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Sunday, April 19, 2009

QPR's Wolves Loss - Reports and Comments

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Gareth Ainsworth remained optimistic after watching his QPR side beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers in a match that saw the hosts collect the final three points they needed to achieve promotion to the Premiership.

Speaking to www.qpr.co.uk, the R's coach revealed how watching the jubilant scenes at full time amongst the Wolves fans had whet his appetite to experience the same with his beloved Rangers. "I don't want to take anything away from Wolves today, this is their day, and they've deserved it after what they've done this season.

But today was one of their tougher games because I think our lads did very well, especially in the second half. We could've put a dampener on the afternoon with an equaliser.

But we'll be going again next season and what we've seen today is what we want as well."

Speaking about the goal - which was gifted to Wanderers after a rare error from Damion Stewart - Ainsworth could not criticize his central defender. "It's unfortunate that it's been an uncharacteristic mistake from Damion that's let them in, and he's devastated.

"He's been fantastic all season, and the only time he's made a real error, it's cost us the win." QPR

QPR Official Site - Match Report

Failing in their quest to postpone Wolverhampton Wanderer's promotion party, QPR succumbed to a 1-0 defeat in the sunshine at Molineux.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored the goal that takes Wolves to the Premiership, after an uncharacteristic mistake from Damion Stewart, but the R's battled well and could've snatched an equaliser had Heidar Helguson picked his spot a little more carefully.

Rowan Vine also hit the woodwork with a deflected 20-yard effort, as did Matt Jarvis direct from a corner, whilst Marlon Harewood almost punished an off-colour Stewart with a glorious chance late on.

But one goal was enough to settle the issue of whether the home side would be playing Premiership football next season, as the R's saw first-hand what was needed for themselves to feel the elation reverberating around the stadium at the final whistle.

For the trip to the Midlands, Caretaker gaffer Gareth Ainsworth made one change. Rowan Vine, the man who kick-started the R's revival against Sheffield Wednesday a week ago partnered Heidar Helguson in attack at the expense of Adel Taarabt who dropped to the bench.

That meant that the midfield four remained the same, with Jordi Lòpez and skipper Gavin Mahon in the middle, flanked by Wayne Routledge and Lee Cook.

The back five as well, looked all to familiar, as Peter Ramage, Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart and Matthew Connolly made up the defence, and Radek Cerny took the keeper's jersey.

Mikele Leigertwood, Liam Miller, Damien Delaney and Hogan Ephraim completed the squad by taking their seats on the bench.

Wolves handed starts to strikers Andy Keogh and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, with Jody Craddock partnering Christophe Berra at the back.

Almost inevitably it was the home side who started the brighter. David Edwards connected sweetly with a Stephen Ward centre from the left, and Cerny had to be at full stretch to palm his header behind for a corner.

The waves of gold shirts were coming thick and fast. Matt Jarvis cut inside on the left and tested Cerny with a well struck shot from 20 yards. The R's keeper was equal to it and got down low to save comfortably.

Rangers were weathering the storm, and very nearly snatched the lead against the run of play. Vine and Routledge combined for the latter to cross for Cook - who probably didn't expect the ball to reach him through a crowd of people - to steer wide from close range.

Back came Wolves, and Ebanks-Blake was proving a handful for centre backs Gorkss and Stewart. His determination allowed Jarvis an effort on goal, but he flashed a drive well over.

The Molineux men continued to pose the greater attacking threat, and when Rangers only half cleared their lines from a corner, Edwards returned the ball with interest bringing the best out of Cerny with a dipping 25-yard strike.

Cerny was the hero again seconds later, when he dived full stretch to cut out a dangerous Keogh cross, after the Irishman had tricked his way behind the R's defence.

Keogh was at it again in the very next Wolves attack, playing in Ebanks-Blake who once again found the fans in Row Z with a long range drive.

They were however, getting closer. When Keogh won a corner off of Ramage, many expected Jarvis to clip a ball into the box. The winger had other ideas, however, and curled his set-piece onto the cross bar as Cerny back-tracked in vain.

The second half was barely 60 seconds old, when Wolves took the lead.

Stewart's attempt to usher the ball out back-fired and when Keogh nicked in to square for Ebanks-Blake, the Championship's top scorer tapped in to an empty net to hand the home side the advantage.

In true Ainsworth spirit, Rangers fought back, looking for the break that would allow them an eqauliser. They nearly had it when Routledge escaped down the right and cut a brilliant ball back into the path of Vine.

The former Birmingham City striker took one touch before blasting a deflected strike that looked like it was going to sail over Wayne Hennessy's head and into the net. But agonizingly, it arched up and dipped not quite low enough and smacked the cross-bar.

Following up, Lòpez couldn't make adequate contact with the rebound, and the ball was cleared.

Rangers should've been level on the hour, when Helguson missed the best chance of the match.

A clever through ball from Vine unlocked the Wolves defence, and there was the Iceland striker in the clear, with only Hennessey to beat. Helguson however, fluffed his lines with a tame effort easily saved by the Welsh keeper.

In a bid to keep up the pressure, Ainsworth used his bench for the first time in the afternoon. It was a double change, Taarabt and Ephraim for Vine and Cook.

But the change very nearly had the opposite effect, as Wolves almost doubled their advantage in similar fashion to how they gained it.

Stewart was once again caught in possession, this time by Edwards, who picked his pass excellently to Marlon Harewood, who somehow conspired to shoot straight at Cerny.

As the momentum swung this way and that, Keogh and Connolly traded long range strikes, the latter drawing a fine, flying save from Hennessy as the R's left-back looked to bring the R's level single-handedly.

But it was Wolves who were enjoying the better of the match and Edwards tested Cerny with a free-kick from 20 yards.

But one goal was enough, and the R's watched in envy at the jubilant scenes at the final whistle as Wolves' promotion to the Premiership was assured. QPR

Drew Williams, PA Sport

Mick McCarthy admitted he still has unfinished business in the Premier League after Wolves saw off QPR 1-0 at Molineux to clinch promotion to the top flight.

A proud McCarthy struggled to put Wolves' success into words and insisted their promotion had still not sunk in - while they are also within touching distance of the Championship title.

But having failed to save Sunderland from a bottom-of-the-table finishes in 2003 and 2006, he stressed he does have a point to prove among the big boys.

"Of course I do, given a sporting chance," said the Wolves boss.

"If I'm given £6million to spend like I was last time, which included transfer fees, wages, signing on fees and agents fees then we'll all be in trouble.

"But of course that won't be the case.

"Last time I think I had a bit of naivety, I also think I had the usual 'well, if that's what I've got then I'll do it' arrogance to think I could.

"We didn't get bashed up, we didn't get a lot of points, but I didn't really get a chance."

The script was written for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to grab the goal that settled matters on an afternoon full of emotion - his 25th of the season, one more than the tally that won him the Championship's golden boot award last term.

The industrious Andy Keogh, who has emerged from zero to hero in eyes of the club's fans, harried and hassled Damion Stewart in the penalty area as he looked to shepherd the ball to safety just a minute after the restart.

And when he nicked in to grab the ball by the byline, Ebanks-Blake was in plenty of space 12 yards out to fire home and send the Molineux crowd wild.

"I'm not sure I can articulate well enough how I'm feeling," added McCarthy.

"I'm knackered, I'm beaming on the inside, I'm absolutely thrilled by our achievements. "I'm very proud of the players, they've been brilliant all season long.

"It doesn't register, it doesn't sink in. It's not something you can really savour, you just enjoy the high of it for the moment and savour it when I wake up tomorrow."

Overwhelmed chairman Steve Morgan, a born and bred Liverpool fan, admitted the triumph means more to him than Liverpool's dramatic 2005 Champions League victory over AC Milan in Istanbul.

And he jokingly targeted six points from Rafael Benitez's men next season.

"I'm almost speechless, it was fabulous today, the culmination of a really hard season," he added.

"Big tribute to Mick, the background team, everyone behind the scenes, (chief executive) Jez (Moxey) and the players - the players have been fabulous all throughout the season.

"I'm so proud of Wolves and for the city."

QPR caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth, who only took the reins from Paulo Sousa last week, was gracious after his side's defeat ended any faint mathematical hopes they had of making the play-offs.

Rangers put up a brave fight throughout, restricting the hosts to a limited number of clear-cut chances.

And they could have spoilt the promotion party in the second half had Rowan Vine's deflected effort not come back off the crossbar or Heidar Helguson taken his chance when put clean through.

"I don't want to take anything away from Wolves, it's their day," said Ainsworth in a brief post-match appearance.

"I've got a lot of respect for Mick McCarthy.

"It would be nice to be in the same situation next season"

He added: "I think this was one of their tougher games.

"We could have put a dampner on the situation had we taken one of our chances in the second half."
http://www.sportinglife.com/football/liv....Nightlea d.html

PA Sport Wolves 1 QPR 0 - By Drew Williams, PA Sport

Wolves ended their five-year wait for a return to the Barclays Premier League by seeing off QPR at Molineux and all but sealing the Coca-Cola Championship title in the process.

It is nothing less than Mick McCarthy's side deserve having perched themselves at the summit of England's second tier since October, and occupying one of the two automatic promotion places since the third game of the season.

Their success has, for the main part, been down to the sheer number of goals they have scored, with the youthful Black Country outfit finding the net more than any other side in the division both at home and away.

And fittingly it was leading scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake - on his return from injury - who settled the game in front of a sell-out crowd one minute after the restart.

Wanderers last played top-flight football back in 2004 but a lack of investment saw the club finish rock bottom after just one year in the Premier League.

But the powers that be at Molineux have already stressed that lessons have been learned from that fateful campaign and money will be spent this summer in a bid to beat the drop.

Wolves' victory puts them within touching distance of the league title - six points and a considerable goal difference clear of second-placed Birmingham with two games remaining, while QPR's outside hopes of reaching the play-offs were ended.

McCarthy, who has remained level-headed throughout the club's promotion charge, warned before the encounter that "QPR will be coming here to spoil the party".

But a quick flick through the history books meant the writing was already on the wall for the R's - with their last victory at Molineux coming way back in 1998 when Steve Bull and an 18-year-old Robbie Keane were leading the line for the home side.

The hosts were hustling Rangers at every opportunity from the off yet clear-cut openings were few and far between in the first quarter of the encounter - Dave Edwards coming the closest with a header that forced a smart stop from Radek Cerny.

Edwards tried his luck from 30 yards in the 26th minute as the hosts rallied in an attempt to find the crucial breakthrough.

But it failed to materialise in the latter part of the first half, with Matt Jarvis seeing his inswinging corner rebound off the crossbar.

Within a minute of the restart all the tension was released and the home support finally started to believe.

Stewart looked to shepherd Stephen Ward's hopeful ball to safety just inside the penalty area, but Andy Keogh hounded the Rangers defender and managed to nick in and square the ball across for Ebanks-Blake to fire home.

But QPR reminded the hosts of their threat in the 53rd minute as Rowan Vine's effort deflected off Christophe Berra before striking the crossbar, much to the relief of a stranded Wayne Hennessey.

The Wolves keeper then had to come to the rescue just after the hour mark, saving well from Heidar Helguson when the R's striker found himself clean through.

Substitute Marlon Harewood wasted a golden opportunity to put the game, and promotion, beyond doubt shortly after when he fired straight at Cerny from 12 yards.

Nevertheless, Wolves held on for victory to end the memories of this time last year when they finished just outside the play-off places by the virtue of goal difference.

Telegraph - Sylvain Ebanks-Blake seals Premier League promotion for Wolves
Wolverhampton Wanderers (0) 1 Queens Park Rangers (0) 0
By Sandy Macaskill at Molineux

Champagne has never tasted so sweet. The inevitable hangovers will never have felt so insignificant. And no longer will the club’s fans say their side does not have the stomach to close out a season at the top. For only the second time in 25 years, Wolverhampton Wanderers are in the Premier League. How apt that it should be Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, the man with the golden boots, figuratively at least, that should send them there.

All season, the 23-year-old striker has been magnificent. In truth, his coordinates were off on Saturday, disrupted by a three-game absence with a hamstring niggle, but when it mattered most, when Andy Keogh found him in the box and when the excellent Radek Cerny was at last out of position, Ebanks-Blake rose to the challenge. His 25th goal of the season was not the most beautiful finish, but it is probably the most beautiful his manager has seen.

“I’m not sure I can articulate how I am feeling,” Mick McCarthy said. “I’m very proud.” Awash on Friday, Wolverhampton basked in the sun here. Picking up on the auspicious portents, chanting to each other from their cars as traffic snaked its way through town, horns hooting, the Wolves fans were in carnival mood. Molineux shook to the core.

In their last two games, Wolves had scored in the first 10 minutes; similar stuff was expected and when Stephen Ward dinked a ball into the box, and Dave Edwards met it with a diving header, the crowd were already celebrating. But Cerny proved a party-pooper, palming out for a corner.

Wolves would not take no for an answer. Jody Craddock sliced a volley high and wide, then Keogh forced Cerny – now wearing the resigned look of a keeper who knows it is only a matter of time – into an impressive save. Still no breakthrough.

McCarthy took his team into the break with the half-time announcer’s warning to fans that a pitch invasion in celebration of promotion at the end of the match would not be appreciated ringing in his ears.

Considering he had spent the last few days pouring cold water on any hype, such a premature pronouncement must have had McCarthy fuming. The boisterous boos which greeted the directive suggested the fans were similarly unimpressed, albeit for different reasons.

But if the home side had felt under any additional pressure as they sat through their team-talk, it did not show on the resumption. With less than a minute gone, Damion Stewart was caught dallying in defence. Keogh nipped in and stole the ball. Ebanks-Blake did the rest. Cue bedlam. Fans were restrained enough to stay near their seats – just.

But as McCarthy had warned, “nothing is ever easy”. He has admitted to a few heart flutters in his time, and they can’t have been far off as Rowan Vine’s shot took a deflection and thundered into the crossbar. Yet try as QPR might, there was no room for a riposte. This was Wolves’ day. Here was that announcer again, imploring spectators to stay in the stands.

Fat chance. The fans needed to touch the turf, prove it was real. McCarthy only made it 10 yards before he disappeared in the golden tide.

Observer Ebanks-Blake returns Wolves to the top flight - Stuart James at Molineux

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake celebrates after scoring the goal that promoted Wolves to the Premier League. Photograph: Peter Ford/Action Images

Nothing was going to stop Wolverhampton Wanderers in the end. Queens Park Rangers tried and failed and so did the stewards, rendered helpless in their attempts to prevent a pitch invasion at the final whistle. Blissfully ignoring the stadium announcer's requests, a sea of gold shirts flooded the playing surface to join Mick McCarthy and his players in raucously celebrating Wolves' return to the Premier League for the first time in five years.

In many ways it was written in the stars. Fifty years ago to the day, Stan ­Cullis had led the great Wolves side of the 1950s to their third First Division title. Wolves needed more than omens on their side, however, and it was not until the 46th minute, just after half-time, when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, back in the side after injury, converted his 25th goal of the season, that the home supporters began to breath more easily. There were still nervous moments for all present to endure, but pandemonium broke out at the end.

No one was happier than Steve ­Morgan. The Wolves chairman took over from Sir Jack Hayward after handing over a £10 note and promising a £30m investment in exchange. Eighteen months later and he has a Premier League club on his hands. "I have never spent a better tenner than that one," said Morgan, a lifelong Liverpool fan who had previously been frustrated in his attempts to take control at Anfield. "It will cost Jack more than a tenner to buy it back now!"

"I am almost speechless," he added. "It was just fabulous. It's the culmination of a really hard season, lots of ups and downs, high points and low points, but what a fabulous end to it. I am so proud for Wolves and the city. I can't explain how exciting it is to be in the Premier League. I was born and bred a Liverpool fan, but that's a divorce well and truly out of the way. I never thought I would beat the sensation of Istanbul [in 2005] but being involved in this really means so much more."

The season had been a slog at times, particularly between the end of December and the start of March, when Wolves managed only one win in 11 matches and were in danger of imploding. Questions were being asked of McCarthy and his callow side at that point, but a strong ­finish to the season, which culminated in seven victories in the past nine matches, has pushed Wolves over the line with two games to spare. Another point and the Championship title will also be in the bag.

McCarthy knows, however, there are greater challenges ahead. Wolves were relegated after just one season following their promotion in 2003, and the Yorkshireman, who revealed that he prepared for the QPR match by varnishing his garage at 6am, admitted that he also had "unfinished business" after his chastening experience with Sunderland in 2005/06. With no money to spend, McCarthy endured the ignominy of ­relegation with 15 points.

"If I am given £6m to spend like I was last time, which included transfer fees, wages, signing-on fees and agents' fees, we'll all be f***ed," said the Wolves ­manager in typically forthright fashion. "I had a bit of naivety and arrogance then, and I also had the usual take it on the chin [attitude] that if 'that's what I've got, I'll do it'. We didn't get a lot of points and I never really had a chance. I just want to be given a sporting chance."

Whether that happens remains to be seen, but this was not the day to spend too much time speculating on the future. The precious breakthrough arrived when Andy Keogh capitalised on a mistake by Damion Stewart and crossed for Ebanks-Blake to tap home. Rowan Vine later hit the bar for QPR and ­Heidar Helguson squandered a one-on-one, but there was a sense that this was going to be Wolves' day. "I'm knackered, but beaming inside," McCarthy added.

Sunday People/Tom Evans
Sylvan strike sends McCarthy's heroes back into Premier League

Mick McCARTHY provided the varnish and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake the finish as jubilant Wolves jumped back into the big-time.

The Wolves boss could not sleep yesterday morning and got the paintbrush out.

And Ebanks-Blake, the Championship's leading scorer, provided the gloss with his winner two minutes after the interval that ended the club's five-year absence from the top-flight.

It was a nervy old day at Molineux in a game that was ultimately decided by Damion Stewart's howler, gifting Ebanks-Blake his 25th goal of the season to get the famous old stadium rocking.

McCarthy said: "My feelings? A bit of everything. I'm not sure I can articulate how I'm feeling. I'm beaming on the inside. I'm absolutely thrilled by our achievement. Proud of the players.

We have been top since October.

"So, it's a lovely day. Promotion hasn't registered. I've just sat in the bath - and it's not sunk in.

"All that on the pitch, that's fabulous. but the reality is that we want to share it with our wives and kids. It's rah-rahrah at the moment. It's not something you can really savour. You just enjoy the high.

"But savouring it? That will be whenever I wake up tomorrow morning.

"If that's anything like the last few days, I'll be varnishing the garage again. That's where I was at 6am anyway. I sanded it down earlier in the week and I got up this morning to finish it off."


The first half had been mostly Wolves but apart from one super stop by Radek Cerny from Dave Edwards' header and a Matt Jarvis corner that thumped off the crossbar, the hosts failed to offer too much of a threat.

The increasingly-agitated home punters did not have to wait long for the all-important goal. It arrived within two minutes of the restart.

A ball down the inside-left channel should have been gobbled up by Stewart.

But Keogh has not forged a reputation for himself as one of the hardest-working forwards in football for nothing.

He has not always been a Molineux favourite, but the Ireland international is not afraid to put in a shift.

And he harried Stewart into stumbling over his feet, losing control of the ball.

Keogh was there to take advantage. It was a simple pass to Ebanks-Blake who had the majority of the goal to aim at as Cerny was stranded at his near-post.

And the forward with 24 goals to his credit was not about to pass up the opportunity to claim his 25th.

He side-footed into the net with the minimum of fuss to send the sell-out crowd into a frenzy. As is often the case though, after a team concedes they are at their most vulnerable - and that was the case here.

Three minutes after the goal, Heidar Helguson's deflected shot from 25 yards crashed against the bar with keeper Wayne Hennessey well beaten.

After failing to pose much of a threat, the visitors should have drawn level 10 minutes later when Gavin Mahon sent Helguson clear through the middle.

He had the option of rounding Hennessey but decided to take the shot first-time and the keeper saved.

Ebanks-Blake was pulled out of the firing line after an hour and his replacement Marlon Harewood should have made it 2-0 but mis-hit his shot when it looked easier to score. Rangers'caretaker-boss Gareth Ainsworth said: "We made a mistake at the back that let them in. We had the chance to spoil it but didn't take it.

"What Wolves have been involved in today whets my appetite and should do for everyone involved with our club."


The final blast of referee John Moss's whistle sparked the scenes of delirium.

McCarthy will be hoping that owner Steve Morgan puts his hand into his pocket. The last time the big Yorkshireman pulled off promotion to the Premier League, the cash dried up at Sunderland. But he claims that won't be the case this time.

"If I'm given £6million to spend like I was last time for transfer fees, signingon on fees, wages and agents' fees, then we are all stuffed," he said.

"But that won't be the case. Given a sporting chance, you will always have a chance."

The last time Wolves made it to the Premier League, they did so via the play-offs. And those leaving the ground were not about to waste an old gold opportunity to enjoy their day in the sun.

Wolves: Hennessey 6 - Foley 6, Craddock 6, Berra 6, Ward 6 (Stearman, 79mins) - *EDWARDS 8, Henry 7, Jones 5, (Vokes, 66mins, 5) Jarvis 7 - Ebanks-Blake 7, (Harewood, 61mins, 6) Keogh 6.

Qpr: Cerny 7 - Ramage 6, Stewart 5, Gorkss 6, Connolly 6 - Routledge 6, *MAHON 7, Lopez 6, (Leigertwood, 86mins) Cook 5 (Ephraim, 64mins, 5) - Vine 4, (Taraabt, 64mins, 6) Helguson 5.

Referee: J Moss 8
http://www.people.co.uk/sport/football/t....n ame_page.html

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