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Sunday, December 30, 2007

QPR's Win at Watford - Compilation of Match Reports

SUNDAY TIMES/Richard Lewis - Woe for Watford Watford 2 QPR 4
He is 13 matches into his reign at Queens Park Rangers and Luigi De Canio is fast proving that Italians who do not speak English are capable of translating their ideas. QPR made it three wins from five games with a superb victory against a Watford team who look a shadow of the side that was set for Championship domination.
At the end of October, when De Canio took over as manager, the mission statement was straightforward: ensure survival. The team was bottom of the table and heading in only one direction. The prospect of outclassing leaders Watford was probably a distant hope, such had been the start that Aidy Boothroyd’s team made to the season.
Watford, relegated from the Premier League last season, were eight points clear at the top and primed for an instant return to the top flight. How times change. Watford were a jumble of confusion yesterday as QPR took them apart in the first half.
Having not won at home since October 20, and with leading scorer Marlon King relegated to the bench, strikers Darius Henderson and Nathan Ellington were making no impression. The fact that Watford have an outstanding away record of eight victories fails to mirror what is happening at Vicarage Road. Beforehand Boothroyd said Rangers would arrive here fancying their chances, and how right he was.
They played with ease as Watford toiled with the type of pressure that arises after six matches without winning at home. By half-time, make that seven, after an extraordinary 45 minutes where QPR showed just how revitalised they are.
QPR took the lead in the 13th minute after Jordan Stewart, the Watford left-back, brought down Dexter Blackstock in the area. Stewart did not even receive a yellow card for a foul that might have brought a red, but from the penalty, Martin Rowlands sent Richard Lee the wrong way.
Watford did little to show much intent and in the 29th minute QPR increased their lead. Rowlands fired in a corner from the left, which centre-half Damion Stewart met with a superb header to score.
QPR were hardly playing with the concerns of a team in trouble and they moved 3-0 in front in the 39th minute as Rowlands found space inside the left edge of the area to score with a low shot that gave Lee no chance.
At the break, Watford’s players left the pitch to boos and jeers from fans and Boothroyd responded by replacing centre-half Matt Jackson with Danny Shittu. Indeed, whatever Boothroyd had said at the break breathed fresh life into his side and within seven minutes they had scored. An outswinging corner from the right by Lee Williamson eventually made it over the line. Though Francis was credited with it, the ball seemed to have hit goalkeeper Lee Camp as his defender Damion Stewart tried to clear.
Watford were back, not that they were anywhere near showing signs of salvaging much from this match. Camp was forced to make a fine save to turn away shot from Francis but nine minutes from time Rangers moved further in front when Rowlands found Arkos Buzsaky, who took his time to score from inside the six-yard box.
Watford snatched a second as Shittu fired home from close range, yet Boothroyd was left once more wondering just what has gone wrong with his side.
Star man: Martin Rowlands (QPR)
Player ratings. Watford: Lee 5, Doyley 5 (O’Toole 79min), Demerit 4, Jackson 4 (Shittu ht, 5), Stewart 5, Smith 5, Williamson 5, Francis 5, McAnuff 5, Henderson 4, Ellington 5 (King 68min)
QPR: Camp 6, Barker 6, Rehman 6, Stewart 6, Malcolm 6, Bolder 7, Rowlands 8, Ainsworth 6 (Vine 64min), Balanta 7 (Buzsaky 73min), Nygaard 7 (Walton 90min), Blackstock 6
Scorers: Watford: Francis 52, Shittu 84
QPR: Rowlands 13 pen, 40, Stewart 29, Buzsaky 80
Referee: C Foy Attendance: 18,698 The Times

INDEPENDENT/Paul Newman - Watford 2 QPR 4: Rampaging Rowlands puts the skids under Watford
They say the table never lies, but the Championship chart was looking conspicuously economical with the truth last night. This match featured teams which began the day in second and 23rd places and it ended with the promotion contenders suffering an embarrassing defeat.
For Watford it was an all too familiar story. Since mid-October they have lost five and drawn two matches at Vicarage Road and early hopes that Aidy Boothroyd's team could make an immediate return to the Premier League are looking over-optimistic. Were it not for their away displays, this would surely be relegation form.
Rangers provide a mirror image. Their place among the strugglers is hardly a fair reflection of their form, a four-match unbeaten run having been ended on Boxing Day only by Plymouth's injury-time winner. The arrival of Luigi De Canio as first-team coach two months ago has transformed their fortunes. The Italian believes in adapting tactics and formations to the opposition and his game plan here worked a treat. Bob Malcolm, Damion Stewart and Zesh Rehman formed a three-man defence and with Gareth Ainsworth and Chris Barker as wing backs Rangers took full advantage of their superior numbers in midfield. Martin Rowlands in particular broke forward to devastating effect.
There was little wrong with Watford's play in the final third, where they regularly had the Rangers defence at full stretch, but elsewhere, in the face of such slick passing and movement, they looked cumbersome.
There had appeared little wrong, either, with Watford's confidence in the opening exchanges, but everything changed after 12 minutes when Jordan Stewart brought down Dexter Blackstock as the Rangers striker raced into the penalty area. Stewart was perhaps lucky to escape any punishment other than a penalty, which Rowlands converted.
After 28 minutes, Rangers scored again, Damion Stewart heading home Rowlands' corner at the near post. Rowlands was involved in most of Rangers' best work and the midfielder was rewarded with the best goal of the game six minutes before the break. Blackstock flicked on Adam Bolder's pass and Rowlands, breaking into the area, scored with a smart shot.
If replacing one defender, Matt Jackson, with another, Dan Shittu, smacked of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, Boothroyd's faith in his forwards was rewarded within six minutes of the restart as Watford pulled a goal back, Damien Francis bundling the ball home after his header had caused confusion in the Rangers defence.
There could be no faulting Watford's spirit for the rest of the match, but Rangers defended well and the suspicion that they still had something up their sleeves was confirmed after 79 minutes. Watford had just taken off Lloyd Doyley and Akos Buzsaky took advantage of the space to drive home yet another telling pass by Rowlands. Shittu capitalised on a loose ball five minutes later to score but it was scant consolation.
De Canio was delighted with his team's display, while Boothroyd was happy with his team's attacking play. However the Watford manager was unhappy about the "schoolboy errors" that he felt had been his team's downfall and he will have to seek defensive reinforcements in the transfer window. Independent

The OBSERVER/Jason Tomas - Rowlands leads rout of Watford
Watford's habit of slipping up at home continued in particularly embarrassing fashion as they slumped to a 4-2 defeat against QPR. It increased their run of Vicarage Road games without a win to seven, and they have taken only two points from these fixtures.
It seems difficult to believe that Watford were nine points ahead at the top a couple of months ago. Now, following West Bromwich Albion's 5-0 demolition job on Scunthorpe, they trail the West Midlands club by three points.
The start of Watford's latest home downfall came after 13 minutes, when Jordan Stewart brought down Dexter Blackstock in the penalty area and Martin Rowlands converted the spot-kick. Damion Stewart then headed in a Rowlands corner and Rowlands scored his second goal just before half time. Damien Francis pulled one back, but Akos Buzsaky restored QPR's three-goal advantage. Watford's second goal came from Danny Shittu. QPR's win was the first time this season that they have scored more than twice and pushed them from 23rd to 19th in the table. Observer


Watford's Vicarage Road meltdown continued as the QPR revival rolled on to pile the pressure on Aidy Boothroyd's misfiring promotion chasers.
While Luigi De Canio has guided his basement battlers on a path to safety, there seems no end to the Hornets' misery in front of their home fans as their bid to return to the Premier League was dealt another blow.
Akos Buzsaky killed off Watford's hopes of a late fightback when he came off the bench to put the game out of reach. But it was man-of-the-match Martin Rowlands who was the real hero with two goals and a hand in both his side's other strikes.
It was Rowlands who set up Buzsaky to settle the contest with Rangers' fourth goal 10 minutes from time. Watford were already beaten when Danny Shittu smashed home a late consolation that reduced the embarrassment.
With just two points out of 18 in their previous six home matches, Watford clearly have issues playing at home - and the mayhem continued in a disastrous first half against Rangers.
Rowlands completed a perfect opening 45 minutes for the men from Loftus Road when he lashed home a peach of a goal to make it 3-0 at the break - his clinical finish wrapping up a slick move that carved Watford open with ease.
Full credit to Rangers for playing creative football, but the Hornets struggled to recover from conceding an early penalty that looked harsh.
Chris Foy immediately pointed to the spot when Jordan Stewart's shoulder challenge on Dexter Blackstock was deemed over-aggressive. And Rowlands put Rangers ahead when he coolly sent Richard Lee the wrong way.
Rowlands had a hand in just about everything the visitors created before the interval and his near-post corner served up the second goal for Damion Stewart to head home on 29 minutes.
Watford's woes continued with a series of misses at the end of the half, Lee Williamson hitting the post and Jobi McAnuff's vicious cross stabbed wide by Darius Henderson.
It was a different Watford that emerged after Boothroyd's half-time team talk, with Shittu replacing Matt Jackson at the back and the Hornets buzzing up front.
But Watford failed to maximise the pressure that saw them get off the mark with a 52ndminute header from Damien Francis after an attempted clearance by Zesh Rehman.
Marlon King missed a chance to reduce the arrears further when he came off the bench and blasted over before McAnuff had a shot well saved by Lee Camp.
Lee 6; Doyley 6 (O'Toole 5), De-Merit 6, Jackson 5 (Shittu 5), Stewart 6; Smith 6 Williamson 6, Francis 6, McAnuff 7; Henderson 6, Ellington 6 (King 5).
Manager Boothroyd 6
Camp 6; Malcolm 6, Stewart 7, Rehman 6, Barker 6; Ainsworth 6 (Vine 5), Bolder 7, ROWLANDS 8, Balanta 6 (Buzsaky 6); Blackstock 6, Nygaard 6 (Walton 5).
Manager De Canio 7
Referee C Foy 6
MAN OF THE MATCH MARTIN ROWLANDS Involved in everything Sunday Mirror

SUNDAY PEOPLE/Ann Gripper - No home comfort for Aidy - RANGERS PILE ON AGONY
Bob Malcolm will hope for a better defence than leaky Watford showed yesterday when he faces drink-drive charges in the new year.
The on-loan defender was suspended by Derby after being arrested on the M1 on Thursday but was included in the Rangers team which moved back out of the drop zone.
Without a home win since beating Hull on October 20, Aidy Boothroyd's problems at Vicarage Road are now far more than a blip.
Already three behind by half-time after what gaffer Boothroyd called "schoolboy" errors, Watford showed more fight after the break.
But the home side never looked like matching their Boxing Day comeback against Cardiff when they managed a late, late leveller.
Rangers boss Luigi De Canio had no doubts about sticking with Malcolm.
He said: "Derby have suspended Bob for when he returns to Derby.
"We haven't condemned Bob - we asked him to explain himself.
"We have never spoken about whether he will stay on when his loan is up - we will discuss that with the board after January 1."
De Canio, who is set to invest some of QPR's new riches in January, is delighted with the improvement he has seen in the current squad.
He said: "Today we managed to transform that extra chance we were given so those losses of attention we sometimes have didn't cost us as much as usual."

The Hornets conceded a penalty after 12 minuteswhich was converted by Martin Rowlands after Dexter Blackstock had fallen under pressure from Jordan Stewart.
And things got steadily worse as centre-half Damion Stewart glanced in a corner after 17 minutes to double the lead then Rowlands fired home from 12 yards to make it three.
Watford finally rattled Rangers at the back with Lee Williamson hitting a post before half-time.
The Hornets pulled back a goal after 52 minutes when Zesh Rehman cleared Damien Francis's header straight back to him for the midfielder to finish at the second attempt.
Substitute Marlon King went close and Rangers keeper Lee Camp saved a stinging McAnuff drive, but sub Akos Buszaky killed off Watford as he rounded Lee before firing in.
Danny Shittu pounced on a Darius Henderson knock down in the 84th minute to give the scoreline a bit more respectability but Watford had given themselves too much to do.
Despite the result, Boothroyd insisted he was pleased with his side's performance - bar the problems at the back.
He said: "There was no shouting or ranting and raving. I've never been in a position where we're 3-0 down and had to come back.
"Statistically, that's the best we've started for a long time.We dominated for long periods in the first half and came in 3-0 down because we made basic defensive errors.
"To concede two set-plays, one an error leading to a penalty and the other with somebody losing their marker, is schoolboy stuff.
"Before today I might have thought there was a psychological problem with playing at home but I don't think there is,
"The attitude, application and what we've worked on in training is all there. But it's defensive individual errors you can't legislate for."
Watford: Lee 6 - Doyley 5 (O'Toole, 80mins), DeMerit 5, Jackson 5 (Shittu, 45mins, 6), Stewart 5 - Smith 6, Williamson 6, *FRANCIS 7, McAnuff 7 - Henderson 5, Ellington 6 (King, 68mins, 6)
Qpr: Camp 7 - Malcolm 6, Stewart 7, Rehman 6, Barker 6 - Ainsworth 7 (Vine, 63mins, 6), Bolder 6, *ROWLANDS 7, Balanta 6 (Buzsaky, 73mins) - Nygaard 6 (Walton, 90mins), Blackstock 7. Ref: C Foy 6. People

Adam Bolder heaped praise on team-mate Martin Rowlands following the midfielder's deadly double against Watford.
Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk at the final whistle, the R's skipper said: "Rowly was different class.
"He's performed to a consistently high level all season long and he was immense for us again today.
"It's the first time in a while that he's played in the middle of the park and he shone from the first whistle to the last."
With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Bolder added: "It obviously helps that I'm in there alongside him to do all his running, but he scored two and made two, so I've got no complaints."
Bolder also reserved special praise for the 2000-plus R's fans that made the short trip to Hertfordshire, commenting: "The fans were excellent.
"They sung their hearts out and we were just delighted to be able to celebrate with them at the final whistle.
"Derby victories mean an awful lot for the spectators, as well as the players, and we knew we had a job to do after our late defeat to Plymouth on Boxing Day." QPR

This is Local London/Kevin Affleck - Shittu makes his point
AIDY BOOTHROYD defended his decision to name Dan Shittu on the bench yesterday (Saturday).
Shittu helped Watford salvage a point against Cardiff on Boxing Day and many fans expected him to be recalled against his former club.
The mountainous defender, who has not always seen eye to eye with the manager, was eventually summoned into the action at half-time after Matt Jackson struggled to cope with two matches in three days. Jackson was beaten in the air for QPR's second goal and his ageing legs were exposed by the movement of the visiting forwards.
Shittu helped shore things up at the back and once again provided a focal point in attack, lashing home his fifth of the season to give the scoreline some respectability.
"I didn't pick him and that's my job to decide the right team to pick," countered Boothroyd. "I thought Matt Jackson's organisation might have helped. Danny has been out of sorts but then he came on and did very well."
Surprisingly, Boothroyd was not too downcast after a fifth defeat in seven home matches and does not appear to be alarmed as some fans by the manner of his side's performances.
"The attitude, application and what we have worked on in training is all there," he said. "But we expect defensive jobs to be done and they weren't." This is Local London

ALSO - EARLIER COMPILATION: "QPR's Watford Victory: Reports and Comments"

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