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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Compilation of QPR vs Sheffield United Match Reports and Comments

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- QPR 1967 Cup Hero, Ron Hunt Turns Sixty-Four
- "Briatore Hits Back" (F1)
- Three Year QPR Report Flashback: "Winter Comes Early to Loftus Road"
- Cardiff City's "Watch Free if Promoted" Season Ticket Offer
- World Cup: Complete Schedule
- Freak Footballing Injuries

- After QPR's 1-1 home draw against Sheffield United, they now have 30 points from 22 games.

News of The World

PAUL HART is used to a challenge. But do not tell the former Portsmouth boss that taking over at QPR is football's ultimate poisoned chalice.

Hart, appointed three days ago to replace Jim Magilton following Headbutt-gate, is the ninth manager in two years to work under co-owner Flavio Briatore.

But, after watching his new team share the points in a lacklustre affair high on effort but woefully short on quality, he would only look on the bright side.

Hart said: "I've never thought of this as a poisoned chalice. Some people have said it's out of the frying pan into the fire but I don't see it like that. I've left one great club but it's a privilege to be working here, too."

Anyone arriving late for this game would have missed the fun.

Hart had to wait only 90 seconds to celebrate his first goal at Loftus Road, skipper Mikele Leigertwood rifling in a 20-yarder against his old club courtesy of two deflections.

It was the first goal conceded by the Blades for five and half hours but if Hart thought it would be the springboard for a Rangers onslaught, he was disappointed.

Seven minutes later, a poor backpass by Ben Watson let in Toni Kallio and, from his cross, Richard Cresswell slid in to finish from two yards.

Thereafter it was hard to see where a winner might come from.

United edged the rest of the first half while Rangers had the better of the second. But the fact that both teams mustered only five shots on target between them said everything about the mediocrity.

Adel Taarabt, on loan from Spurs, time and again proved what skill he has but often flattered to deceive by losing possession.

"Keep hold of the ball," screamed a flat-capped Rangers fan. He was not only addressing Taarabt but the whole midfield.

As the temperature plummeted, so the Loftus Road faithful begged for something to warm them up after a series of half-chances but nothing threatening.

They had grounds for a penalty on 64 minutes after Chris Morgan's clumsy challenge on Jay Simpson. Referee Neal Swarbrick gave it a good look before turning it down.

Rangers thought they had another spot-kick when Latvian defender Kaspars Gorkss appeared to be impeded by Matthew Kilgallon at a corner. Once again it was over-ruled, incurring howls of derision by the increasingly frustrated Hoops faithful.

The nearest we got to a winner was deep into stoppage time when Watson's looping header bounced off the bar with Mark Bunn beaten.

Hart may be quiet but he has hardly inherited a quiet club.

After 10 tumultuous months in the hot seat at Pompey, he could have been forgiven for choosing a more secure, settled environment for his next port of call.

Hart was delighted with his team's performance despite so few clearcut chances.

He said: "I've been here only two days and today's performance was encouraging.

"Managers tend to have the glass half-full. I'm no different. I'm here to the end of the season and I'm happy with that."

With Hart so new in the job, the match programme was conspicuous by the absence of the traditional manager's notes.

In its place a double-page spread wished supporters the proverbial happy Christmas and prosperous New Year.

But Hart will need a lot more than a few festive words of comfort to get Rangers back on track after all the recent turmoil over Briatore's suspension from Formula One and a succession of failed QPR managers.

But he said: "This is a club that wants to progress. I'm not just here for the ride. I don't just move anywhere."

Hart recalled what a stylish club Rangers used to be - and would love to fashion a similar style.

He said: "I remember what a great club this was in the 60s, 70s and 80s with players like Rodney Marsh, Gerry Francis and Stan Bowles. Rome wasn't built in a day. Perhaps we need some touches here and there but I have already seen a lot of desire."

Blades boss Kevin Blackwell, whose side are now unbeaten in seven games, acknowledged that yesterday was all about Hart, who turned down a role at Spurs to become Rangers boss.

Blackwell said: "Anyone will tell you it's not the time to be playing a team when a new manager takes over. The players have to show him what they are about but mine showed great resilience."

Blackwell has only two players left from the squad that were 90 minutes from returning to the Premiership last season.

He added: "It was a massive blow not to get promoted but this division is a killer.

"It's relentless and catches clubs out, especially those who come down. You simply have to stay clear of injuries and suspensions." News Of The World

- Paul Hart was encouraged by the R's performance, as honours ended even against Sheffield United.
- Richard Creswell cancelled out former Blade Mikele Leigertwood's early opener in Hart's first match at the helm.
- Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, Hart said: "I was very pleased with the performance overall.
- "I thought we started the game well, lost it a little bit in the middle, but drove home in the second half without getting too much reward for our efforts.
- "I thought our efforts were excellent over the course of the 90 minutes.
- "If we can maintain that tempo and desire, we've got a decent chance."
- Hart added: "We got a great start, but the goal we conceded was disappointing.
- "Overall, we didn't go under, we kept going and I was pleased with that against a strong Sheffield United side." QPR

SPORTING LIFE - HART HAPPY WITH MOVE By Andy Sims, Press Association Sport
- Paul Hart watched his new QPR side miss out on victory in his first game in charge - and then denied he had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.
- Hart was sacked by penniless Portsmouth last month and on Thursday took over at that renowned managerial graveyard, Loftus Road.
- While mega-rich Rangers may not have Pompey's cash problems, controversy is never far away from the west London club.
- Hart's appointment, following Jim Magilton's acrimonious exit this week, is the club's ninth managerial change in just over two years.
- The 56-year-old has only been handed a contract until the end of the season - which presumably refers to the football season and not the end of winter.
- But following today's 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, Hart insisted: "Football managers tend to have their glasses half-full, not half-empty. I'm here for six months and I'm happy with that.
- "As far as a 'poisoned chalice' is concern, that is not in my thoughts.
- "People have said I have jumped from the frying pan into the fire but I don't think that. I think this is a great club and it's a privilege to be working here.
- "At Portsmouth, while I was manager, we never had any money and at Nottingham Forest we were fighting administration. So if someone gave me £20million to spend I probably wouldn't know what to do with it.
- "I work with players to try to help them improve. I'm here to steady the ship."
- Hart's reign got off to a flyer when Mikele Leigertwood opened the scoring with a deflected effort after just 90 seconds.
- But the lead lasted just six minutes before Ben Watson's sloppy backpass let in Toni Kallio, whose cross was bundled in by a combination of Richard Cresswell and defender Kaspars Gorkss.
- Thereafter both sides had chances but without really testing either goalkeeper.
- Rangers claimed they should have had a penalty when Wayne Routledge tumbled over Chris Morgan's leg, and Watson crashed a header against the bar in stoppage-time.
- "I thought we played extremely well. In the second half we were excellent, it was wave after wave, and we might have had a penalty," added Hart.
- "I'm really pleased with the way they went about their jobs."
- Opposite number Kevin Blackwell admitted he feared the worst after hearing a new manager was at the helm at Rangers.- "We talked about it in the week, it's not the time to be playing a team when a new manager walks through the door because the players have got to show them what we are about," he said.
- "All the talk was about QPR but my players were very resilient and did a professional job." Sporting Life

Sheffield United Official Site

United's unbeaten run was stretched to seven games with a hard-earned point in freezing London conditions in the final game before Christmas.

Both goals came in an entertaining opening ten minutes as ex-Blade Mikele Leigertwood gave QPR the lead only for Richard Cresswell to level soon after.

The game was Paul Hart's first game in charge of Rangers and was an interesting appetiser ahead of the FA Cup third round tie between the teams in early January.

Due to injury and illness, Blackwell made three changes, bringing in Kallio, Montgomery and Stewart for Williamson, Taylor and Evans, although the latter was deemed fit enough to take a place on the bench. The personnel suggested a switch to a 4-5-1 formation with Cresswell as the sole frontman and that proved to be the case.

There was a frantic start and United, on the back of three consecutive clean sheets, found themselves behind before two minutes had elapsed. Kallio was forced to concede a corner to stop Simpson and after Watson's delivery was cleared by Morgan, LEIGERTWOOD picked up the loose ball before drilling a 25-yard shot which was deflected into Bunn's bottom left corner.

It stunned the Blades fans arriving behind Bunn's goal and Kilgallon had to time a tackle to prevent Simpson adding a second. The Sheffield contingent, however, were warmed by a leveller - it was on eight minutes and was United's first attack. Rangers had three players close by one of their defensive corner flags but Watson managed to surrender possession and Kallio raced on to the loose ball before firing into the danger area for CRESSWELL to bundle home at the near post.

A spell of end-to-end, entertaining action followed before the half hour mark but only presented two changes for the home side. From a short Watson corner, Taarabt's turn and shot failed to find the target and then Bunn gathered the ball at the feet of Routledge when the winger looked set to go around the goalkeeper.

After the initial blitz, United's system was beginning to frustrate the home side and it was the visitors who looked the more like to claim the third goal of the game as half-time approached. Quinn shot just wide after Montgomery had robbed Taarabt and then QPR's Stewart was booked for stopping Ward in what was an obvious physical mismatch.

United's Stewart, faced with a difficult chance, could only shoot at Cerny and a Quinn effort, following Kallio's pass, was blocked when it looked to be heading towards goal.

On the stroke of the break, Quinn and Ward combined to work a chance down the right but the latter dragged his left-foot volley wide of the target.

The start of the second period was somewhat scrappy with both sides struggling to hold on to possession long enough to create worthwhile chances. The opportunities that did present themselves, though, fell to the home side in the first 15 minutes after the interval.

Montgomery was tempted into a foul on Taarabt in a central position right on the edge of the penalty area but fortunately, the Moroccan, on loan from Tottenham, could only fire his free-kick into the wall. On 59 minutes Agyemang ran at the Blades defence and his cross was perfect for a volley but Simpson sliced his effort well wide.

Three sides of Loftus Road appealed for a penalty on 65 minutes when, following a spell of the ball pinging around the Blades box, Simpson went down under a Morgan tackle but referee Swarbrick was unconvinced and another run from Taarabt came to nothing.

As in the first half, United came back into the game and began to force the home side back, beginning with a good chance on 67 minutes. Walker and Quinn combined on the right and the latter's pull back resulted in Harper sidefooting over the angle of post and crossbar.

Quinn, the further forward of the three central midfielders, was heavily involved in the attacking intent of the Blades and twice he failed to find the target with very difficult shooting chances.

As the final, nervy 15 minutes approached QPR were again appealing for a penalty when Gorkss claimed he was pulled back by Kilgallon as Watson's corner flashed across the box and then Vine was allowed time to shoot for home from 25 yards but Bunn was well placed to gather.

Another Rangers corner was cleared as far as Leigertwood in the final five minutes but, thankfully, the former United midfielder was unable to repeat his crisp strike that gave the home side the early lead.

After denying Rangers two penalties, referee Swarbrick did hand the home side a soft free-kick with a minute to go when Morgan was adjudged to have impeded Agyemang. To add insult to injury the United skipper was booked. Fortunately, Watson's free-kick was deflected wide and the Blades cleared the resulting corner.

QPR were on the offensive in the closing stages, and the three additional minutes, whilst the home side went mightily close to winning it. Two of three injury-time minutes had elapsed when Routledge's cross was headed against the top of the crossbar by Watson.

Bunn was in no hurry to restart the action and was booked for delaying but it was worth it as it was confirmed moments later that the Blades had secured a hard-earned point in the capital.

QPR: Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Agyemang, Gorkss, Watson, Williams, Simpson (Vine 68), Taarabt.
Unused: Hall, Pellicori, Faurlin, Balanta, Taylor, Parker.

Blades: Bunn, Montgomery, Morgan, Kilgallon, Harper, Cresswell, Ward, Stewart, Quinn, Kallio, Walker.
Unused: France, Evans, Reid, Bennett, Little, Geary, Camara. " Sheffield United

Honours were even between Rangers and Sheffield United, as Paul Hart started his reign as boss with a point in a tight encounter at Loftus Road.

Mikele Leigertwood gave Rangers the lead, blasting home from 20-yards out after a corner was deflected out into his path after just two minutes had been played.

But the Blades weren't to be beaten. In fact, they notched an equaliser on eight minutes, with Richard Cresswell slotting home after the R's failed to clear their lines.

The result sees the R's move up to 10th in the Coca-Cola Championship table.

New Rangers gaffer Hart named an unchanged side from Monday evening's 2-2 draw away at second placed West Bromwich Albion.

So, with Radek Cerny in goal, the back four consisted of Peter Ramage, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Tommy Williams.

Wayne Routledge and Jay Simpson started out wide in midfield, with Ben Watson and skipper Leigertwood in the centre of the park.

Adel Taarabt was up front alongside Patrick Agyemang.

On what was a rather cold afternoon in West London, the R's didn't waste anytime as they went on the offensive from the start.

Agyemang squared for Simpson on the edge of the area, and the Arsenal loanee cut in and shot before his effort was deflected away for a corner.

From the resulting set piece, Watson's centre was cleared only as far as Leigertwood on the edge of the area, before the R's captain lashed the ball home past Mark Bunn in the Blades goal to put Rangers into a second minute lead.

This was an end-to-end spectacle, exemplified when the Blades went up the other end just six minutes later and levelled the scores.

After beating his marker down the left, Toni Kallio squared for Cresswell six-yards out, and the former Leeds United frontman made no mistake from close range to blast the ball home past Cerny.

The R's were soon back on the attack. Another Watson corner caused trouble, as he played a short pass to Taarabt on the edge of the penalty box.

The Spurs man shrugged off the attentions of his marker before unleashing a low drive at goal, though it wasn't enough to trouble Bunn as it sailed just wide of his right-hand post.

Moments later, Leigertwood received the ball midway into the United half before driving at the opposition defence, only to see his shot sail wide of the goal.

Taarabt then found space just outside the area before playing a reverse through pass to Routledge, but Bunn did brilliantly well to slide and claim the ball at his feet.

Just short of the break, Ramage played a neat pass to Taarabt before the Moroccan international let fly with a thundering effort from fully 30-yards out, but that shot wasn't to trouble the Blades keeper as it sailed high and wide of the target.

United could - and perhaps should - have taken a lead into half-time when a cross from the right flicked up for Jamie Ward to hit from 12-yards out, but he could only drag his shot wide of the net.

The second half got underway, and Rangers didn't relent as they looked to get back in front.

Early pressure resulted in Taarabt being brought down on the edge of the area when seemingly through on goal.

The midfielder then dusted himself down before firing in an effort on target from a free-kick, but the shot was blocked away to safety.

Soon after, Gorkss passed the ball on midway to Agyemang before the R's striker beat two men and flighted a cross in for Simpson, who volleyed wide when free on the right-hand side of the area.

The game, at this stage, was mostly being played in the visitors' half.

Moments later, Rangers had claims of a penalty waved away by the referee.

After a cross was deflected into the path of Simpson, Chris Morgan seemed to take the legs of the R's hotshot six yards from goal, but Mr Swarbrick decided against awarding a spot-kick to Rangers.

Play soon switched to the other end, and as Ward squared for James Harper from the byline, the Reading loan man could only lift the ball over the target.

The R's then had their best chance to date to add a second. A devastating corner from Watson looked certain to find the head of Gorkss from close-range, but he misjudged the flight of the ball as it went out of play.

Good work from Taarabt and Agyemang resulted in the latter touching the ball back to Watson 20-yards out, though he could only pull his shot wide of the goal.

Rangers continued to press, namely when Taarabt's header hit the bar late on, though the Blades held out to claim a point.

QPR: Cerny, Ramage, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Agyemang, Gorkss, Watson, Williams, Simpson (Vine 68), Taarabt.

Subs not used: Taylor, Hall, Pellicori, Faurlin, Balanta, Parker.

Goals: Leigertwood (2)

Bookings: Stewart (32)

Sheffield United: Bunn, Montgomery, Morgan, Kilgallon, Harper, Cresswell, Ward, Stewart, Quinn, Kallio, Walker.

Subs not used: France, Evans, Reid, Bennett, Little, Geary, Camara.

Goals: Cresswell (8)

Bookings: Montgomery (52), Morgan (89), Bunn (90)

Referee: Mr N D Swarbrick

Attendance: 12, 639


LONDON INFORMER/Yann Tear - Rangers held in Hart's first game

RANGERS could not conjure a win for new boss Paul Hart in his first game in charge – allowing Sheffield United to quickly cancel a Mikele Leigertwood goal for a share of the spoils.

It was the Hoops' sixth draw in 11 home games but at least Hart avoided a repetition of the horror show against Middlesbrough in the previous home match which probably did for predecessor Jim Magilton – regardless of the influence of Headbuttgate in the decision to part company with the Northern Irishman.

Hart and his assistant Mick Harford know home success will be the minimum requirement in the short term, as will be a win to end a sequence of games without victory which stretched to six after this stalemate with the Blades.

Hart’s tenure got off to the perfect start, with Rangers going ahead in the second minute. United failed to clear Ben Watson’s right-wing corner and Leigertwood’s deflected shot ended up in the net against his old club.

But a mistake by Watson led to the Blades equalising only six minutes later. The midfielder gave away possession and Toni Kallio sent in a low cross that Richard Cresswell bundled in from close range after fending off defender Kaspars Gorkss.

QPR’s on-loan Tottenham forward Adel Taarabt then fired over, and Jamie Ward almost put United in front with a right-footed effort that went narrowly wide.

In the second half, Rangers appealed in vain for a penalty when Jay Simpson went down under a challenge from Chris Morgan, before Ward again came close to scoring.

Stephen Quinn did well on the right and pulled the ball back for Ward, whose curling effort beat keeper Radek Cerny but went wide.

Cresswell also missed the target with a late header from Jordan Stewart’s left-wing cross.

A draw was a fair result, although QPR went agonisingly close to scoring an injury-time winner when Watson headed Wayne Routledge’s cross against the bar.

“I thought we played extremely well,” said Hart, who was encouraged by what he saw.

“In the second half it was wave after wave - and we might have had a penalty. We were unlucky but it’s not about luck, it’s about performances and if you work hard enough, eventually things will work out.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I came to this club because I think it’s one that can progress.
“I’ve only been here two days so I’d be wrong to say I need to make changes. I’m here to work with the players - that’s what I do.

“The players have been a pleasure to work with. The mood has been good. I haven’t needed to lift them.
“I’ve signed a contract until the end of the season but I don’t want anyone to think I’m just here for the ride. Hopefully, it will continue beyond then.”

Line-up: Cerny; Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Williams; Routledge, Leigertwood, Watson, Taarabt, Simpson (Vine 68), Agyemang. Subs not used:Taylor, Hall, Faurlin, Pellicori, Balanta, Parker. Attendance: 12,639" London Informer

The Extent of the Hart-Harford Relationship
- Vital QPR reporting on Harford's comments about QPR and Hart. "...Harford barely knows Hart personally. Their relationship has, to date, been conducted on the telephone or bumping into each at various football courses and meetings. But when Hart did call Harford about helping him out at QPR, Harford admitted he "jumped at the chance to come back to, what I call, a great club." Vital QPR

- The Conclusion of the (satirical/fictional) "The Magilton Diaries" - The Complete Diary

- Two Year Flashback: QPR's Chief Scout Resigns

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