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Saturday, March 07, 2009

QPR's Draw With Sheffield United - Match Reports and Managerial Comments

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- A crowd of just under 14,000 saw QPR extend their winless streak to 7 games. Updated League Table

- Paulo Sousa praised his side's efforts following the 0-0 draw against in-form Sheffield United.
- Rangers dominated proceedings in W12, only to be denied three points by a mixture of good goalkeeping and profligate finishing in front of goal.
- Sousa told www.qpr.co.uk: "It's not just today that we've been unlucky. This is a difficult moment for us in front of goal, but we are building.
- "This last month or so has been tough, but I am happy with our solid base and we proved today that we are a good, good side.
- "We returned to being a better solid team defensively today and I am pleased with that.
- "At the other end, we created a lot of chances to win the game, but the final important touch was missing."
- Sousa added: "We'll keep believing in ourselves because each game we play I can see us getting stronger.
- "We went very, very close today. One touch here or there can change the game and change the season.
- "We're working very hard on finishing in training, at least 20 minutes per day, and we will continue to strive for it.
- "Until it is mathematically impossible, we will continue to push for it (the play-off's)." QPR

Sporting Life/Andy Simms - PA Sport - KENNY 'BEST KEEPER IN THE LEAGUE'
- Kevin Blackwell branded Paddy Kenny "the best goalkeeper in the Championship" after his saves helped extend Sheffield United's club-record run in the 0-0 draw at QPR.
- Kenny, who was transfer-listed over Christmas after turning up late for training, has buried the hatchet with Blades boss Blackwell and earned his side a point with some fine saves - notably from Rangers striker Dexter Blackstock.
- "I didn't want Paddy to go anyway but, sometimes you have to do certain things within your club," said Blackwell, whose side are now unbeaten on the road in 13 league games.
- "He's been brilliant. I rate him as the best goalkeeper in the Championship and a capable Premier League goalkeeper.
- "If you are going to break records you need everyone to do something and he did."
- The Blades were blunted in the first half with Rangers well on top, but they could not find a way past Kenny.
- In the 10th minute Blackstock raced on to Mikele Leigertwood's long ball only to fire too close to the 30-year-old keeper.
- Blackstock came even closer moments later when he collected Liam Miller's pass on the edge of the area, turned and shot in one movement and saw Kenny tip an awkward, bouncing ball over the top.
- The visitors did liven up after the break and Nick Montgomery's fierce strike from 20 yards forced a smart stop from Radek Cerny in the Rangers goal.
- Cerny was in action again in the 54th minute, beating away Danny Webber's angled shot.
- But Kenny ensured his side pocketed a point towards their promotion bid when he kept out a point-blank header from Blackstock, while Rangers sub Matteo Alberti blazed over.
- United dropped a place to fifth but Blackwell is still targeting a top-two finish and automatic promotion.
- "We had chances at the end so it was a fair result," added Blackwell.
- "We've still go to play teams up there. I think the last 10 games will be exciting.
- "All you can do is keep doing your best. It's all to play for and if we go for automatic promotion and fall just short, we've still got the play-offs."

- Rangers' own play-off bid continues to flag and they have not won at home since December, but boss Paulo Sousa is not feeling the pressure despite Italian owner Flavio Briatore's record of hiring and firing.
- "Mediterranean people are never patient," he admitted. "But he's a very ambitious person but he knows we are in a good way.
- "When I came Flavio asked me to create a consistent, solid team and our aim is the Premier League.
- "We have improved in the last year and a half and next season we will be much, much better
." SportinG Life

QPR Official Site - Match Report
- In an entertaining contest, QPR produced a display of real spirit and heart, coupled with fine attacking flair, to hold a lacklustre Sheffield United.
- Dexter Blackstock and Matteo Alberti had the best chances for the home side. The striker nodding wide when well-placed only a few feet out, whilst the Italian midfielder blasted only over with only the keeper to beat from ten yards.
-In fairness, the times the Blades did threaten, they found themselves up against a determined Radek Cerny, who denied Danny Webber superbly at his near post, and Craig Beattie at point-blank range.
- Kyle Naughton and Nick Montgomery also saw shots well saved by the home keeper.
- But ultimately neither side could break the deadlock, and both had to settle for a share of the spoils.
- After impressing on his full debut against Norwich City in the week, Jordi Lòpez retained his starting place in the R's engine room.
- Joining him was Irishman Liam Miller, stand-in skipper Mikele Leigertwood, and the tricky Wayne Routledge.
- With Heidar Helguson missing, Samuel Di Carmine partnered Dexter Blackstock in attack, whilst there was no change at the back. Kaspars Gorkss joined Damion Stewart at the heart of the defence, with Matt Connolly and Damien Delaney protecting the flanks.
- Between the sticks, the usual figure of Radek Cerny could be found, the Czech keeper eager to atone for his error on Tuesday night.
- Within the opening minutes, Routledge had blazed over the bar, picking up the scraps from Blackstock's hold-up play, as the R's raced out of the blocks.
- The home side nearly opened the scoring as early as the eighth minute, as a long ball from Leigertwood caught out Matthew Kilgallon, who in turn lost out to Blackstock in the ensuing foot-race.
- But as the R's hit-man bore down on goal, the recovering United defender just did enough to put him off at the crucial moment and Blackstock's effort lacked enough power to beat Paddy Kenny.
- Kenny thwarted Blackstock again moments later, as Miller's pass found the lanky striker with his back to goal. As he turned, he struck a sweetly-hit shot that bobbled and weaved as it flew towards the Irish international. But Kenny was equal to it, and palmed it over the bar.
-United were playing their part in an intriguing affair, and struck the woodwork on 28 minutes. A Naughton free-kick swung into a crowded box and connected with a head. Whether it was a Rangers or a United head was uncertain, but Cerny was sure it was dangerous and palmed it onto the cross-bar.
- Following up, Chris Morgan blasted the rebound into the side netting.
- As the half wound to a close, there was still time for Blackstock to go close once more. Picking up Di Carmine's flick-on, he raced past Morgan and, as Kenny rushed out to close the angle, the R's striker lifted the ball over him but could only steer it wide.
- In stoppage time, Lòpez sent a 35 yard free-kick swerving towards the Sheffield goal. Having gone one way, Kenny had to think again as the ball changed direction, but it remained a simple save for the United custodian.
- With the second half only three minutes old, United drew a superb stop out of Cerny. Greg Halford played a cross-field pass to the feet of Webber, who in turn rolled the ball into the path of Montgomery.
- The United midfielder took the shot on first time from the edge of the box, but Cerny dived to his right and saved smartly.
- In the 54th minute, Manager Paulo Sousa made his first change. Alberti replaced Miller.
- The visitors went close again through Webber, but after breaking clear on the left of the six-yard box, the Blades striker was halted superbly by home keeper Cerny who raced off his line and smothered the shot.
- The change in personnel almost paid dividends as Rangers, after a United attack collapsed, looked to counter.
- Alberti broke from his own box, drove on and found Delaney rampaging down the left. The full-back worked the ball to Leigertwood who cut onto his right foot and sent a curling cross to the back post. Blackstock was lurking, and rose well but could only nod wide.
- Rangers should've scored minutes later. First, Lòpez's miscued shot struck Di Carmine and looped back across the box where Blackstock rose and somehow headed wide from not three yards.
- Then, Blackstock used his strength to win possession and turned to bore down on goal. However, spying Alberti in acres of space on the right, the forward picked him out but somehow, from ten yards, the Italian blazed high and wide.
- The Blades, let off by Alberti's miss, nearly capitalised instantly, but Naughton's shot from a tight angle was brilliantly turned round the post by a full-stretch Cerny.
- Very much on top however, Rangers threatened again through Di Carmine. Neat build-up play involving Leigertwood, Routledge and Delaney saw the latter of the trio pick out the Italian striker, who played a neat one-two with his countryman Alberti before drifting inside and unleashing a left-footed drive straight at Kenny.
- Sousa made change number two shortly after, with the hard-working Di Carmine making way for Angelo Balanta.
- With ten minutes remaining, Cerny once again came to Rangers' rescue. When Morgan's volley bounced around awkwardly inside the area, it appeared it was going to find Blades substitute Beattie who'd be left with a simple tap-in. But the Czech showed great awareness to fly across his goal and save at his feat.
- Rangers' final change saw Leigertwood be replaced by Hogan Ephraim.
- But even the exciting youngster could not unlock the door and, despite Rangers finishing the stronger of the two sides, they could not find a way past a resolute United defence, and had to make do with a point.
QPR: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Blackstock (Ephraim 81), Gorkss, Connolly, Miller (Alberti 54), Lòpez, Di Carmine (Balanta 76). Subs: Mahon, Hall. Bookings: Stewart (27)
Sheffield United: Kenny, Halford, Naysmith, Morgan, Kilgallon, Henderson (O'Toole 81), Webber (Beattie 69), Montgomery, Howard (Ward 59), Quinn, Naughton. Subs: Lupoli, Bromby. Referee: Mr N D Swarbrick Attendance: 13,718 QPR

SHEFFIELD United Official Site

United stretched the record-breaking away run to 13 games without defeat thanks to a battling display at mega-rich Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.

Both goalkeepers - Paddy Kenny and Radek Cerny - were on the top of their games in the stalemate in the capital.

Nick Montgomery and Craig Beattie had United's better chances as Kevin Blackwell's side also made it five games without defeat.

Halford and Webber were recalled after being rested from the starting XI on Wednesday at Coventry, they returned at the expense of Cotterill and Bromby. QPR included former Blade Leigertwood, who captained the home side, but there was no place for big striker Helguson.

Naughton reverted to right-back at Loftus Road and, from right to left, Halford, Howard and Webber supported lone frontman Henderson, allowing Quinn and Montgomery to take up orthodox midfield roles.

Rangers bossed the possession in the first ten minutes but United were the first to record a chance and although Webber's flicked header from Naughton's cross failed to find the target it did cause a nervous moment for Cerny.

The home side's threat, though, was soon clear. Firstly, from Leigertwood's hopeful ball, Blackstock got the better of Kilgallon but shot at Kenny, whilst the United goalkeeper was the equal of the Rangers striker again on 12 minutes, cautiously pushing over a speculative volley.

United scurried a couple of balls away from the penalty area as Rangers applied a little pressure but the home side were on the back foot on 27 minutes when defender Stewart picked up the game's first booking for a foul on Henderson. From the resulting free-kick Connolly's back header looped on to the top of the crossbar and Morgan fired the rebound into the side-netting.

In a scrappy first period, on a pitch not conducive to neat football, Montgomery gave his usual high-energy display, whilst Blackstock was the home side's biggest threat. Kenny picked up a knock in a challenge with Di Carmine, but despite not being able to take the subsequent free-kick, he was OK to continue.

On 44 minutes Blackstock's pace got the better of Morgan and Kenny but he clipped just wide, whilst in the four minutes of added time at the end of the first half, Lopez fired in a 30-yard free-kick, which the Blades goalkeeper comfortably gathered.

Despite the generous injury-time period, both sides were able to break the deadlock but neither manager was tempted into a change at the interval.

Blades fans were making themselves heard at the start of the second period and it almost had the desired effect as the visitors went close on 48 minutes. Halford's crossfield ball was ideal for Webber to lay off for Montgomery to drill a controlled 20-yard shot, which was beaten away continental-style, by Cerny. The QPR goalkeeper was called into action once again soon after, saving with his legs from Webber after Halford flicked on.

Blackstock's flicked header, from Leigertwood's cross, was just wide but it did signify QPR's first opportunity of the half and both managers were soon making changes, with Blackwell introducing a second striker in the shape of Ward, in place of Howard.

Just after the hour mark the tempo was risen, mainly the result of a QPR chance with 63 minutes gone. A miscued shot turned into a perfect cross and Di Carmine, Gorkss and Blackstock were all involved as the home fans thought they had opened the scoring but Kenny, with assistance from his defenders, managed to scramble the ball clear.

Within a minute substitute Alberti fired over a fantastic chance, created by Blackstock, whilst United produced a training ground free-kick routine which ended with Cerny touching Naughton's cross into the side-netting.

Beattie was United's second substitution, taking the place of Webber in a very attacking-looking team, but he was in a defensive position when Di Carmine stung the palms of Kenny on 74 minutes.

As the game entered the closing stages, both sides, to their credit, were still looking for a maximum-point haul. On 80 minutes, after Halford's long-throw was half-cleared, Morgan - a former scorer at Loftus Road - fired in a scissor kick which Beattie almost connected with, but Cerny was out quickly and put his body on the line.

Both managers completed their substitutions and Ward was industrious around the box for United, whilst Kenny was forced into another difficult save from a long Lopez free-kick on 86 minutes.

After linking up well with O'Toole, Beattie's cross, aimed for Ward, was claimed by Cerny late on and three minutes of injury-time gave both sides hope but neither were able to sneak a late winner.

QPR: Cerny, Delaney, Stewart, Leigertwood (Ephraim 81), Routledge, Blackstock, Gorkss, Connolly, Miller (Alberti 54), Lopez, Di Carmine (Balanta 76).
Unused: Mahon, Hall, Ephraim.

Blades: Kenny, Halford, Naysmith, Morgan, Kilgallon, Henderson (O'Toole 81), Webber (Beattie 68), Montgomery, Howard (Ward 59), Quinn, Naughton.
Unused: Lupoli, Bromby. Sheffield United

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