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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

QPR's Norwich Victory - Further Reports and Comments

See also earlier reports and comments

Telegraph/Trevor Haylett - QPR make light of Matt Connolly's dismissal
QPR’s credentials as a force to be reckoned with in the Championship promotion race were underlined at Carrow Road where they secured victory despite playing with 10 men for 65 minutes.
Martin Rowlands’ free-kick, struck through a feeble Norwich wall, arrived eight minutes after Matt Connolly had been ordered off for a second yellow card. It ended a run of six successive defeats on this ground for Rangers and put them back in fourth, three points adrift of leaders Wolves and Birmingham.
In truth, even with a man down, this was not too exacting an ordeal for Iain Dowie’s side who faced a home team considerably out of sorts. Despite most of the possession after the break, Norwich had neither the guile nor the power to affect the supremacy of Damion Stewart, who had suffered concussion in training the previous day with medics advising against his inclusion.
Connolly, a young central defender recruited from Arsenal last season, had already been booked for a foul on Antoine Sibierski when he flew into a challenge on Matty Pattison. The clash provoked an angry exchange between the rival managers with Dowie complaining: “I never like to see people shouting and bawling,” intimating that the Norwich bench were demanding his player be sent off. “I heard a shout, 'it’s a red card’ but it wasn’t a malicious challenge. But we shouldn’t be talking about that – I’d rather focus on our desire, our hunger, our belief to hang on to the lead.”
Chracter and commitment are virtues that not even Flavio Briatore’s millions can buy but Rangers will face tougher examinations. The goal was symptomatic of the defensive failings that dogged Norwich throughout the first half with lone runner Dexter Blackstock posing them more problems than he was entitled to.
Dejan Stefanovic’s partnership with John Kennedy was coming apart almost from the first whistle and the Serb had no need to concede the free-kick which decided the points. It led to a second and then a third and each time it brought Rowlands closer to goal. Finally he stepped up to pierce the wall and send the ball out of David Marshall’s reach. Telegraph

INDEPENDENT/John Nisbet - Norwich City 0 QPR 1: Tireless Rowlands rewards Dowie's faith
Queen's Park Rangers enhanced their promotion credentials as Martin Rowland's first-half free-kick earned Iain Dowie's 10-men all three points against Norwich at Carrow Road.
Rowlands' goal came when his ferocious 30th-minute free-kick from 20 yards evaded everyone, including the helpless Canaries goalkeeper David Marshall to give the visitors an unexpected lead. The goal came just five minutes after Dowie's men had been reduced to 10 men after Matthew Connolly had been dismissed for a second bookable offence.
The hosts dominated the second period, but the visitors withstood late pressure to hang on for a hard-fought three points.
QPR have started to live up to the expectations created by their Flavio Briatore-funded summer spending spree, but after 25 minutes they found themselves on the receiving end of the referee Rob Shoebridge's wrath as Connolly was dismissed for a second bookable offence. The defender had been booked 15 minutes earlier and, after a reckless lunge on Matty Pattison, Shoebridge had little hesitation in giving Connolly his marching orders.
Dowie left the Real Madrid loanee Daniel Parejo on the bench in favour of the tireless Rowlands and, five minutes after the red card, his decision was vindicated as Rowlands smashed home the opener with a free-kick from 20 yards after Emmanuel Jorge Ledesma's free-kick had been handled in the wall. Independent

Mail/Peter Layton - Norwich
Rowlands strike angers Norwich as 10-man QPR snatch victory

Martin Rowlands' controversial goal gave QPR victory even though they were down to 10men for more than an hour.
Rangers were at a ground where they had suffered six successive defeats.
And Iain Dowie’s side were reeling when Matt Connolly was dismissed by referee Rob Shoebridge after just 26 minutes,collecting two yellow cards for clumsy challenges.
The controversy came when Rowlands took a free-kick seven minutes later. His first attempt was blocked but the referee ordered a retake after spotting a handball.
Rowlands second effort was also blocked, but this time the official harshly penalised Norwich skipper Mark Fotheringham for encroachment, resulting in yet another free kick.
The home supporters were in uproar and their fury was increased when the persistent Rowlands again stepped forward, this time dispatching an unstoppable low drive.
Rangers were unlucky not to increase their shock lead with Argentine striker Emmanuel Ledesma missing a sitter from six yards. Mail

QPR manager Iain Dowie saluted his side's defensive qualities as they moved up to fourth in the Coca-Cola Championship table with a well-deserved 1-0 victory at Norwich.
The visitors came away from Carrow Road with three points despite playing for over an hour with just 10 men following the sending off of defender Matt Connolly for two bookable offences.
Eight minutes later Dowie's men went ahead when Mark Rowlands fired home a low free kick from the edge of the box after the original effort had been blocked by the encroaching Mark Fotheringham.
From then on Rangers defended superbly and limited a disappointing Norwich side to a mere handful of chances, with keeper Radek Cerny having few difficult saves to make.
"Glenn Roeder has brought a lot of people here and changed things around and this is a very difficult place to come so it definitely is a pleasing night's work," said Dowie.
"I thought our response to going a man down was terrific.
"We got our goal and then defended superbly, while we could have easily have gone further ahead ourselves.
"It's not as if I have got to come in here and talk about a lot of Radek Cerny's saves. We restricted them to very few clear chances.
"It's a very pleasing result, much more pleasing than Sunday when we won 4-1 because this was a real backs to the wall team effort.
"All 10 men who stayed on did an excellent job, as did the substitutes. "I'm delighted for the lads.
"I like the smell of the dressing room here.

"There are some good characters in there, some good leaders, and I thought you saw a lot of characters out there tonight."
Dowie revealed that central defender Damian Stewart had played the full 90 minutes despite having suffered a clash of heads in training the previous day.
"I went against the doctor's advice to play him, which worried me a little bit, because Damian picked up a touch of concussion after a clash of heads.
"Rather than make a quick decision I just sent him away to rest and fortunately when he got up this morning he was bright eyed and bushy tailed.
"I'm glad I went with my instinct because Damian was superb tonight as were all the back four."
The only sour note for Dowie was the dismissal of Connolly after 25 minutes.
"I thought the second yellow was a little bit harsh because the player was falling over anyway.
"But what really annoyed me was hearing a cry of 'that's a red card' from the direction of the Norwich bench.
"That's not something I like to see but let's not let it detract from an excellent result for us."
Norwich manager Glenn Roeder admitted his side had been well below par on the night.
What summed it up perfectly was when Arturo Lupoli had a half chance in the very first minute and fired it high into the stands.
"I'm not here to make excuses, our build-up was slow, we were not creative enough and too many of our players put in below-average performances," said the Canaries boss.
"I don't necessarily think QPR did enough to deserve a win but what they did do was defend very well.
"They are a big, powerful strong team and we didn't play well enough to break them down.
"Now we've got to work hard and put things right against Sheffield United on Saturday because our fans are superb and they deserve a lot better than this."
Sporting Life

EDP24/Chris Lakey - Roeder - Too many average performances
Glenn Roeder was left to rue the disappearance of "seven or eight" players as City's recent good form deserted them.
The Canaries' hopes of establishing their early promotion credentials were ruined by a first-half goal by Martin Rowlands - but it was all the more galling because it came just eight minutes after Queens Park Rangers were reduced to 10 men when central defender Matt Connolly was sent off after receiving his second yellow card.
But Roeder will want to know why the team which performed so well in their last two games failed to put in a repeat performance.
"I am disappointed that we didn't play well enough to break them down," he said. "The whole of the second half we were camped in their half, but we produced very little in terms of goal scoring opportunities.
"We were too slow in our build-up, not creative enough and we had too many very, very average performances that I was not expecting. There were one or two that I thought did well, but generally speaking if you are going to win a game of football you need everyone to play well.
"You sometimes can win carrying one or two average performances, but we are looking at seven or eight tonight - and the disappointing thing is that it was not expected the way we have been playing of late.
"But we have to be men about it, not boys, and take any criticism that comes our way now on the chin. We have two days now to prepare for a home game against Sheffield United and come out here and give our fans - who were brilliant tonight in terms of the numbers that turn up - a home win."
Roeder may have to go into that game without central defender John Kennedy who, in front of watching Scotland manager George Burley, limped off with an injury to his right ankle.
"It doesn't look good at the moment," he said. "I don't want to jump to any conclusions either. His ankle is very sore. I have to say he was one of the plusses, the one who did a lot of covering in the first 15 minutes when others looked shaky."
The defeat leaves City in 18th place in the table with six points from six games, but Roeder refused to make excuses for his team's failure to break down 10 men.
"I am not here to make excuses, but the old scenario of 11 against 10 is going to be easy is long gone because even when it is 11 v 11 and you are attacking most teams have two banks of four that you have to break down, and they leave two up," said Roeder. "When you have a player sent off you can only leave one up, but you still have eight players to play against - the fact they are one down makes no difference whatsoever. QPR did that very well, give them credit on that.
"I don't particularly feel QPR deserved to win the game in terms of general play. Physically they are very powerful, they defended very well against ourselves who played nowhere near to how we played this year and in normal circumstances it would probably have been a horrible scrappy 0-0 but we have lost the game."
Connolly became the second player sent off against City in successive games, given his marching orders after a second yellow.
"It doesn't help when you are down to 10 men, but the manner of our response as magnificent," said Rangers boss Iain Dowie. "We restricted them to very few chances.
"We have coped with it admirably and every man. We were terrific. I am absolutely delighted with the manner in which we defended." EDP24

Dave McIntyre BBC 606 - Blood, concussion and three points
Kaspars Gorkss ended QPR's 1-0 win at Norwich with a split lip – and Damion Stewart had been to hospital with concussion before a ball had even been kicked.
Stewart underwent a CT scan on Tuesday evening after colliding with youngster Josh Ford during what was supposed to be a light training session ahead of the match.
Iain Dowie was initially advised not to select Stewart but has been pleased with the Jamaican’s form so was keen for him to play.
He did start, while Gorkss came on as a substitute after Matt Connolly’s first-half sending off.
And Gorkss, whose ability could never have been doubted by anyone who saw him play prior to his summer move to QPR, drew a line in the sand after a difficult start to his Rangers career.
The Latvian belatedly announced his arrival as the answer to many of Rangers’ longstanding defensive problems, producing a fine display.
Short of match fitness after a pre-season ruined by the wrangling over his transfer from Blackpool, Gorkss looked a shadow of his usual self when Rangers were thumped at Sheffield United.
This was much better, and with Connolly's impending ban and Fitz Hall still recovering from a groin injury, Gorkss has a real chance to establish himself as a key first-team player and the type of dominant defender QPR have been in desperate need of.
He was instrumental in helping Rangers protect the lead given to them by Martin Rowlands’ free-kick shortly after Connolly was dismissed for a second yellow card.
But every outfield player deserves credit for a gutsy performance against a Norwich side who put them under sustained pressure without really testing Radek Cerny in the QPR goal.
“I like the smell in that dressing room – there’s character in there,” was Dowie’s reaction to it all. Let’s have yours to a great night for the R’s. BBC606

EDP24/Chris Lakey - Norwich City 0, QPR 1
City's hopes were given a boost on 25 minutes when Connolly saw yellow for the second time, having left Matty Pattison in a heap just in front of the visiting dug-out.
The Canaries discovered just how the other half live tonight as the early-season promise dissipated at Carrow Road.
City were shorn of ideas against a side reduced to 10 men for two thirds of the game - and lost central defender John Kennedy into the bargain.
It was a gloomy night all round for City boss Glenn Roeder whose side have promised so much in the early stages of the season but, when it came to the crunch, failed to deliver against a side who are preparing a promotion challenge on the back of the richest board of directors in the Championship..
Having managed to rub Plymouth's noses into the ground when their hosts were reduced to 10 men on Saturday, the assumption was that they could repeat the dose in front of their own fans. But Rangers are a different kettle of fish altogether, and when Matt Connolly went after his second yellow, they not only reshuffled but took the lead through Martin Rowlands - and then held on to that advantage with surprising ease.
Roeder's mood won't have been helped by the loss of Kennedy to a right ankle injury just after the hour mark - although the centre-back had been in impressive form in front of watching Scotland manager George Burley.
Roeder had been able to name an unchanged side, with Darel Russell having recovered from his weekend exertions, despite them coming just 10 days after a double hernia operation.
Antoine Sibierski made his home debut, alongside Arturo Lupoli, with Roeder hoping for a repeat of their goal-scoring performances in the weekend win at Plymouth.
City were straight on the attack, although Lupoli's shot inside the first 20 seconds was high and wide.
But it was immediately clear that the visitors would be a different proposition to the Devon side, building carefully and patiently from the back.
Within moments of coming on Cureton had to be treated for a bloody head wound.
City broke well after a fortunate interception which prevented a corner on five minutes, but Elliott Omozusi's long ball caught out Lupoli, hitting the Italian on the shoulder. Wes Hoolahan then cut inside and, off balance, sent a shot straight at keeper Radek Cerny.

Rangers centre half Matt Connolly went into the ref's notebook on nine minutes after upending Sibierksi on the halfway line - although City defender Dejan Stefanovic managed to avoid the same fate after fouling Emmanuel Ledesma moments later.

Most of the early play was in City's half, with Stefanovic and John Kennedy just about keeping tabs on Dexter Blackstock - and City hoping for something on the break.

Russell had Cerny at full stretch on 14 minutes with a shot from 25 yards as City tried to turn the match in their favour - although they were having problems getting Sibierski involved.

City keeper David Marshall had a fright when he dithered over a kick and allowed Ledesma to shut him down, although the ball spun safely away for a goal-kick.

Sibierski managed to win a rare header on 22 minutes, picking out Lupoli in the area, but the Italian couldn't bring the ball down and the chance was lost.

The Frenchman then got the merest of touches to a corner as City finally managed to put on some pressure - with Roeder already down on the touchline having watched the opening exchanges from the directors' box.

Sibierksi was suddenly involved in everything, connecting with Russell's low cross from the left but seeing a powerful shot hit Damion Stewart and go out for a corner. Rangers went straight to the other end where Omozusi did enough to put off Ledesma as he went for goal.

City's hopes were given a boost on 25 minutes when Connolly saw yellow for the second time, having left Matty Pattison in a heap just in front of the visiting dug-out - a no-brainer for referee Shoebridge.

Rangers' last visit - on the final home game of last season - had seen them reduced to 10 men after just five minutes, and the subsequent substitutions helped City to a victory which guaranteed them Championship survival. This time, manager Iain Dowie sacrificed winger Lee Cook, to bring on Kaspers Gorkss in the centre of defence.

But Rangers hardly had time to settle into a new rhythm before they were ahead.

City skipper Mark Fotheringham went into the notebook after coming out too quickly to block Ledesma's free-kick from the edge of the area on 32 minutes. Fotheringham kept out of the wall for the retake - and this time it was Martin Rowlands who stepped up and sent a thunderbolt through the wall and into the bottom left-hand corner to put the 10 men ahead.

City could have been in more trouble on 38 minutes when Kennedy allowed a ball to bounce in the area, although Ledesma couldn't bring the ball under control under pressure from Stefanovic.

Blackstock should have done better when he headed over from Ledesma's inswinging free-kick from the right as City struggled to make the extra man count.

Even when City managed to get anywhere near the visitors' penalty area, moves broke down and Cerny remained virtually untested.

Fotheringham managed a shot when the ball fell to him after a corner, but hit it straight at the keeper - and City headed to the dressing room prepared, no doubt, for some harsh words from their manager.

Roeder made a change at the start of the half, bringing on Lee Croft for Lupoli and pushing Russell up front, with Pattison joining Fotheringham in the centre - increasing the physical presence up front against a pair of sturdy centre-halves - and providing some much needed width.

Croft got a run early on and switched the ball inside to Hoolahan, who found Pattison - whose shot went out for a corner. But still City were struggling for cohesion against a side that were strong physically and technically.

Russell came within inches of connecting to a Croft cross, but Rangers were doing a good job of keeping City away from the danger areas.
The Canaries needed one cutting pass to get back into the game - but it just wasn't coming.
And their hopes of getting back into the match certainly weren't helped when Kennedy limped off just after the hour mark, to be replaced by Jonathan Grounds.
Rangers were by now not as adventurous, happy instead to pack their back line.
Roeder played his final card when Jamie Cureton came on for Hoolahan on 66 minutes - Pattison moving to his third position of the game, left flank, as City attempted to make camp around the Rangers area.
Within moments Cureton was down the tunnel, being treated for a bloody head wound which left both sides down to 10 men.
Sibierski was denied a shot in the area by a last-ditch touch by Gorkss - but at the other end a neat reverse chip by Rowlands was only a foot too high.
There were encouraging signs when Fotheringham sent in an excellent free-kick on 78 minutes, which Cerny sent round the post for a corner, while Cureton was denied by an unlucky bounce moments later as City turned up the pressure.
It was one-way traffic in the final moments, with Cureton getting Russell's cross caught under his feet and Grounds failing to make anything of the loose ball.

Sibierski was inches wide with a header from Ryan Bertrand's cross - and that was it for the Canaries. EDP24

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