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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

QPR's Heart-Breaking Draw at WBA

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Mail/Neil Moxley - West Bromwich Albion 2 QPR 2: Last-gasp Simon Cox equaliser saves Albion at the death as Rangers line up Paul Hart
- Jim MagiIton will have smiled to himself at the irony of it all as the latest manager to leave Loftus Road, soon to be confirmed, saw his troubled team come within seconds of upsetting one of the promotion favourites.
- After a first half in which the most free-scoring team in the Championship were restricted to two clear chances, the west Londoners soon took advantage of a huge dollop of good fortune to hand stand-in coaches Steve Gallen and Marc Bircham a welcome advantage.
- Home skipper Jonas Olsson, following a surreptitious push from behind, nodded unwittingly into his own net to hand Rangers a lead their overall contribution hardly deserved.
And then more calamitous home defending moments later ended with Kaspars Gorkss adding the second.
Yes, Magilton would have enjoyed that. His fate will be sealed in the next 24 hours. It is understood that the club’s powerbrokers are some way towards lining up a replacement.
Recently deposed from his position at Fratton Park — some would say unluckily — Paul Hart is in line to take over from Magilton following his fracas with Akos Buzsaky.
If the Hungarian wants any further arguments with QPR’s management he had better watch his step. Mick Harford, who somehow avoided being initiated into Wimbledon’s ‘Crazy Gang’, is being lined up as Hart’s number two.

West Brom didn’t lie down. After all, they were then facing their fourth defeat on their own patch this season. Jerome Thomas hit a shot that deflected past Radek Cerny to claim his sixth of an increasingly impressive season.
And in the dying seconds a shot by the substitute Chris Wood was parried by Cerny, and Simon Cox rifled in the rebound for the equaliser.
But the fact that Rangers were able to take the initiative in a game when most expected a capitulation shows the incoming management have something to work with.
The last few teams to win at The Hawthorns had a similar game plan. Stifle the hosts, work hard and make sure you do not concede the first goal.
Crystal Palace, Swansea City and Cardiff City had all prospered in this fashion and, by using Patrick Agyemang as a lone front man, the two stand-in coaches clearly hoped to benefit in a similar fashion.
With this fixture being the last of this round of Championship matches, the pressure had increased on second-placed West Brom after their lead over the chasing pack had been cut to two points.
It was a subdued start by Roberto di Matteo’s side, as if they were wary of falling victim to similar tactics.
Yet, they should have taken the lead on the quarter-hour when Joe Mattock’s cross from the left deserved better. Cox’s header lacked sufficient punch to test Cerny.
Moments later, Aadel Taarabt tried his luck from 30 yards. Dean Kiely, making his first League start of the season due to Scott Carson’s suspension, was equal to it. Cerny’s goal was the one where most attention was focused, however.
Gonzalo Jara’s raking pass set Lluke Moore on his way, only for Peter Ramage to block his run. It looked a foul but referee Anthony Taylor waved play on Mail

GUARDIAN/Richard Rae - Simon Cox's late show pulls Albion's irons out of the fire
- Marc Bircham was Christmas shopping when he learned he and his fellow Queens Park Rangers youth team coach Steve Gallen had jointly, and for the time being temporarily, become the seventh first-team coaching appointment since Flavio Briatore bought the club two years ago.

The pair, standing in for the suspended manager, Jim Magilton, seem unlikely to be appointed permanently but they came within seconds of overseeing a win against one of the Championship's fancied sides, which would have made a decent case.

"I don't know whether I'll be in charge next Saturday," said Gallen, still smarting from the disappointment of seeing Simon Cox snatch an equaliser for Albion four minutes into injury-time.

"I saw a report that the club are meeting Jim Magilton and that something will be decided over the next 48 hours. I welcome that, everybody on the inside wants it to be sorted out. Whatever happens, happens, I can't do anything about that, but what I will say is Jim Magilton was great to me as a coach. There certainly hasn't been any chaos on the training ground."

Having made four changes it was not surprising the visitors began uncertainly, but Albion, too, were far from fluent. Chris Brunt thumped a left-foot volley wide but Cox, free on the six-yard line, should have done better than mis-head Joe Mattock's cross straight to Rangers' goalkeeper, Radek Cerny.

Rangers began to grow in confidence and Dean Kiely had to be on his toes to deal with a swerving, angled drive by Adel Taarabt. The home crowd was unimpressed, finding its voice only when Luke Moore outpaced Damion Stewart and Cerny half-blocked his shot before turning quickly to scoop the ball clear.

Cerny's failure to hold a Brunt effort increased the excitement level but it was the Rangers fans making the noise when, under pressure from Kaspars Gorkss, Jonas Olsson contrived to head Ben Watson's 55th-minute corner into his own goal.

The visitors nearly doubled their lead within a minute, Kiely brilliantly palming Taarabt's shot on to the angle of post and bar, but the second blow was not long delayed. Watson's set-piece delivery was again the catalyst but his low free-kick from 35 yards should have been intercepted before a startled Kiely had to dive to his left to block. The ball sat up kindly for Gorkss to head into the empty net.

Needing an immediate reply, Albion got one when Jerome Thomas drove the ball under Cerny after the Rangers defenders had been wrongfooted by the failure of Brunt and Cox to connect with attempted shots. Thereafter it was one-way traffic but it was deep into injury-time before Cerny could only palm away Chris Wood's shot and Cox, following up, finally pulled Albion's irons from the fire. Guardian

The Times/Peter Lansley - December 15, 2009
Late collapse adds to the QPR drama West Bromwich 2 Queens Park Rangers

- It is said there is only one way to go after hitting the floor and Queens Park Rangers, after the shenanigans of last week when Jim Magilton was suspended for allegedly flooring one of his own players, showed great resolve last night to pick themselves up and earn a deserved point.

Despite letting slip a two-goal lead against the Coca-Cola Championship promotion contenders, Rangers battled to restore some pride to the club’s battered image. It may have felt like another defeat last night, as West Bromwich Albion pulled level through late goals from Jerome Thomas and, in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Simon Cox, but a point at The Hawthorns represents the best news that QPR fans have received for some while.

Rangers are expected to make an announcement about Magilton’s future as manager within the next 48 hours. Legal discussions have followed last Monday’s 3-1 defeat away to Watford and it appears only a matter of time — and money — before Magilton, who is alleged to have headbutted Akos Buzsaky in the dressing room at Vicarage Road, formalises his departure from the club.

Steve Gallen, assisted by Marc Bircham, stepped up from managing the youth team to act as interim manager last night and he welcomed the prospect of a swift resolution. “I just got told last week [to take charge of the first team],” Gallen said. “The last week seems to have lasted a month. I don’t know if I’ll be in charge for Saturday’s game [at home to Sheffield United]. I’ll start preparing for that. If not, I’ll gladly go back to managing the youth team; we’ve got Northampton Town on Saturday.

“I hear the club are meeting with the manager, Jim Magilton, over the next 48 hours and I welcome that. I’m sure everyone concerned with QPR will. I also saw something about chaos at the QPR training ground; that’s nonsense. The training has been very organised and professional.”

Gallen refused to take sides over the manager’s dispute with the club. “Jim was great to me as a coach,” he said. “John Gorman [the assistant manager] is a very nice man and Keith Ryan [first-team coach] is a personal friend.” Buzsaky was left out of last night’s squad, purportedly with a knee injury.

The furore over Magilton’s future has overshadowed the fact QPR have collected just two points from five games. In the world according to Flavio Briatore, the co-owner and chairman, some would say that represents a sackable offence.

Rangers started shakily last night, Radek Cerny appearing to damage his ankle in the first minute as he kicked the ground as well as the ball from a goal kick. The goalkeeper was relieved when Cox, perfectly picked out by Joe Mattock, plopped a header into his arms as West Brom promised early on to regain their winning stride. It was QPR, however, who appeared to take control with two goals in the space of five minutes early in the second half. Jonas Olsson, preparing to meet Ben Watson’s corner, lost his bearings when nudged by Kaspars Gorkss and sent his header beyond Dean Kiely, deputising for the suspended Scott Carson, into his own net.

Then Kiely could only parry Watson’s swerving free kick before the ball ricocheted off Mattock for Gorkss to head into an empty net. In between times, the veteran goalkeeper produced a magnificent save to tip Adel Taarabt’s shot against the crossbar and such an intervention proved to be crucial.

Graham Dorrans worked himself some space on the left before sweeping over a precise long pass to the far post where Chris Brunt headed the ball back into the danger zone. After Cox and Chris Wood both had efforts blocked, the ball fell for Thomas to score his sixth goal of the season.

West Brom piled on the pressure, Gianni Zuiverloon heading against the foot of a post before Cox stayed calm to turn in the rebound after Cerny parried Wood’s shot.

West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): D Kiely — G Zuiverloon (sub: R Bednar, 85min), A Meite, J Olsson, J Mattock — C Brunt, G Jara, G Dorrans, L Moore (sub: C Wood, 64) — R Bednar, S Cox. Substitutes not used: R Allsop, M Cech, F Teixeira, Y Mulumbu, S Martis. Booked: Brunt, Cox.

Queens Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): R Cerny — P Ramage, D Stewart, K Gorkss, T Williams — M Leigertwood, B Watson — W Routledge, A Taarabt (sub: A Faurlin, 81), J Simpson (sub: F Hall, 90) — P Agyemang (sub: A Pellicori, 84). Substitutes not used: R Taylor, R Vine, M Alberti, J Parker. Referee: A Taylor. The Times

Steve Gallen failed to hide his disappointment, as Simon Cox's last-gasp leveller handed West Bromwich Albion an unlikely share of the spoils at The Hawthorns.

Rangers had led 2-0, courtesy of an own goal and a close range Kaspars Gorkss header, only for Jerome Thomas to pull one back midway through the second half.

However, just when it appeared as though the R's were heading for a famous win, the R's conceded possession deep in Baggies territory and Cox was in the right place at the right time to fire home a late equaliser.
- Speaking to www.qpr.co.uk, Gallen said: "It's a bit of a sickener.

"The boys are really down - it feels like a defeat.

"We had possession deep in their half with just seconds on the clock and we went for a third when we didn't need to and it's cost us a point.

"It's definitely two points dropped."

Despite the late drama, Gallen was proud of his players, commenting: "I was delighted with the performance.

"At 2-0 we were dreaming of a famous victory and even at 2-1, I genuinely felt we'd win the game.

"Right now, it feels very painful, but when I wake up in the morning I'll probably look back on it as a good point.

"I'm very proud of the lads. I can't knock their work-rate and endeavour and at times we played some very good stuff." QPR

BBC West Brom 2 - 2 QPR - By Harry Reekie

The point means West Brom are now seven points behind leaders Newcastle

The visitors, with Steve Gallen and Marc Bircham in charge, went ahead when Jonas Olsson's attempted clearing header looped into his own net.

Kaspars Gorkss doubled the lead with a simple header after a mistake by Dean Kiely but Jerome Thomas pulled one back with a swivelling shot.

And Cox snatched a point when he tapped in a rebound in the 94th minute.

The result will be hard to take for Rangers' novice managerial duo, who took charge with Jim Magilton suspended following his alleged altercation with Akos Busaky after the defeat against Watford.

West Brom, meanwhile, may have missed the chance to make up genuine ground at the top of the table but manager Roberto Di Matteo will be relieved to have taken anything from a game they seemed destined to lose.

The Baggies were much the better side for long periods but failed to make the most of their near-relentless pressure.

Early on Cox headed a fine cross from Joe Mattock into the ground with the goal at his mercy while Luke Moore's powerful shot was well blocked by Damion Stewart.

Rangers weathered the early storm, Abel Tarrabt forcing Kiely into a smart save on the keeper's return to first-team action.

But it was the hosts who continued to look the most likely to break through. Thomas, looking lively on his comeback from injury, shot straight at Radek Cerny while Chris Brunt missed his kick after arriving late from midfield.

Young Dutch full-back Gianna Zuiverloon also burst into the Rangers area but shot high and wide.

But the visiting players grew in confidence as West Brom's frustration increased.

The powerful Patrick Agyemang had a great chance to steal the lead with half-time approaching after outmuscling Abdoulaye Meite but dragged his shot wide.

Brunt, so often West Brom's creative spark, began to find his range after the break and tested Cerny with a fizzing drive.

It seemed an opening goal was inevitable and so it proved - only at the other end.

QPR's players were on the back foot for most of the game
Ben Watson swung in a corner and while it looked at first as though Gorkss had scored, replays showed the ball had come off the back of Olsson's head.

Shortly after Kiely pulled off a brilliant save to palm away a terrific left-footed drive from Taarabt to keep the score down.

But the keeper was then at fault when he only half stopped a free-kick from Watson and Gorkss was on hand to nod in the simplest of chances.

However, the hosts quickly pulled one back when a powerful shot from Cox deflected off Stewart and offered Thomas an opportunity to swivel and fire past Cerny.

West Brom's frantic efforts for a late equaliser looked to be in vain as Zuiverloon's header came back off the foot of the post and another effort from Cox was kept out by the inspired Czech keeper.

But QPR hearts were broken when Cox reacted quickest after Cerny could only parry a stinging shot from substitute Roman Bednar in the dying seconds.

West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo:
"The way the game went a point is better than nothing. I'm trying to look at the positive side of it.

"The players fought really hard for the point. I thought we deserved a little bit more as well, we had some very good chances but didn't quite manage to score.

"We've definitely been leaking too many goals in the last three games."

QPR temporary manager Steve Gallen:
"I don't know what is going to happen. I just got told last week and it feels like the longest week ever.

"I don't know if I'm charge for Saturday's game (at home to Sheffield United).

"I don't know when I'll find out. I saw something yesterday and it said the club are meeting with Jim and something will be decided over the next 48 hours.

"I welcome that, definitely. I'm sure people on the outside at QPR want to see things resolved quickly - we all do on the inside.

"I also saw some things during the week about chaos at QPR - that's absolute nonsense. I've not seen any chaos at the training ground BBC

Updated Table

1 Newcastle 21 23 46
2 West Brom 21 22 39
3 Cardiff 21 16 36
4 Nottm Forest 21 11 36
5 Leicester 21 3 34
6 Swansea 21 0 32
7 Blackpool 21 8 31
8 Sheff Utd 21 2 31
9 Bristol City 21 1 30
10 Watford 21 -3 30
11 Middlesbrough 21 5 29
12 QPR 21 4 29
13 Preston 21 1 29
14 Crystal Palace 21 -1 29
15 Doncaster 21 1 27
16 Barnsley 20 -6 26
17 Derby 21 -7 25
18 Scunthorpe 21 -14 23
19 Coventry 21 -9 22
20 Ipswich 21 -8 21
21 Reading 21 -10 21
22 Sheff Wed 21 -12 18
23 Plymouth 20 -16 15
24 Peterborough 21 -11 14 Table

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