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Saturday, November 29, 2008

QPR's Draw at Crystal Palace - Reports, Analysis and Managerial Comments

Visit the QPR Report Messageboard...Among the articles posted there:
- Forty Years Ago Today, after 28 days in charge, "The Doc" (Tommy Docherty) Quit as QPR Manager
- The Continued Attraction of English Football
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QPR's draw moves them up to 9th in the table. QPR have now not scored away in the League, since....September! (Last goal at Norwich, September 17) - and have scored two away goals all season. (Wolves, by contrast, have scored 23 away goals!)...Reminder: The FA Cup Third Round Draw being made later today:(2:15pm GMT)

The Times/Barry Flatman - Paulo Sousa acclimatises for QPR
After little more than a week in charge of QPR, life for Paulo Sousa is still very much about acclimatising to the Championship way of doing things after living most of his competitive life amongst the game's elite. Yet his team nearly did enough to make the words of Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan sound ill judged.

Jordan has never been a man who reacts favorably when others offer observations on how his own club is run but he saw fit to question the appointment of the Portuguese whose former clubs number Sporting Lisbon, Benfica, Juventus, Inter Milan, Palma and Borussia Dortmund. "He knows next to nothing about the Championship which is a very specific league," maintained the Palace chairman.

Sousa is wise enough not involve himself in an argument but he seems a man ready to learn. After just three training sessions and having picked the side for two matches, he can look back on a return of four points and if loan signing Heidar Helguson had been a little sharper when presented with a gilt edged opportunity immediately after his half-time introduction, Jordan would really have something to complain about.

As it is QPR still possess the most horrendous goal scoring record away from home in the Football League and are now just 11 minutes of play away from having gone ten hours on their travels without scoring a goal. Sousa knows that is one of the first things that must change under his tenure but he said: "Of course this level is different to what I am used to working with. The English style is quick with high intensity and I need to adapt.

"Hopefully I will give confidence to the players and that will create more scoring chances. This team will grow and develop in the future and we will have more opportunities."

Helguson's last piece of action for Bolton Wanderers was a half hour run out as a substitute on September 13, four days before QPR scored their last away league goal at Norwich. The Icelandic international had made just one token touch in midfield when the ball was laid into his path by the willing Patrick Agyemang and unimpaired by any defensive change he advanced on the Palace goal only to blaze his shot agonisingly wide.

Such gifts have been rare for QPR of late as they have now gone six away games with a goal, let alone a win. Nevertheless they left with an air of contentment. Palace after all have been something of a form team of late and had been thwarted in their attempt to register a fourth win in succession. Still manager Neil Warnock maintained: "I cannot fault anybody and overall I am quite pleased with the way we played."

Crystal Palace: Speroni 6, Clyne 7, McCarthy 6, Fonte 6, Hill 6, Oster 5, Watson 7, Carle 5 (sub. Derry 62 mins 7), Ifill 5 (sub. Kuqi 62 mins 7), Scannell 6 (sub. Griffit 86 mins 5), Beattie 6.

QPR: Cerny 6, Ramage 6, Stewart 8, Gorkss 6, Delaney 5, Ephraim 6, Leigertwood 7, Mahon 6, Parejo 4 (sub Helguson HT 5), Blackstock 6 (sub. Rowlands 56 mins 6), Agyemang 7 (sub. Di Carmine 90 mins 5)
Star player: Damion Stewart (QPR)
Attendance: 16,411 The Times

QPR Official Site - The Gaffer STEADY GROWTH

Paulo Sousa was pleased with the effort and commitment of his players as they gained a point at in-form Crystal Palace this afternoon.
-Heidar Helguson came on in the second-half to make his R's debut following his loan arrival from Bolton, and he could have given his new team the lead with his very first touch.
His effort whizzed wide of the right-hand post, however, and Sousa told www.qpr.co.uk: "Up until that point I felt we were in control of the match.
"We had other chances as well, but that was the most clear-cut.
"I am very proud of my team. It is not easy for them to adapt to new ideas, especially in such a short space of time, but I am very happy with them."
Sousa reserved special praise for his new striker, explaining: "Heidar came in and has had only one training session with us, so to do as well as he did today shows me that he can become an important player for us.
"One of my aims is to give my players confidence, because I know they are good footballers. And the best way to gain confidence is by winning matches.
"My feeling is that we are now creating more and more chances in front of goal, and as the team grows together I am confident that we will continue to do better and better. I am very sure about that, I have no doubts.
With the January transfer window just around the corner, Sousa added: "Together we will make decisions about what is best to do. We will look for the correct players to improve the squad." QPR

Neil Warnock hopes history can repeat itself and Crystal Palace can stage a late Championship promotion charge after watching his team earn a goalless draw at home to QPR.
- The Eagles stretched their unbeaten run to three games against their local rivals at a wet and freezing Selhurst Park on Saturday.
Craig Beattie came close to snatching a precious win for the hosts in stoppage time when his low shot was spilled by goalkeeper Radek Cerny, but in truth this was a game neither side deserved to win.
Palace are just two points off the top six, despite slipping to 13th in the table following this stalemate.
Warnock led the south Londoners to the play-offs last term, having taken over when they were languishing in the relegation zone, and he is convinced his young side can challenge again.
"It was about this time last year that we started our run, and that came after a home draw against QPR as well," he said.
"I think it's well within our reach to do the same this season.
"Clubs like QPR have got the finances but we've got the squad and the management to get there so I'm sure we can play a part.
"We're working very hard and are just starting to get things together. We're looking to win games away from home and while we'll make mistakes I think we can still be very optimistic.
"I don't set targets as such but realistically, we want to be one of the teams who are up there at the end of the season.
"We've got some momentum going now and we're playing quite well now. I certainly wouldn't want to play us at the minute."

New QPR manager Paulo Sousa admitted the match was a far cry from his halcyon days as a player, which included Champions League triumphs with Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.
But the Portuguese maintained he was proud of his side's efforts and believes they would have been celebrating their first away win since September had loan signing Heidar Helguson not sliced wide of an open goal from 30 yards early in the second half.
"Of course this sort of game is different - a very different style to the places I played," Sousa said.
"Everything is different but I am already adjusting to it.
"I think we controlled the game and we had a clear chance to win it with Helguson, but we couldn't take it.
"I am proud of the side because we have changed our ideas and way of playing in just a few training sessions and that is difficult to do.
"We have made a big jump and we are in a good way. I hope in the next game that we can go one better and win the match.
"The team is growing and developing. In the future, I hope we will be better and have more quality in games like this. I am sure about that." Sporting Life

Crystal Palace Official Site - Warnock Happy With Battling Spirit

Neil Warnock praised his team's battling spirit after drawing to Paulo Sousa's QPR at Selhurst Park.
"They were a tough side and the way they played you were not going to get any fluent football. It was very cramped and we had to be a bit patient but overall I am quite pleased after a hard week. To get seven points from three games is very good."
After a hard week the manager is hoping to be able to pick from a full strength squad when the Eagles travel to Pride Park next Saturday.
"Now we have got a week to get rid of the aching bones and whatever and look forward to next weekends game against Derby. We will have a few playing in the reserves next week. Danny Butterfield, Alan Lee and possibly James Scowcroft so it will be nice to have a near full squad to choose from."
The Eagles stuck with a pretty much-unchanged side for the QPR encounter, which meant both Shaun Derry and Matt Lawrence were kept on the bench.
"I am not really a tinker and I like to stay with the team if they have done well. I cannot fault anyone this week and today I thought we were solid at the back against a mobile side.
"Even Derry yesterday when I told him that he would not be starting said that he could not complain as the midfield three have been doing really well, so that is the spirit at the minute."
One of those midfielders was man of the match winner John Oster who has certainly come into a bit of form of late with two goals in his last three games, a change that Warnock has certainly been aware of.
"John has been playing ever so well, I told him three weeks ago before he was in the team that I would be extending his contract until the end of the season and since I told him he has been a breath of fresh air."
Nathanial Clyne played his third game in succession and the manager was quick to praise the product from the youth academy.
"He played very well today barring a few mistakes. I told him at half-time not to be afraid of making a mistake and what I love about him is he plays the game simple. When the pass is on to go wide he plays it, if he needs to lay it to the central midfielder he does it. Playing simple is the hardest thing to do and he does it so well." Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace Official Site
Crystal Palace have been held to a 0-0 draw by QPR in a game that will be remembered more for the fourth official, who was to replace the linesman, taking a couple of minutes to warm up along the touch line than any actual moments from the match.
But Neil Warnock will be encouraged by clean sheet, the first in three games, as well as compact performance against a QPR side that would have been buoyed by the arrival of their new manager.
In the first half, Palace were much the better side, patiently building up play in a bid to find a small gap between QPR's water tight lines.

The home side recorded their first chance with only three minutes on the clock when Craig Beattie found himself free inside the box, on a tight angle, 15 yards from goal. Receiving the ball to his feet he swivelled and attempted a curled effort to the far post, but the keeper saved comfortably.

QPR responded five minutes later with a half chance from Real Madrid starlet Daniel Parejo when he connected with a Patrick Agyemang cross to flick the ball across goal. But he would have been disappointed had he known the amount of space he actually had to maybe have taken a touch.

Palace continued to dominate but their chances were kept at a premium. Ben Watson's 14th minute low shot was the closest of the early exchanges when he found himself in space, 20 yards from goal and drilled in a shot that ran just wide of the post.

While Paul Ifill came even closer in the 41st when he worked some space for himself just inside the box and smashed a low drive that hit the post.

The second half began in the most memorable of circumstances as QPR substitute Heider Helguson missed the chance of the season when he played the ball wide of an open goal. It was as bad as it sounds. Speroni had come out to close the angle when Helguson was put through but, as he rounded the Palace keeper, he screwed his shot from 18 yards past the post.

A scare for Palace but a sign for things to come because they came out to the second half a changed side. Much more nervous and disjointed, they failed to impose themselves on the early exchanges and QPR pushed in search of a breakthrough.

On 50 minutes, full back Peter Ramage ghosted in round the back of the Eagles defence to connect with a deep cross but his left footed volley, with the inside of his boot, looped on to the top of the net.

Blackstock then came close five minutes later when he squirmed away from his two markers on the edge of the box to shoot low to the near post however Speroni saved down to his left.

And the bad spell continued into the hour mark as substitute Martin Rowlands was allowed way too much space outside the area to measure up a shot from 20 yards. Luckily for the home side though the midfielder dragged his shot wide.

Changes needed to be made and Neil Warnock obliged with the introduction of Shaun Derry, who took the captain's armband from Clint Hill, and Shefki Kuqi.

And the big man up front had an immediate impact as his size and, surprisingly, his pace began to cause the QPR defence some problems.

On 71 minutes Kuqi forged his first chance when he connected with a superb John Oster cross. But the ball was slightly behind him and he had to reach behind himself to get a header away, which meant the effort was weak and Cerny gathered.

Nathanial Clyne, who was making his third consecutive appearance in a Palace shirt, had again impressed all afternoon with his defensive play. But, in 72nd minute, he almost had an assist to his name when he put in a brilliant whipped cross for Sean Scannell. However the winger could not direct his header on goal and it flew harmlessly wide.

The game then entered into a dull period where both sides failed to get a grip on play and it only came back into life in the five minutes of stoppage time when Craig Beattie had a great chance to win it late on.

Slipped through the QPR defence by a great pass from substitue Leandre Griffit, on the outside of the box he shot across the keeper, who saved down to his right. But the ball slipped out of his hands and Kuqi tried to follow up but the defender did enough to hold him back as Cerny kicked it away.

It was to be the final chance of the game and referee Rob Styles blew up for full time soon after.

Stay with cpfc.co.uk for Neil Warnock's post-match press conference. The full press conference will be posted later exclusively on Palace World. To sign up for World click on the link below.

Join Palace World

Att: 16,411 (1,731 away)

Team News

At a glance: Paul Ifill is preferred to Shefki Kuqi in an otherwise unchange line up from Tuesday night's victory away at Carrow Road. One notable inclusion on the bench is that of winger Leandre Griffit who make a return from injury.

Crystal Palace - 1. Julian Speroni, 3. Clint Hill (c), 5. Paddy McCarthy, 6. Jose Fonte, 10. Nick Carle (4.Shaun Derry, 64), 14. Sean Scannell (27. Leandre Griffit, 86) 19. Craig Beattie, 23. Paul Ifill (32. Shefki Kuqi, 64), 24. Ben Watson, 26.John Oster, 43.Nathanial Clyne.

Subs- 2.Matt Lawrence, 11.Victor Moses

QPR - 24. Radek Cerny, 2. Damien Delany, 3. Damion Stewart, 4. Gavin Mahon (c), 6. Mikele Leigertwood, 7. Daniel Parejo (27. Heider Helguson, 45), 9. Dexter Blackstock (14. Martin Rowlands, 58), 11. Patrick Agyemang (22. Samuel Di Carmine, 90 +1), 13. Kaspar Gorkss, 15. Peter Ramage, 25. Hogan Ephraim

Subs - 23. Jake Cole, 29. Gary Borrowdale Crystal Palace

QPR Official Site
QPR finished their London derby trilogy by holding Crystal Palace to an uninspiring 0-0 draw at a wet and cold Selhurst Park.

In a game of few chances, the match was summed up by new striker Heidar Helguson missing an open goal, and the R's testing home keeper Julian Speroni just once through Patrick Agyemang.

Palace enjoyed most of the possession but they themselves only tested Radek Cerny in the Rangers goal a handful of times, most notably from Paul Ifill.

But neither side could make the breakthrough during the 90 minutes and the R's completed the set, adding a draw to their win and loss from the last two games.

For Part Three of the trilogy, Manager Paulo Sousa made one change to his starting eleven. Damiano Tommasi made way for Gavin Mahon at the base of the midfield diamond.

The bench however, was given a dramatic makeover, as Martin Rowlands returned to the First Team squad. He was joined by new loan signings Helguson and ex-Eagle Gary Borrowdale.

The home side handed starts to youngsters Nathaniel Clyne and Sean Scannell, whilst on-loan Craig Beattie started up front looking to continue his fine goalscoring form.

And it was Beattie who had the match's opening effort. Ben Watson found the on-loan Baggie with a pass inside and the striker took a touch before firing into the arms of Radek Cerny, giving the R's an early warning.

That warning was not heeded and Rangers struggled to assert their own influence on the match. Palace by contrast were enjoying the majority of possession and Watson saw a 25-yard low drive fly wide of Cerny's right-hand post.

Palace threatened again as John Oster released Scannell down the right. The prospect jinked his way past Delaney and fired a low cross that Cerny did well to collect.

Rangers finally threatened the home defence but when Dexter Blackstock knocked down a lofted pass into the path of Agyemang, the pacy striker could not garner enough power on his volley attempt, and Speroni saved comfortably.

After scoring a wonderful goal in his previous game, Oster tried again with a chip from the edge of the box. Fortunately for the R's, Cerny was wise to it and took the catch with ease.

Palace were by now firmly in control, and Nick Carle was the latest Eagle to try his luck, curling a left-footed effort towards goal that took a deflection on its way wide.

Agyemang was looking a real handful, operating down the left side. Damion Stewart's long pass was expertly controlled by the hitman, before a burst of pace and strength held off Clyne as he drove into the Palace box. Speroni, however, was off his line quickly to smother before Agyemang could cross.

A brief lull was shattered by a venomous strike from Ifill that needed a solid two-handed save at his near-post from Cerny. It looked like it could've gone wide but the Czech custodian was alert and made sure with a fine save.

Manager Sousa made one change at halftime. Helguson replaced Daniel Parejo and should've made an instant impact.

When a long ball forward towards Agyemang saw Speroni try and clear the danger, the Ghanaian managed to touch the ball into the path of the man making his debut. But with the goal gaping he only managed to side-foot the ball wide of the open goal.

Rangers had come out of the dressing room in determined fashion and Mikele Leigertwood tried his luck after cutting in from the left. His well struck shot, however, was comfortably saved, low to his right, by Speroni.

Minutes before the hour, the impressive Rangers following were treated to a welcome sight, as Rowlands emerged from the bench to mark his return from injury by replacing Blackstock.

The introduction of the talismanic Rowlands did little to shift the momentum of the match as first Palace substitute Shefki Kuqi, and then Scannell went close with headed chances.
Despite both sides enjoying spells of possession and briefly threatening, neither could beat Cerny or Speroni in their respective goals and the score remained 0-0, keeping alive Manager Sousa's unbeaten start as gaffer.
Attendance: 16,411 QPR

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