playing in an unorthodox right midfield role - almost got in on the act in the 30th minute, only to see Bunn save his header from the edge of the six-yard box.

The hosts continued to probe as the half reached its conclusion, with the lively Blackstock heading high and wide from an acute angle and Gallen seeing two efforts in as many minutes saved by the overworked Bunn.

Northampton front-man Kirk fired a brief warning shot to the R's when his right footed purler fizzed off the post on the stroke of half-time, but in truth that was as good as it got for the Cobblers in a one-sided first period.

The Cobblers made one change at the break, with Watt entering the fray at the expense of Bradley Johnson.

But the substitution failed to reap dividends for John Gorman's men and it was Rangers who were soon celebrating goal number two on 47 minutes.

Club captain Gallen marked his first start of the season with a goal, curling a daisy-cutter free-kick from an acute angle round the wall and past a static Bunn.

Baidoo was proving a constant menace at the start of the second half, turning his marker inside-out before blasting a fearsome 12-yard shot inches wide of Bunn's left hand post.

Despite the one-way traffic, Northampton refused to lie down and substitute Watt handed them an avenue back into the tie with a speculative long range shot on 54 minutes.

Cole appeared to be in the perfect position as he dived down low to his right, but the ball somehow found its way past him to the delight of the travelling Cobblers faithful.

Blackstock's pace continued to cause problems for the Cobblers defence and when Bailey fed him in an unfamiliar right midfield role, the former Southampton striker' first time shot was gathered at the second attempt by Bunn.

In truth, Rangers were huffing and puffing their way into the next round, until the returning Bircham sprung them into life on 71 minutes.

His fine sliding tackle and cross found Baidoo and the former Arsenal trainee was unlucky to see his stinging shot fire straight at Bunn.

Egutu Oliseh was handed his first start in English football with 16 minutes to go, but it was an opening to forget for the Nigerian, who was on the pitch for just 15 seconds when the Cobblers equalised.

Kirk's superb turn and shot from 15-yards gave Cole absolutely no chance, as all of Rangers' earlier hard work went to waste.

Remarkably, there was still time for a fifth and final goal and it was Ray Jones who leapt off the bench to score it.

The 17 year-old rose tallest on the edge of the six-yard box to head home Bignot's inch-perfect cross, to finally finish off a plucky performance from the Cobblers.

QPR: Cole, Bignot, Stewart (Kanyuka 90), Rehman, Howell, Baidoo, Bircham (R Jones 84), Bailey, Cook, Gallen (Oliseh 76), Blackstock.

Subs: PJones, Donnelly.

Scorers: Cook 17, Gallen 47, R Jones 87


Red Cards:

Northampton Town: Bunn, Crowe, Chambers, Kirk, Aiston, Jess, Burnell, Brett Johnson (Bojic 68), Dyche, Bradley Johnson (Watt 46), Quinn (Gilligan 85).

Subs: Harper, Cross.

Scorers: Watt 54, Kirk 77


Red Cards:

Attendance: 4,569

Referee: P Miller


Gary Waddock praised the character and mental toughness of his side after the 3-2 victory against the Cobblers in the Carling Cup.

"A lot of credit has to go to the lads who kept plugging away and got the result we deserved over the 90 minutes.

"We showed great character and resilience and if we continue to show that throughout the season, we'll be difficult to beat.''

Waddock continued: "Tonight was a great example of the never-say-die attitude I'm loooking for from my players and I'm just delighted we've progressed.''

Lee Cook, Kevin Gallen and match-winner Ray Jones bagged the all-important goals, to the delight of the R's gaffer.

"It's great that we're sharing the goals around. That breeds confidence and that is the recipe for success.''

The thrilling 3-2 victory also ended a two year run without a victory in Cup competitions for the R's.

"Two years is a long time without a Cup win but we've buried the hatchet tonight.

"I'm absolutely ecstatic that we're in the hat for the next round.''

Waddock spared a final work for the R's youngsters, who again shone.

"It was fantastic for Ray, but all the young lads did well.

"Andrew Howell had an accomplished debut and it bodes well for the future of this football club that we're continuing to bring these players through the ranks.''

QPR Official Site


Gorman praises "magnificent" effort

John Gorman was full of praise for his team after Tuesday's Carling Cup tie at Loftus Road.

"I thought we were magnificent," he said.

"We played fantastic football and I am proud of the players. We had 4 senior lads missing and we put some young players out there but I am proud of every one of them. Our front two were magnificent and we created well from midfield. I thought we caused them a lot of problems and how we were 2-0 down at one stage I will never know.

"Jerome Watt seems to have this terrible problem of scoring every time we play him! Andy Kirk was tremendous and could have had four goals - he scored one and hit the post and looked a class act. QPR left some of their players out but they still had a lot of quality players out there

"We have lost and again the luck deserted us, but some of our play was from a higher league. We passed the ball with a quality and purpose and with a tempo and that is the way we want to play. We might have lost and we are disappointed to be out of the cup, but we can take confidence from the performance and we can look forward to the league games coming up.

"Their first two goals came from deflections and that sums up the way things went. I did not start Jerome Watt because I did not want to put him under too much pressure but now we will talk terms with him and see what we can come up with.

"We played fantastic football and I am proud of the players," - John Gorman

"We have some real quality in our team and I am very pleased with the way the lads played. We were worthy of at least extra time and I would have fancied us if the game had gone that far.

"James Quinn and Andy Kirk linked up well and looked a very good partnership. James was a little under the weather and that's why we took him off but he had a very good game holding the ball up.

"It was an end to end encounter and a thrilling game. There were no league points at stake and we wanted to go and entertain and we did that. We wanted to get through as well and I am so sorry for the lads and the fans that we didn't. They all deserved more for their efforts."




Northampton Town made the short journey down to London for the first time this season to take on Queens Park Rangers in the first round of the Carling Cup. The Cobblers had claimed the scalp of the R's at this stage of the competition last season, and this time around John Gorman took the opportunity to hand first starts of the season to Brett Johnson, Bradley Johnson and Eoin Jess. Jerome Watt and Scott Cross were among the substitutes, meaning that 8 of the matchday sixteen were in their teens or early twenties. An ankle injury ruled out Andy Holt, a dead leg accounted for Chris Doig and Ian Taylor was rested.

The Cobblers started brightly, and James Quinn was a whisker away from his first Cobblers goal after six minutes. Neat build up play from Joe Burnell found Eoin Jess and his deep cross was met by Quinn on the volley, but Jake Cole made a superb stop at the near post.

Lee Cook had the first effort of the evening for the home side, but his low skimming 25 yard effort was narrowly wide of Mark Bunn's left hand post after twelve minutes.

Rangers had the lead after eighteen minutes. A speedy break out of defence was finished off by Lee Cook, whose low drive appeared to take a deflection beyond Mark Bunn, wrong footing the Cobblers keeper in the process.

Bunn saved well with his feet to deny Kevin Gallen following a short corner routine, before Andy Kirk tried to capitalise on a slip from Damion Stewart. The QPR man's loose pass was picked up by Kirk thirty yards from goal and although he sent in a powerful shot, Cole was equal to the task.

The Cobblers enjoyed a good spell just before half time. Sam Aiston did well to commit a number of defenders before sliding a ball through to James Quinn whose dangerous cross-shot was deflected over the bar by Andrew Howell, and moments later the former Tranmere man was creating another chance, but again Kirk's shot was held by Cole.

John Gorman's side continued their purple patch, and after James Quinn had played Andy Kirk into the area, Kirk saw his shot bounce back off the post with Cole beaten. Bradley Johnson and then Eoin Jess drove over the bar as the first half came to a close, but the Cobblers really did not want the half time whistle to blow, having spent the last 15 minutes of the half firmly in control against their Championship opponents.

The Cobblers made a change at half time with Jerome Watt replacing Bradley Johnson. The recent Sixfields arrival was quickly into the action, releasing Sam Aiston down the left hand side who supplied a cross that was inches away from the head of Andy Kirk.

Against the run of play, Rangers doubled their lead four minutes after half time. Jason Crowe was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball close to the edge of the penalty area, and the angle gave Kevin Gallen the perfect opportunity to drive a low finish into the far corner, again with the help of a deflection.

Shabazz Baidoo twisted and turned and fired a shot just wide of Mark Bunn's left hand post, before Jerome Watt wasted no time in making his mark, deservedly halving the deficit. Just nine minutes after coming on as a half time substitute he drove at the Rangers defence before firing home a low twenty five yard finish beyond Jake Cole.

Baidoo was proving a real threat to the Cobblers defence, and he forced a low save out of Mark Bunn as the game reached the hour mark, before Pedj Bojic replaced Brett Johnson as John Gorman made his second change.

Kevin Gallen was withdrawn to be replaced by Egutu Oliseh with thirteen minutes to play in a defensive switch, but just moments later the Cobblers equalised. The ball was played into the penalty area and after James Quinn had laid the ball back, Andy Kirk sent a curling finish in beyond the reach of Cole.

James Quinn's flick from an eighty second minute corner seemed to be stopped by the hand of a home defender but the referee waved play on, while Ray Jones replaced Marc Bircham for QPR. John Gorman then introduced Ryan Gilligan for James Quinn.

Bunn made the latest in a number of good stops when he parried away from Dexter Blackstock, but it wasn't long before the home side had the lead once more. A cross into the Cobblers box from Marcus Bignot was headed home by Ray Jones.

The Cobblers may have exited the Carling Cup in the first round, but this result was harsh on John Gorman's side, who more than played their part in a thrilling night of cup football.


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