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Monday, February 02, 2009

QPR vs Reading - Additional Match Reports

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Nostalgia Video Snippet: Clive Allen Leaves QPR
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The Times/Tom Dart - Organisation replaces inspiration for QPR and Reading

There was little to catch the eye at Loftus Road on Saturday, not that Michael Duberry would appreciate the choice of words. The centre back quashed Queens Park Rangers’ attacks wearing a little black number on his head specially designed by the Reading physiotherapist to protect stitches above a cut that he suffered near his left eye in last week’s victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“The stitches will be out by next Saturday so I’m not going to wear that silly headband again,” he said. “I’m trying to buy all the pictures of me so they won’t get published.”

Most players in this match appeared to have the same problem. They failed to exploit the space on the wings and play was condensed into the centre, with both sides unwilling or unable to try any fancy stuff on a pockmarked pitch. Loads of organisation, little inspiration – the result was no surprise. QPR looked the better side but their striker, Heidar Helguson, was isolated and ineffective.

“From a spectator’s point of view I wouldn’t be surprised if a few were asking for their money back,” Duberry said, while some may also consider suing for compensation: loss of two hours of their lives, that sort of thing. “But for us getting a point here is good. Other teams might have crumbled but we stood strong.”

QPR were equally encouraged. In six matches against the Coca-Cola Championship’s top four this season they have conceded only one goal and have not abandoned hope of automatic promotion, although they are 12 points behind Reading, who are second in the table.

While neither team are ready for the top flight, Stephen Hunt and James Harper, of Reading, could be Barclays Premier League players when the transfer window closes today, although the club expect the interest of other clubs to come to nought. Steve Coppell, the manager, was certainly not steeling himself for a last-minute transfer frenzy yesterday. He went to a pub without any mobile phone reception.

Queens Park Rangers (4-3-3): L Camp – M Connolly, D Stewart, K Gorkss, D Delaney – L Miller, G Mahon (sub: H Ephraim, 77min), M Leigertwood – W Routledge, H Helguson (sub: D Blackstock, 85), L Cook (sub: S Di Carmine, 89). Substitutes not used: F Hall, M Alberti. Booked: Helguson.
Reading (4-4-2): A Federici – L Rosenior, M Duberry, A Pearce, C Armstrong – J Kébé (sub: B Gunnarsson, 89), K Cissé, J Harper, S Hunt – K Doyle, L Lita. Substitutes not used: M Andersen, M Matejovsky, A Bikey, S Long. Booked: Duberry, Hunt.
Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 17,120. Times

Telegraph/Nick Hoult - QPR extend unbeaten run to eight matches against Reading
A match that promised to deliver the best the Championship can offer in the end produced a stalemate which leaves both teams waiting for another opportunity to press their promotion credentials.

Rangers extended their unbeaten run to eight matches while Reading may have lost ground on Saturday but remain neatly on the shoulders of leaders Wolves. Both managers were happy with a point and Rangers now enjoy the enviable record of clean sheets against the top three sides. With Loftus Road looking spick and span thanks to Formula One millions, these are happier times in Shepherd's Bush.

"They were very compact and have Premier League quality throughout their squad which shows our level of performance was good," said Rangers manager Paulo Sousa, proving his similarities to Portuguese compatriot Jose Mourinho do not extend to post-match bluster. "We made a good performance. We showed good knowledge throughout, controlling the tempo of the game."

Rangers have a solid core thanks to the muscular presence of Gavin Mahon sitting in front of the back four. Liam Miller's home debut showed promise and with Lee Cook and Wayne Routledge on the flanks they have the class to unlock defences.

That they failed on Saturday left owners Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore spending the afternoon huddling under blankets in the directors' box as the fare on show offered little to warm the soul.

Steve Coppell's Reading had the better chances. Leroy Lita was denied by a good Lee Camp save in the first half and then, as Reading grew in strength in the last quarter, Lita shot wide after the goalkeeper dropped a long punt into the box. Rangers defender Matthew Connolly was later forced to clear off the line after Jimmy Kebe's shot deflected off Damien Delaney.

"I thought we edged it a little but not by much," said Coppell. "It was hard to have quality in the right areas today because of the conditions but the work-rate from both teams was terrific."

Two of Rangers' next three games are against Swansea and Cardiff, opponents to test their play-off ambitions, while Reading face Preston next weekend, another team with a sniff of promotion. Telegraph

The Sun/ ANDREW DILLON at Loftus Road

WALLY DOWNES has ripped into Stephen Hunt’s advisers over the Reading winger’s transfer saga.

Royals first-team coach Downes blasted Andy Evans for ‘misinforming and misrepresenting’ the Irishman, triggering a rift at the club.

Wigan and Tottenham have been linked with £4million moves for Hunt and the speculation led to the player criticising boss Steve Coppell.

Hunt claimed he was being kept in the dark about his dream to play in the Premier League again.

Downes rapped: “Stephen Hunt’s attitude has been unquestionable. He has given it all in training and games.

“But he has been getting poor advice. Last week he claimed Steve was not telling him certain things.

“His head is being filled with misinformation by people. The advice he has been getting has been p*** poor.

“There has been speculation about him but no firm offers or bids.

“Steve Coppell, myself and the club want the best for Hunty. I want him to be a Premier League player again, with us. If that can’t happen then good luck to him trying elsewhere.

“But there are people only interested in agitating for a move. Agents are supposed to work for clients and want what is best for them. The boss would never hold anything back from him.”

Coppell is confident no official move will be made for Hunt before today’s 5pm transfer deadline.

Hunt was way below his best at Loftus Road — in common with every player in a stodgy stalemate. But QPR took heart from a hard-earned point which keeps them in the hunt for the play-offs The Sun

See also:

- Earlier compilation of QPR vs Reading Match Reports

- Managerial Comments

- Clive Whittingham/LoftforWords Match Report

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