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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reports & Comments on QPR Draw - and QPR's First-Away Goal in 3 Months

- QPR took the lead in the first half through Helguson (his first for QPR and QPR's first away goal since mid-September...But ended up drawing 1-1 as Plymouth equalized 8 minutes from time. Once again, there was no room in the 16 for Parejo or Ledesma. QPR are now 9th with 33 points from 22 games (3 points away from the playoff spot - Updated Table.


- Photos from the game with QPR wearing their traditional Red shirts!

Paulo Sousa was pleased to see his QPR team emerge from their Championship clash at Plymouth with a point this afternoon.
Following the 1-1 draw at Home Park, the R's gaffer told www.qpr.co.uk: "This is a very difficult place to come, so it is good to pick up a point.
"Many teams will come here this season and not achieve that.
"The pitch was not in very good condition but we tried to bring the ball down and play football."
Having taken the lead through Heidar Helguson's 16th minute strike, the visitors appeared to have doubled their lead when Martin Rowlands drilled home from the edge of the box just before the break.
The effort was ruled out, however, as referee Mr Friend deemed Helguson to be in an offside position.
It appeared the Iceland striker was actually in the net when the ball joined him, suggesting the goal should have been given, and Sousa admitted: "I felt the goal should have stood, of course I felt that.
"I have not seen it again yet but I felt the goal should have been given.
"But I do not want to criticise the referee as he has a very difficult job to do."
At the other end, Argyle had a shout for an early goal but Krisztian Timar's shot was hacked clear by Damien Delaney.
Home fans felt the ball had actually gone over the line, however, but Sousa said: "It was not easy for me to see but I don't think the ball crossed the line."
A definite positive to take from the fixture was Helguson netting his first goal for the R's. And that point wasn't lost on Sousa.
"It was very pleasing to see Heidar score," he added. "It will do a lot for him.
"As a striker you always want to score goals, and sometimes you have to break through a wall to go from being a striker to being a striker that scores.
"He has done that now and it will do a lot for his confidence." QPR

QPR Official Site Plymouth 1 QPR 1

QPR had to make do with a point at Plymouth Argyle this afternoon, after substitute Steve MacLean's late goal for the hosts served to cancel out Heider Helguson's opener.

The Bolton striker - currently on loan at Loftus Road - struck on 16 minutes to not only open his account for the R's, but also end a dismal run of eight away matches without a goal.

Skipper Martin Rowlands seemed to have doubled the visitors' lead before the break, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

After the interval, Argyle enjoyed plenty of possession without creating too much for Radek Cerny to do. As the game wore on, however, they got closer and closer, and with just eight minutes remaining they eventually found a way through, with MacLean smashing home from inside the box.

Paulo Sousa made one change for this afternoon's trip to Plymouth Argyle from the side that lost at Sheffield Wednesday, bringing in Lee Cook at the expense of Hogan Ephraim.

Skipper Martin Rowlands switched to the right of the midfield diamond, with Mikele Leigertwood on the left and Gavin Mahon sitting at the base, protecting the back four. Cook started just behind the front two pairing of Patrick Agyemang and Heidar Helguson.

The R's gaffer stuck with the same back four; Damien Delaney on the left, Peter Ramage on the right and Damion Stewart partnering Kaspars Gorkss in the centre.

Dexter Blackstock successfully overcame the back injury which saw him come off against Wolves last Saturday to take his place on the substitutes' bench, alongside Fitz Hall, Damiano Tommasi, Jake Cole and Ephraim.

Meanwhile, Paul Sturrock showed faith in the side that lost narrowly here to high-flying Birmingham City on Tuesday night, which meant Chris Barker and Simon Walton both started against their former employers.

Argyle went down 1-0 to the Blues despite dominating much of the fixture, and the Green Army were looking for a similar performance, albeit different outcome, from today's game.

And they nearly had the lead within two minutes when Luke Summerfield's corner from the left found Krisztian Timar unmarked at the far post.

His low drive from six yards squirmed under the body of Radek Cerny in the Rangers goal, but Delaney was in the right place to hack the ball clear, although many inside Home Park felt it had crossed the line.

Moments later Rory Fallon also went close with a firm drive from the edge of the box, as the hosts started strongly.

And on seven minutes Walton was given a fantastic opportunity to score against his old team-mates when Jim Paterson's cross from the left found him in space, but the midfielder's header flew two feet over the bar from close range.

At the other end, Cook fired wide while Helguson had a tame shot easily saved as the R's looked to gain control of the game.

And on 16 minutes they managed to do exactly that, as they finally ended their drab away-scoring record, with Helguson netting his first goal for the Club.

Rowlands picked the Icelandic striker out with a great ball and, after seeing his initial effort somehow come back off the post, the R's frontman kept his cool to hammer home from close range with Plymouth keeper Romain Larrieu on the deck.

Agyemang went close to doubling Rangers' lead 10 minutes later, but his 20-yard effort was well saved, with the Argyle stopper diving to his left.

Although the hosts enjoyed a great deal of possession in the opening period, they struggled to create any real opportunities.

Meanwhile, at the other end, Rowlands had the ball in the back of the net two minutes before the interval.

His celebrations were cut short by the linesman, however, who deemed Helguson to be offside, ruling out the R's skipper's fantastic 20-yard effort into the bottom corner.

Moments later, Jamie Mackie raced clear of the R's defence, but his powerful shot from 16 yards was brilliantly tipped over by the alert Cerny, who hadn't been called into any real action since Timar's early opportunity.

Early in the second half, Rowlands saw his 25-yard free-kick whizz a yard wide of Larrieu's near post as Rangers looked to give themselves a two-goal cushion, while Delaney's ambitious long-range effort was blocked by Timar.

At the other end, Walton blazed over from the edge of the box following a neat lay-off by Rory Fallon.

Agyemang should have done better when he was gifted the freedom of the Plymouth penalty box on 56 minutes, but his shot failed to work Larrieu, hitting the side netting.

Paterson worked Cerny moments later with a low drive from the edge of the area, but his effort was easily gathered by the R's stopper.

On 65 minutes Summerfield's dangerous free-kick from the half-way line caused panic in the QPR penalty area, but the ball was somehow hacked clear as the hosts pushed for an equaliser.

With little more than 20 minutes remaining and Plymouth enjoying more of the ball, Sousa put on some fresh legs, replacing Cook with Ephraim.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium but with 15 minutes to go Mackie had a fantastic chance to draw matters level when substitute Craig Noone got away down the left side.

His low delivery found Mackie at the near post, but his turn-and-shot flew over the bar when it seemed easier to score.

With Plymouth now launching high balls into the R's penalty area, Sousa replaced Ramage with the towering Hall, to add some aerial strength to the backline. Incredibly, his first touch was to hack the ball clear from danger after Cerny had initially saved.

Unfortunately, that proved to be merely delaying what was to come as substitute Steve MacLean skipped into the box before smashing home from 12 yards.

With the home crowd buoyant, Argyle went in search for a winner as the game was played at a frantic pace in the closing stages.

The R's remained strong, however, and held out for a point.

A big plus to come from this match - aside from the scoring of an away goal - was Helguson opening his account. And you just get the feeling there will be plenty more to come from him in the blue and white hoops.

Plymouth Argyle: Larrieu, Paterson (Noone, 68), Walton, Timar, Clark, Gallagher (MacLean, 76), Fallon, Barker, Seip, Summerfield, Mackie (Marin, 78).
Subs: Folly, Cathcart.
Goals: MacLean (82) Bookings: Walton (55)

QPR: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Mahon, Leigertwood, Agyemang (Blackstock, 76), Gorkss, Rowlands, Ramage (Hall, 81), Cook (Ephraim, 68), Helguson.
Subs: Cole, Tommasi.
Goals: Helguson (16)Bookings: Ramage (79), Helguson (90)

Attendance: 10,747 (657 QPR fans) QPR

Plymouth Official Site
SUBSTITUTE Steve MacLean's late equaliser salvaged a point for Argyle as they drew 1-1 with QPR in a sloppy game at Home Park.

The Pilgrims found themselves one down early on when QPR's Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson fired them ahead from close range.

But Argyle battled hard and, after a couple of inspired substitutions from Paul Sturrock, they were rewarded when MacLean finished one-on-one with the keeper.

Luggy named an unchanged line-up from the side who were harshly beaten by Birmingham on Tuesday. Even the bench remained totally unchanged.

Meanwhile, QPR made only one change from the side beaten 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday with winger Lee Cook stepping in for striker Hogan Epharim.

Argyle started brightly, forcing a corner within the first minute when Chris Clark's dangerous cross was knocked behind.

From the resulting set-piece, the ball fell to Krisztián Timár who composed himself and rifled a shot towards goal. The ball escaped underneath Radek Cerny but was cleared from the line by Damien Delaney.

Subsequent video evidence suggested that the had actually crossed the line but, unfortunately, the assistant referee was watching a different movie.

Summerfield was next to test the QPR rearguard, unleashing a shot from all of 20 yards. Fortunately for the QPR defenders, who did next to nothing to close him down, the ball nestled nicely into the visiting keeper's hands.

It was all going Argyle's way and just minutes later, Simon Walton had another chance to put the Pilgrims ahead. With play drifting down the left flank, a nice passing movement between Gallagher and Barker saw the latter whip in a dangerous cross towards the back post. Walton arrived, got in a perfect position and headed just over, under heavy pressure from Kaspars Gorkss.

Then heart-break. With QPR having their first real spell of possession, they went ahead. A Martin Rowlands cross was met by Helgusson who got ahead of Barker, volleyed against the post, and then tapped in the rebound. It was Rangers' first away goal in 731 minutes.

It was harsh on Argyle who had thus far dominated the game. This is where manager Paul Sturrock's 'mental' ability would come into play.

And then controversy when, with Mackie away down the right hand side, his cross was clearly handled by Kaspars Gorkss inside the area. But instead of pointing to the spot, referee Kevin Friend awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area.

To be fair to the official, he was let down badly by his assistant who despite being nearest to the incident, refused to involve himself (the same man as earlier).

With a stale-mate ensuing in the midfield, Luggy changed his formation to match the opposition - moving Mackie up front, Gallagher into the hole, Summers onto the right with Walton sitting deep to create a diamond midfield.

Seconds before the half-time whistle, Argyle were given a huge let off when Rowlands fired a Lee Carsley-esque shot into the bottom corner. Luckily for Argyle, it was ruled out when Gorkss was deemed to be in an offside position and interfering with play.

Back at the other end, Argyle went close to equalising when Jamie Mackie's one-on-one effort was tipped over by Cerny.

The second-half saw more frustration come Argyle's way. They were second to every second ball, if there was a deflection, it fell to a QPR player and they were limited to long range shots, most of which went embarrassingly high or wide.

Meanwhile, QPR had chances to extend their lead, most notably an effort from the athletic Agyemang who should have done better when one-on-one with Larrieu.

If Argyle were to salvage something from the game, it would be from a set-piece and they almost had it when Marcel Seip was given more space than he even knew he had to head over.

Similarly, Chris Clark's throw was headed into the feet of Paterson who couldn't really get enough power on his shot to bother the keeper.

A change was needed and Paul Sturrock duly obliged, sending on Noone in place of Paterson with 20 minutes of the match remaining.

The change seemed to shake things up with Noone, Walton and Gallagher all going close for the Pilgrims.

There was no doubt that Noone's arrival had livened things up. His pace and consent energy was driving Argyle forward and bringing the Home Park crowd to life.

The just rewards for ten minutes of dominance came in the form of fellow-substitute Steve MacLean. A brilliant Rory Fallon header put MacLean through on Cerny and the intelligent striker finished expertly, lofting it delicately over the advancing keeper to draw the Pilgrims level.

The momentum was with Argyle and they could perhaps of grabbed a winner late-on but were denied a very strong shout for a penalty when QPR appeared to handle in the box in the last seconds. Attendance: 10, 747 (657 away) Plymouth

IT'S beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at Home Park - let's hope the team isn't in such a festive mood as the rest of the place.

Mark Buckingham has been playing Christmas songs on the PA; the Salvation Army Band have tooted out a few traditional carols; Santa's still bringing big smiles to small faces in the Herald Family Area, which, incidentally, boasts a huuuge balloon sculpture of Pilgrim Pete, as well as an equally massive Christmas tree; and club photographer Disco Dave Rowntree is sporting a natty green and white Santa hat. Incidentally, we call Dave 'Mr Goals' because when you ask him how his afternoon went, he invariably says that he "missed the goals". Ho, ho, and indubitably, ho.

Scrooge Luggy wasn't giving out any free shirts, however, and he made no changes to the 11 - indeed, to the 16 - that had started Tuesday's night's unlucky Home Park defeat by Birmingham City. Moral victories, as well as actual ones, ensure you keep the shirt, it seems.

So it was the second start in a row for quite a while for Krisztián Timár and Simon Walton. Kris was sporting some headwear of his own - a bandage to cover up the remedial work carried out on his forehead after his bloody midweek encounter with Marcus Bent. I guess that's why they call them the Blues.

Rangers made one change to the side defeated 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday by the unlikely goal-machine that is Leon Clarke, Lee Cook coming into their midfield diamond, at the expense of Hogan Ephraim, who dropped to the bench.

Also among the extras was Dexter Blackstock, who enjoyed a happy loan spell at Home Park from Southampton in Bobby Williamson's only full season, and a less than happy return when he came back with Derby County, having rather..ahem, downplayed the facilities at Argyle.

Somehow, that interview in the Southampton programme found its way into the home dressing-room and was widely publicised by the local Plymouth media. What were the chances of that happening, eh?


What a start we had. Luke Summerfield's first corner on the left found its way to the far post, where Kris was lurking. The Beast measured up a deliberate shot that beat Radek Cerny at his near post, hit the woodwork, and appeared to cross the goal-line before being hacked clear.

When I say "appear", I wasn't in a position to tell, and the Press Box TV is more grainy than Perranporth Sands, but Mark, who watches from the perfect vantage point of downstairs in the Chisholm, walkie-talked to say that the ball was definitely in. Hmmm.

Anyway, it didn't count. Close, but no coconut. Which was also the result of Walts' raking drive that Cerny spilled for a corner, and of the same player's header over following Jim Paterson's chipped delivery.


Rangers had not scored away from Loftus Road for more than 13 hours so there was no danger that the misses would come back to haunt us, was there?

Oh dear. We were a bit slow to cotton on to the fact that Heidar Helguson doing a Beast and hanging around at the back of the goal when Martin Rowlands' cross came over and, despite the Icelander's attempts to keep the Hoops' proud barren run going by slamming his shot against the post, the ball rebounded nicely for him to score.

If that was a first for Rangers, we badly needed a similar one of our own - the first time we had come from behind for a point since January (Southampton, home), or the first time we had come from behind to win a game since Boxing Day last season (also QPR, home).

A first decent decision by referee Kevin Friend and his assistants would have helped. The same linesman who failed to see the Beast's shot cross the line, also missed a blatant handball by Kaspars Gorkss. Rather, he saw the defender handle the ball but could not tell what thousands of others in Home Park could. Namely, that the offence was unequivocally inside the penalty area.


I'm depressed. Nothing's happening for us. We have had a goal and a penalty chalked off for no reason. With some decent officiating, we'd be two up and cruising. Now we need something special just to get back on terms. Tell you what. Luggy's half-time team-talk needs to be Churchillian. Or, come to think of it, given his nationality, William Wallace.


Well, at least something happened for us. Rangers got the ball in the net again just before half-time, when Rowlands shot from long range arrowed its way into the net, but the effort was ruled out by the one linesman with decent eyesight who saw that Helguson had run across Ro's eyeline in an offside position.

Inevitably, to balance out the good fortune with some bad, Cerny then produced an astounding save to thwart Jamie Mackie after the Mack had been played in by big Rory's flicked header.

Over to you, Luggy. "Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom?"

Or something like that.


Seconds out, second half. Arguably the most important 45 minutes of the season ahead. Time for brave hearts and shooting boots.

No sense of panic, though. Far from it. Some patient build-ups, in fact. Getting the ball out wide seemed to be effective. A measured move started by Walts saw Chris Clark cross from a header from Rory that completed the circle back to Walts for a horrible execution that troubled only Row XX of the Herald Family Area.

Rangers should have sewn things up when Clarky and Kris got caught in an 'after you Claude, no after you Cecil' moment and Patrick Agyemang nipped in for a shot that would have given Ro no chance if it had been on target.


Marcel headed Summers' free-kick wide, and Pat brought a save out of Cerny with his wrong right foot just as some activity was happening on our bench.

It preceded the arrival of Craig Noone, the man who gets tackled but does not lose the ball. Funnily enough, the man who the Noonedog reminds me most of, Buster Phillips, was working for Radio Devon at the same time. Though not as the first £10m summariser.

Nooney had a shot charged down and Summers hashed a decent opportunity before Jamie turned on a Noonedog dink to the near post and shot wide of the far post.

The man who might have converted both the latter two, Steve MacLean, entered the arena to a chorus of jeers directed at Luggy for the decision to bring off Paul Gallagher, although the fact that this is the first time I've mentioned Gall in this blog possibly shows what sort of an impact he had on the game.


Kitchen-sink time. Fallon had a header saved on the line by Cerny, with the goalkeeper and a defender blocking Nooney's follow-up. Then Fallon went up for another header and the ball broke for Macca. The supersub checked inside and then went out before firing a tremendous shot into then roof of the Devonport end net.

Some would say that the Scot let himself down with his celebrations, which appeared to include an up yours elbow-clenched first combination. I'd say, if all you had heard for the last year when your name is announced, or when you've been substituted, is cat-calls and worse, you're entitled to a little bit of pay-back.


And a happy Christmas to all our readers.

Rick Cowdery Plymouth

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