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Saturday, April 25, 2009

QPR and Plymouth Draw: Reports and Comments...QPR Division's Lowest Scorers...Taarabt Surgery

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- A crowd of just under 15,000 at Loftus Road today saw 0-0 Draw.

- Photos From Loftus Road

- QPR Bottom of the Scoring Charts (with 41 goals) - Updated Championship League Table

- Gareth Ainsworth pulled no punches when describing the 0-0 draw with Plymouth Argyle.
- Speaking to www.qpr.co.uk, the R's Caretaker boss remarked, "It was hardly a classic was it! It was a typical end of season game.
- "I think they came for a point, slowing the game down a lot in the second half.
- "Fair play to them - they have every right to do that when their divisional status is at stake."
- Ainsworth added: "Neither keeper has had a difficult save to make really. Radek's kept us in it with a stop or two but neither side really dominated.
- "We didn't create too much but then it was Plymouth who needed the points more than us and we frustrated them."
- Ainsworth praised the support of the R's faithful, who turned out in their numbers to give the players a send off in Rangers' final home match of the season.
- "They were great, as they have been all season long.
- "The reception they gave the players during the lap of honour was excellent." QPR

Plymouth Official Site
- ARGYLE failed to end their season in their penultimate game, although they gave their all in pursuit of Championship safety.
- If Norwich City beat Reading on Monday night, then the Pilgrims will go into next Sunday's Home Park game against Barnsley - also not free from the drop - with their league status still uncertain.
- However, a point would be enough to make them safe, and, in the final analysis, they might not need that, depending on final-day results elsewhere.

The Pilgrims created chance after chance at Loftus Road, especially in the first half, and, although none of them were easy to convert, on another day, they would have been two or three goals to the good at half-time.

Argyle manager Paul Sturrock sent out an identical starting 11 for the fourth successive game, ostensibly the same side that had beaten Blackpool and Coventry, drawn at Birmingham, and lost at home to Doncaster seven days earlier.

However, there are those who witnessed the 3-0 home capitulation against the Yorkshiremen who would swear blind they were watching a totally different line-up to the previous three matches, even though the names remained the same.

It was a chance for the favoured to gain redemption, and they seized it eagerly.

Rangers, safe from the threat of relegation and way off the play-offs - given their backing, a season arguably poorer than the Pilgrims' - made three changes to the team that had begun the previous weekend's 1-0 defeat at Wolves: defender Mikele Leigertwood, midfielder Liam Miller and Patrick Agyemang returning at the expense of Peter Ramage, Jordi López and Rowan Vine.

The Hoops came into the game on the back of an impressive five-match unbeaten home run (victories over Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City and Swansea; draws with Crystal Palace and Sheffield United) but had failed to win any of the five games at Loftus Road prior to that.

Argyle so nearly got the start they, and their nervous supporters on the upper tier of the School End stand, needed.

Within two minutes, Jamie Mackie's persistence in chasing a channel-ball from Carl Fletcher saw the ball break nicely for Paul Gallagher on the edge of the penalty area. Gallagher's shot was saved by goalkeeper Radek Cerny, who spilled the ball, but not quite far enough in front of him for the lurking Ashley Barnes to profit.

Argyle buzzed through the early stages, and individuals that, a week earlier, had looked as stale as Christmas cake were performing as brightly as the West London sunshine.

A second chance came their way as Rangers' defence failed to deal with another incursion down the right and the ball sat up nicely for Gallagher, whose deft dipping volley was a couple of feet too high.

An even better opportunity was spurned in the 17th minute, when Gallagher unpicked the QPR defence with a logarithmically precise pass that allowed Mackie to fire an equally measured pass across Cerny.

The ball found its way to the far post, where Karl Duguid had read the play exactly to arrive at the right time, but at the wrong angle, and the skipper could not quite force the ball in with a necessary first-time shot from a tight position.

Rangers looked like a side already mentally attending their post-match end-of-season player-of-the-year awards night, and Argyle took advantage at will without making their superiority tell in the only way that really counts.

Still, the Pilgrims occasionally had to be wary of the Londoners, especially given Argyle's woeful record when conceding first, and a right-wing cross from Wayne Routledge was inches away from finding Agyemang's head in front of goal.

A fourth decent scoring chance came Argyle's way after Cerny injudiciously elected to come for a cross by Alan Judge and flapped the ball into the path of Barnes, who, through a combination of surprise and the ball arriving at the wrong height, could not wrap his foot around it.

For all their admirable endeavour, the Pilgrims remained vulnerable at 0-0, and the fragility of their position was demonstrated shortly before the break when Leigertwood skipped merrily through the midfield to the Argyle penalty area, all the time looking to shift the ball on to his trusty right foot, before being squeezed out by a combination of Marcel Seip and David Gray.

The Pilgrims needed to start the second half as they had played most of the first - a failure to do just that in their previous away game had cost them two points - and the Green Army did their best to keep the tempo torrid.

However, Rangers' patient football dominated the opening stages of the second period, often taking them within range of the Argyle goal, but never with too much menace.

Argyle, on the other hand, carved out another glorious half-chance, Barnes nodding on a Gray throw-in for Gallagher to hook a volley just wide of Cerny's right-hand post.

The game settled into a midfield duel which occupied the Pilgrims' playmakers so much that they were unable to exert the same influence that had served them so well in the opening half.

With Barnsley winning, Forest having played, and Norwich unoccupied, the Pilgrims were very much on their own, and it felt like it.

Chances became fewer at either end, although Rangers, who quickly brought on all three substitutes for a run-out, worked themselves into decent positions.

A fallow period for Argyle ended with Gallagher firing a free-kick narrowly over, the ball's drift away somehow a metaphor for the Pilgrims' own falling away.

They rebounded to nearly secure their safety when Mackie fired off a shot that Cerny spilt but Barnes was denied from sweeping in the loose by the toe of Rangers' defender Kaspars Gorkss.

That spurred a little revival which saw Gallagher curl a shot over the crossbar after being sublimely played in by Fletcher.

In injury-time, a break by Mackie saw the ball end up at the feet of Gallagher, who again fired over.

Right at the death, Mackie broke through again, but wasted himself so much in the run that he could not fire a shot off that could trouble Cerny.

Come on you Royals. Plymouth

QPR Official Site
- The last match of the season at Loftus Road ended in a 0-0 stalemate as QPR made Plymouth Argyle wait until the final fixture of the season for survival.
- In a match of few clear cut chances, it was the visitor's who largely created the better opportunities, Paul Gallagher going close on a number of occasions, whilst in the second half, Ashley Barnes was only denied a goal by a superb tackle from
-For Rangers, Heidar Helguson, Mikele Leigertwood and Matt Connolly all had chances, Angleo Balanta gave an impressive cameo from the bench, whilst Patrick Agyemang returned from injury to play around an hour.
- But it stayed all square, despite a later Mackie sitter, and both sides earned a point.
- Gareth Ainsworth decided a change was in order after last week's loss at Wolves. They say three is the magic number, and with Agyemang returning, and Leigertwood operating at right back, and Liam Miller bolstering the midfield, Ainsworth was hoping it would be.
- With Peter Ramage on the bench, the back four looked like this: Leigertwood, Gorkss, Damion Stewart and Connolly, with Radek Cerny in goal as the last line of defence.
- In midfield, Miller joined skipper Gavin Mahon and wingers Lee Cook and Wayne Routledge, whilst Heidar Helguson partnered Agyemang in attack.
- Joining Ramage on the subs bench, strikers Angelo Balanta and Antonio German rubbed shoulders with defenders Damien Delaney and Fitz Hall.
- As the sun beat down on the Loftus Road pitch, it was the visitors who started the more positive. Danger-man Gallagher tried his luck twice - first with a venomous shot that was well saved by Cerny - and again with a dipping volley that flew narrowly over the Czech's cross-bar, as the R's failed to deal with a long throw.
- Argyle threatened again minutes later, as Jamie Mackie squared a good-looking cross into the path of Karl Duguid, but - with Cerny nowhere - the former Colchester United man could only skew his effort wide.
- With the men in bright orange enjoying the possession and the chances, Leigertwood felt obliged to open up from range after weaving his way this way and that through the luminous shirts. His left-foot effort however, flew harmlessly wide.
- Carl Fletcher increased Argyle's shots statistic by following suit seconds later, but his fierce drive took a deflection and found its way into Cerny's grateful arms at a trickle.
- Leigertwood it seemed had decided right-back wasn't for him, and he again went gallivanting off in a bid to notch the opening goal.
- Combining with Routledge, he again jinxed his way through, played a neat one-two, before attempting a left foot sot. A combination of Chris Barker and the ball not falling for him as he would've liked led to his effort bouncing away for a corner.
- Inspired, Cook tried an audacious chip over Plymouth keeper Romain Larrieu, following an exquisite pass from Routledge. The French stopper, however, read it well and was in the right place at the right time to claim.
- It was Leigertwood who was turning in arguably Ranger's best performance of the match, and when he sent Routledge off down the right, the former Aston Villa man fed Agyemang, who in turn crossed brilliantly for Helguson.
- The Icelander's header lacked enough power to bother Larrieu however.
- The second half saw Rangers pick up where they left off, passing well but lacking the final pass that would present a clear cut opportunity.
- In a bid to increase their attacking potential, Cook made way for Balanta.
- Change number two followed some minutes later, with injury forcing Ainsworth's hand. Miller limped off with what looked like an ankle injury, with Ramage taking his place.
- The third and final change saw German replace Agyemang, who had done very well on his return from injury.
- With chances at a premium, Connolly almost handed Plymouth the lead. A first-time cross from the left from Gallagher nearly caught out the young full-back, who's attempt at control with his chest evaded Cerny and - luckily - the post.
- Then, from the resultant corner, Alan Judge blazed high and wide as Rangers failed to properly clear their lines.
- Rangers, now driven by Balanta down the left-hand side, hit back. The Columbian's short corner found Routledge, he picked out Connolly, and Connolly picked out a fan sitting behind the goal with a rasping drive.
- After a driving run through the heart of the Plymouth midfield, Helguson followed suit, eager to snatch victory for his side. But once again, the effort flew wide and the score remained goal-less.
- And then, the closest either side came to scoring. Mackie went close when he found space just inside the area, and when his effort was palmed back into danger by Cerny, in stormed Ashley Barnes to try and tap in the loose ball.
- He was denied by a superb recovery tackle from Gorkss, who somehow flicked the ball away for a corner.
- Plymouth continued to press, Gallagher curling an effort high and wide as the clock ticked towards the 90.
- But despite a glorious chance at the death for Mackie, who shot straight at Cerny when clean through, it remained all square and a point apiece.
- QPR: Cerny, Stewart, Mahon, Leigertwood, Routledge, Agyemang (German 66), Gorkss, Connolly, Cook (Balanta 56), Miller (Ramage 62), Helguson. Subs: Delaney, Hall.
- Plymouth Argyle: Larrieu, Duguid, Gallagher, Barker, Sawyer, Seip, Judge, Barnes (Fallon 84), Mackie, Fletcher, Gray. Subs: Saxton, Timar, Clark, Douala Bookings: Judge (90), Fletcher (90) Referee: Mr N S Miller
Attendance: 14,779 QPR

- R's loanee Adel Taarabt will undergo surgery on Monday.
- The Spurs midfielder picked up the injury in training on Friday and subsequent scans revealed a cartilage tear in his left knee.
- Since joining the Hoops on loan in March, the 19 year-old made seven appearances, scoring one goal.
- The Club would like to place on the record its thanks to Adel for his contribution during his loan period, and wish him all the best for a successful rehabilitation." QPR

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