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Monday, September 22, 2008

Coventry's QPR Win - Further Reports and Comments

Telegraph/Sandy Macaskill - QPR's Iain Dowie refuses to be downhearted by defeat
Having been sacked as Coventry's manager in February, Iain Dowie will have been looking to lay a few ghosts to rest when he took his Queens Park Rangers side to the Ricoh Arena. But it turned out to be not quite the return he had wished for.
Whether it was complacency or over-confidence, an uninspired start to the match – it took QPR until the half-hour mark to fashion a move capable of putting any pressure on Coventry goalkeeper Keiren Westwood – and an early penalty netted by Elliott Ward proved too much for Dowie's new side to overcome.
Although Emmanuel Ledesma, released through the middle for a one-on-one opportunity, did have the chance to level the match just minutes before half-time – frittered away with a shot straight at Westwood – it was Ward's spot-kick, granted when Damien Delaney brought down Jay Tabb in the area, that proved decisive.
There is some irony in the fact that such a refereeing decision should decide the outcome as Coventry manager Chris Coleman was fined £5,000 by the Football Association only days ago for protesting at having a penalty appeal denied against Bristol City in August. A decision in his favour seems to have done little to placate him, however.
"Of course we have to respect the referees, I understand that," Coleman said, "but it is fair to say that he made both sets of players nervous."
It was unfortunate for the visitors that the game should hinge on such a decision, especially as their second-half performance was greatly improved.
"I don't think it was a penalty, but that's life," Dowie explained. "You just get on with it. I thought our display in the second half was terrific. But for the break of the ball and a few bits of heroic defending by their back four, it could have been our day."
Coleman agreed: "That second half felt like it went on for 90 minutes. The very thing we said not to do at half-time, we did. We tried to hold onto a 1-0 lead which is very dangerous. Apart from some fantastic defending we didn't really offer a lot in the second half."
Despite the reverse, QPR stay fourth in the table, six points off the leaders, and Dowie believes the "acid test" of two tough away games, here and at Norwich, has been passed with "flying colours".
He added: "This defeat doesn't change my mind that I thought we played very well today. I've seen a lot today that makes me feel that we are a decent side." Telegraph

Elliott Ward was glad it was only nerves he had to fight before firing Coventry to a welcome win at the Ricoh Arena.
Ward failed to convert from the spot at Sheffield United in midweek, prompting team-mate Aron Gunnarsson to say he would scrap with the centre-half for the ball if they won a penalty against Rangers.
But the diminutive Icelander was no where to be seen in the 13th minute as Ward managed to score despite the efforts of keeper Radek Cerny.
"That was a big joke but it got built up as a fight," said Ward. "I'm a bit bigger, but he's Icelandic, a Viking and they're strong boys.
"The keeper did get a hand to it but I was always going to take it because the lads were behind me and had confidence in me.
"It was nice to get it so soon after the one I missed on Tuesday."
When Ward stroked the ball home after Mikele Leigertwood brought down Jay Tabb it looked as if City would win in equally relaxed fashion.
They were well on top and outplaying Rangers, managed by former Coventry boss Iain Dowie.
But they failed to make their advantage count and very nearly paid the price.
Dowie fired up Rangers at half time and they enjoyed the majority share of the second half.
But they showed a lack of quality in the final third. And when they did break Coventry down they found Ward equally sure inside his own area as he had been in theirs.
Dexter Blackstock had a gilt-edged chance to equalise with 18 minutes left but side-footed wide from just a few yards out.
It made for a miserable return for Dowie but midfielder Gavin Mahon said: "The manager will look for the positives from that performance and there were lots.
"At half-time he wasn't happy but in the second half we had a lot of possession should have taken one or two chances." Mirror

Coventry Telegraph - Chris Coleman: Coventry City were lucky against QPR
Chris Coleman admitted Coventry were lucky to win 1-0 against QPR as he got one over on his old Crystal Palace room-mate at the Ricoh Arena.

Coleman used to room with Iain Dowie when they played at Selhurst Park together and the Welshman's side grabbed the three points thanks to Elliott Ward's 13th minute penalty.

The Coventry boss conceded that his side were somewhat lucky to claim the win but was happy with his team's return of five points from their last three matches.

He said: "The second half felt like 90 minutes. We did exactly the opposite of what we had spoken about at half-time.

"We tried to defend a one goal lead - which was partly down to fatigue and partly down to nerves.

"But for me it was just a case of getting the job done and we did that. It doesn't mean any more or less because it was against an old friend - I am just happy we have the three points."

Coventry could have had the lead as early as the third minute but they failed to make the most of a scramble in the QPR box and, in the end, Aron Gunnarsson's shot was blocked by Gavin Mahon.

Ward headed into the side-netting on eight minutes as the home side started to build up momentum.

It finally told in the 13th minute when Mikele Leigertwood upended Jay Tabb in the box and referee Dean Whitestone awarded a spot-kick.

Ward, who missed a penalty at Sheffield United in midweek, stepped up and although his strike was far from ideal it made it into the back of the net via the hand of Radek Cerny.

Danny Fox and Leon McKenzie both went close to doubling the home team's lead as they dominated early on but they did allow Rangers to stamp their authority as the opening period came to a close.

The visitors should have drawn level with two minutes left in the half as Emmanuel Ledesma broke clear of City's back four.

He seemed to have an age to pick his spot but his effort was too close to Coventry keeper Keiren Westwood, who made a strong save.

Within 30 seconds, the home side could have been two up but Cerny made a good stop to keep out Tabb's powerful diving header.

QPR were all over Coventry in the second half but for all their possession, they rarely troubled keeper Westwood.

Damion Stewart blasted over from inside the box while Lee Cook's fine run ended with his shot being deflected wide.

The best opportunity fell to Dexter Blackstock, but he fired wide from six yards as Coventry defended deeper and deeper.

Dowie, who was sacked by Coventry in February, said: "It's not the return I was hoping for. The result will tell you that - but the performance will tell you something else.

"I've watched Coventry a few times and I've not seen them be outplayed like they were in the second half.

"I'm very proud of the second half display and but for the break of a ball and a few bits of heroic defending by their back four, it could have been our day.

"You have to say that the best players on the pitch were their central defenders and I didn't think it was a penalty but that's life and you get on with it." Coventry Telegraph

Coventry Telegraph/Andy Turner - Seven out of eight penalties for Elliott Ward
ELLIOTT WARD put his midweek penalty miss behind him by scoring his seventh Coventry City goal from the spot in eight attempts on Saturday.

The Sky Blues centre-back held his nerve to beat QPR keeper Radek Cerny with the only goal of the game, days after putting the ball wide against Sheffield United.

"I was always going to take the next penalty," he said confidently after the 1-0 win over Rangers.

"The lads and the manager are behind me all the way because they are still confident in me to take them, so there was no question really.

"It was nice to get one so soon after Tuesday night but it was a strange week because before Tuesday I knew that I would be getting a penalty. And then the disappointment of not actually hitting the target was the worst thing for me.

"But it was like a dream on Friday and I knew something was going to happen against QPR but there was no problem with me taking it."

Reflecting on what went wrong at Bramall Lane, he explained: "I have mixed my penalties up a couple of times and I knew Paddy Kenny was going to dive the way he did and that I had an open goal, so it was really disappointing to miss an open goal.

"But I knew exactly what I was doing on Saturday and unfortunately for their keeper, his hand wasn't strong enough. I made sure there was plenty of power and the fans were cheering before it even went over the line, so that was good enough for me."

Team-mate Aron Gunnarsson had joked before the match that he wanted to take City's penalties following Ward's miss, but the defiant defender said: "That is seven out of eight I have scored. If it had been one out of two or something there might have been a case to change the penalty taker.

"Aron was just winding me up before hand saying he was going to fight me, but it was just a joke and we had a good laugh before the game."

As well as scoring the all important goal, Ward also more than played his part at the back in helping to maintain the fragile lead.

"We did very well defending as a whole team in the first half but in the second half it was frustrating because it felt like we had 10 men and had to defend for virtually the whole 45 minutes," he said.

"But we did that well. It is not something we want to do every week - but we won.
"It was frustrating that we couldn't get it out of our half but you have to stay strong. It has been quite a good week really. It could have been seven points and it gives us confidence going into Saturday's match at Blackpool." Coventry Telegraph

-- Also: Earlier Reports and comments on QPR's Loss to Coventry

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