Date:Friday August 22 2008
Saturday 23rd August 2008
THE life and career of young forward Ray Jones will be celebrated in this Saturday`s fixture against Doncaster Rovers. Ray was tragically taken from the world in the early hours of Saturday, August 25 2007, and the fixture marks a year without one of Rangers better prospects in recent years.
Following initial success in the Championship the R`s were brought back down to earth with a heavy bump against Sheffield United at the weekend.
The Bramall Lane defeat served as a timely reminder to Rangers supporters that there side were by no means the finished article, and there is a considerable amount of work to be done if Rangers are to be challenging for play-off honours come the end of the season.
They now face a home test against Championship new boys Doncaster Rovers, a side who the R`s haven`t played since the shock F.A. Cup defeat of 1985.
Now however Rovers are rejuvenated under the guidance of the ambitious John Ryan, with managerial masterminds steering the ship to the second tier, with now Darlington boss David Penny laying the foundations for current manager Sean O`Driscoll to bring them play-off success last time out against Leeds United.
Rangers skipper Martin Rowlands led the tributes to the former R`s striker,
'Ray was a good guy, a young man, a gentle giant really. Everyone knows that, as a footballer, he had amazing talent but as a man he was very quiet and kept himself to himself and conducted himself in a great way around the club.'
'He's got a locker at the training ground which nobody uses and his shirt number is retired as well,'
'He's still in the thoughts of everyone and his pictures are around the place.'
The skipper also analysed the upcoming fixture against Doncaster Rovers,
'They beat Derby in their opening game and as everyone can see they're a very good side,' he acknowledged." Rowlands said.
'They've got a lot of momentum from last year. It will be a tough game, they're a good footballing side but hopefully we can play well and get the right result.'
Manager Iain Dowie bemoaned a crazy 12 minutes as the reason behind Rangers downfall against Sheffield United at the weekend,
'It was 12 minutes of madness, and we gave ourselves a mountain to climb." said Dowie
'We let ourselves down and we let the fans down.'
Dowie was disappointed in particular with the way that Rangers were caught wanting at set-pieces.
'We knew what they were going to do - we had it up on the wall in the dressing room - but they caught us out, and that disappoints me."
'We're amongst the largest teams in the Championship in terms of our size, which makes it more frustrating to concede from set pieces. We need to work on it."
'We've got to get out of the traps quicker, win that first header, win that first tackle and build from there.'
R`s First team coach Iain Dowie once again has a selection dilemma going into this weekends fixture in W12.
With Gavin Mahon chomping at the bit to get some first team action, Dowie will have decisions to make in the heart of midfield. Mahon`s eagerness combined with the return of Martin Rowlands from suspension makes for excellent competition for places alongside combative midfielder Mikele Leigertwood, and Spanish starlet Daniel Parejo.
There will once again be a tussle for the goalkeepers jersey as Lee Camp looks to wrestle the number 1 spot back from Radek Cerny, following an unconvincing display at Bramall Lane.
Peter Ramage could be set to return to the starting line-up following a shaky defensive display at the weekend, in which the former Newcastle United defender was surprisingly left out of the starting eleven.
Hogan Ephraim will be hoping to attain a place in the sixteen following his goal-scoring return to action in a behind closed doors friendly against former club West Ham United. With Emmanuel Ledesma and Lee Cook impressing on the flanks he may well have to do with a place on the bench.
It is merely a matter of time before this talent breaks his duck and this weekend against Doncaster will be his sort of fixture. In an open game Parejo will have the chance to showcase his skills against a good footballing side.
Forcing Paddy Kenny into a couple saves at the weekend, the R`s fans saw another glimpse of why this lad could be a bit special - certainly his annoyance after the final whistle at Bramall Lane left Rangers supporters in no doubt to his commitment.
19 year old Parejo came up through the ranks at Real Madrid to progress to the Castilla side where he has been a mainstay, most notably last season, where he scored 10 goals in 33 appearances.
An attacking central midfielder by trade, Parejo has not been afraid to sit deep and stroke the ball across the pitch, and has displayed his footballing intelligence in his distribution and tackling. His accuracy from dead balls will make him formidable opposition for any defensive unit.
Striking duo Darren Byfield and former R`s target Jason Price are set to miss out in W12 on Saturday as the game come too soon for the injured pair who resumed training just recently.
Brian Stock`s chances have been rated as significantly better following a persistent back problem that saw him pull out of the Wales squad that was defeated at home by Georgia. Summer signing from Burnley and former Arsenal trainee John Spicer will be on stand-by should Stock not be available.
Another summer signing, Dutch defender Jos Van Nieuwstadt, came through a behind closed doors friendly against Chesterfield and could also be set to feature in W12, with Sean McDaid (knee) and Gordon Greer (hip) still sidelined with their respective injuries.
Other than that Sean O`Driscoll has a fully fit squad at his disposal and he will be looking to take an encouraging start to Loftus Road this weekend.
The Rovers striker has started the season in excellent form scoring two goals in two league games against Derby County and Cardiff City respectively and will certainly be full of confidence going into the fixture against Rangers.
Starting his career with Newcastle United, Guy only made one senior appearance for the Magpies, a UEFA Cup appearance. He was sent out on loan to Rovers in 2004 where he scored three goals in nine appearances, prompting then manager David Penny to make the deal permanent in the summer.
Not a prolific goalscorer by trade, Guy is known for his ability to win penalties and has been criticised in the past for his overzealous nature in attempting to win spot kicks.
His direct and pacy running has the ability to cause defenders all sorts of problems, Peter Ramage who will undoubtedly know the forward will have the task of marshalling his tricky former team-mate, and ensure he doesn`t get the freedom of movement that Billy Sharp enjoyed at the weekend.
Rangers have been in sporadic form of late with an unconvincing wins at home to Barnsley and away to Swindon, before getting taught a lesson away to Sheffield United.
Rangers have proven they are formidable opponents at Loftus Road, and despite perhaps not feeling the fortress it could be, Rangers have only lost twice on home soil in the calendar year of 2008. With Andy Cole`s splendid hat-rick coupled with West Brom`s winning finale made for the only defeats.
Doncaster have wowed their critics so far this season with a good draw against Cardiff City, which followed an opening day triumph against hapless Derby County. However the defeat in extra time against Notts County in the League Cup certainly taught Rovers a lesson in resting on their laurels.
O`Driscoll`s men finished last season without a win in six away from home, scuppering their chances of automatic promotion by not defeating Cheltenham Town, but after they romped home against Southend in the play-offs they confound the odds to beat Leeds United in the final.
HEAD 2 HEAD
Last time out
Ignoring the FA Cup defeat at Belle Vue for a moment as we trace back a little further to look at the fixture at Loftus Road in September 1966 which is covered by this week`s One Day In History.
Saturday 17th September 1966 - Loftus Road
QPR 6 (Keen 2, Morgan R. 2, Sanderson, Marsh)
Doncaster Rovers 0
Rangers Team: Springett, Hazell, Langley, Keen, Hunt, Sibley, Lazarus, Sanderson, Allen, Marsh, Morgan R.
Referee- M. Thorpe
Assistants - D S Margetts and M D Rowley
Fourth official - K G Yeo
For a full report on the man in the middle complete with Rangers matches in which Mr. Thorpe has officiated click here.
Rangers defending of late has not been up to scratch by any means, couple this with the dangerous attacking threat that both sides pose, it makes for an interesting encounter in W12; which is why I predict:
Boxer`s Prediction: 3-2 Rangers
Who- Carlisle United
Where- Loftus Road
When- Tuesday 26th August. 7:45pm
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Date:Friday August 22 2008
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