Rangers Cling On - Match Report
Wednesday 17th September 2008. 7:45pm
QUEENS Park Rangers somehow clung on to three points against Norwich despite being reduced to ten men early in the first half.
When Matthew Connolly was sent off for two needless bookable offences it seemed that the R`s were going to be up against it. But in the first half Rangers were never out of the game as a competition, and Martin Rowlands blasted home a twice taken free kick to hand the R`s the lead.
From there on in, more notably late on in the second period, Norwich threw everything at the R`s but the defence clung on admirably, reducing Norwich to a handful of clear cut chances.
Rangers resilient in defence and Norwich lacking strike force, ensured that the R`s took the points at Carrow Road, three points well deserved for their fighting spirit.
Rangers went into this game making two key changes to their line-up from the side that defeated Southampton on Sunday. Skipper Martin Rowlands started the game for the first time this season, replacing Emmanuel Ledesma who dropped to the bench.
Emmanuel Ledesma returned to the line-up following the completion of his one match ban, he replaced former West Ham United winger Hogan Ephraim who dropped out of the 16 all together.
Akos Buzsaky also made his way to the bench for the first time this season as he looks to recover from the ankle surgery performed this summer, he replaced Angelo Balanta in the 16.
Norwich went into the game off the back off a 2-1 win down in Plymouth and Canaries boss kept faith with the same side that picked up their solitary win thus far.
Darrell Russell was declared fit following his recent double hernia operation, whilst he continued with the same strike force of Antoine Sibierski and Arturo Lupoli, with former Rangers forward Jamie Cureton starting from the bench.
Kick Off: Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers
The home crowd was in good voice early on as Norwich looked to strike in the early stages. A useful flick on by Antoine Sibierski found Italian striker and fellow loanee Arturo Lupoli, but the former Arsenal trainee blazed over with a matter of seconds on the clock.
Matthew Connolly felt the brunt of referee Rob Shoebridge early on as he attempted to stop Wigan loan striker Sibierski, he was given a booking for his rash challenge on the Frenchman, but moments later Emmanuel Ledesma was stopped in cynical fashion by Dejan Stefanovic, with the referee opting not to take further action.
With Rangers enjoying spells of possession in the Canaries half, Norwich seemed more happy playing the visitors game of playing on the break, and they were looking effective breaking forward in numbers.
Darel Russell, a player who only a week or so ago underwent a double hernia operation, played for the second time in five days, and his stinging drive from 25 yards was comfortably held by Radek Cerny, the R`s stopper with an early confidence booster.
Sibierski and Lupoli were linking up well, and the former was giving Matthew Connolly a rough ride in the air, his header provided an opportunity for his strike partner Lupoli who would have given the lead for a last ditch tackle.
R`s fans were incensed with stopper Radek Cerny as he insisted on flapping at the ball and punching nervously at every juncture. But for Damion Stewart Rangers would have had problems as Sibierski`s shot flew wide from a deflection off the Jamaican.
Matthew Connolly`s lack of composure cost him dear with 25 minutes gone, as yet another rash challenge by the former Arsenal defender, this time on the halfway line on Matty Pattison.
Connolly showed his inexperience diving in when already on a booking to receive his marching orders. Rangers second red of the season, reliving memories of last year when the R`s were reduced to 10 men and succumbed to a 3-0 mauling.
Rangers brought on Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss in place of distraught winger Lee Cook, who was evidently upset at his withdrawal.
Their numerical disadvantage hardly seemed an issue as somehow the R`s took the lead at Carrow Road. Mark Fotheringham, a goal scorer last season, was penalised and booked for handball. Emmanuel Ledesma`s subsequent free-kick hit Arturo Lupoli as he peeled away from the wall too quickly - he also received a yellow for his indiscretion.
Martin Rowlands stepped up for the re-taken free kick and slammed it home past Norwich stopper Marshall to hand Rangers a valuable and unlikely lead at Carrow Road.
Norwich City 0-1 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were in buoyant mood and continuing to apply the pressure despite their inferior numbers. A mistake by Kennedy at the back saw Emmanuel Ledesma create a chance for himself, getting in behind Kennedy before lifing the ball over Chelsea loanee Ryan Bertrand before somehow missing the target - could have been an incredible goal but for a woeful finish.
The best and worst of Ledesma in evidence as somehow he received a free kick for the darker part of his game, hitting the ground very easily when a challenge was hardly forthcoming.
Rob Shoebridge blew the half time whistle as the R`s went into the break a man down but a goal up; For all of the Canaries good build up play they were toothless where it mattered, as Rangers conspired to miss the majority of chances that came before them.
Rangers were yet to win on the road this season and indeed since February, and skipper Martin Rowlands` free kick was the difference at the break.
Half Time: Norwich City v Queens Park Rangers
Norwich made a change going into the second period, Arturo Lupoli who had a decent first half in terms of build up play if not finishing. Darel Russell moved to the unusual position of striker, as Pattison moved inside to accommodate substitute Lee Croft - a real blow for former R Jamie Cureton.
The Canaries came out the blocks and looked to take the game to ten men, Matty Pattison`s corner was well held this time by Radek Cerny, proving he is capable of holding the ball, and maybe he needs a little more self-confidence at times.
The Rangers supporters continued to get behind their side, as the Carrow Road faithful started getting frustrated early in the first period. The encouragement was still forthcoming when their side laid siege to the Rangers goal, but more often than not the attack was quashed.
Rangers were hardly looking merely to stifle play, they were pushing forward at every attempt with the industrious middle three looking to create chances for lone striker Dexter Blackstock. The home crowd were growing more weary of their sides play ass they simply couldn`t break down a stubborn Rangers rearguard.
There was some cheer for the R`s when John Kennedy was forced to withdraw through injury, and full back on loan from Middlesbrough, Jonathan Grounds took to the field.
A considered spell of pressure from the Canaries penned the R`s back in their own half. But stubborn Rangers wouldn`t be broken down, reducing the opposition to shoot from distance unsuccessfully.
The moment that Rangers fans dreaded came to fruition, Jamie Cureton took to the field for Norwich in place of former Blackpool winger Wes Hoolahan, who couldn`t work his magic to unlock the Rangers rearguard.
Kaspars Gorkss, a Norwich target in the summer, gave Cureton a rude awakening when they clashed after going up for a ball. Cureton left the field with a cut in the back of his head, and re-took to the field in a 'Terry Butcher` style bandage.
Skipper Martin Rowlands, undaunted by the inferiority of numbers, went on an enterprising run into the heart of the Norwich half, his speculative drive from distance was sent narrowly over the bar. The R`s defence were being stretched to their fullest, as counter-attacks became few and far between.
A man who was so effective at the weekend Partick Agyemang came on for the tiring Dexter Blackstock who had worked his heart out upfront all evening.
Radek Cerny made an excellent stop from a Mark Fotheringam free-kick to send the ball wide of the mark as Norwich looked to break the resilience of Rangers. The pressure mounted on both sides as Rangers continually hacked clear, and David Marshall was the solitary man in the Norwich half.
Both Norwich full backs were getting in on the act, as Ryan Bertrand flew down the left flank and got his cross away despite the attentions of Peter Ramage, Cerny dived onto the ball and grasped it in desperation.
The moment that all R`s fans had waited for, the fans rose to their feet as the Magical Magyar, Akos Buzsaky took to the field for the first time this season in place of Emmanuel Ledesma. Dejan Stefanovic can count himself lucky to stay on the field after some off the ball nonsense with Damion Stewart.
The former Fulham man appeared to raise his arms on the Jamaican, but somehow never received punishment for the offence.
Norwich by this time were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the R`s as Cureton had a golden chance to hand Norwich a point when Peter Ramage somehow scrambled the ball the away from his feet on the goal-line.
Rangers put in a dogged display to deny the hosts in the final moments, Radek Cerny`s lack of catching was proving a real liability as a number of times he opted to punch rather than the sensible option.
A mark of how much Norwich threw at the R`s as David Marshall came forward for a late corner, as Antoine Sibierski conspired to head a real chance into the side netting as Radek Cerny was rambling.
But somehow, some way, the R`s clung on for a priceless victory to take them back to fourth in the league and defeat Norwich on their own patch, for the first time in the last nine attempts.
Rangers: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Matthew Connolly (Sent Off 25), Damion Stewart, Emmanuel Ledesma (Akos Buzsaky 82), Lee Cook (Kaspars Gorkss 30), Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands, Dexter Blackstock (Patrick Agyemang 77)