The Sunday Times/Ivo Tannant - February 10, 2008
Sales bargain makes difference for Rangers
IF EVERY club bought as successfully in the January transfer window as Queen’s Park Rangers did last month when signing Patrick Agyemang, football would be a simple game indeed. He scored twice in this victory, making it seven goals in five matches since leaving Preston. He looked the part both physically and technically.
Southampton had taken the lead at the very start of the match and yet lost their way from then until when their captain, Youssef Safri, was sent off with 13 minutes remaining. He kicked Agyemang so hard, doubtless out of frustration, that the man of the match had to be taken off. The home supporters, it needs hardly be said, melted away after that.
For Southampton, a goal in the first minute was the ideal fillip in more than merely the obvious sense. They had won just once in their previous nine league matches and the opening 20 minutes or so at St Mary’s are inevitably something of a struggle. Not on this occasion, however, largely because of a goalkeeping lapse.
Lee Camp handled outside his area, Adam Hammill chipped the free kick into the area and Darren Powell took advantage of lax marking to score for the first time this season, more with his stomach than his chest. Southampton could have increased their lead but for some indifferent finishing by Bradley Wright-Phillips and Stern John. A fine through ball from Andrew Surman was weakly struck by one striker, and a cross from Jason Euell, at a moment when Southampton forwards outnumbered Rangers defenders three to one, was hit ludicrously high over the bar by the other.
There is no shortage of occasions that come into contention for miss of the season, and this was one.
So Southampton had much to rue when, on the break, Rangers equalised after 38 minutes. Rowan Vine’s incisive through-ball found Martin Rowlands, who slipped the ball past Kelvin Davis with assurance. They followed that by taking the lead just before half-time when a deep cross from the left by Damien Delaney cleared Jermaine Wright and Agyemang side-footed the ball past Davis.
On the hour, Agyemang scored again following a horrendous mix-up in the home defence. Wright, his confidence not helped by failing to cut out Rangers’ second goal, attempted a backpass to Davis without realising he had come off his line and succeeded only in knocking the ball past his goalkeeper. Agyemang had the simplest of tasks to score.
The goalkeeper was outside his area, but the onus was on him to let Wright know of his intention to clear the ball. Either he singularly failed to do so or the instruction was unheard.
John scored a consolation goal for Southampton in the last minute, but it was too late.
What a signing Agyemang has been. Since he came to Loftus Road last month he has scored on every appearance. As such, he epitomises the new-look set-up driven onwards, and it is hoped, upwards, by finance derived from the world of motor racing.
Star man: Agyemang (QPR)
Player ratings. Southampton: Davis 5, Thomas 6 (Viafara 52min, 5), Powell 6, Davies 6, Wright 5, Hammill 6 (Saganowski ht, 5), Safri 5, Euell 5, Surman 6, Wright-Phillips 5 (Lallana 67min), John 6
Queen’s Park Rangers: Camp 5, Mancienne 6, Rehman 6, Connolly 6, Delaney 6, Ephraim 6 (Leigertwood 83min), Mahon 6, Lee 5 (Buzsaky ht, 5), Rowlands 6, Vine 6, Agyemang 7 (Blackstock 78min)
Scorers: Southampton: Powell 1, John 90 QPR:Rowlands 38, Agyemang 45, 60
Referee: A Taylor The Sunday Times
Sunday Mirror/Peter White - Football: PAT DOUBLE SHATTERS SAD SAINTS
Rangers were handed their fourth away win of the season as laughable Saints' defending cost them dearly at St Mary's.
Saints caretaker manager Jason Dodd admitted: "Individual mistakes let us down.
We made three errors and it cost us three goals. We had plenty of chances, but just didn't put them away."
Delighted Rangers boss Luigi di Canio said: "I am very pleased with the performance, we are playing good football and scoring goals.
"I wasn't concerned that we went behind early on because I felt that would just lift my players.
"We were bottom of the table and are slowly moving up. As for making the play-offs, we just need to carry on as we are and see where it takes us."
Despite taking the lead through Darren Powell, Saints looked disorganised for long spells, allowing Martin Rowlands to level before Patrick Agyemang netted twice to secure victory.
And to complete their misery, the home side were reduced to 10 men near the end after Youseff Safri scythed down Agyemang.
Yet it looked so rosy for Saints early on. The game was less than a minute old when they capitalised on an error by Rangers keeper Lee Camp, who slid out of his area and was penalised for handball.
Adam Hammill swung in a vicious curling cross with his right foot and Darren Powell nipped in at the back post to bundle the ball over the line. Saints then missed two golden chances to increase their lead - Bradley Wright-Phillips and Stern John were the guilty men - and they were made to pay heavily for those misses.
First, Rowlands finshed off an incisive move after good work by Rowan Vine and then, on the stroke of half-time, Damien Delaney's cross picked out Agyemang who shot effortlessly past Kelvin Davis.
On the hour mark, more bizarre Saints defending allowed Rangers to extend their lead, when Jermaine Wright knocked the ball haplessly past Davis for Agyemang to tap in to an empty net.
Safri was then shown a straight red for a challenge on Agyemang in the 76th minute and although Stern John pulled one back for Saints in the 90th minute, the game was up for the home side.
HOW THEY RATED
SOUTHAMPTON Davis 5, Thomas 4 (Viafara 5), Davies 5, Powell 6, Wright 4, Hammill 6 (Saganowski 5), Safri 6, Euell 6, Surman 6, Wright- Phillips 4 (Lallana 5), John 5.
Manager Gorman/Dodd 5
QPR Camp 6, Mancienne 6, Connolly 7, Rehman 6, Delaney 6, Lee 6 (Buzsaky 5), ROWLANDS 8, Mahon 6, Ephraim 7 (Leigertwood 6), Vine 7, Agyemang 7 (Blackstock 6).
Manager De Canio 7
Referee A Taylor 5
MAN OF THE MATCH MARTIN ROWLANDS Inspired Rangers' fightback with a goal and a steely display - Sunday Mirror
People/Ian Gibb - DE CANIO JUST FAB
His English may not be much better than that of fellow Italian Fabio Capello, but QPR boss Gigi De Canio has connected with his travelling army of fans in a big way.
He saluted them excitedly every time they sang his name as Rangers romped over suffering Saints into 15th spot - but with only six points between them and the play-offs.
And in Patrick Agyemang they have the hottest forward in the Championship after his double strike gave him seven goals in five games since his move from Preston.
De Canio modestly gave the praise for spotting Agyemang to chairman Gianni Paladini.
He explained: "Patrick is doing well and we have to thank the chairman for suggesting him. Clearly, as I was not familiar with English football, I had to put my trust in somebody."
But Rangers will reflect perhaps they were fortunate the home team shot themselves in the foot so often - at both ends of the park.
From going a goal up in the first minute through central defender Darren Powell, Saints managed to miss two golden chances in the 34th and 35th minutes through Bradley Wright-Phillips and Stern John.
Within three minutes their defence turned to jelly as Rowan Vine cut through them to hand an equaliser to Martin Rowlands.
Saints stand-in left-back Jermaine Wright then gave Agyemang the chance to put QPR ahead on the 45th minute with a bungled back-pass.
Co-manager Jason Dodd said: "We made three silly mistakes and we're just not punishing teams when we have good chances."
The errors began in the first minute, when QPR keeper Lee Camp fumbled the ball out of his own area, allowing Adam Hammill to drive a free-kick in from the left and Powell chested in the ball to make it 1-0.
The Saints defence seemed to be handling the pressure, but the game soon turned. First, Andrew Surman sent Wright-Phillips clear, only to place the ball in Camp's grasp.
Within a minute the Rangers defence went AWOL as Jason Euell centred from the right and John blazed a volley wildly over the bar.
There was even time for an Andrew Davies header that had Camp scrambling to knock it away before things went badly wrong at the other end.
It was the 38th minute when Vine got the ball to the unmarked Rowlands. The midfielder had little trouble slotting past Kelvin Davis. That was bad enough, but in the 45th minute Vine sent a pass out to Hogan Ephraim on the left and Wright failed to deal with the resulting centre, letting it pass over his head for Agyemang to slide it in.
Akos Buzsaky started the second half and Rangers just had to wait for another Saints mistake.
It came on the hour when Camp's big clearance caught out Wright as his goalkeeper advanced.
Wright sent the ball away from his keeper, allowing Agyemang to turn it into an empty net. Saints were shattered - and then had to suffer going down to 10 men.
They had Youssef Safri sent off for a crude challenge on Agyemang on 78 minutes before Stern John slotted in a consolation goal.
John's effort came far too late to affect the result - and De Canio gave another cheery wave to the QPR fans.
Southampton: Davis 5 - Thomas 5 (Viafara, 52mins, 6), Davies 6, *POWELL 6, Wright 4 - Hammill 5 (Saganowski, 45mins, 6), Euell 5, Safri 5, Surman 6 - Wright-Phillips 5 (Lallana, 67mins, 6), John 6.
Qpr: Camp 6 - Mancienne 7, Connolly 7, Rehman 6, Delaney 6 - Lee 6, (Buzsaky, 45mins, 6), Rowlands 7, Mahon 7, Ephraim 7 (Leigertwood, 83mins) - *VINE 8, Agyemang 8 (Blackstock, 79mins). Ref: A Taylor 6.
People - Gor blimey, what a Saints shocker
Coca Cola CHAMPIONSHIP Southampton 2 QPR 3
By Ian Gibb
Southampton cut their own throats with some shocking misses and disastrous defending to seriously undermine the chances of John Gorman and Jason Dodd keeping the management job long-term.
Saints were cruising following their first-minute opener when Rangers keeper Lee Camp handled outside the area and Adam Hammill's free-kick was chested in by Darren Powell.
But then Bradley Wright-Phillips and Stern John were guilty of glaring misses within 60 seconds.
Wright-Phillips could only run the ball into Camp's hands when he was in the clear and John, completely unmarked, blazed over with a volley.
Saints paid dearly as within a minute Rowan Vine set up Martin Rowlands to drill in a 38th-minute equaliser.
Then, in the 45th minute, the outstanding Vine found Hogan Ephraim on the left and his centre was missed by Saints left-back Jermaine Wright, leaving Patrick Agyemang to sweep the ball home.
Worse was to come for the wretched Wright on the hour when his poor back pass to keeper Kelvin Davis enabled Agyemang to tap in his second goal, his seventh in only five games since his move from Preston.
Saints midfielder Youssef Safri was red-carded in the 78th minute for cutting down Agyemang, before John scored a last-gasp consolation goal.
Southampton: Davis 5 - Thomas 5 (Viafara, 52 mins, 6), Davies 6, *POWELL 6, Wright 4 - Hammill 5 (Saganowski, 45mins, 6), Euell 5, Safri 5, Surman 6 - Wright-Phillips 5 (Lallana, 67mins, 6), John 6.
Qpr: Camp 6 - Mancienne 7, Connolly 7, Rehman 6, Delaney 6 - Lee 6, (Buzsaky, 45mins, 6), Rowlands 7, Mahon 7, Ephraim 7 (Leigertwood, 83mins) - *VINE 8, Agyemang 8 (Blackstock, 79mins). Ref: A Taylor 6. People
. News of the World
See Also: Earlier Reports and Comments of QPR's Southampton Victory