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Thursday, February 26, 2009

QPR's Cardiff Draw - Reports and Comments: QPR Now Five Points Off Playoff Place

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After the Cardiff draw, QPR have 13 games remaining! QPR are currently 11th with 48 points from 33 games: Five points behind Cardiff (31 games), Bristol City (34 games) and Preston North End (34 games) who are all in playoff positions - League Table


-Paulo Sousa was full of praise for his side following the 0-0 draw against promotion-chasing Cardiff City.
- Rangers enjoyed long spells of possession against the Bluebirds, and created a number of excellent opportunities in front of goal, much to the delight of their gaffer.
- "We lost two points today. We showed a lot of personality and character and created a lot of opportunities, playing fantastic football," he told www.qpr.co.uk.
- "After the game against Ipswich we received a lot of criticism. We didn't play well then, but today we sent out a very positive message to those people, with a good performance against a Club with big ambitions for the Premier League.
- "They have invested a lot and this is also a very difficult place to come, with a strong atmosphere. But we showed personality, playing fantastic football.
- "We could have won the game easily, but it didn't happen, but that is no fault of my players, who gave me excellent effort."
- Sousa singled out the efforts of stand-in skipper Gavin Mahon, who shone from start to finish in the heart of the R's midfield engine room.
- "Gavin showed what a good professional and good player he is tonight," said Sousa.
- "You can have bad moments sometimes, but it is how you respond and he showed great character."
- The draw left Rangers five points adrift of the top-six, with a game in hand on most of their nearest rivals, prompting Sousa to add: "We have always been very close to the top-six.
- "With two or three wins, you can go up the league significantly.
- "Playing like we played tonight, we need to believe that anything is possible.
- "I always say that to my players - believe in yourselves, because you can play very good football and win, just believe it.
- "We have overcome the barrier of winning away in recent months, and now we are playing good football too.
- "With good energy from everyone, and not criticism, we can make things possible."
QPR Official

Cardiff Official/Jones - DAVES VIEW: THE HOOPS
- City manager Dave Jones gave his post match reaction to the 0-0 draw against Queens Park Rangers at Ninian Park.
"They came with a game plan and unfortunately we didn't unlock the door. We had some good chances in the first half and some in the second half.
"But they weren't going to come out, I mean Gavin Mahon sat in front of the back four and probably my grounds man is a bit annoyed with him because he's done a ten yard rip of the pitch because that's all he's moved throughout the game.
"They did the job and they came with that plan and it worked, we have to accept that there's nothing we can do. We tried to break them down and unfortunately today we didn't do that.
"They had a chance at the end but I think today Mark Kennedy was the best player on the pitch, I thought he was magnificent today. We are trying to win the match and sometimes you leave yourself a little bit wide open.
"They strung five across and one up front and they made it really difficult for us. They wouldn't let our full-backs to get out. So they've done their job and we needed to score early just to get them to come out and it's very difficult. You've got to look at it as a point gained, that's the way to look at it because it's a clean sheet. If we can keep clean sheets then we've got a chance of going down the other end and scoring." Cardiff Official Site

- Cardiff boss Dave Jones rued his team's lack of a cutting edge in their goalless stalemate with fellow promotion chasers QPR at Ninian Park.
Michael Chopra and Ross McCormack had a couple of fleeting scoring opportunities but the game's main danger man was former Cardiff loan player Wayne Routledge, whose speed had the home defence in trouble on a number of occasions.
"It was a hard game for us and it seems now that every game we play at home is hard," said Jones.
"They came with a plan and we couldn't open the door.
"We have to accept that we were unable to break them down, although we did create chances, but they have done their job and you have to look at it as another point gained.
"We do exactly the same when we play away from home and, though they tried to catch us on the break, they never really troubled us."
City could have been ahead as early as the fourth minute when a McCormack corner was met by Darren Purse but the ball was hacked off the visitors' line.
Routledge outpaced Mark Kennedy six minutes later and crossed to Liam Miller but Dimi Konstantopoulos came out quickly to block.
Despite jeers from home fans every time Routledge touched the ball, he was a dangerous outlet for Rangers and a clever back flick almost put Heidar Helguson through but Purse snuffed out the danger.
Roger Johnson came to City's rescue early in the second half with a tackle on Damien Delaney after the Rangers' full back was allowed to run free from the half-way line.
Midway through the second half, Chopra raced onto a miskick but, with only Radek Cerny to beat, he skewed his shot well wide.
Routledge fashioned a couple of chances that came to nothing late in the game as both sides had to settle for a point.
Rangers manager Paulo Sousa was very satisfied with his side's performance.
"We played very well against a team that wants to be in the Premier League next season," he said.
"After last week's poor performance against Ipswich, we showed everyone that we can play good football.
"We have played well and created a lot of chances but we still need to win these games.
"When we don't get three points after playing so well it is frustrating but I'm always proud of the players, especially after coming here to a difficult place and doing so well
." Sporting Life


Daily Mail/Darren Witcoop - QPR boss Sousa still confident as Routledge misses his chance for revenge

- Wayne Routledge missed his chance to gain sweet revenge as promotion-chasing Cardiff were let off the hook in an error-strewn clash at Ninian Park.
- Cardiff have now gone seven home matches without conceding, but their stubborn defence should have been breached by Routledge.
- The winger, who was jeered after rejecting a move from Aston Villa to Cardiff in favour of the mega-rich Londoners last month, spurned a late chance to propel Rangers deservedly back into the play-off contention.
- Boss Paulo Sousa said: ‘It was a game we should have won. It would have been nice for him to score a goal after the treatment he had. But he is a good player. He has skill to win games for us. I believe he will score goals for us as well.
- ‘I’m proud of the players as they came to a difficult place and a difficult team and deserved to win. It was a great response from my players and I think we can still make the play-offs.’
- Cardiff had chances of their own after a poor game finally kick-started into life after the break. But striker Michael Chopra twice failed to hit the target when well placed before Ross McCormack blazed inches over.
- Yet it was the visitors who were in the ascendancy in the closing stages, only for Routledge to miss the target after a poor Dimi Konstantopoulos clearance.
- Cardiff boss Dave Jones saw his side fail to make ground on the top two, but said: ‘Every game we play is hard. QPR came with a game-plan but we didn’t lock the door. We had some good chances.
- ‘We are trying to win matches and you do leave yourself open at times. We needed to score early to get them to come out. We have to look at it as a point gained so I’m pleased with that.’ Daily Mail

- Cardiff moved back up to fourth place in the Coca-Cola Championship after a dull stalemate with fellow play-off chasers QPR.
- The Bluebirds had four games in hand on leaders Wolves before the game and sat 12 points behind and will probably view this as a missed chance in their bid to gatecrash the automatic promotion places.
- Their best efforts came from Michael Chopra, but after a poor first half at Ninian Park, it was the visitors who had the better of the second half.
But they - like their opponents - were unable to create any clear-cut chances and Rangers stay 11th in the table.
A lacklustre first half was almost bereft of chances, although Chopra did force an early save from Radek Cerny in the Rangers goal, before Gavin Rae blasted wide of the target after a long ball had been cleared out to him.
QPR had offered next to nothing going forward in the first half, but they started the second-half the better and Cook had a shot blocked before being fouled by Rae but Miller slammed the resulting free-kick straight into the wall.
But Cardiff, too, showed much more initiative after the break and Chopra shot at Cerny before Ross McCormack blazed over from inside the box.
The home fans shouted for a penalty when Paul Parry went down under a challenge from Mahon, but the visitors almost won it right at the death when Routledge broke down the right but his cross evaded both Dexter Blackstock and Cook as Cardiff made it 13 league games unbeaten. Sporting Life

QPR Official Site

An entertaining clash between two good footballing sides ended in a 0-0 stalemate, as Cardiff City battled a Queens Park Rangers side eager to continue their fine form on the road.

Heidar Helguson had the best opportunity of the match, connecting with Mikele Leigertwood's fine cross, but could only steer his effort wide from eight yards.

But in truth, it was one of many Rangers chances, as the visitors dominated for large spells, silencing the Ninian Park faithful. Wayne Routledge, on his return to familiar territory, and Damien Delaney both had efforts that just failed to find the mark.

But it remained goalless, meaning Rangers continued their impressive form on their travels.

Paulo Sousa made three changes from the 3-1 defeat against Ipswich Town on Saturday.

Radek Cerny, Damion Stewart and Helguson all returned, with Lee Camp, Fitz Hall and Samuel Di Carmine making way.

The latter two dropped to the bench, alongside Dexter Blackstock, Matteo Alberti and recent addition Jòrdi Lopez.

Bluebirds boss Dave Jones was forced into changes of his own, with defender Gabor Gyepes and key man Jay Bothroyd both missing out.

Jones drafted in Darren Purse and Chris Burke in their absence, which meant former Birmingham City loanee Quincy Owusu-Abeyie had to make do with a place amongst the City substitutes.

With both sides trading possession in the early exchanges, it was the home side who nearly broke the deadlock.

When Roger Johnson headed on a corner, Purse's well-hit volley deflected off a grounded Gavin Mahon and drew a fantastic reaction save out of the returning Cerny.

Rangers struck back, and Matt Connolly's long ball released Routledge down the right. His pull back found Liam Miller bursting into the box. Instead of shooting first time, the Irishman took a touch that took him too wide and Dimi Konstantopolous smothered well.

It was safe to say, however, that the Bluebirds were just about shading it. Damien Delaney's error allowed Ross McCormack a clear sight of goal, but fortunately for the left back, the Scot blazed over.

Seconds later, neat build-up handed Gavin Rae a similar opportunity, but he blasted his effort wide of the target. Cardiff were, however, getting closer.

Joe Ledley managed to squeeze in one last chance before the first half drew to a close. A cracking through-ball from local hero Michael Chopra released him driving into the box and as he let rip with his left foot, across flew Kaspars Gorkss to superbly block the attempt.

The second half opened with Chopra trying his luck from fully 25 yards, before McCormack once again sent a shot into the stands.

Those two efforts were quickly followed up by Connolly attempting a left-footed drive from 25 yards that flew harmlessly high and wide.

The long range thunderbolts were raining in thick and fast - Cardiff left-back Kennedy attempting a speculative right-footer, whilst Chopra fired high and wide out wide to the right.

Sousa made his first change minutes before the hour mark, hauling off the hard-working Miller and introducing Alberti.

Rangers very nearly fashioned their first real clear -chance of the half, as Delaney played a neat one-two with Helguson before bursting into the box. Before he could snap off a shot, the ball was swept from his feet by the covering Johnson.

Delaney was clearly in the mood as he tried again a couple of minutes later, only to fire high and wide.

Rangers were enjoying a spell of dominance and could've gone ahead but for a touch more luck. Mahon's deflected strike from 30 yards whizzed right into the grateful arms of Konstantopolous, whilst a thundering drive from Routledge, eager to silence the boo-boys, whistled narrowly over.

More was to come seconds later. Lee Cook's left-wing cross found an unmarked Helguson, but the Icelander miscued his left-footed volley and it bounced harmlessly wide.

Helguson should've scored some minutes later as he darted towards the near post for Leigertwood's centre, only to see his half-volley from eight yards roll wide.

With minutes remaining, Sousa threw on Blackstock and Di Carmine in a bid to snatch the points and make the most of Rangers' spell of domination. But despite Routledge's cross shot at the death flying wide of goal, it was not to be, as the R's were forced to settle for a share of the spoils."

CARDIFF OFFICIAL SITE/by Ashley James and Mark Denham


The Bluebirds moved up to fourth in the Coca-Cola Championship on Wednesday evening despite drawing 0-0 with QPR at Ninian Park. Darren Purse and Michael Chopra had chances to win the game for City, though the away side could have easily snatched the three points at the death with two good opportunites.
Article continues

Full match report to follow.

Team News: Cardiff made two changes from the side that started at Wolves just three days before; Chris Burke, a first-half replacement for Jay Bothroyd at Molineux continued in the strikers absence which meant Ross McCormack reverted to his usual position up-top alongside Michael Chopra. The other switch came at the back where Darren Purse returned to the starting XI in place of the injured Gabor Gyepes. Dimi Konstantopoulos made his first appearance at Ninian Park and with no other senior goalkeeper in the squad, Cardiff entered their second league match in a row without a safety net on the bench. The substitutes did feature Quincy Owusu-Abeyie though, who was yet to step onto a football field as a Cardiff City player.

Chronological Report: Cardiff really needed a good start to alleviate any lingering disappointment that still existed from the closing stages of the Wolves match. After just four minutes Darren Purse very nearly gave them that perfect start only to be foiled by a stray Ranger's boot. Ross McCormack won a corner over on the left with some fine direct running and from the delivery Roger Johnson's flick-on found the swinging left-boot of Purse who drilled in a volley only to see it blocked by the boot of a defender just in front of Radek Cerny in the R's goal who had got down well to his left.

The visitor's first meaningful foray came after ten minutes when Wayne Routledge collected the ball wide on the right and found Liam Miller inside the box with his cut-back. The Irishman's first touch took him away from John son but allowed Konstantopoulos to rush out and smother the ball near the by-line.

The match was hardly fizzing with free flowing football as the ball spent the majority of it's time bogged down in an overflowing and highly combative midfield area or somewhere near the Ninian Park floodlights. There were brief reminders of the talent on display though with Routledge looking bright if not exactly eager to get involved while Cardiff carved open a half-chance after eighteen minutes. Chris Burke flighted in a pass from the right touchline which McCormack did well to control on his chest and turn on goal, his neatly disguised lay-off found Gavin Rae on the edge of the box but unfortunately his thunderous drive was of more direct concern to those in the Canton Stand than Ranger's 'keeper Cerny.

The first half continued to labour on by and just before the half-hour mark Routledge again provided a spark of inspiration for the visitors. He collected a sweeping pass out to him with a world-class first touch from the touchline which took him in behind Mark Kennedy. Our Irishman kept his footing as the two came together again unlike Routledge who went down just inside the area. From my vantage point it looked like a situation from which I've seen penalties given, luckily Referee Mr East didn't do so on this occasion.

Disjointed passage with Cardiff still yet to really get into the match or hold onto the ball for any length of time, really looked to be missing the hold up ability of jay while the extra body in the qpr midfield was working exactly as intended.

The last chance to break the first half milieu fell to the home side in the thirty-ninth minute. A great pass from Michael Chopra sprung Joe Ledley in behind the Ranger's defence, his first touch took him inside the box but his shot was brilliantly blocked by the sliding challenge of Kaspars Gorkss.

Half Time: CARDIFF CITY 0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers

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Cardiff City Substitution: Miguel Comminges for Kevin McNaughton (46mins)

The second half began in far more optimistic fashion as within the opening seconds Lee Cook had a bright direct run through the heart of the Cardiff midfield and had his ankles clipped by Ledley. Miller struck the set-piece from around twenty-five yards out and only succeeded in forcing the wall into doing their job, one which they did admirably.

With little being created through general means both sides spent the next ten minutes or so trading audacious long range efforts with mixed results. Chopra had a go with one that dipped awkwardly in front of Cerny from the left while McCormack also blazed over from that side of the box after gliding past two defenders. Matthew Connolly stepped up in repost for our visitors only to see his shot sail over like a sweetly struck rugby conversion while Kennedy rounded off the festivities with a high, wide and ugly effort from just off the left touchline.

Queens Park Rangers Substitution: Matteo Alberti for Liam Miller (53mins)

The hour mark brought about a chance for City as Paul Parry won a flick on which found Chopra down the right channel. He raced onto the ball on the right hand corner of the box and with Damion Stewart steaming across to close him down he struck his shot early by blazed over.

Cardiff looked desperate to push on a snatch a goal and with the game opening up chances began to arrive at both ends. A great rampaging run by Damien Delaney and a neat one-two with Heidar Helguson put the full back through on goal only for Roger Johnson to rescue the situation by getting across at the last second.

That had easily been the visitor's best chance to date and Cardiff's was quick to follow; a Burke cross deflected into the path of Chopra who otherwise would have been offside by a country mile, but with the goal at his mercy his scuffed his shot horribly wide across the six yard box. That would prove to be his last contribution as seconds later he hobbled off to be replaced by Peter Whittingham.

Cardiff City Substitution: Peter Whittingham for Michael Chopra (65mins)

Cardiff City Substitution: Quincy Owusu-Abeyie for Chris Burke (73mins)

Our visitors were struggling to really penetrate the Cardiff defence but in the seventy-sixth minute they were nearly handed a scoring chance by our misdoings. A poor back-pass from Kennedy needlessly put Konstantopoulos under pressure and meant he directed an equally poor clearance straight to Routledge twenty yards out on the right but luckily he flashed his shot wide.

In the last ten minutes Rangers created two genuinely great chances to claim all three points. Firstly Lee Cook led a break-away down the left and swung a cross over to Helguson at the back post who miss-hit his volley into the ground and wide not unlike Emanuel Adebayor's miss for Arsenal here a month or so before. The second chance also fell to Helguson and again it opened up down the left. This time it was Mikele Leigertwood who got forward well and hit his Icelandic striker at the near post who thankfully side-footed wide under Roger Johnson's challenge.

The second chance has come directly from a decent looking penalty claim by the Bluebirds. Whittingham fed McCormack at the edge of the area who himself found Parry just inside with the former going down over a trailing leg as he turned on goal. The referee disagreed much to Parry's disbelief while Rangers launched their attack.

Queens Park Rangers Substitution: Dexter Blackstock for Gavin Mahon (89mins)

Queens Park Rangers Substitution: Samuel Di Carmini for Heidar Helguson (90+1mins)

With time almost expired Cardiff were up to their old tricks again and allowed their visitors one final chance as Routledge finally shook free of Kennedy's shackles and flashed a vicious ball across the face of the goal which incredibly avoided taking a match winning touch off anyone.

Full Time: CARDIFF CITY 0 - 0 Queens Park Rangers

Cardiff City: Konstantopoulos, McNaughton (Comminges 46mins), R. Johnson, Purse, Kennedy, Burke (Owusu-Abeyie 73mins), Rae, Ledley, Parry, McCormack, Chopra (Whittingham 65mins).

Subs not used: Scimeca, E. Johnson.

Queens Park Rangers: Cerny, Delaney, Gorkss, Stewart, Connolly, Mahon (Blackstock 89mins), Miller (Alberti 53mins), Leigertwood, Cook, Routledge, (Helguson (Di Carmini 90+1mins).

Subs not used: Hall, Lopez.

Referee: R. East

Attendance: 17,340 Cardiff

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