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Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Shock Win for Queen's Park Rangers at Derby County: Rowlands Badly Injured - Reports & Comments

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QPR vs Derby
QPR went 2-0 up before half-time with goals from Routledge and Leigertwood; and that's how it finished.

Wolverhampton 27 58
Reading 28 54
Birmingham 27 52
Sheff Utd 28 47
Preston 28 47
Cardiff 27 45

Burnley 28 43
QPR 28 42
Swansea 28 41
Updated League Table

QPR Official Site
Posted on: Sat 17 Jan 2009

R's boss Paulo Sousa dedicated his sides' victory over out-of-sorts Derby County to injured skipper Martin Rowlands.

The R's Club Captain was forced off early in the first period with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, prompting Sousa to dedicate the R's first away win since mid September to a 'player and a personality that will be sorely missed.'

"Martin has a very serious knee injury," Sousa told www.qpr.co.uk.

"It looks like he will be sidelined for a long period, but we will send him for a scan on Monday and see what the results show.

"Of course it is a massive blow. We have already lost Rowan Vine and Akos Buzsaky for long periods this season and now it looks as though our captain, who is so important to us, will join them.

"We have lost a great player in Martin Rowlands, but his personality is huge. He is a fighter, a warrior, who epitomises everything we are about and his presence will continue to shine through.

"This fantastic victory is dedicated to him."

Despite the loss of Rowlands, Sousa sang the praises of his side, who stayed in touch with the chasing play-off pack thanks to first half goals from Wayne Routledge and Mikele Leigertwood.

"We've been very unlucky not to win away over the last few months, so today's victory was fully deserved," he said.

"We saw some of the evolution come to fruition today. Everything we have worked on over the last few months shone through today and I am extremely proud.

"Some of our football was magnificent at times - it was probably the best we have played in my time in charge, certainly away from home."

QPR Official Site
QPR finally broke their away day hoodoo with a well deserved win over Derby County at Pride Park.

With a performance befitting fallen skipper Martin Rowlands, who was stretchered off with what looked like a serious knee injury, the R's recorded their first win on the road since the September 17th win over Norwich City.

Wayne Routledge opened the scoring with a fine placed finish to notch his first ever goal in a Rangers shirt and the outstanding Mikele Leigertwood grabbed himself the R's second in the 36th minute.

Despite Derby attempts to find a way back into the match, the Hoops, led by stand-in captain Gavin Mahon, who was brilliant throughout as a screen for the back four, displayed a confidence and assurance not seen for weeks.

Hogan Ephraim could've added a third late on, but by then the impressive travelling support were already in full voice, shouting in celebration of a job well done.

The trip to Pride Park saw a return to the starting 11 for wide-man Lee Cook, who joined fellow winger and new signing Routledge in supporting Heidar Helguson in attack.

The midfield welcomed the return of Mahon and he was joined by compatriots Leigertwood and Captain Rowlands.

The back five had an all too familiar look about it as Radek Cerny continued his goalkeeping duties, whilst Matthew Connolly, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Damien Delaney all retained their starting jerseys.

On the bench, former Derby striker Dexter Blackstock was joined by Italian duo Matteo Alberti and Samuel Di Carmine, defender Fitz Hall and winger Hogan Ephraim.

For the hosts, Martin Albrechtsen passed fit to take up residence at right back, with Mo Camara covering the suspended Jordan Stewart.

Elsewhere, Giles Barnes began on the right, with the Rams' League Cup hero Kris Commons on the left. On-loan Charlton Athletic striker Luke Varney joined Rob Hulse in attack.

It was Derby danger-man Commons who started the ball rolling when he connected sweetly with an Albrechtsen centre and fired a volley that was comfortably dealt with by Cerny.

It got worse for Rangers seconds later. After an innocuous looking tackle by Addison, Rowlands fell awkwardly and immediately displayed signs of great discomfort. R's fans looked on in dismay as the stretcher was called and Rowlands was carried off the field, to be replaced by Ephraim.

Derby almost added insult to injury, but a Commons free-kick was easily saved by Cerny.

The newly introduced Ephraim took seconds to adjust to the speed of the match and his first requirements were covering his defensive colleagues.

When Barnes escaped down the right, skipping a challenge from Delaney, the former West Ham man tracked back superbly and launched himself into an inch-perfect recovery tackle hat stopped the Rams midfielder in his tracks.

Rangers were slow in getting going, but when Helguson flicked on a long Stewart clearance, Routledge left Camara in his wake. But as the angle tightened, his chances of a goal diminished, but still he managed to lash a shot into the side-netting.

Not to be outdone, Routledge did one better with his next effort.

When Ephraim took the ball on a mazy run through the middle of the park and fed Helguson, the Iceland international lost out to Albrechtsen, whose attempted clearance fell at the feet of the former Aston Villa man.

Taking the shot on first time, Routledge made no mistake in thumping it home for his first ever Rangers goal.

Only 14 minutes later and it was two. A superb ball from right-back Connolly released Routledge scampering down the right and when he left Camara on his backside, he picked out Leigertwood who coolly slotted beyond Carroll from 12 yards.

Buoyed by their second, the R's went in search for a third before the break.

Once again, it was Ephraim who turned provider, this time feeding Cook, who skilfully lost his marker before firing a left-footed effort on target, which Carroll saved at the second attempt.

Nigel Clough had obviously not minced his words at half-time, as the Rams began the second half in determined fashion. Cerny needed to be on his toes and dive fully to his left to keep out an Addison header from Albrechtsen right-wing cross.

Routledge had given Derby defender Camara the run-around all day long and when he burst down the right once more, the left-back went into the book for some blatant shirt-pulling.

However, it was the hosts that were in control of possession, and Ephraim followed up his fine defensive work in the first half with a header off the line to deny Hulse a certain goal.

Manager Sousa decided it was time for a change just past the hour, and replaced Helguson with Di Carmine.

Rangers had weathered the storm and almost stole a third on 72 minutes. Leigertwood, Mahon and Cook all combined to set Ephraim on his way. After turning Lewin Nyatanga inside out, the winger snapped off a shot that Carroll did ever so well to palm into the air and catch as it fell.

As the match reached its conclusion, the Rangers faithful were in full voice, and rightly so after they'd seen a superb R's performance, and perhaps more importantly, three points on the road.
Derby County: Carroll, Green, Commons, Hulse, Varney (Davies 59), Barnes (Barazite 70), Nyatanga, Todd, Addison, Albrechtsen, Camara. Subs: Bywater, Savage, Teale.
Scorers: Bookings: Camara (50), Todd (81) Red Cards:
QPR: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Mahon, Leigertwood, Routledge, Gorkss, Rowlands (Ephraim 11), Connolly, Cook (Alberti 90), Helguson (Di Carmine 63). Subs: Hall, Blackstock.Scorers: Routledge (22), Leigertwood (36)
Bookings: Red Cards: Referee: Mr K K Wright Attendance: 28,390 QPR
- Minute-by-Minute

Derby County Official Site/Gareth Davis Reports

First-half goals from Wayne Routledge and Mikele Leigertwood saw Derby defeated 2-0 by Queens Park Rangers as the Nigel Clough era got underway at Pride Park Stadium.

Routledge fired home the first on 21 minutes after Martin Albrechtsen's clearance fell nicely into his path, and the second was a composed but powerful finish from Leigertwood.

Visiting keeper Radek Cerny's biggest test came early in the second half as he dived to superbly turn away a stooping Addison header.

Had that gone in we may well have seen a different game but Rangers solidly held on to their advantage and could also have gone on to extend it.

Nigel Clough's first Derby County line-up showed three changes to the one that so impressively beat Manchester United as he watched over his new charges ten days ago.

Martin Albrechtsen returned from injury to replace the suspended Paul Connolly, Luke Varney took over from Steve Davies with Kris Commons moving back to the left, while Giles Barnes came in for his first start since February 2008 following a lengthy injury absence.

The absence of Connolly meant Miles Addison celebrated signing his new contract by regaining the captain's armband.

Academy graduates Addison and Barnes combined six minutes in to create Derby's first sniff at a chance as the skipper played in Barnes down the right and his low cross was just cleared away from in front of Varney.

The Rams kept up the pressure and seconds later Commons fired in a stinging right-footed volley that forced Radek Cerny to save smartly to his left.

Rangers were forced into a change on 11 as skipper Martin Rowlands left the field on a stretcher.

He went down clearly in pain after being out-muscled by Addison and was down for a good couple of minutes before being carried away by the medical staff.

Rowlands was moviing about on the stretcher and there was no apparent strapping to his legs so the exact nature of his injury wasn't immediately clear.

Cerny then grabbed a Commons free-kick comfortably before Derby might have done better on 16 when Barnes picked up on a loose ball and charged fully 70 yards into the box only to be denied at the death by the recovering Damien Delaney.

And Rangers were in front five minutes later after a quick break that looked have been snuffed out - only for the ball to go the wrong way at the wrong time.

Substitute Hogan Ephraim made ground through the middle and slipped in Heidar Helguson, but across came Albrechtsen with a blocking challenge.

Unfortunately from a Derby perspective, the ball rolled across to Wayne Routledge who smashed it in at the near post with Roy Carroll hurrying across his line in a bid to cover.

The goal had knocked the stuffing out of Derby and they were struggling to make any real imact on the game after some early bright moments.

And it was 2-0 on 35 with Routledge again involved down the right.

He should have been shut out on more than one occasion but got past Mo Camara to the byline and picked out a well-planned ball for Mikele Leigertwood to powerfully finish off into the far corner.

Seconds later it was almost three through Lee Cook, who created space for himself on the edge of the box only to fire his shot straight at Carroll when well-placed.

Too many of Derby's passes were going astray, particularly in the final third, and they were really finding it difficult to make any sort of impression on their visitors from London.

Pride Park, so buoyant prior to kick-off with the unveiling of the Steve Bloomer bust, was rather subdued as the game ambled its way towards half-time.

Derby were almost back in it soon after the restart through Addison, who steamed into the box and dived in to reach Albrechtsen's cross with a powerful header, but Cerny dived away to his left and saved well.

But the move itself, and the creation of the chance, had given the crowd a much-needed lift.

However, other than a Paul Green 25-yarder that didn't look at any point as though it was going to dip under the bar, the Rams failed to offer another threat before the 58th-minute introduction of Steve Davies for Varney.

It was Rob Hulse who had the next opportunity, a glancing header from Barnes's corner that Ephraim cleared off the line, then Davies and Commons kept up the pressure with Rangers hanging on for a spell.

Barnes's afternoon came to an end on 69 minutes as he was replaced by Nacer Barazite having made his first start in a senior game since February 2008 at Wigan Athletic.

And it was nearly all over for the Rams two later when Ephraim burst away but decided to take his shot early from the edge of the box and Carroll parried well.

Derby were able to enjoy plenty of the ball as time ticked on with QPR content to sit back on their advantage, and the visitors looked - on the whole - comfortable.

Davies almost gave them something to think about with a dipping volley ten minutes from time that flashed past the far post.

He was closer with the clock reading 89 as Cerny dived to save his low 20-yard effort but it was only a late flicker of excitement for the Rams, who had been far from their best in getting the Nigel Clough era underway." Derby

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