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Saturday, March 14, 2009

QPR Hit The Magical 50 Points Mark...But Sousa Not Giving Up Playoff Hope

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Southampton 0 QPR 0: - QPR hit the 50 points with a 0-0 draw at Southampton. (A good draw - although that now makes 9 games without a win). QPR came under some pretty heavy pressure at the end. But at the very, very end, QPR almost snatched it. - Updated Table.

- QPR Manager Paulo Sousa once again refused to give up on nicking a play-off place, but reaffirmed plans for a promotion push next season.
- Speaking to www.qpr.co.uk after the 0-0 draw against Southampton, the R's gaffer said: "Until the maths gives us other ideas, we will keep believing, keep thinking, keep working and keep motivating our players to try and reach the top-six.
- "But, the board have expectations and I have expectations and next season we will be stronger and more focused on achieving promotion."
- Despite drawing a blank at St Mary's, Sousa praised his side's efforts, commenting: "We showed good unity today.
- "We worked very hard and created good opportunities, but maybe we are just not getting the luck at the moment."
- The match saw 17 year-old Antonio German make his First Team bow, and Sousa added: "That is a major positive I can take from today.
- "We had a 17 year-old, a 19 year-old and a lot of other young players and that fills me with great belief.
- "Antonio and Adel (Taarabat) are very good prospects, but they are still young and will need time to gel.
- "The fact we came here, to a tough place, and got a clean sheet and a point with such a young side is very positive." QPR

QPR Official Site Match Eport

In a resilient defensive display, coupled with some fine offensive guile, QPR found themselves somewhat out of luck when faced with a Southampton side battling relegation.

In a position where every point is vital, the Saints battened down the hatches for most of the 90 minutes, with only Adam Lallana and Andrew Surman going close to giving Soton three precious points.

Most of the attacking play was done by the men in Hoops, with Hogan Ephraim, new-boy Adel Taarabt and Mikele Leigertwood all having efforts well saved or narrowly missing the target.

The match did mark two debuts for Rangers, with on-loan Spurs midfielder Taarabt joining Reserves hot-shot Antonio German in making their bows.

But ultimately, not even the new blood couldn't inspire the R's, and they had to make do with just the solitary point.

In a bid to complete the double over the St Marys outfit, Manager Paulo Sousa shuffled his pack for the trip to the South Coast.

Out went midfielders Gavin Mahon and Matteo Alberti - both of whom dropped to the bench - with Jordi Lòpez and Ephraim returning to the eleven. Joining them was Liam Miller, at the expense of striker Samuel Di Carmine, who missed out, with youngster Antonio German taking a seat on the bench.

Elsewhere, the back four all retained their places, with Peter Ramage again featuring at right back. Kaspars Gorkss joined Damion Stewart in central defence, and Matt Connolly completed the four.

The last line of defence took the familiar shape of Radek Cerny, whilst Dexter Blackstock cut a lone figure up front.

Captain Leigertwood and wide-man Wayne Routledge took the final starting spots, and there was a place on the bench for Fitz Hall and new loan signing Taarabt.

For the hosts, young prospects Surman and Lallana - the latter the scorer of a fine Saints goal at Loftus Road earlier in the season - took their places in midfield.

Marek Saganowski, fresh from European adventures whilst on loan at Aalborg, partnered David McGoldrick up top, and Chris Perry, the veteran defender, looked to marshal a young defence.

And it was the Saints who fashioned the opening chance of the match. A lofted pass forward caught out Stewart and allowed Jason Euell to steal in and go one on one with Cerny. As the R's keeper advanced, the Jamaican forward never looked confident and duly poked his effort wide.

Rangers, rallying after their early scare went close on 12 minutes when Perry inadvertently deflected a Miller shot towards his own goal, which had Kelvin Davis scrambling.

The rebound was well picked up on by Blackstock, who held the ball up expertly before teeing Leigertwood, who tried a curling shot only to see it charged down by Jan-Paul Saeijs.

Good work involving Routledge, Ramage and Blackstock saw the skipper try again from the box's edge, but this time, his left-foot shot was badly miscued and Davis could gather.

The R's fashioned their best chance of the opening 22 minutes when a Lòpez corner found the climbing Gorkss who sent a towering header back across goal, only for Routledge to head over from only a few yards out.

Saints were by no means allowing the R's free rein of the St Mary's pitch, and kept Cerny occupied with a Simon Gillet daisy-cutter from 25 yards, and then a Surman strike from similar distance that was always going wide.

But the R's continued to look for a way past Davis, and Ephraim was next to try his fortunes. After a lucky break allowed him to break free down the left, he cut inside Lloyd James and went for the near post. Despite a deflection off the recovering James, his effort was comfortably dealt with buy the Saint's custodian.

As the clock ticked through the last five minutes of the first half, Cerny needed to be alert to keep out a Euell snapshot, whilst a Stewart flick-on from a long Ramage throw, narrowly eluded Blackstock. But it remained scoreless.

Rangers started the second period on the front foot, and nearly opened the scoring with fine work from Routledge, playing a neat one-two with Ramage before firing over a cross that fell for Leigertwood. He in turn, picked out Lòpez who drew a fingertips save from Davis.

Leigertwood followed that up by controlling a high ball expertly on the chest before snapping off a volley that arrowed wide of Davis' left-hand post.

After a period where neither side could find a firm enough grip on the match, it was Soton who wasted the next great opening. After a mazy dribble, bamboozling several Rangers defenders, Lallana, with better options to his left, chose instead to try his luck. Frustratingly for Saints fans, he shot wide of the target.

With 70 minutes gone, Miller made way for young striker German who made his QPR debut.

Following suit, fellow debutant Taarabt replaced Ephraim.

Saints nearly spoiled the moment for the pair as substitute Bradley Wright-Phillips scampered down the right before pulling the ball back for Thomson. The youngster miscued but waiting behind him was Surman, but the highly-rated midfielder could only shoot weakly into the grateful arms of Cerny.

The closing stages, with Mahon joining the fray for Lòpez, was all Rangers. Taarabt fired first into the side-netting, then drawing a fine save out of Davis, but despite applying the pressure on a beleaguered Soton defence, the R's just could not find a way through, and it remained 0-0.
Southampton: Davis, Perry, Saganowski (Wright-Phillips 77), Saeijs, Skacel, Surman, Euell, McGoldrick, Lallana (Thomson 74), Gillett, James. Subs: Forecast, Wotton, Liptak. Scorers: Bookings: James (53), McGoldrick (56)
QPR: Cerny,Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Blackstock, Gorkss, Ramage, Connolly, Miller (German 71), Lòpez (Mahon 87), Ephraim (Taarabt 79), . Subs: Hall, Alberti.
Bookings: Gorkss (37), Stewart (68) Attendance: 18,691 (2,490) QPR

Southampton Official Site - Live Text Commentary

Saints Head Coach Mark Wotte has no fresh injury concerns ahead this match, with midfielder Adam Lallana rejoining the starting line-up after coming off the bench in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Derby County.

For QPR, Paulo Sousa opts for a five-man midfield with former Saints striker Dexter Blackstock alone up-front, whilst Friday's loan signing Abdel Taarabt makes the bench.

2: Things get underway at a sunny St. Mary's with a large travelling support and the home side almost get off to a dream start, as Euell chasesdown a loose ball and took the ball too far round the 'keeper instead of firing home.

5: A attempted one-two between McGoldrick and Saganowski breaks down and Connolly breaks down the right and crosses in for Blackstock, who has strayed off-side.

9: Saganowski tries to cut the ball back to a colleague in the box, but QPR are back in numbers to deny the lively Pole an opening.

11: Saints survive a scare as Blackstock's cut back into the box flies close to Davis, after Perry gets a foot to it, but Gillett eventually hooks clear.

14: Jason Euell lifts the ball over Radek Cerny and into the back of the net but the linesman's flag is already raised on the near side.

16: Wayne Routledge fires a close-range shot wide of the right post after a pull-back from Peter Ramage.

22: The visitors win a corner on the left that Lopez delivers for Gorkss to head back across the face of goal, and Routledgeheads over the bar.

23: Saints flood the box with red and white shirts, and put pressure on the QPR defence, but the final ball evenually runs behind.

25: Lallana goes on a run straight down the middle, before passing out to Euell on the right as he reaches the edge of the box, but the former-Charlton man is closed down by Ramage.

28: Simon Gillett picks up the ball 25-yards out and tries his luck with a low shot, but Cerny is able to gather it up at the near post.

33: Surman drives a diagonal shot in from the edge of the box, but it runs wide of the right post.

36: A mix-up at the back from Lloyd James let Ephraim in on goal, but his near post shot is well saved by Davis, who scrambled across to his right to smother the shot.

37: Kaspars Gorkss is booked for a pull on Euell, but Saints can't make anything count from the resulting free-kick.

40: McGoldrick threads a lovely ball through to Euell who shoots low to the 'keeper's left, and Cerny spills the ball, but grabs it again before Saganowski can reach it.

45: One minute of stoppage time added on.

Half-Time: Saints 0-0 QPR

46:The vistors arrive late for the start of the second half, but get off the the better start as Lopez's shot forces a diving save from Davis and they also pose a threat from the corner.

48: Saeijs receives treament from the Saints physio, but rejoins play shortly afterwards.

50: Skacel puts a long ball up from the back and Gorkss miscontrols to allow space for McGoldrick to chase the ball to the byline, but it just runs out with him chasing at full-tlit.

52: Jason Euell gets himself into a good striking position to the left of goal, but volleys wide from a tight angle.

53: Lloyd James picks up a booking for a foul on former-West Ham man Hogan Ephraim.

55: McGoldrick picks up another yellow card from referee Mike Jones for a foul on Lopez.

57: Euell dangerous cross in from the right is clear with a diving header from Stewart as the atmosphere builds around St. Mary's.

60: Saeijs gets back well to take the ball off the foot of Connolly, after he plays a one two and shapes to shoot.

61: Rangers have play waved on as Saeijs and Blackstock tangle on the edge of the box.

64: Lallana does well with a breaking run and a deep cross over the top, but it's too high for Saganowski or McGoldrick who is running in.

67: Stewart is booked for a blatant shove on Davis, after a break in play for a QPR player to receive treatment.

68: Lallana again tries a shot, but fires wide of the left post, with Saganowki an Surman waiting over to the left.



75: Surman lofts in a free-kick from the left after persistance from Thomson, but he over-hits it and it runs out of play.



79: Saints should have broken the deadlock asa Wright-Phillips played a low ball into the box and Euell flicked it on to Surman behind him, but he couldn't place the ball around the 'keeper.

83: Surman makes ammends with a lovely back heel which Euell leaves and it runs through for Wright-Phillips in the box, but he can't quite make the shot.

84: Saints are looking stronger, but Wright-Phillips is pushed off the ball inside the box , but nothing is given!


87: Taarabt blasts the ball into the side netting but the offiside flag has already been raised.

90: Four minutes are added on by the fourth official.

90+1 Saints go agonisingly close again as Thomson's cross is again hit by Surman at close range, but is headed clear by Stewart.

90+4: Taarabt forces a last minute save from Davis, who dives to his right as the full time whistle blows.

Full-Time: Saints 0-0 QPR

Southampton Official Site

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