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Saturday, February 27, 2010

QPR's Middlesbrough Loss: Harford Comments and Match Reports Compilation

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Posted on: Sat 27 Feb 2010
After an impressive performance at Middlesbrough this afternoon, Mick Harford bemoaned his team's failure to make the most of their dominance as they went down 2-0 at the Riverside Stadium courtesy of two Barry Robson penalties.

"That match typifies our luck at the moment, and I'm sick of saying it," said the R's gaffer.

"Today we dominated much of the game - like we have the majority of the matches I've been in charge - but we made silly mistakes and got punished for them.

"We've got to cut out those sorts of errors."

With the game still goalless, the R's had a strong appeal for a penalty of their own turned down when Lee Cook was felled in the box - and Harford believes the referee got it wrong.

"I thought we were unfortunate not to get a penalty there," he added. "If the referee thought he dived, why didn't he book him?

The home side were awarded two spot-kicks, the first for a tackle by Peter Ramage and the second for a challenge by Kaspars Gorkss.

"I didn't really see their first penalty," Harford said, "but their second spot kick was definitely the right decision.

"We got un-done today by some straight balls at our back four, which was unusual."

Speculation continues regarding Harford's future at QPR, and he acknowledged: "There's a lot of speculation.

"The fact is there's a Manager's job up for grabs, and this is a good Club with good fans and, as you saw today, a good bunch of players too.

"I have openly said that the Club needs a Manager to come in and stabilise the place. If that happens, so be it.

"All I can do is concentrate on the football, and work on the training pitch I can't shed anymore light on it than that.

"I believe the current set-up is the right situation now for the Club to move in the right direction, with the new Chairman Ishan Saksena coming in.

"The Club is in good hands, and they want to take QPR forward."

Two well-taken penalties by Barry Robson blasted Middlesbrough back into play-off contention after an otherwise stuttering 2-0 home win over QPR in the Coca-Cola Championship.

The double came in the five minutes before the break and gave hard-working Boro control but they were left holding on desperately in the second half as QPR piled on the pressure.

Boro boss Gordon Strachan admitted the penalties had swung the game his way.

"Until the penalties it was a nothing game," he said.

"I was happy with the points and

I was happy with the attitude but it wasn't a great game.

"We worked hard but the game was a bit frantic at times. Maybe some of them tried to work too hard. They were enthusiastic, maybe too enthusiastic but that is not a bad problem to have.

"The penalties turned the game though. There was no question over them and even their people admitted that. And I thought maybe we could have had one before that too for an incredible handball that somehow wasn't spotted.

"But I think we worked hard and deserved that result. We have worked hard over the past few games and maybe not got what we deserved.

"As for the play-offs we are still in there with a chance and in that respect today was a huge result for us.

"The last few weeks have been a great test of our character and we have come through that test and are still in with a shout."

Mick Harford, QPR interim boss, blasted his own side for giving away "silly" goals but insisted his side should have got something from the game.

"We should have had a penalty before Boro go theirs when Lee Cook was brought down," he said. "And we had chances after that too.

"I can't argue with the penalties Boro got. I didn't see the first but the second was pretty blatant and quite stupid really. He's just pulled him back.

"It is things like that that are costing us, silly goals. We started well and dominated possession for long spells, especially in the second half but I think we needed to get a goal back early on after the interval.

"I can't fault the work-rate or commitment of the players throughout and we did well for most of the game but I am sick of saying it, we have given away silly goals.

"I've told them that the work-rate, the attitude, the effort is great and they are playing well but so long as we are gifting silly goals we will get nowhere and yes, we are looking over our shoulder at relegation.

"We need to start playing poorly but winning because at the moment we are playing well and getting beat and that can't go on."

Harford refused to be drawn on speculation over his own position and the prospect of Neil Warnock arriving as new QPR boss but said: "If results had been as good as performances in recent weeks then maybe I would have had a better chance of a permanent crack at this job."

After a bright spell Boro's breakthrough came from the spot on 40 minutes as Robson slammed home a sizzler after Rangers defender Peter Ramage had chopped down Jeremie Aliadiere as he burst free into the box.

And Robson hammered home a second penalty in first half stoppage time after Kaspars Gorkss hauled back Leroy Lita as he burst forward on to a Kyle Naughton chip.

But before then both sides had strong shouts for penalties waved away.

Rangers were appealing on eight minutes as Mikele Leigertwood slotted a ball into the box for the lively Lee Cook and as he shaped to shoot he was bundled over by a David Wheater challenge.

And Boro were screaming for a penalty on 20 minutes after a Gary O'Neil free-kick into the Rangers box appeared to be punched clear by Gorkss.

Both sides had goals ruled out for marginal offsides while QPR twice hit the woodwork.

Sporting Life

TELEGRAPH/Rob Stewart - Middlesbrough 2 Queens Park Rangers 0: match report

If Neil Warnock wants an insight into the size of the task awaiting Queens Park Rangers' new manager then he should quickly acquaint himself with a DVD of this contest.

The Loftus Road club may be confident of luring Warnock from Crystal Palace but the manager who has become a promotion specialist will have to ready himself for a prolonged relegation wherever in London he decides to work.

Alan Pardew and Charlton Athletic go their separate waysHere at the Riverside, Warnock's prospective new charges made a bright opening before their hopes of easing their own relegation worries were quickly extinguished in the space of six minutes.

The visitors were all too easily brushed aside by Gordon Strachan's side whose own play-off aspirations are alive again thanks to two first-half penalties by Barry Robson who helped Boro dominate the crucial midfield exchanges.

Rangers tried to shoot themselves in the foot when Kaspars Gorkss appeared to punch Gary O'Neill's free kick but he was let off the hook by the referee and striker Neil Killen who thumped the ball over from six yards out in the 20th minute.

The visitors almost capitalised on their lucky escape ten minutes later when Jay Simpson surged into the penalty box but his rising shot appeared to clip the outside of Danny Coyne's near post.

Rangers were let off the hook again when Jeremie Aliadiere was allowed the time and space to pick his spot at the far post following Willo Flood's cross but the former Arsenal forward before firing wide from an inviting position.

The Frenchman was clearly keen to atone sooner rather than later and won a penalty for his side when he darted goalwards moments later only to be brought down by former Newcastle defender Peter Ramage.

Barry Robson grabbed the ball and fought off the claims of his team-mates such as Aliadiere and Leroy Lita to thump the ball straight down the middle of the goal into space vacated by Carl Ikeme in the 39th minute.

Rangers' caretaker manager Mick Harford saw his charges respond impressively and they almost equalised but Simpson had a rising shot pushed wide by Coyne.

There would be no let-off for Gorkss when he erred again as he pushed over Lita in the penalty box and was booked before Robson smashed home his second penalty of the afternoon in the 45th minute.

Substitute Adel Taarabt, on loan from Tottenham, almost halved the deficit in the 72nd minute with a sweetly-struck 20-yarder but Coyne turned his effort wide before Boro broke forward and Ikeme denied Lita.

Rangers stuck to their task and skipper Mikele Leigertwood struck a post late on as Boro sat back yet Gary O'Neil should have finished off a counter-attack but Ikeme came to his side's rescue" Telegraph

Middlesbrough Official Site

Middlesbrough 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

TWO penalties in seven minutes towards the end of the first half were enough as Boro completed their first ever double over QPR, writes GORDON COX from the Riverside.

The Boro side showed two changes from that which lost at Forest as Chris Killen and Leroy Lita returned to the starting line-up.

Julio Arca and Scott McDonald made way, the latter out injured, the former on the bench where he was joined by Brad Jones who was making his first appearance with the first team squad since December 20. Jason Steele joined Northampton Town on loan earlier in the day.

Mick Harford, naming what he felt may well be his last starting line up before another managerial change at Loftus Road, replaced Matt Connolly, who kissed the game with an ankle injury, with Mikele Leigertwood who returned from a three-match suspension to captain the side.

Former Boro loanee Marcus Bent was fit to return to the bench having been missing with hamstring trouble since February 9.

A quiet start in a quiet stadium gave way to moments of lively play from both sides as the game gradually got to its feet.

Good movement from Boro's front line had QPR stretched and Carl Ikeme almost went down in slow motion to palm away a 30-yard free-kick from Gary O'Neil who has struck a better shot before. But it was the visitors who almost opened the scoring when Antonio German hit the back stanchion with a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area.

Boro created a better chance as the game swung to the other end, but the ball arrived unexpectedly at the feet of Killen at the back post and he hurriedly shot over from seven yards.

Barry Robson was caught ball watching as QPR threatened down their inside left channel, Danny Coyne needing to produce a smart save to grab a low drive from the edge of the penalty area from Leigertwood.

With 36 minutes played Jeremie Aliadiere, playing on the left wing, was presented with a fine chance just along from the right-hand edge of the penalty area, but he shot horribly wide - just over a minute later his pace got the better of Peter Ramage and the ex-Newcastle right-back brought him down inside the penalty area.

Three players wanted to take the kick, Barry Robson won the argument with Aliadiere and Killen and drilled a low shot straight and past Ikeme from the spot with 39 minutes played.

Boro were almost caught out approaching the final minute of the half when German timed a run behind the back line despite looking offside. The home side survived and went on to double their lead in the first minute of injury time.

Another poor piece of defending, this time from Kaspars Gorkss, saw him drag back Lita inside the penalty area and Barry Robson rammed home an excellent penalty time firing high away to the goalkeeper's left.

Half-time: Middlesbrough 2 QPR 0

After a bright start from Boro they fell away a little as QPR upped their game and went off in search of a foothold in the game.

A couple of early substitutions seemed to galvanise that approach, though Bent was given at best a lukewarm welcome from the Boro fans.

But Danny Coyne was rarely stretched as Stephen McManus in particular effected two or three good challenges.

When Emanuel Pogatetz gave the ball away deep inside his own half there was danger as a deep cross looked like finding its target, Bent, until a timely touch from McManus.

Jonathan Franks was given a good reception when he replaced Aliadiere, but it was another change which almost made an immediate impact as Adel Taarabt, on for Alejandro Faurlin, forced Coyne into a smart full-length save away to his right as he shot low from 30 yards.

There was a more routine save from Ikeme when Lita shot for goal from the edge of the penalty area, an effort which carried plenty power but one aimed straight at a well positioned goalkeeper.

Boro were given a let-off 12 minutes from the end of normal time as Leigertwood, unmarked seven yard from and in front of goal, struck low against the base of Coyne's right-hand post.

Excellent work from Franks saw him hold off a firm challenge and drill a low cross into the penalty area, sadly for him, his team mates didn't match his good approach with anticipation and there was no-one in a red short to take the delivery.

Two minutes from the end of normal time Gary O'Neil made a fine run into the right-hand side of the Boro box, but again the finishing touch failed to match the approach as his shot was straight at Ikeme.

*Earlier this afternoon Boro's U18s drew 1-1 with Huddersfield Town at Rockliffe. James Gray scored in the first half and was sent-off on in the second.

Middlesbrough: Coyne, Naughton, Wheater, McManus, Pogatetz (Taylor 78), Flood, O'Neil (Capt), Robson, Aliadiere (Franks 66), Lita (Arca 83), Killen. Subs: Jones (gk); Hoyte, Grounds, Miller.

QPR: Ikeme; Ramage, Stewart, Leigertwood, Hill (Borrowdale 53), Gorkss, Buzsaky, Faurlin (Taarabt 69), Cook, Simpson, German (Bent 53). Subs: Cerny (gk); Ephraim, Vine, Balanta.

*For the purposes of statistical analysis, the QPR substitutions were in the following order: Borrowdale for Hill, then Bent for German.

Referee: Andy Woolmer, Northamptonshire.

Boro Killen, 71, foul.

QPR Gorkss, 45+1, foul.

Attendance: 17,568 (523 QPR)
Conditions: Sunny, still and cool at kick-off
Website Man of the Match: Barry Robson

QPR Official Site: Middlesbrouh 2 QPR 0

It was the tale of two penalties at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium this afternoon - they were both awarded to the hosts, as QPR lost 2-0 in the north-east.

Referee Mr Woolmer harshly gave the first when Peter Ramage seemed to win the ball as he slid in on Jeremie Aliadiere on 38 minutes, while the second was given six minutes later when Kaspars Gorkss was adjudged to have tugged at Leroy Lita.

Boro midfielder Barry Robson made no mistake with either.

This was in fact a good performance by Mick Harford's men, as the R's took the game to Middlesbrough.

Mikele Leigertwood worked hard alongside Alejandro Faurlin, while Lee Cook put in another solid display.

It was the R's skipper who had the best chance for the visitors, after being teed up by substitute Marcus Bent in the box, but his close-range drive hit the face of the post.

There wasn't much between the teams, but Lady Luck certainly didn't look favourably on the west Londoners this afternoon.

The R's gaffer made just one change to the side that beat Doncaster 2-1 last weekend, bringing in Leigertwood - who was available once again after serving his three match ban for a red card at Peterborough - for Matt Connolly, who missed out with an ankle injury.

It meant that Carl Ikeme lined up between the sticks with Matt Hill, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss and Ramage in defence from left to right.

Cook continued on the left wing while Faurlin was partnered in the centre of the park by skipper Leigertwood and Akos Buzsaky, with Jay Simpson taking up a position on the right of midfield.

In attack, Antonio German, who signed a two-year contract extension just 24 hours before kick off, led the line.

QPR started in the ascendancy, with Buzsaky's in-swinging free kick from the left and a Cook corner moments later forcing a good defensive header out of Boro centre back Stephen McManus.

In the 9th minute, Cook burst into the home penalty area after great work by Leigertwood and went down under the challenge of David Wheater, but referee Mr Woolmer wasn't interested in the R's winger's claims for a spot-kick.

Three minutes later, Gary O'Neill's 25-yard free kick forced the first save of the game, as Ikeme comfortably pushed the effort around his right-hand post.

On 14 minutes, Cook was the architect of a fabulous QPR move, after he collected possession on the left inside his own half. The in-form midfielder evaded three challenges before picking out Buszaky on the edge of the Boro area.

The Hungarian laid the ball to his right for the on-rushing Simpson, but he blazed wide of the near post from 16 yards.

Mid-way through the half O'Neill's free kick from the left touchline was flicked into the path of Emanuel Pogatetz, but he could only fire over from eight yards.

Chris Killen thought he had broken the deadlock on 27 minutes when he found the back of the net from close range after a neat pass by Robson, but the Boro forward had strayed offside.

The hosts took the lead in the 39th minute from the spot after Ramage was cruelly adjudged to have brought down Aliadiere in the area.

With the Boro winger through on goal, Ramage seemed to execute a fantastic last-ditch tackle, clearly connecting with the ball and sending it out of play.

To the Geordie's obvious disgust, Woolmer pointed straight at the spot to the delight of the home fans.

Robson stepped up and fired the ball straight down the middle of the goal to beat Ikeme and give Middlesbrough the advantage.

The R's responded in fine fashion, however, and really took the game to their opponents in a bid to draw level before the break.

After a great passing move involving Leigertwood, Cook and Buzsaky, the latter fired goalwards from 18 yards but his shot was well blocked by Pogatetz.

With Boro unable to clear their lines, the R's created another opening as the ball fell to Simpson in the area on the right. Appeals for offside were ignored but Simpson's shot was thwarted at the near post by Danny Coyne.

But just as Rangers were looking to get back on terms, they were dealt a huge blow when Woolmer awarded his second spot kick for the host in the space of six minutes.

The match official ruled Gorkss had tugged Leroy Lita in the area, and Robson duly smashed home from 12 yards, picking out the top right-hand corner.

Just before the half ended, Buzsaky stung the palms of Coyne in the Boro goal with a fierce drive from 25 yards.

Harford reverted to a 4-4-2 formation after the break, as he worked to get his team back in this game. Simpson joined German in attack, with Buzsaky returning to the right of midfield.

Five minutes into the second half, Buzsaky's long free kick from just inside the Boro half was flicked on by Stewart, but his header was easily gathered by Coyne.

As Stewart returned to his defensive position, he remonstrated with the referee that he was being pulled all over the place in the box, but Woolmer wasn't interested.

Harford then made a double substitution, replacing Hill and German with Gary Borrowdale and Marcus Bent respectively.

The change certainly made a difference, as the R's began to really impose themselves on the hosts, and were camped in the Boro half for large spells, but failed to really threaten Coyne's goal.

Such was the territorial advantage, the home fans started to show their frustrations, despite being two goals to the good.

In the 69th minute, Ramage got down the right before whipping in a great delivery for Bent, but McManus got the slightest of touches to avert the danger before the ball could reach the R's forward.

Seconds later, Simpson was inches away from connecting with a similar delivery by Cook on the other flank.

Harford then made his final substitution of the afternoon, replacing the hard-working Faurlin with the creative Adel Taarabt.

And his impact was almost instant. After Buzsaky had tussled for possession in the middle of the park, the ball fell kindly for the Moroccan, who forced a finger-tip save from Coyne from 20 yards out.

At the other end, Lita nearly made it three for the hosts following a counter-attack, but Ikeme was equal to it, denying him with a fine save to his left.

In the 79th minute, the R's should have halved the deficit through Leigertwood. After a fine ball from the right by Ramage to the far post, Bent coolly nodded the ball into the path of the R's skipper, but his drive hit the post from six yards out with the keeper flat-footed.

Six minutes later, Bent put the ball in the back of the net following Taarabt's delivery from the right, but his effort was immediately ruled out for offside.

Middlesbrough were able to safely see out the closing stages, as the R's were left to rue those crucial penalty decisions in the first half.

MIDDLESBROUGH: Coyne, Pogatetz (Taylor, 78), Lita (Arca, 83), Aliadiere (Franks, 65), Killen, Flood, O'Neil, Robson, McManus, Wheater, Naughton.

Subs: Jones, Hoyte, Miller, Grounds.

Goals: Robson (38, pen), (44, pen)

Bookings: Killen (72)

QPR: Ikeme, Ramage, Stewart, Leigertwood, Buzsaky, Gorkss, Cook, Faurlin (Taarabt, 69), Hill (Borrowdale, 54), Simpson, German (Bent, 54).
Subs: Cerny, Vine, Balanta, Ephraim.

Attendance: 17, 568 (523 QPR fans)

Referee: Mr K A Woolmer



QPR Official Site - Sterling Departs
Raheem Sterling has joined Liverpool for an undisclosed fee
The QPR youth product has been a regular in the QPR Under 18s this season and has also featured in the Reserves.
- The 15-year-old made his debut for the England U16s in November as a second-half substitute against Northern Ireland, and has gone on to make two further appearances for Kenny Swain's team.
- QPR's Youth Development Manager Steve Gallen said: "It is obviously disappointing to lose Raheem. I know him very well, having worked closely with him for a number of years.
- "We wanted to keep him, but Raheem was keen to play for an Academy, and Liverpool is obviously an excellent move for him, as far as that is concerned.
- "Liverpool's bid matched our valuation of him, and we all wish him well.
- "Raheem is a fantastic lad with a brilliant attitude. The players and staff are going to miss him around the place.
- "I hope, and I firmly believe, that he will have a great future in the game."
- The Club wishes Raheem well for the future. QPR

LIVERPOOL OFFICIAL SITE - Reds sign QPR midfielder
- Liverpool FC today confirmed the signing of England youth international Raheem Sterling from Championship side Queens Park Rangers. The attacking midfielder will join the club's Academy set-up in Kirkby.
- Managing Director Christian Purslow said: "The success of our Academy is vital to the future progress of the club and we have made clear that we will invest in outstanding young talent.
- "Raheem is a very exciting young English player whose progress was being closely monitored by many other leading clubs and I'm delighted he's joining us.
- "Frank McParland and his staff have done a great job in bringing him to Liverpool."
- Author: James Carroll Liverpool

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