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Friday, December 26, 2008

QPR Drop Two Points at Charlton

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Charlton 2 QPR 2 -- Updated League Table

QPR Official Site -
QPR found themselves up against a stubborn Charlton Athletic side and had to make do with a point, as they crossed London to the Valley for the Boxing Day clash with the Addicks.
Rangers twice let go of the initiative as first Lee Cook curled a wonderful free-kick beyond Rob Elliot, only for Nicky Bailey to draw the scores level minutes into the second half.
Dexter Blackstock gave the R's a deserved lead on 68 minutes, but Bailey added his and Charlton's second with ten minutes remaining to give the Addicks a share of the spoils.
With one eye on the R's home fixture against Watford in little more than 48 hours time, Paulo Sousa rang the changes for the trip to The Valley.
Midfielder Matteo Alberti came in to make his Rangers debut, as he lined up on the right hand side of the R's midfield diamond. Mikele Leigertwood sat at the base, with Martin Rowlands on the left, and Cook completed the quartet at the tip, against the Club whom he spent time on loan last season.
In defence, Fitz Hall replaced Damion Stewart at centre back; Matthew Connolly returned from a back injury to regain the left back berth; whilst Peter Ramage and Kaspars Gorkss kept their places to complete the four.
Radek Cerny continued in goal, whilst last Saturday's hero, Dexter Blackstock, was handed a start up front, alongside Samuel Di Carmine.
A strong bench saw the likes of Gavin Mahon, Heidar Helguson, Emmanuel Ledesma, Hogan Ephraim and Patrick Agyemang all take up residence.
The Addicks handed starts to loan stars Hameur Bouazza, Martin Cranie, Jay McEveley - who had made a miraculous recovery from a dislocated shoulder - and Martyn Waghorn, whilst Rob Elliot continued between the sticks at the expense of Nicky Weaver.
The home side, as you would expect, began on the front foot, but it was Rangers who carved out the opening chance.
Cook began and ended the move that saw the on-loan Fulham man feed Di Carmine, who found Rowlands. The skipper clipped a fine ball out to Alberti and the debutant crossed for Cook who'd burst into the box. Unfortunately, his header looped up and landed on top of the net.
A well-worked corner saw Hall fail to connect properly with Blackstock's clever knock-down, as Rangers continued to assert their control on the match.
Undeterred, the R's made a deserved breakthrough in the 18th minute.
A foul for a high foot on the bright Alberti saw the R's awarded a free-kick 20 yards out and Cook stepped up to bend a superb shot over the wall and beyond Elliot to register his first of the season.
It was a quite stunning free-kick and the R's just reward for their all-out attacking policy in the opening exchanges.
Charlton attempted to fight back but Rangers responded on the counter attack, and Blackstock saw an effort bounce wide, after Di Carmine's initial strike was deflected into his path.
With the Addicks' fans becoming increasingly frustrated, Rangers could've been two up minutes before half-time, had it not been for a sensational save from Charlton keeper Elliot.
When Rowlands corner was deflected to Leigertwood lurking on the edge of the box, his driven pass was hooked goalwards by a spinning Di Carmine, but somehow the young stopper tipped his fierce drive to safety.
As the clock ticked down to the break, Blackstock met Cook's teasing cross, only to head straight at the inspired Elliot, as Rangers pressed for the killer second goal that would surely seal the points.
The second half saw the men in black attack towards their own supporters, and Leigertwood decided that was reason enough to try the spectacular, launching a volley from around 40 yards straight down the throat of Elliot.
However it was Charlton who raised the tempo and duly drew level four minutes after the restart. Lloyd Sam found space on the right, cut onto his left foot and crossed for Bailey to nip ahead of Cerny and head home.
With the Addicks support in full voice, and their team in full swing, buoyed by the goal, Manager Sousa made his first change. Ephraim replaced Alberti, to add pace to the midfield.
Ledesma soon joined him, and the fresh faces gave the R's the edge. Ephraim thought he'd won a throw, but he should not have worried, as the throw found the head of Leigertwood, who headed a pass for Blackstock to chase, and coolly slot home under Elliot.
However, the R's once again relinquished the lead as Bailey added his second. Cerny's decision to race from his line to punch clear back-fired, as the Addicks midfielder headed the ball over the Czech keeper and into a gaping net.
Sousa once again reacted to the set-back, introducing Helguson at the expense of Di Carmine.
And in a frantic last few minutes, the Iceland striker struck the foot of the post, with the rebound falling kindly for Ledesma, who smashed home what was seemingly the winner, only for referee Mr Taylor to adjudge that Blackstock had committed a foul earlier in the build up.
In the aftermath, an irate Phil Parkinson was sent to the stands for protesting that his side should've had a penalty.
Blackstock forced a decent save from Elliot as the Addicks withstood some last gasp Rangers pressure, but both sides had to make do with a point.
Charlton Athletic: Elliot, Bailey, Hudson, Gray, Sam, Semedo (Holland (90), Fortune, Cranie, Bouazza (Basey 80), Waghorn (Burton 71), McEveley. Subs: Weaver, Shelvey. Scorers: Bailey (49), (80) Bookings: McEveley (38), Cranie (72), Semedo (73)
QPR: Cerny, Hall, Leigertwood, Blackstock, Gorkss, Rowlands, Ramage, Connolly, Cook (Ledesma 67), Alberti (Ephraim 59), Di Carmine (Helguson 81).
Subs: Mahon, Agyemang. Scorers: Cook (18), Blackstock (68) Bookings: Alberti (21), Cook (42), Connolly (45) Referee: Mr P Taylor Attendance: 21, 023 QPR

R's boss Paulo Sousa refused to blame referee Paul Taylor for his decision to rule out Emmanuel Ledesma's late strike, as Rangers were held to a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic.
The Argentine midfielder had the ball in the back of the net in added time, only for the official to rule the effort out for a foul by Dexter Blackstock on R's old-boy Martin Cranie.
Sousa told www.qpr.co.uk: "At first, I thought the referee gave an offside decision, but I asked the linesman and he said it was for a foul.
"I didn't see it, but he did and if he says it's a foul, it's a foul and that is that."
Nicky Bailey's double strike cancelled out goals from Lee Cook and Blackstock, but the R's gaffer was pleased with his sides' overall display.
"The system is working well and we are getting better and better," he said.
"I think Charlton are a very good side and I am surprised at their position in the table.
"It was a very exciting match. We controlled a lot of the match, with and without the ball, and we can take a lot of confidence from today."
Sousa also praised the six R's players who returned to the starting XI today, commenting: "I have learnt a lot about my squad today.
"People talk all the time about the transfer window, but the players that came in today showed me they have a big role to play.
"They proved a lot to me and that is very promising. As a group we are getting closer and that gives me great confidence," QPR

Charlton Official Site - Brave Bailey earns a point as Parky sees red
Nicky Bailey's double earned Charlton a point in an incident-packed Boxing Day derby at The Valley.
The midfielder twice brought his side level in a dramatic second-half, his pair of headers cancelling out efforts from Lee Cook and Dexter Blackstock.

Former Addicks loanee Cook curled in an 18th minute free-kick to put the visitors in front but Bailey powered in to level four minutes into the second half.

Dexter Blackstock put Rangers 2-1 up in the 69th minute but Bailey bravely headed in a second equaliser ten minutes from time before Lloyd Sam headed a great opening wide.

There was still time for Addicks caretaker boss Phil Parkinson to get sent to the stands for protesting at one of three penalty denials in the closing stages, and Rangers substitute Emmanuel Ledesma had a last-gasp goal chalked off for a foul after Heidar Helguson had hit the post.

It made for a dramatic finale to a game in which Charlton demonstrated plenty of post Christmas spirit.

And, although the first period was somewhat low key, the second was full of drama with Bailey epitomising his side's tireless efforts.

Cook had opened the scoring for the visitors on his return to SE7 with a perfectly flighted free-kick.

It was his first goal of the season and first since February 24th, 2007, towards the end of his previous spell at Loftus Road.

The Addicks had penalty claims for a hand-ball against Peter Ramage turned down at the end of the half but Bailey dragged them back into it four minutes after the restart, surging in to the box to head a Sam centre beyond Radek Cerny.

Back in the game, the hosts went in search of the lead but it was Blackstock that continued his happy knack of netting against the Addicks to put the R's ahead, somewhat against the run of play.

After the hosts had surrendered possession from a throw deep in their own half, the striker was played in on goal and supplied a fine finish past Elliot for his fourth goal in his last three games against Charlton.

It was his double that earned Rangers a 2-1 win at Loftus Road little over a month earlier in Parkinson's first match in charge, but this time his goal would only be worth a point.

And that was thanks to Bailey who put his body on the line - and amongst the boots - as Cerny half-punched out a cross, and his header flew past the former Tottenham Hotspur keeper and in.

The hosts might have taken the lead soon afterwards as substitute Grant Basey curled in a wonderful cross from the left but Sam headed across the face of goal and wide.

Then came Taylor's late bout of head-shaking as Kaspars Gorkks and Ramage, again, got away with using their arms in the area.

Parkinson had been so incensed at the non-award of the latter he would later be sent to the stands - a seat two rows back next to a baffled young supporter to be precise - and he must have had mixed feelings when he got his marching orders.

For his side had just had a let-off at the other end as sub Helguson escaped on the right and crashed an injury time shot against the left post.

Ledesma rifled the loose ball home but Taylor's assistant had spotted an infringement before that and the goal was chalked off for a foul.

After explaining his decision to the visitors, Taylor made his way to the home bench and sent off Parkinson, the caretaker boss virtually leaning against the fence at the front of the west stand in the closing stages as his side hung on for a point.

There is little doubt that this was a plucky point for the hosts, but Charlton now need to beat Sheffield United in two days to avoid equalling their worst ever winless sequence of 16 games, set back in 1955.

In terms of team news Jay McEveley made a surprise comeback for the Addicks in their Boxing Day derby.

The loan left-back was supposed to be a long term absentee after sustaining a shoulder injury against Coventry City on December 9th.

But he was back in the starting line-up just over a fortnight later, and replaced Basey in the rearguard.

That was the sole change from Saturday's defeat at Norwich City but there were bench returns for Matt Holland and Jonjo Shelvey.

Basey also dropped to the bench after McEveley's startling recuperation while Svetoslav Todorov and Keith Gillespie dropped out of the matchday 16.

Elliot continued between the posts while McEveley was joined in the backline by Martin Cranie - who featured in this fixture for Rangers last season - Mark Hudson and Jonathan Fortune.

Sam and Hameur Bouazza again supplied the width with Jose Semedo and Bailey operating in the engine room.

Up front, leading marksman Andy Gray was paired with Sunderland loanee for the third successive game.

There was a familiar face in the visiting line-up in the shape of Cook; the winger having made nine appearances for the club on loan from Fulham last year.

Despite netting twice last time out, Helguson was only on the Rangers bench while Blackstock was back in up front.

There was also a debut in midfield for Matteo Alberti.

Semedo chested the ball down on the edge of the box and volleyed wide inside 25 seconds, while Cook started and finished Rangers' first move of note on six minutes.

The midfielder had started the match in the hole behind the front two, and after the visitors cleverly spread the play out wide, newcomer Alberti's cross was met by a Cook header that looped over the bar.

Bailey got back well to foil Samuel Di Carmine, who was about to pull the trigger, at the expense of a corner, and when the tenth-minute flag-kick fell to Fitz Hall, Elliott plunged on the defender's half volley.

Hall might have done better having been left unmarked in the area but the visitors were ahead in the 18th minute.

They won a free-kick on the edge of the D as Bouazza caught Alberti and Martin Rowlands and Cook sized up the ball with interest.

In the end it was Cook who ran up and curled the ball over the wall and into the top right corner to become the second ex-Addick to score against Charlton in as many matches.

As the hosts rallied a Bailey corner flicked a Rangers head on its way across the face of goal and behind and then Hudson, amid a clutch of players, missed his kick in the box as Bouazza's corner skidded across the dangerzone.

Alberti was booked after catching Semedo midway through the half while Blackstock snatched at a shot after a Di Carmine shot spun off the turf and confused a clutch of home defenders.

There was nobody in the middle when Sam's stood-up cross was headed back across by Gray, and eventually Bailey's volley was blocked by Mikele Leigertwood.

After Bouazza's poor pass back, McEveley picked up a yellow card after catching Di Carmine, while a sublime flick from Waghorn set up a half chance for Gray on 39 minutes but Kaspars Gorkss got back to block.

Five minutes before the break Elliot made a magnificent stop to foil Di Carmine, spreading himself well after the Italian had diverted a Leigertwood shot from the edge of the area.

The ball eventually went behind off Hall, but play appeared to start with a free-kick.

Blackstock's header from a Cook centre was pouched by Elliot in the last minute of the half while Bailey's curling free-kick flew narrowly over the bar.

There was still time for the hosts to claim a penalty, after Bouazza's attempts to forage in to the box saw the ball spin off the arm of Peter Ramage.

Referee Taylor said no, and after handing a fourth booking of the half to Matthew Connolly, blew up for half-time.

Leigertwood volleyed wide for the visitors 16 seconds after the restart while Cerny got behind a Hudson bouncing effort at a corner at the other end.

The hosts were back level within four minutes, however, as Bailey struck.

The midfielder bravely powered in amongst a cluster of players to head home a fine Sam centre.

The Valley erupted, and Bailey slashed well wide from the edge of the area as the Addicks strived to build further.

The hosts were playing with a real belief at the start of the second period and Rangers manager Paulo Sousa made the first change of the afternoon on the hour, sending on Hogan Ephraim for Alberti.

Cook was replaced by Ledesma but Blackstock once more haunted the Addicks in the 69th minute as he restored the visitors' lead.

After a full blooded Bailey challenge on Ephraim had resulted in a home throw deep in the Addicks half, the hosts somehow contrived to present the ball straight back to the visitors.

One pass later and Blackstock was in behind Hudson, and the striker kept his composure to slot the ball past Elliot and in.

Parkinson sent on Burton for Waghorn two minutes later and there were bookings for Cranie and Semedo in quick succession as the hosts' frustrations boiled over.

But it was all square again ten minutes from time as Bailey headed his second.

Cerny came out to meet a cross from the right and as the ball bounced towards the edge of the box Bailey bravely stooped amongst the boots and headed the ball over the stranded keeper and in.

Shelvey and Basey had been waiting to come on on the sidelines but the goal forced a rethink for Parkinson as just the latter came on, for Bouazza.

The hosts poured forward in the closing stages, and spurned a golden chance in the final five minutes.

Basey was the architect curling in a gorgeous centre from the left and Sam sneaked in at the far post only to head the ball across goal and agonisingly wide of the left upright.

It was a big chance and Sam was in again in two minutes from time.

Played clear by Semedo, he checked inside and into a shooting position and his shot battered against the arm of Gorkks.

As the hosts screamed for a penalty, Taylor again said no, and Burton eventually saw his follow-up deflected behind.

Then there was further frustration in the first added minute as Gray swivelled in the box and saw the ball come off the arm of another defender.

By the law of averages one thought the Addicks must surely get a penalty at the third time of asking, but again Taylor shook his head much to the chagrin of Parkinson and Mark Kinsella.

The action was unrelenting by this stage and Rangers almost nicked a smash and grab third after breaking straight up the other end.

Hudson and the tireless Bailey both went in to challenge on the edge of the box but the ball was eventually manoeuvred wide to substitute Helguson whose shot, from similar range to Blackstock earlier, beat Elliot but came off the left post.

In the aftermath the ball reached Ledesma who smashed home a shot via the underside of the bar.

The celebrations in the Jimmy Seed Stand were shortlived however, the official disallowing the goal for a foul, possibly by Blackstock, as the ball came off the woodwork.

Holland had come on for his 199th Addicks appearance at the end, and before the action could resume the busy Taylor was summoned to the home bench.

And Parkinson was sent to the stands after his dispute of the third disallowed penalty had overspilled on to the pitch.

The caretaker boss made for an empty seat two rows back between the dugouts and watched Elliot make a good parrying save to foil Ephraim in the third added minute after the winger had ghosted in to the box.

The keeper then made two more good contributions at two more corners, the second being the final act at the end of a pulsating second half.

Charlton: Charlton: Elliot; Cranie, McEveley, Hudson, Fortune; Sam, Semedo (Holland 89), Bailey, Bouazza (Basey 80); Waghorn (Burton 71), Gray.

Subs (not used): Weaver, Shelvey.

Goals: Bailey 49, 80

Booked: McEveley 38 (foul on Di Carmine), Cranie 72 (foul on Di Carmine), Semedo 73 (foul on Ledesma)

QPR: Cerny; Ramage, Connolly, Hall, Gorkss; Alberti (Ephraim 60), Leigertwood, Cook (Ledesma 67), Rowlands; Di Carmine (Helguson 82), Blackstock.

Subs (not used): Mahon, Agyemang.

Goals: Cook 18, Blackstock 69

Booked: Alberti 21 (foul on Semedo), Cook 42 (foul on Semedo), Connolly 45 (kicking the ball away)

Referee: P Taylor

Attendance 21,203 Charlton Official Site

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