Cole The Goal
12th February 2008. 8:00pm
Rangers were swept aside as Andy Cole rolled back the years to score a commendable hatrick at Loftus Road. The veteran striker helped bring to an end a run of four straight home league wins for Rangers and dent the outside playoff credentials of the super hoops.
It all seemed an age away when Rangers had cantered to a 2-0 advantage courtesy of Gavin Mahon`s first goal for Rangers, and yet another goal for Patrick Agyemang. But Burnley hit back, and how. Cole`s hatrick was supplemented by a goal from Rangers nemesis Ade Akinbiyi, to give the game a somewhat uneven scoreline to a very evenly poised game.
Rangers made two changes from the away victory over Southampton at the weekend. International duo Damion Stewart and Akos Buzsaky were recalled in favour of Michael Mancienne and Kieran Lee.
Rangers continued with a 4-4-2 formation with Zesh Rehman and Damion Stewart the preferred partnership at centre back, with Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang continuing their good partnership upfront, supported by wingers Buzsaky and Hogan Ephraim.
Burnley made one change from their Saturday draw at home to relegation threatened Colchester United. David Unsworth made way for captain Gary Caldwell in a straight change, as Burnley started with a relatively attacking line-up including Robbie Blake, the effervescent Andrew Cole, and the highly sought after Kyle Lafferty.
In the early going chances were few and far between as both sides were looking to feel each other out in a tight encounter at Loftus Road. Rangers were passing the ball about very competently, and Burnley doing likewise, supplementing their play with neat passes out to the left flank to a dangerman Kyle Lafferty, whose giant figure hugged the left-hand touchline.
Rangers came closest to breaking the deadlock when an Akos Buzsaky free-kick deflected off the wall, which had the Burnley fans holding their breath behind the goal, with harrowing memories of Colchester`s goal at the weekend lurking at the back of their mind. This time however, no more than a corner for the R`s.
Hogan Ephraim`s 25-yard effort missed the target by inches as he latched onto an intelligent pass from Buzsaky, who was asserting himself as the hub of the Rangers attack in the early stages.
Eventually the goal came for Rangers, after some early pressure and momentum it was Gavin Mahon who rounded off a slick move for his first goal for the Super Hoops.
It was Akos Buzsaky who found Patrick Agyemang on the right hand side of the area from a header, with seemingly nowhere to go, Agyemang pulled out a deft backheel to take John Harley out of proceedings, the ball found its way to the aforementioned Buzsaky, who picked out a beautifully crafted far post cross for Gavin Mahon. The midfielder powered the ball home to give Rangers a well-deserved lead after 15 minutes.
QPR 1-0 BURNLEY
Rangers had their opposition reeling, and Agyemang nearly doubled the advantage when his curling shot narrowly missed the right hand upright.
Eventually though the pressure told and Rangers got their second of the evening, through the man who seems to be scoring for fun of late, Patrick Agyemang. The move all came in a sweeping counter attacking move which started in Rangers` half. The Clarets midfielder James O`Connor gave the ball away on the edge of the Rangers area, and full back Damien Delaney ran the length of the pitch before slipping a pass Rangers fans would associate with Buzsaky, it was perfect for the feet of Agyemang. The ex-Preston striker had the confidence to round the keeper before slotting into an empty net. Confidence personified as he claimed his 8th goal in 6 games, a truly remarkable record.
A goal that had Rangers fans singing and dreaming of an unassailable lead, and had Clarets manager Owen Coyle on the pitch berating his players, with arms flailing and fists pumping.
QPR 2-0 BURNLEY
Rangers hadn`t finished there, as they pushed forward once more, as Akos Buzsaky found himself in space on the right hand side of the area running towards goal, he drilled a well timed effort inches wide of the left hand upright. A chance that would have surely finished the Clarets off.
Zesh Rehman, that`s right you heard me, Zesh Rehman then lead a counter attack down the right wing as he was laid through by Akos Buzsaky, the Pakistani defender had the vision to cut inside after his marauding run down the right flank, to beat his defender before letting fly with his left foot. The shot however didn`t live up to the previous passage of play and Jensen was able to grab the shot comfortably at the second attempt.
Martin Rowlands who had been the engine room of the operation alongside Gavin Mahon was forced to withdraw on 39 minutes, he was replaced by Mikele Leigertwood, as the captains armband was handed to goalscorer Gavin Mahon.
Within minutes Burnley had themselves back in the game with a typical goal by Andrew Cole. A free kick was given in somewhat mystifying circumstances with players and fans alike unsure as to what the referee had actually given. A hush fell around Loftus Road as Joey Gudjohnsen paced up to the free kick, he drilled a right footed effort into a body of players, and Andrew Cole stuck out an instinctive leg to send the ball flying past Lee Camp. A goal out of nothing for Burnley, which gave the Clarets some encouragement going into the break.
QPR 2-1 BURNLEY
Half Time QPR 2-1 Burnley
There was one half time change for the Clarets, Robbie Blake made way for the power of Ade Akinbiyi to the delight of the away following.
Burnley pushed ahead early in the half, and certainly looked as if they had more fight about them, matched with footballing ability with some neat passes out, using the width of the Loftus Road pitch. But it was Rangers who were creating the most clear cut chances with Hogan Ephraim twice going close, but firing carbon copy efforts straight at Brian Jensen cutting in from the left flank.
For all of Rangers attacking guile and flair it was Burnley who equalised through that man again, Andrew Cole. The half time substitute Ade Akinbiyi, floated an inviting ball from the left towards the far post after some neat build up play, and Cole finished the ball off with aplomb infront of the travelling faithful down from Lancashire. A goal to rip the heart out of Rangers as the home side were looking drained of confidence.
QPR 2-2 BURNLEY
Rangers though continued to plug away, and Matthew Connolly found himself in an attacking position outside the area in a central position. The ball sat up kindly for the former Arsenal youngster, and his volleyed effort flew towards the target with dip and venom. However it was well handled by Jensen with Agyemang in attendance.
Lee Camp was then forced into another world class save, another he can add to his repertoire in a Rangers jersey. Wade Elliot`s rasping drive dipped and swerved towards the top right hand corner, but an outstretched hand from Camp tipped the ball onto the post and denied Elliot a wonder goal, and kept the score level. It was all too much for the referee who opted to give a goal kick.
Rangers continued to get in behind their opposition with some intelligent running from Agyemang and Vine. The former got in behind the Burnley rearguard on a number of occasions, with nobody gambling in the middle for the pullback, and the Ghanaian was left berating lack of support from numerous sources.
Rowan Vine then went close with an effort of his own after another clever ball through from Patrick Agyemang, the striker found himself on the right hand side of the area, he got a yard on his defender, but dragged his shot wide of the left hand post, much to the frustration of the Rangers crowd, who had seen their team dominate without that killer instinct in the second period. This effort was followed up by Mikele Leigertwood, whose shot was comfortably saved by the busy Jensen.
Burnley though, were not finished they took all three points soon after through Ade Akinbiyi. Rangers defenders were at odds to clear a previous chance, when John Harley pumped a ball back into the box and Akinbiyi was on hand to finish off Rangers with a headed effort, much to the delight of the Clarets faithful and the dismay of a strong crowd at Loftus Road.
QPR 2-3 BURNLEY
An exasperating game of end to end football was drawing to a close and chances were few and far between. With Rangers desperate for the equaliser they threw men forward. It was a free-kick though that was to eventually be their undoing, and send Burnley back up north with a certain 3 points.
Andrew Cole then claimed his hatrick after beating Zesh Rehman to the ball on the near post to flick the ball home. Cue mass exodus from the stands. A goal that was fitting for Cole on a night where Rangers left themselves ruing missed chances and wasteful losses in possession.
QPR 2-4 BURNLEY
Cole was then withdrawn to a standing ovation from sections of the Loftus Road crowd, who appreciated class when they saw it in their presence. Sections who had taunted Cole earlier with a chorus of, "You`re Not Famous Anymore" - well here is one man who will be making some headlines if he continues to repeat this style of performance that he put in at Loftus Road, putting Rangers to the sword with classic Andrew Cole goals.
Rangers threw men forward late on in search of consolation but to no avail, it was truly Burnley and especially Cole`s night at Loftus Road.
Full Time QPR 2-4 Burnley
Lee Camp - 6
Matthew Connolly - 6
Damion Stewart - 5
Zesh Rehman - 6
Damien Delaney - 6
Akos Buzsaky - 7
Gavin Mahon - 8
Martin Rowlands - 6
Hogan Ephraim - 6
Rowan Vine - 6
Patrick Agyemang - 8
Mikele Leigertwood - 5
Dexter Blackstock - 4