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Sunday, November 28, 2010

QPR Report Sunday: Cardiff's Loss to QPR...Zesh Rehman Meets Prime Minister at #10...FA Cup Draw Today

- Congratulations to Zesh Rehman
- For QPR and Football Updates and perspectives throughout the day, visit the QPR Report Messageboard. All QPR and football perspective welcome...Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER
- The Draw for the Third Round of the FA Cup is being made today (5:45 pm GMT). QPR are #32

- Congratulations to Zesh Rehman

- Tabloid: West Ham to Look for New Manager - Possibly Jones But supposedly definitely NOT Warnock

- Five Year Flashback: Q&A With QPR Chairman Gianni Paladini

- Twenty-One Years Ago Today: Don Howe Appointed QPR Manager. VIDEOS of Howe's first two games (Away Win at Crystal Palace. Home Win against Chelsea!)

- Caliendo on Dunga for Coaching Job

- USA Women Defeat Italy to Reach World Cup Finals


- Match Video

QPR 19 41
Cardiff 19 36
Swansea 19 33 TABLE

INDEPENDENT/Geoff Brown - Championship round-up: Taarabt the key as Rangers extend lead

Not for the first time this season, Adel Taarabt scored the match-winning goal as Queens Park Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Championship to five points with a 2-1 defeat of second-placed Cardiff City at Loftus Road. The Welsh side went ahead in the 13th minute through Craig Bellamy, but the lead lasted only five minutes, Kaspars Gorkss heading in from Tommy Smith's cross. Taarabt was beginning to direct QPR operations and midway through the second half he beat Lee Naylor and calmly found the top-left corner.

"It was a great goal by Adel," the QPR manager, Neil Warnock, said, "but I have to say that Kaspars Gorkss was superb at the back, apart from the mistake for their goal, and the whole spine of my team were excellent." Independent

Guardian Blog/Barney Ronay -Football League: your thoughts
QPR's victory failed to disguise Cardiff's superiority while a former Arsenal trainee took Dover to the third round of the Cup

It seems Neil Warnock and Dave Jones might not like each other that much. At the very least their post-match press conferences at Loftus Road after Queens Park Rangers' 2-1 top-of-the-table Championship victory over Cardiff City provided a bracing alternative to the usual comfortable clubbiness, with both managers carping on about unawarded penalties and launching pre-emptive strikes towards whatever the other might suggest in their absence.

Jones in particular was incandescent over Kevin Friend's failure to award a penalty in the 85th minute for what looked like a trip on Jay Bothroyd. He even suggested Cardiff might have gone on to get a winner. If this seemed optimistic you could understand his frustration. Cardiff were the better team overall, if not in terms of goals scored and territory in the second half, then in terms of passing and controlled football.

Their dominant spell towards the end of the first half provided the classiest passage of the match and of the two teams it is Cardiff who look currently better equipped to thrive at the higher level if – or probably when – they both get promoted. Rangers are unbeaten because they have an excellent defence (and they should hurl a percentage of their transfer trust fund at buying Kyle Walker from Tottenham), because they have great energy and purpose and are expert at set pieces. Cardiff have more clarity to their style and, already, a dusting of class in midfield and attack.

Having said that, the match was settled by a moment of brilliance from Adel Taarabt, the Moroccan who is entrusted almost single-handedly with providing a gloss of butterfly-ish guile to Rangers' attack. Taarabt's winning goal was expertly taken. It was also typically Taarabt-ish in that it was the high point of a scattergun performance. He is a Championship-level attacking genius: give him 10 chances to create something and one will end up in a wonderfully worked goal. At a higher level he will rarely get such a wealth of opportunities.

Craig Bellamy was also excellent today, and altogether more direct in style. Not yet fully fit, he worked hard, looked typically jet-heeled and finished neatly after a terrible mistake by Kaspars Gorkss. Bellamy will get sharper: if he stays fit it he has the dead-eyed quality to light up the Championship and ensure that, of these two, it is Jones who leads the way in May. BR Guardian

Chris Wathan, Wales On Sunday
THE QPR fans were unequivocal in their verdict at the final whistle at Loftus Road after handing the Bluebirds defeat.

The ditty of choice – as it had been for the majority of the afternoon – was simply: “Taarabt’s too good for you.”

And they weren’t wrong as the man Neil Warnock has hailed as his matador stuck the knife into Cardiff’s claims to be the best in the division.

Of course, the true claim to be top dogs of the second tier will only be decided in May, not mid-winter.

But here, the majestic Moroccan Adel Taarabt not only caused the Bluebirds bother all through this clash of the top two, he provided the moment of brilliance to seal the win with 22 minutes remaining.

In contrast, Cardiff’s own star men went missing when they were needed, Dave Jones’ team as a whole failing to step up to the challenge laid down by a direct rival for an automatic promotion spot.

While Craig Bellamy did open the scoring on 13 minutes, when Kaspars Gorkss levelled five minutes later there was little created to suggest a Cardiff comeback.

And QPR always looked the more likely to enjoy this early advantage in the race for the Premier League, the Hoops edging five points clear when Taarabt did his stuff.

It is probably harsh on QPR – and the much-maligned Warnock – to say the former Spurs starlet was the difference between the teams.

For QPR were at their organised best, setting out with a system that Cardiff couldn’t handle and certainly failed to fire against.

In fairness, the Bluebirds gave it a go at the death and were denied a potential penalty for a foul on Jay Bothroyd.

And they had offered hope in a ding-dong first half and again showed they could score against any opponent as their movement got in behind a defence which has kept 11 clean sheets to date.

The breakneck opening wouldn’t have necessarily pleased the rival bosses, and it made for plenty of hearts-in-mouths, heads-in-hands moments for the rival supporters.

And those observing the adrenalin-pumped opening would probably argue it was the London hosts that edged the early exchanges, their system built around the enigmatic Taarabt causing Cardiff plenty of problems as City struggled to figure out which runner to pick up.

Chris Burke was quick to suggest anything you can do, I can do better as he twisted and tricked his way into the QPR defence early on.

And it was clear, with Bellamy playing off Bothroyd and Danny Drinkwater surprisingly dispatched to the left of midfield, that Burke was the outlet for QPR to target.

Cardiff were not afraid to counter quickly in retaliation, a long ball or two for Bellamy to chase and earn territory adding to the speed of things, but not exactly adding to the quality side.

Yet, when that pressure brought the Bluebirds’ 13th-minute opener, there were no complaints from the raucous travelling support.

Attempting to play the ball around at the back, QPR did not take into account the speed and the sincerity of Bellamy’s work-rate and, as Kaspars Gorkss slipped, Bothroyd pounced and fed his overlapping strike partner.

There was perhaps a touch of offside about the Cardiff captain, but if others were looking for the flag Bellamy only had eyes on goal, the power in his shot beating Paddy Kenny.

QPR, though, would not be down for long and, as they still made life difficult for Cardiff’s backline, so the leveller came just five minutes later.

While Hulse had been the main concern of centre-back pairing Mark Hudson and Darcy Blake, it was Gorkss who atoned for his error when he ghosted in and glanced home Tommy Smith’s cross following a period of Hoops pressure.

It was Bothroyd who should have been marking the unmarked defender, although neither Lee Naylor nor Drinkwater covered themselves in glory given the time Smith had to deliver.

In terms of a response, Cardiff would have to bide their time before things opened up again, Taarabt going closest to making the most of QPR’s ensuring purple patch when he shot just wide on 26 minutes.

But slowly the Bluebirds began to bear their own attacking teeth more, Bothroyd running straight and true after some good covering work from Peter Whittingham and only denied a superb goal by the close attention of Matthew Connolly.

It painted a positive picture for the visitors going into the second half, yet the reality was somewhat different.

Though the pace of Bellamy had caused problems, Cardiff were just too quick to hit the searching ball and seeing possession given up having spent so long trying to win it.

And, all the while, QPR pressed and probed and built towards ascendency.

The warning came on 66 minutes when Taarabt crossed only for Hulse to head over, the danger signs flashing even brighter when Heaton had to dive at full stretch two minutes later to deny Mackie from long range.

But neither were heeded and, as Cardiff failed to clear the resulting corner, Taarabt took great joy in evading Naylor’s rushed challenge to glide into the area and slam home.

It wasn’t until five minutes to go that Cardiff finally got the ball down and start playing themselves, and it almost bought a get-out-of-jail card when Bothroyd danced through the area and appeared to be tripped by Connolly, referee Kevin Friend as unimpressed with that as he was by Bellamy’s protestations for half a shout of a foul moments later.

And, as late luck deserted them, so the points stayed with Rangers. WalesonLine

TALKSPORT - Jay Bothroyd has hit out at referee Kevin Friend following Cardiff’s 2-1 loss to QPR in the Championship.
The clash which saw the top two sides in the division come face-to-face was touted as one of the biggest of the season but ended in controversy when Friend denied the Bluebirds what they felt were two “stonewall” penalties.

Recently capped England international Bothroyd told talkSPORT he was livid with the decisions after fouls on him and his strike partner Craig Bellamy resulted in nothing from the referee, leading him to question the protection officials are given when they get decisions wrong.

He told Call Collymore: “It was a very even game but we lost and I think it was down to the decisions that weren’t given to us. It was nasty. I don’t understand why if players make bad challenges during a game we hold our hands up and say it was a bad challenge but when a referee makes a bad decision you can’t talk to them. I don’t understand that and I don’t think it’s fair.

“There was two stonewall penalties. I’ve gone through in the penalty area, the guys left his leg out, he’s not got the ball and he’s taken me down and he ain’t given a penalty. Then Craig Bellamy’s run through, he’s in the box, the guy’s pulled him by his shirt - everyone can see the big V from the back of his shirt and once again he didn’t give it and it’s inconsistent. He’s a Premiership referee as well.

“I don’t understand why referees are untouchable. For me if you make a mistake you hold your hands up and say I made a mistake. I don’t understand why referees can’t do that. Today he waved me away saying it was never a penalty. I’m going through to score a goal, he’s brought me down. I don’t understand, why would I go down if it’s not a penalty.” Talksport


QPR Official Site
Adel Taarabt's 68th minute winner saw QPR come from behind to go five points clear at the top of the league.

It was no more than Neil Warnock's charges deserved in an excellent advert for the Championship at Loftus Road.

The R's were behind on 13 minutes when Kaspars Gorkss' slip enabled Jay Bothroyd to free Craig Bellamy, who made no mistake to put the visitors into the lead from close range.

But Rangers battled back in spirited fashion to claim a vital win.

First, Gorkss made up for his earlier error when he nodded home Tommy Smith's cross on 18 minutes.

Before Taarabt blasted home the decisive goal on 68 minutes to send the home crowd into raptures and put the R's some eight points clear of third position.

R's gaffer Warnock made two changes to his R's side that defeated Preston in W12 just seven days ago.

Shaun Derry returned from suspension to replace Fitz Hall, while Smith also came back into the side at the expense of Leon Clarke.

Paddy Kenny was in goal for QPR, behind a back four of Kyle Walker, Matt Connolly, Gorkss and Clint Hill.

In front of the defence, Derry partnered Alejandro Faurlin.

Jamie Mackie, Taarabt and Smith were deployed in attacking midfield roles.

Rob Hulse led the R's attack.

Less than five minutes had passed before the Hoops went within inches of taking the lead.

Mackie it was with the chance, picking up possession on the left before cutting in to fire an effort inches wide of Tom Heaton's right-hand post from 20-yards out.

The first 10 minutes set the tone for what was to be a vivacious encounter, with play switching from one end to the other at a breakneck pace.

Cardiff took the lead following a mistake from Latvian stopper Gorkss.

The defender slipped on Walker's pass as QPR looked to play from the back, which allowed Bothroyd to put Bellamy through on goal.

QPR's backline voiced appeals for offside but referee Mr Friend was having none of it, as Bellamy raced away and tucked the ball under the advancing Kenny to put the Bluebirds into the lead.

The R's could have capitulated but, as has been the case this season, they battled back in fine fashion and were rewarded for their efforts with an equaliser only five minutes later.

Smith picked up possession on the right-hand channel before cutting back to curl a cross onto the head of Gorkss.

The delivery was of perfection - and so was the finish, as the big Latvian stopper stooped to head an effort home into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Taarabt almost put the R's ahead on 26 minutes.

The Moroccan magician won possession midway into the Cardiff half, dancing past one defender before lashing a low effort just wide of the right-hand post.

However, the tie continued to swing from end-to-end, and Kenny had to be at his very best to thwart Bothroyd 11 minutes before he break.

Cardiff broke at pace and, when Bothroyd raced clear of Gorkss, Kenny raced off his line to block the front-man's effort away to safety from 12-yards out.

The R's were enjoying far more possession as temperatures continued to soar at the start second period.

However both sides, in truth, created little in the opening 15 minutes.

Indeed, it took until the 65th minute for the first notable effort on goal to be fashioned.

Faurlin and Taarabt combined down the left and, when the latter's teasing centre was met by the head of Hulse, the former Derby County striker could only nod wide of the left-hand post.

Two minutes later, Heaton pulled off a spectacular save from Mackie.

Following a free-flowing R's move, Hulse eventually touched the ball back to the Scotland international on the edge of the penalty area, whose effort - that seemed destined to find the top-right hand corner - was superbly clawed to safety by the keeper.

Rangers were menacing and they found a deserved second on 68 minutes through Taarabt.

It was a moment of sheer brilliance from the mercurial Moroccan who, after eventually receiving possession from Derry's deflected pass, cut in to smash the ball home with his weaker left foot into the back of the net.

It was a goal that raised the Loftus Road roof, as Taarabt wheeled away in celebration to hug R's First Team Coach, Keith Curle.

Fully 20 minutes of Cardiff pressure followed.

Though didn't know much about it, Kenny was on hand to block Chris Burke's effort away from target with his face, after the midfielder's effort bounced up off the foot of Gorkss.

And, despite a further three minutes of injury time, the R's defended resolutely to take the points.

QPR: Kenny, Hill, Derry, Taarabt (Clarke 87), Faurlin, Mackie (Agyemang 88), Gorkss, Walker, Connolly, Hulse, Smith (Hall 90).

Subs: Orr, Helguson, Cerny, Ephraim.

Goals: Gorkss (18), Taarabt (68)

Bookings: Hill (81), Clarke (88)
Cardiff City: Heaton, McNaughton, Naylor, Hudson, Blake, Bellamy, Bothroyd, Olofinjana, Drinkwater (Koumas 57), Burke (Chopra 80), Whittingham.
Subs: Marshall, Matthews, Gyepes, McPhail, Keogh.
Goals: Bellamy (13)
Bookings: Koumas (58), Whittingham (62), Bellamy (85)
Referee: Mr K Friend
Attendance: 17, 316 (2488)

QPR Manager Neil Warnock told www.qpr.co.uk that he "really enjoyed" this afternoon's top-of-the-table clash at Loftus Road, which the R's won 2-1.

Kaspars Gorkss and Adel Taarabt were on target for Rangers, as the hosts came back from a goal down after Craig Bellamy's opener.

"I thought this was a cracking advertisement for the Championship," Warnock said.

"There were two teams out there who were at each others' throats for the whole game, it was end to end and there were chances in both goalmouths.

"I really enjoyed it - and I would have said that regardless of the score."

The game was level at the break, after Gorkss' fine header cancelled out Bellamy's strike, and Warnock said he felt his team had it in them to improve after the interval.

"At half-time I told the lads just to go out and enjoy it," he said. "I thought we could do a little bit more in the second half.

"We were a little bit in awe of their strikers early on but we sorted that out after the break and were a lot more positive."

Taarabt grabbed his third strike in two games to send QPR five points clear at the top of the npower Championship, and Warnock was full of praise for his Captain.

"Only he could have scored that goal," he said. "He does that in training, and I can't believe some of the other things he can do.

"It was a great finish, and was worthy of winning any match. It was a super strike."

Warnock was also pleased with the effort shown by the Moroccan when out of possession.

"Adel worked hard today," he added. "They were very tight on him so he didn't get a lot of joy, but he worked his socks off - and that's not his game."

The R's gaffer also had special praise for his trio of forwards.

"I thought Jamie Mackie, Tommy Smith and Rob Hulse were excellent," he said. "Rob was absolutely magnificent. He won nearly every header and dominated the game for us."

Cardiff left Loftus Road bemoaning a penalty decision which didn't go their way, when they believed Jay Bothroyd had been felled in the box in the closing stages.

"I think Dave is clutching at straws really," said Warnock. "In the 13th minute we had a certain penalty not given when their lad handled it in the box. And in the last minute we had a cert penalty as well - so two against one isn't bad!"

Rangers now head to Hull next weekend where they can equal the Club's 20-match unbeaten league run by avoiding defeat.

"We're not really looking at that," admitted Warnock, "but we look forward to every game and we're really enjoying ourselves.
"We know we are going to get beaten between now and the end of the season, but we're all enjoying it and the lads are playing with smiles on their faces."

Warnock also congratulated the QPR fans who backed the team throughout the game.

"What an atmosphere," he added. "Loftus Road was absolutely buzzing today. Cardiff more than played their part. It just whets your appetite and leaves you wanting more." http://www.qpr.co.uk/page/TheGaffer/0,,10373~2231917,00.html

SKY SPORTS - Warnock staying grounded
R's boss admits club won't win anything in NovemberLast updated: 27th November 2010

Warnock: Hails super Hoops

Neil Warnock hailed his side's wonderful performance as QPR moved five points clear at the top of the Championship with a 2-1 win against main challengers Cardiff.

Goals from Kaspars Gorkss and mercurial Moroccan Adel Taarabt turned the game around at Loftus Road after Craig Bellamy put Cardiff in front with his first goal in seven games.

The result means the Hoops are still unbeaten in the league and look destined for a long-awaited return to the top flight.


However, Warnock said his side won't be getting carried away, saying: "It was a great game. It was two teams playing end-to-end stuff, which is what football should be about. And the atmosphere was unbelievable.

"It was a great goal by Adel but I have to say that Kaspars Gorkss was superb at the back apart from the mistake for their goal, and the whole spine of my team were excellent.

"Shaun Derry was magnificent in midfield and the spine of Paddy Kenny in goal, Matt Connolly at the back, Derry and Rob Hulse were great. I thought it was Hulse's best game for us.

"We won't be getting carried away. You don't win anything in November, but the points are great to have."

Stuttering Cardiff have now lost their last two matches and manager Dave Jones was furious at the decision not to award his team a penalty in the 85th minute for a challenge by Connolly on Jay Bothroyd.

He said: "How can the referee not see it? And if he doesn't see it, how can the linesman not see it?

"They're the big decisions that matter in tight games like this.

"Everybody in the stadium could see it was a penalty. The reaction of the QPR players tells you that. We feel hard done by.

"I went to see him (the referee) about it afterwards and he asked if I was questioning his integrity. I was questioning his decision.
"Referees have got to be better in games like this. Was the game too big for him? That's for the referee's assessor to decide."

Warnock had a different view, though.
"I thought the referee had a good game. What Dave's saying is deflecting from the result, and we deserved to win that match," he said.

Jones added: "It was an even game and both teams deserved to get something from it. We probably should have, as we had a lot of chances in the second half. The decisions were the difference between us getting a point and not.

"It's a kick in the teeth but we were behind QPR and caught up with them before, and we'll have to do it again."

Telegraph - Queens Park Rangers 2 Cardiff City 1: match report
The watching Rodney Marsh would have been proud of the goal which took his former club a step closer to promotion.
Forty-two years after Marsh spearheaded their rise to the top flight, Queens Park Rangers are comparably reliant on the brilliance of Adel Taarabt, whose second-half winner settled this battle of the Championship's top two.

It took Rangers five points clear of Cardiff City whose manager Dave Jones confronted referee Kevin Friend afterwards, claiming the official failed to award a "clear cut, stonewall penalty" after Jay Bothroyd appeared to be tripped by QPR defender Matt Connolly.

"I asked him about it and he asked if I was questioning his integrity. I was questioning his decision," Jones insisted.

"He'll probably feel he got the decision right. Was the game too big for him? I don't know. That's for the referee's assessor to decide. He'll probably be back next week making decisions.

"It's a waste of time talking about it, a waste of time filing a report and waste of time the assessor saying they'll look at it. It goes nowhere and will be swept under the carpet."

Jones ought to feel equally furious with the defensive lapse that led to his team conceding an equaliser only five minutes after taking an early lead.

A slip by QPR's Kaspars Gorkss allowed Bothroyd to pounce on the loose ball and pick out Craig Bellamy, who fired past goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, only for Gorkss to quickly atone for his error by heading Tommy Smith's left-wing cross into the far corner of the net.

Cardiff's emphasis on keeping their midfield shape, regardless of what the unpredictable Taarabt threw at them, meant they were set up perfectly to defend a lead and frustrate their opponents as the game wore on.

So the speed with which Rangers hit back was hugely significant. It was a major setback for City and proved to be a turning point in the match.

QPR were galvanised by Gorkss' goal and in the ascendancy when Taarabt drifted in from the right wing, breezed past Lee Naylor and belted in his ninth goal of the season.

"Nobody else on the pitch could have scored that goal," declared victorious QPR manager Neil Warnock.

"It was a great game. It was two teams playing end-to-end stuff, which is what football should be about.

"I thought the referee had a good game. What Dave is saying is deflecting from the result. We deserved to win that match."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/championship/8164900/Queens-Park-Rangers-2-Cardiff-City-1 -match-report.html

BBC QPR 2 - 1 Cardiff
Adel Taarabt celebrates after scoring what turned out to be the winner
Adel Taarabt's ninth goal of the season saw off second-place Cardiff City and sent unbeaten Championship leaders Queens Park Rangers five points clear.

Cardiff had taken a 13th-minute lead when Jay Bothroyd pounced on Kaspars Gorkss' slip to let in Craig Bellamy for his third of the season.

Gorkss made amends five minutes later though when he headed home Tommy Smith's floating cross.

Taarabt grabbed the winner from close range after a great individual run.

QPR are now unbeaten in 19 games, one short of their all-time club record which dates back to 1972, and remain the only side not to have lost in the Football League.

But more importantly for boss Neil Warnock's side is that they are looking a formidable force in the Championship in the race for the Premier League and put some daylight between their closest rivals.

Despite starting brightly, it was Cardiff who created the early openings first with Chris Burke's mazy run which sent goalkeeper Paddy Kenny sprawling.

Then Bellamy ran at the home defence before finding Chris Burke on the right, and the winger cut back to Peter Whittingham who curled his effort fractionally over from the edge of the box.

Rangers had a penalty appeal turned down when Taarabt's cross looked to have hit Darcy Blake's arm, and moments later Cardiff were ahead.

Gorkss slipped unopposed in the middle of his own half and Bothroyd nipped in to free Bellamy into the box to blast the ball past Kenny.

Cardiff's lead was to last just five minutes though as they failed to clear their lines and Smith floated in a left-footed cross from the right which Gorkss glanced home from 12 yards.

It was the visitors who went on to enjoy more of the possession and some delightful build-up play almost found Bothroyd six yards out.

Bluebirds top scorer Bothroyd then went close to creating a goal of his own with a powerful run only to be denied at Kenny's feet.

Rangers had chances themselves with Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin forcing Tom Heaton to push away his low 25-yard shot.

Heaton then pulled off the save of the game in a tighter second half when he was at full stretch to parry Jamie Mackie's strike which was heading towards the top corner.

But the on-loan Manchester United keeper could to little to stop Taarabt as Cardiff failed to deal with the resulting corner and the Moroccan beat Lee Naylor and smashed the ball home from close range.

Cardiff pressed for a point and should have had a penalty in the last five minutes when Bothroyd was brought down by Matthew Connolly, only to see referee Kevin Friend wave away appeals.
Click for 90 seconds of Warnock Audio

Guardian/Barney Ronay

Adel Taarabt turns on the style to put Rangers five points clear
Queens Park Rangers are now five points clear at the top of the Championship after a match of great endeavour and no little attacking invention was settled by Adel Taarabt's finely executed 68th-minute goal.

This was a victory earned by a second half of sustained hustling pressure – in front of a boisterous 17,316 crowd – from a Rangers team who, in the first period, had seemed likely to be picked off by the rapier edges of Craig Bellamy and Jay Bothroyd, a spiky and, at times, thrillingly mobile home-international pairing in the Cardiff attack.

Afterwards, manager Dave Jones was left fuming – and fuming at great length – by referee Kevin Friend's decision not to award Cardiff an 85th-minute penalty for what looked like a clear trip on Bothroyd by Matthew Connolly. "How does he miss it?" Jones asked. "And how does the linesman miss it? And how does the fourth official? These are the big decisions in tight games and he hasn't called it. I'm not questioning [Friend's] integrity, but I am questioning his decision-making. Was the game too big for him? He'll say not."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Neil Warnock saw the incident differently. "I thought he [Friend] had a good game. It's a tough game to referee. He [Jones] can pick on the penalty, but I thought we deserved to win. We were super down the middle, Paddy Kenny, Connolly, [Shaun] Derry – [Rob] Hulse was brilliant, the best I've seen him play for me here. It was a fantastic match. That's what football's all about. End to end and it was a fantastic atmosphere."

The penalty incident provided a fittingly fevered conclusion to a meeting between the division's twin pace-setters. Rangers came into the game unbeaten, a steamrollering start to the season that has been soft-pedalled by a recent run of seven draws in their past 10 games. This had seemed likely to stack up as a meeting of unyielding defence against irrepressible attack, with Rangers' solid rearguard tested by a front duo comprising England's latest attacking recruit and the returning Bellamy.

As it was, the opening goal, after 13 minutes, came as a result of a terrible defensive mistake by Kaspars Gorkss, who slipped and fell over with the ball at his feet, 25 yards from goal. Bothroyd took advantage, slipping a simple pass to Bellamy, who ran in on goal and finished with ease from eight yards out.

Happily for Gorkss, redemption was at hand five minutes later. Having rumbled forward for a free-kick, the Latvian centre-half stayed upfield to meet Tommy Smith's cross from the right with a fine guided header across Tom Heaton and into the far corner of the net.

Cardiff continued to press. Bellamy had been booed as his name was read out before kick-off — perhaps with a nod towards the approaching pantomime season rather than any real sense of malice — and he looked full of red-booted menace cutting in from the left. It was from that side that Bothroyd almost added another on 33 minutes, an instant clearance allowing him to sprint away from Clint Hill and force an excellent whites-of-their-eyes save from Kenny on the edge of his six-yard box.

Cardiff dominated as half-time approached, with Seyi Olofinjana and Peter Whittingham winning the battle in midfield. After the break, the roles were reversed as Rangers emerged with renewed purpose and forced a succession of attacking set-pieces, a potent route to goal for a team full of heft and height.

Cardiff remained dangerous on the break, notably after 56 minutes, when Bellamy glided away from Derry – in a manner reminiscent of Maurice Greene competing in a school sports day dads' race – and played in Bothroyd, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Connolly.

After 67 minutes, Rangers' greater pressure paid off. Lee Naylor allowed Taarabt to brush through his tackle too easily on the right, but the finish was exhilarating, the Moroccan jinking inside and out before lifting the ball into the far corner. "No one else on the pitch would have scored that," Warnock purred, but in truth it was another scattergun performance from Taarabt, with incisive invention mixed with some energetic meandering. At this level, he often gets enough chances to make the difference and Rangers remain reliant on him for attacking craft.

Cardiff roused themselves to stage a succession of late attacks and, penalty shouts aside, will feel justifiably hard done by not to have taken a point back down the M4. In the end, Taarabt's moment of poise amid the hustle was enough.

1 QPR 19 26 41
2 Cardiff 19 14 36
3 Swansea 19 8 33
4 Derby 19 10 30
5 Coventry 19 4 30
6 Burnley 19 7 29
7 Leeds 19 0 29
8 Nott'm Forest 18 5 27
9 Norwich 18 2 27
10 Doncaster 19 1 27
11 Reading 19 6 26
12 Barnsley 19 -5 26
13 Portsmouth 19 -1 25
14 Watford 19 2 24
15 Millwall 19 0 24
16 Ipswich 18 -2 24
17 Bristol City 19 -6 23
18 Hull 19 -6 22
19 Leicester 18 -8 22
20 Sheff Utd 19 -11 22
21 Scunthorpe 19 -9 20
22 Crystal Palace 19 -12 20
23 Middlesbrough 19 -10 18
24 Preston 19 -15 15 BBC

Another QPR Record to aim for: Least League Defeats in a Season

- Leon Jeanne Joins Bath City

- Chris Wright Sells Chrysalis

- Nice Burnley Site Profiles of Ex-QPR Players Who Played for Burnley including Dave Thomas and Leighton James

- Eleven Year Flashback: Sammy Koejoe Joins QPR (reportedly based on a video)

- Old Football Grounds

- Bolton's 35 Million Pound and mass debt examined (Update)


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