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Saturday, November 08, 2008

QPR Shatter Cardiff's Unbeaten Away Record - Report

QPR played Cardiff at Loftus Road before a crowd of just over 13,000. Half-time 0-0. Substitute Mahon put QPR 1-0 in the 80th minute and that was the game's only goal. Cardiff had two players sent off (naughty-naughty). QPR stay 7th on goal difference. - Updated League Table

Starting teams (no Parejo in the 16): QPR: Cerny, Stewart, Hall, Blackstock, Rowlands, Ramage, Connolly, Cook, Tommasi, Ledesma, Di Carmine. Subs: Cole, Delaney, Mahon, Buzsaky, Agyemang.
Buzsaky on for Ledesma; Mahon on for Tomassi; Agyemang on for Di Carmine.
Cardiff City: Heaton, McNaughton, Rae, Purse, Whittingham, E. Johnson, McPhail, R. Johnson, Comminges, Ledley, Chopra. Subs: Enckleman, Gyepes, Parry, Blake, Brown.

- Minute-by-Minute

QPR Official Site
-Substitute Gavin Mahon's 80th minute header won it for the R's, as nine-man Cardiff City returned to Wales pointless.
The experienced midfield general rose to head home Peter Ramage's back post cross, as Rangers moved level on points with the Welsh outfit in the Championship table.
- After losing Darren Purse to a straight red card for a foul on Lee Cook just before the half hour, Dave Jones' men were forced to play the final three minutes with nine men, after Miguel Comminges picked up two bookings in as many minutes and was given his marching orders.
In truth, the R's were good value for their win, with substitute Akos Buzsaky instrumental in their improved second half display.
Caretaker Manager Gareth Ainsworth recalled the fit-again Ramage to his starting XI.
The former Newcastle United defender lined up at right back, with Matthew Connolly filling Damien Delaney's boots in the left back berth.
Emmanuel Ledesma replaced Buzsaky on the right hand side of midfield, while Dexter Blackstock partnered Samuel Di Carmine in attack.
In the absence of top-scorer Ross McCormack, Bluebirds boss Dave Jones handed a start to loanee Michael Chopra, who was joined in attack by Eddie Johnson.
However, it was Bluebirds centre-half Roger Johnson who squandered the first opportunity of the contest, when he headed over a first minute Stephen McPhail corner kick.
At the other end, Ledesma's crafty through ball found Blackstock, but - for once - his first touch evaded him on the edge of the six-yard box, and the chance was gone.
With the exception of those two half-chances and a Ledesma shot which flew two yards wide, Radek Cerny and Tom Heaton were relative spectators.
However, their inactivity didn't last long, with Stephen McPhail forcing Cerny into a full length save following a neat one-two with Peter Whittingham, before Damion Stewart headed over midway through the half.
Disaster struck for the visitors in the 28th minute, however, when referee Mr Probert brandished a straight red card to Purse, after his late lunge on Cook.
The ball appeared to be there to be won, but having caught Cook knee high, the man in the middle decided a red card was the appropriate action.
Jones responded by withdrawing the unfortunate Joe Ledley and replacing him with Gabor Gyepes, and switching to a 4-3-2 formation in the process.
Buoyed by their numerical advantage, the R's enjoyed their most productive spell of the match heading into the break.
Ledesma's ferocious half-volley was well held by Heaton, before Blackstock was denied the opportunity to fire an effort on goal by an expertly timed challenge from Gyepes.
Whittingham's powerful drive over ensured it wasn't all one-way traffic, however, with Cerny happy to see his fizzing effort fly inches over on the stroke of half-time.
The second period was only seconds old when Eddie Johnson stung the palms of Cerny, before Ramage smashed the outside of Heaton's left hand post with a miscued cross.
Sensing the R's required fresh legs, Ainsworth introduced fans favourite Buzsaky at the expense of Ledesma.
The Magical Magyar didn't need long to stamp his undoubted class on proceedings, deftly laying the ball off to set up a Rangers attack, which ended with Di Carmine firing high and wide,
As the half wore on, Cardiff continued to frustrate the R's, with Gyepes and Roger Johnson successfully stifling the threat posed by Blackstock and Di Carmine in the attacking third.
Ramage's cross-cum-shot was well held by Heaton inches in front of his own goal-line, before Ainsworth - fresh from introducing Mahon - made a final change, calling upon the returning Patrick Agyemang.
Seconds later, Buzsaky stung the palms of Heaton with a powerful drive from distance, before Chopra's half-hearted appeals for a spot-kick were correctly waved away by Heaton.
You sensed the tide was turning in Rangers' favour as the clock ticked towards the 80 minute mark and when Ramage delivered an expert cross to the far post, Mahon's looping header sailed beyond the outstretched dive of Heaton and into the far corner of the net.
It was a superbly executed header from the former Watford midfielder, who ran to the Loft End to celebrate with the R's faithful.
Bad turned to worse for the Bluebirds three minutes from time, when Comminges received his second booking in as many minutes for dissent, and was given his marching orders.
Remarkably, City still had a golden chance to claim a share of the spoils at the death, but Cerny kept out Roger Johnson's back post header.
QPR: Cerny, Stewart, Hall, Blackstock, Rowlands, Ramage, Connolly, Cook, Tommasi (Mahon 67), Ledesma (Buzsaky 55), Di Carmine (Agyemang 71). Subs: Cole, Delaney.
Goals: Mahon 80
Bookings: Agyemang 81 Red Cards:
Cardiff City: Heaton, McNaughton, Rae, Purse, Whittingham, E. Johnson (Parry 72), McPhail, R. Johnson, Comminges, Ledley (Gyepes 29), Chopra.
Subs: Enckleman, Blake, Brown.
Goals: Bookings: McPhail 84, Comminges 85 & 87
Red Cards: Purse 28, Comminges 87
Referee: Mr L W Probert Attendance: 13, 247 QPR

pologies for the lack of the Cardiff City World service as the line at QPR was deemed beyond repair and we were left hanging. We will investigate the issue with our hosts and report their findings
Snap-shot: Cardiff City were denied the chance to play at Loftus Road, being reduced to nine men in a game that can be remembered as much for the officials as the Gavin Mahon winner.
Darren Purse was the first to see a red card in the first half, as after twenty six minutes an innocuous challenge on Cook saw the referee amazingly produce a red card for what was certainly a yellow at best.
QPR looked to use their man advantage as Cardiff pressed, but for large parts failed to capitalise - that was however only until the eightieth minute as substitute Mahon looped a header over Heaton in the City goal.
Further frustrations followed as City were reduced to nine men as Comminges was given his marching orders for two quick yellows and no chance of appeal. Rangers held on for the win, but leaving Loftus Road, the bad taste in the mouth was more to do with the officiating than the loss - no sour grapes required.

Team News: As expected, there were changes to the front line following injuries and transfer swooping. Eddie Johnson and Michael Chopra both led the City line as Mulberry clad Cardiff aimed to maintain the on the road record. Taking a place on the bench was Paul Parry as midfield comprised of Whitts and Joe in wide roles and the dependable central pairing of Rae and McPhail. The back four were made up of McNaughton, Purse, Johnson and Comminges, with Heaton between the sticks.

Chronological Report: The opening ten minutes produced few moments of penalty area action from either team, as both pressed and chased the ball with a sense of urgency, but little quality with the final ball missing all too often. Speculative shots came from Chopra and Rangers' Tommasi, but nothing to worry either keeper.

Loftus Road was proving a difficult place to play, as along with on working ISDN for our commentary, the surface saw the players slip on a number of occasions. QPR held more of the ball going forward in a creative sense, utilising their wide men well, but as we approached the twenty minute mark, neither Heaton or Cerny had a definite save to make.

Cardiff however had the first heart in mouth chance after nineteen minutes. Chopra picked up the ball in a wide left position, lofted it to the path of McPhail on the right hand of the box, leaving Macca open to try his luck. The creative midfielder then cam desperately close as he curled a shot towards the right of goal, forcing a diving fingertip save from Cerny to deny the opener.

The chance of the match being a fair spectacle was robbed of Cardiff after twenty six minutes as Darren Purse was unfairly sent off for a challenge on Lee Cook. With the ball coming down in the air midway through the Cardiff half, Purse was clearly following the flight of the ball and tried to connect on its way down. Also tracking the ball was Cook, who Purse admittedly caught with his outstretched leg. With the referee having blown and denying play to carry on, he then decided to send Purse off. He was wrong.

With the need to restore balance at the back, Jones introduced Gabor Gyepes to the match, though to our surprise it was Joe Ledley leaving the action. Further concern came our way five minutes later as McPhail had to have treatment administered after a sturdy challenge.

With the disadvantage of a man down, it was effectively the Alamo as Rangers had more space to play in midfield. Rangers however despite their pressure only really saw a mid range shot from Ledesma, that while on target was never going to trouble Heaton.

To their credit, City still looked to break forward whenever possible, and after forty minutes came close as some good build up play involving McPhail and Chopra saw the ball find Whittingham central and ten yards outside the area he smashed a trademark shot, but fired narrowly over the bar.


The second half began with Rangers looking to exploit City as they spread the ball across midfield looking to stretch their guess. Cardiff however had the first shot as Eddie Johnson turned his man in midfield, surged forward and despatched a low shot to force Cerny to dive and gather.

Rangers were dangerous going forward, particularly through the outlet Lee Cook who on more than one occasion made hard work for McNaughton at the back right. Cardiff fans at the other end were seeing some neat flashes from Eddie Johnson as the striker came close with a low shot, while Di Carmine moments earlier turned Comminges on the right before firing the ball wide. Ten minutes in Ainsworth made his first change, taking off Ledesma for Buzsaky.

The match from a City perspective was less threatening than we would have thought as Rangers failed to use their man advantage and Cardiff were still intent on going forward. Cook continued to terrorise, but his team-mates were lacking his qualities, much to our relief at the time. Peter Ramage came closest with a speculative cross come shot that from the right forced Heaton to catch - the momentum pushing him back, but not over the line as claimed by the fans behind the goal.

Changes came for both teams, as the injury returning Patrick Agyemang replaced Di Carmine and Gavin Mahon coming on for Tomassi, while Paul Parry was introduced for Eddie Johnson.

The match was hard to call, but with fifteen minutes left Cardiff looked to break through, starting with a great touch from Parry. Parry and Chopra then linked well to see the returning striker bear down on goal. On the run in he was blocked, with the City fans claiming a penalty to no avail. The corner was awarded however, with Roger Johnson coming close as he headed down but wide.

With ten minutes on the clock Rangers finally made their extra man count - again with the goal coming from a substitute. Gavin Mahon was sent the ball from Peter Ramage, and from the left directed a looping header over Heaton.

GOAL: QPR 1 - 0 CARDIFF. Mahon. 80 mins

Rangers settled more after taking the lead, while Cardiff were feeling the frustrations of some further bad calls from the officials. At first we saw McPhail booked after the linesman's call resulted in words of anger. Miguel Comminges then received two quick fire bookings - the first for a hard tackle and the second for again having seen the same linesman upset for words made by the left back. If Dave Jones was angry with their calls before this, you could be sure he was livid after seeing Cardiff reduced to nine men.

Credit to Cardiff, the team still pushed forward. The fourth official somehow only raised two minutes of added time, with City almost collecting a point at the death as a free kick from Whitts on the right found Roger through the mix. Unfortunately his effort was deflected wide, with no time for the corner.

We left Loftus Road disheartened, but more so with the decisions made to deny a fair contest. It's very rare I slate officials, but today is certainly a day that I'll throw my hat into the ring for some shocking calls.

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