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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

QPR's Loss to Sheffield Wednesday Sheffield: Reports and Comments

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- QPR dominated; failed to scored; missed a penalty and lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday. Wednesday's goal was scored by ex-QPR loanee, Leon Clarke (Ian Holloway's last signing before being axed). QPR are now 9th with 32 points from 22 games. QPR have now got the amazing record of 8 away games without a goal (Their last goal was scored by Rowlands back in mid-September); and have scored two away goals all season.

Managerial Comments - QPR - SOUSA: WE PAID PENALTY
QPR Manager Paulo Sousa emerged from the dressing room bloodied but unbowed after tasting defeat for the first time.
After watching his side miss a host of chances, including a Martin Rowlands penalty, Sousa remained philosophical. "I feel we should have got something out of the match, these are the games you have to win." He told www.qpr.co.uk.
"When you have excellent opportunities and you don't take them then, in football, you don't win. We need to be more aggressive in front of goal.
"We created a lot opportunities once again, but the last moment didn't come and we paid for not making the most of them."
The defeat to Wednesday extended the run of away fixtures without a goal to seven, but Sousa remained unperturbed. "I'm not too worried by that statistic because I'm a positive person and a positive Manager."
"I believe my players have the ability too overcome this hurdle. We are creating the chances and the goals will come. I'd be more concerned if we weren't creating the openings in the first instance." He added.
In the latest attempt to end that run, Rangers failed to put the game to bed with a glut of chances in the first half, and Sousa admitted that those misses gave the Owls a boost. "As the game wore on without us scoring, it affected our confidence and gave Wednesday more energy and enthusiasm."
Commenting on Rowlands' penalty miss, Sousa added. "Of course it was a great opportunity for him to score, but I have every confidence in Martin, and he will bounce back." QPR

Sheffield Wednesday Official Site - Costly win for Laws
- Brian Laws was left with mixed emotions after the match against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening.

Despite seeing his side secure a notable 1-0 win against the West London side, Laws was worried by the fact that three of his players had to come off the pitch with injuries, making his squad thin for the weekend visit of Bristol City.

The extent of injuries to Wade Small, Etienne Esajas and Frank Simek is not yet known and Laws will have to sweat on news over some of his men.

"I was hoping to leave Frank out tonight because he played with huge adrenaline on Saturday and I have to give him credit for making himself available for the game," the manager said.

"Yesterday he looked very tired and he had tight hamstrings and I was going to play Lewis Buxton (instead) but he came down with a virus and at this point is a doubt for the weekend too. Frankie wasn't really moving well so we had to take him off and I hope we've pulled him off at the right time.
"Etienne Esajas went down under a challenge and hurt his foot and has gone for an x-ray after the game so we will have to keep our fingers crossed that he is ok.

On substitute Small, Laws said: "The ball hit Wade Small right in the middle of the eye and it was bloodshot right across the eye, he couldn't see out of it and it gave him a lot of pain so we had to finish the game with ten men."

On the game itself, the boss admitted it had been an ugly spectacle but gave his players praise for getting a third win in four matches.

"It was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination," he said. "We have rarely given the ball away so much under pressure and our passing let us down today. QPR with the formation they play - with a holding midfield player in front of the defence - was going to make it difficult to feed the ball into the strikers and we knew we were going to have to be patient.

"We should have passed it better than that though and get around the back of QPR. I was disappointed with the performance but not with the result because QPR are a good side with high expectations. When you look at what was on the park today and what is available to them then you cannot discredit this result."

There was also praise for goalkeeper Lee Grant, who made the first penalty save of his professional career.

"It needed to be a good performance from Lee Grant today and it was. To be honest he has not looked like saving many of the penalties we have conceded but credit has to go him in getting us the win today. He was brilliant in his reactions and decision making though because if you can keep a clean sheet as a goalkeeper it will give the team a good chance," Laws added.

We will have an interview with Lee Grant about his penalty heroics on swfc.co.uk on Wednesday morning. Sheffield Wednesday

QPR Official Site
QPR missed not only a hatful of chances, but ultimately the opportunity to break into the top-six, as they went down to a Leon Clarke goal on a bitingly cold night at Hillsborough.

Heidar Helguson, Patrick Agyemang and Lee Cook all saw efforts fail to make the breakthrough as the Owls weathered to storm and punished Rangers in the 74th minute.

Rangers captain Martin Rowlands had already missed a first-half penalty by then and despite wave upon wave of R's pressure, the home side held on for the win.

With Dexter Blackstock still struggling with a sore back, Manager Paulo Sousa was forced to make one change from the side that triumphed against table-topping Wolves on Saturday.

With Gavin Mahon at the base, Mikele Leigertwood regained a place in the diamond, occupying the left-hand side, with Rowlands on the tip and Hogan Ephraim out wide on the right.

Back from suspension, Fitz Hall had to make do with a place on the bench, as Sousa kept faith with Damion Stewart and Kaspars Gorkss as his centre back pairing, with Peter Ramage and Damien Delaney retaining the full-back berths.

Up front, on-loan hit-man Helguson partnered Agyemang.

The home side had former Rangers loanee Jimmy Smith on the bench, with top-scorer Marcus Tudgay taking position up front alongside another ex-Hoop in Clarke.

The match's opening chance fell to Ephraim after four minutes. When Rowlands picked up a Gorkss clearance and strode forward, he released the ex-Hammer on the right of the Wednesday penalty box. Weaving this way and that, looking for an opening to shoot, Ephraim drew a solid stop from Lee Grant.

Five minutes later, the R's should've opened the scoring. A loose pass from Mark Beevers was picked up by Agyemang and he darted on and squared for the unmarked Helguson for a tap-in. Incredibly, Grant scrambled across his goal to somehow deny the Icelander.

In the 25th minute Rangers were awarded a penalty. Ramage burst down the right and delivered a fine cross towards Helguson, but before the on-loan man could get his head to the ball, Richard Wood shoved him from behind.

Up stepped Rowlands, but he smashed his spot-kick straight at Grant in the Wednesday goal, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Wednesday, buoyed by their good fortune minutes earlier, struck back and the newly-introduced Wade Small was only denied by an expertly executed tackle by Gorkss.

After a period of back and forth possession, the Owls put together a move of some quality. Steve Watson, the second Wednesday substitute, played a neat interchange with Small and cut inside, snapping off a left-foot shot that bounced around the R's box.

When the ball eventually settled at the feet of Clarke, the striker tried his luck, but guided his shot straight at Radek Cerny.

Moments into the second half, and Rangers had another glorious chance. Ephraim's perfectly weighted through-ball found Agyemang running off the last defender. The big Ghanaian, however, could only drag his venomous effort wide.

Helguson had almost a mirror image of the previous chance, when Ephraim him up. The shot this time required a strong two-handed save from Grant to beat it away.

Sensing the match was there for the taking, Sousa introduced fresh legs in the form of Lee Cook, taking off Ephraim.

It was Cook who tried to inject some life into the match as he picked up the ball from the defence and drove headlong at Wednesday. With options left and right, Cook decided to go himself but frustratingly dragged his shot wide.

Agyemang fired straight at Grant after fine work from Rowlands and Cook, then Sean McAllister fired straight at Cerny as the momentum swung backwards and forwards with both sides looking for the goal that would win it.

That goal duly arrived after 74 minutes. When Watson's cross was only headed upward by Gorkss, the resultant scramble saw Small's snapshot saved by Cerny, only for Clarke to tap home the rebound to put the Owls ahead.

In a bid to find an equaliser, Rangers gaffer Sousa made his second change. Samuel Di Carmine replaced the outstanding Mahon.

However it was Cook who could've brought the scores level as he thundered onto Rowlands right-wing cross but saw his half-volley blaze high into the stands.

With his last throw of the dice, Sousa introduced Hall up front, taking off Delaney.

Wednesday, who lost Etienne Esajas and Frankie Simek early to injury, were reduced to ten men for the final minutes as Small suffered a knock that ultimately forced him off.

Rangers dominated the final minutes of the match, Gorkss firing a volley down the throat of Grant at the death, but the Owls held on to inflict a first defeat on R's Manager Sousa.

Sheffield Wednesday: Grant, Spurr, Tudgay, McAllister, Jeffers (Slusarski 72), Esajas (Small 27), Beevers, Wood, O'Connor, Clarke, Simek (Watson 37). Subs: Smith, O'Donnell. Goals: Clarke (74) Bookings: Grant (90)
QPR: Cerny, Delaney (Hall 87), Stewart, Mahon Di Carmine 78), Leigertwood, Agyemang, Gorkss, Rowlands, Ramage, Ephraim(Cook 53), Helguson. Subs: Cole, Tommasi.
Referee: Mr N Miller Attendance: 14,792 QPR

Sheffield Wednesday Official Site

Leon Clarke and Lee Grant were the heroes for Wednesday as the striker scored the only goal of the game on 75 minutes after the keeper had earlier saved a first half penalty.

Grant kept out Martin Rowlands' spot-kick in the 26th minute to illuminate a contest bereft of quality and real goalmouth action until Clarke hit home from a rare Owls attack to seal all three points.

For QPR, the game was an amazing seventh on the spin away from home without finding the target.

Wednesday made one change from the side that gained a point at Southampton on Saturday, with Tommy Spurr returning to the left back berth in place of sickness victim Lewis Buxton.

Etienne Esajas showed trademark trickery to jink into the box inside the opening minutes but the Dutchman was soon crowded out by a clutch of QPR defenders.

Wednesday got themselves out of jail, though, in the ninth minute when Heidar Helguson could and should have sent Rangers into the lead. Grant miskicked a clearance that landed straight at the feet of Patrick Agyemang, who skipped past Mark Beevers to tee up Helguson six yards out but Grant scampered across goal to deny the Iceland international and atone for his mistake.

The Owls were dealt a blow on 26 minutes as Frank Simek impeded Helguson in the penalty area and referee Nigel Miller pointed to the spot. But Grant again came to the hosts' rescue, diving to his right to keep out Rowlands' well-struck penalty.

The injured Esajas - who earlier fell victim to a heavy challenge by Damien Delaney - gave way to Wade Small just before the half-hour mark but still Wednesday failed to make any significant impact in the final third.

And there was more misery for the Owls seven minutes before the break when a struggling Simek had to leave the field. Club captain Steve Watson took the place of the popular American defender.

Wednesdayites had to wait until a minute before half time to see Rangers keeper Radek Cerny called into action. Francis Jeffers was at the hub of a crisp three-man move - Small also played his part - that ended with Clarke firing a low drive straight at the Czech custodian.

Not for the first time of late, Wednesday needed to up the ante after the break but it was Rangers that showed first as Agyemang dragged wide across goal following good work by Helguson.

The game then slipped back into the lull that punctuated first half proceedings, with Wednesday struggling to penetrate a solid Rangers defence. The Owls enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked the guile to cause problems in the visitors' backline.

Brian Laws introduced Bartosz Slusarski up front to inject new life into the attack and the move paid immediate dividends. First the Pole set up Sean McAllister, whose shot was well saved by Cerny before Slusarski's nod down proved crucial for Clarke to stab home from six yards after the Rangers keeper kept out Marcus Tudgay's effort.

Substitute Lee Cook drilled high and wide as the clock ticked down but it was Wednesday that finished the stronger to extend their unbeaten run to four games and move to tenth in the Championship table..." . Sheffield Wednesday

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