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Friday, May 25, 2007

QPR's Playoff Defeat in Cardiff: Four Long Years Ago

May 25, 2003: Cardiff 1 QPR 0

QPR Team on that day:
Day, Kelly, Shittu, Carlisle, Padula (Williams 79), Gallen, Bircham, Palmer, McLeod, Pacquette (Thomson 60), Furlong. Subs not used: Culkin, Angell, Forbes.
Manager: Ian Holloway. Coach: Kenny Jackett: Board's Nigel Blackburn and Ross Jones. CEO: David Davies.
- Every single one of the above named is no longer at Loftus Road: Players, Manager and coach and Board!

BBC Match Report Cardiff seal promotion

Substitute Andy Campbell came off the bench to guide Cardiff past Queens Park Rangers in a nerve-wracking Division Two play-off final.
QPR's defensive partnership of Danny Shittu and Clark Carlisle had managed to shackle Cardiff's 35-goal striker Rob Earnshaw.

But with six minutes to go of extra-time, Campbell proved more elusive.

The former Middlesbrough striker, who had replaced Earnshaw in the second half, shrugged off Shittu and then calmly lobbed Chris Day, to ensure Cardiff returned to Division One after an 18-year absence.

Chances had been few and far between in normal time, but as both sets of players tired, the game opened up in those nail-biting final 30 minutes.

No more so than when Day made a superb one-handed save from a Spencer Prior header after Graham Kavanagh's in-swinging free-kick.

While Cardiff favoured a more patient build-up, QPR were keen to get the ball quickly forward to strikers Paul Furlong and Richard Pacquette.

Key moments
79 mins: Lawrence replaces Earnshaw with Campbell
104 mins: Day superbly saves Prior's header
114 mins: Campbell cleverly lobs Day to score the game's only goal

The experienced Furlong proved a handful for the Cardiff defence, holding up the ball well, though reflecting the tenseness of the occasion, his finishing was too hurried.

Notably after the restart, when the 34-year-old striker found some space in the Cardiff area, but having done the hard work, he blazed over the bar.

Furlong also had the best chance of the first half when he pounced on Danny Gabbidon's error, only to then rush his attempted lob over Neil Alexander.

On the flanks, Kevin McLeod and Kevin Gallen also provided plenty of impetus for QPR.

On 47 minutes Gallen ran on to a loose ball inside the box, but his low eight-yard shot flew straight at Alexander.

Gallen then unleashed a volley, which flew just over the bar.

Despite having plenty of the ball, Cardiff's attacks foundered against QPR's impressive central defensive partnership of Shittu and Carlisle.

Shittu made a superb defensive tackle to stop Gareth Whalley, when the former Bradford midfielder had a clear sight of goal on the edge of the box in the first-half.

As the game wore on, Carlisle's reading of the game time and again came to QPR's rescue.

With 10 minutes to go, Carlisle made a well-timed tackle to thwart Kavanagh on the edge of the penalty area and then produced an even better challenge to deny Andy Campbell.

The England Under-21 defender even found time to saunter forward to out jumped Prior, only to guide his header wide of Alexander's right-hand post.

So indomitable were those two QPR central defenders that in the closing stages of the game, Cardiff manager Lennie Lawrence withdraw the club's leading scorer Rob Earnshaw.

But as the game headed towards penalties, Carlisle conceded possession and as the ball broke forward, Campbell got the better of Shittu to send Cardiff into Division One.

Also: BBC - Minute by Minute Report

The Guardian - Bluebirds soar towards top flight
Cardiff City 1 - 0 Queens Park Rangers
Jon Brodkin at the Millennium Stadium

Never one to set his sights low, Sam Hammam spoke last night of his determination to reach the Champions League. The Cardiff City owner has a long way to go to achieve that ambition but yesterday his club at least moved to within striking distance of the top flight. It is just as well today is a bank holiday because few in the Welsh capital will be in a fit state to work.
The Andy Campbell goal which took Cardiff to a level they last played at 18 years ago was greeted with unrestrained joy in their home city. A forgettable game seemed certain to be heading for penalties after 114 scoreless minutes until Campbell, a second-half substitute, scored with a touch of quality which was out of keeping with most of the match.
The party in Cardiff will continue for days, probably months, but it was impossible not to feel sorry for QPR, who were the more thoughtful side and had the better of the few openings over the initial 90 minutes. The manner of defeat was particularly unfortunate for Clarke Carlisle, who had been excellent at centre-half until his poor pass was cut out for Campbell's strike.

Cardiff will care little about the way victory was achieved. For the most part they were one dimensional, playing too many unsuccessful long balls towards the head of Peter Thorne, and lacked cutting edge until extra-time. Yet, having failed in last season's play-offs, perhaps they were due a change of luck.

Hammam was thrown in the bath afterwards and emerged sounding like he had forgotten the promotion is to the First Division and not the Premiership. The former Wimbledon owner has big hopes for Cardiff and is desperate to get permission for a new 30,000-seat stadium. With that he believes progress up the league could be fast.

"Our aim is not to be in the Premier League but to be in the top echelons of the Premier League and in the Champions League," he said. "That's the only thing that Welsh people will accept. The thing we need is a vehicle and for that we need the stadium.

"If we have [planning permission for] the stadium we can go aggressively and then we would like to take a step forward as quickly as possible. It's in the hands of the politicians but also we have to solve the technical problems of planning.

"With the stadium in place we will expect to give any club in the First Division a run for their money. Once we have the planning for the stadium then the money the financial institutions will give us will be far different. Already we have an excellent nucleus of players. We could augment that with new blood."

Cardiff's manager Lennie Lawrence is not thinking about Real Madrid for the time being, though his mind is set on another promotion. Having reached the top flight with Middlesbrough and Charlton, he said his one remaining ambition was to join the elite band who have guided three clubs to that height.

Lawrence gambled by bringing on Campbell for his leading scorer Robert Earnshaw after 80 minutes. Earnshaw shook his head but Lawrence's instincts were right. Campbell, hardly a prolific scorer, notched his seventh of the campaign at a perfect moment.

Earnshaw had been quiet, a reflection of Cardiff's failure to make much headway. QPR's central defenders, Carlisle and Danny Shittu, were outstanding and Lawrence's players lacked the variety required. After a first half which was nervy and dominated by long balls, QPR found better passing movements. They wasted openings during the 90 minutes and in extra-time but their manager Ian Holloway was rightly proud of what has been achieved on a tight budget.

"When I arrived not that long ago I had no staff and nine players, two of whom had long-term injuries," he said. "We have come a long way. Sadly not far enough and we have to do that next year. We have to keep this feeling in our hearts and get stronger."

QPR's preparations had hardly been helped by the fact that they were woken at about 4.15am after Cardiff fans apparently set off a fire alarm at their hotel. Their goalkeeper Chris Day was still alert enough in extra-time to make a brilliant save from Spencer Prior's header but was powerless when Campbell struck. Not long after QPR's Tommy Williams had shot when he ought to have squared to Paul Furlong, Carlisle's pass was intercepted by Gareth Whalley and Campbell sprinted clear of Shittu and lifted a shot into the net.

"It wasn't a classic match," Lawrence said, "but no one connected with Cardiff will ever forget it." That is certain and, if Hammam has his way, there will be far more to come. Guardian

And of course the night before the playoff final: "The Hotel Fire Alarm Incident"

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