Super Sub Stead Sinks Rangers
JON Stead came off the bench to bag a brace and hand Ipswich Town the game in a whirlwind five minutes at Portman Road.
The forward came on to replace former loan Ranger Kevin Lisbie firstly to force the ball over line in a scramble, before thumping a header past a bereft Radek Cerny, whose mistakes cost Rangers dear.
In truth Rangers had a good number of chances themselves, retaining possession well in the first period to force Richard Wright into a number of remarkable saves, before a Lee Cook free kick cannoned back off the bar.
But it wasn`t enough for the R`s that saw their four match unbeaten run come to an end, along with an end to three clean sheets, courtesy of super sub Jon Stead.
There was a change in personnel and formation from the side that was memorably victorious against Birmingham City in W12. Daniel Parejo and Damien Delaney came in for Emmanuel Ledesma and Mikele Leigertwood, the latter serving the first of a four-match suspension.
Kaspars Gorkss also claimed a place on the bench, while goal-scoring hero Samuel Di Carmine occupied a lone role up front with Dexter Blackstock warming the bench.
The Tractor Boys made a key change from the side that played on Tuesday night. A change in formation prompted Jon Stead to drop to the bench, and former Plymouth Argyle midfielder David Norris came into the side. Former R`s loanee Kevin Lisbie pursued a lone striker`s role for Jim Magilton`s side, who had only lost 1 game in ten.
Kick Off: Ipswich Town v Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were looking sprightly in the early stages of the first period, as they set about emulating their achievements midweek. Martin Rowlands and Daminao Tommasi were the engine room of the R`s midfield supported ably by wingers Lee Cook and Akos Buzsaky, with Daniel Parejo bursting forward in his free role behind Di Carmine.
It was a slick passing move that carved out the first chance of the game as Parejo linked up with Buzsaky which saw the ball deflect to Lee Cook. Cook took a touch before firing a shot straight into the grateful palms of Richard Wright.
Samuel Di Carmine was proving a real handful for the Ipswich defence, as the forward was playing well with his back to goal. The forward was having lumps kicked out of him but admirably stayed on his feet, but one final dig sent him to the floor and Rangers had a free kick on the right flank, despite the faint protestations of the home crowd.
Lee Cook subsequently fired the cross across goal which evaded everyone and cannoned back off the cross-bar. A real let off for the home side who had been lacklustre in the early stages, providing very little in attack to the frustration of the home crowd.
Rangers were full of confidence and intent of testing the former England goalkeeper Richard Wright. Spanish Under 21 international and Real Madrid loanee, Daniel Parejo, fired in a cross from the left flank, which Martin Rowlands ran onto to nod the ball goalbound. But to his disbelief and the R`s faithful, the stopper stretched out an arm to push the ball wide.
Ipswich began to assert some pressure on proceedings, with David Norris going close with a speculative drive from distance which Cerny parried then held, as he looked to build on some confidence boosting displays.
Excellent passing and movement from QPR nearly saw them create a goal for the impressive Di Carmine. A pass narrowly evaded Akos Buzsaky, and Di Carmine picked the ball up outside the area, before shaping himself right and firing a left footed shot straight at Wright.
Martin Rowlands effort lacked technique, after some good build up play down the left, the ball was squared to Rangers joint longest serving player, he had time on the ball but blazed well over from outside the area.
Parejo caused Richard Wright more problems moments later from a set-piece. The fans chanted for Akos Buzsaky to take the kick, but he strode away from the ball allowing Parejo to drill a right footed effort which was well saved by Wright. The hosts were growing in frustration, and the distinct lack of atmosphere at Portman Road epitomised the effort on the field, flat.
Fitz Hall kept Rangers in the game moments later as he displayed the reason why the R`s hadn`t conceded in their previous three games. Buzsaky`s powerful set-piece was charged down and the hosts broke on the counter attack, Matthew Connolly was hacked down when trying to clear, and David Norris` eventual drive fell to Owen Garvan on the far post. The Irish international took time to compose himself, giving Fitz Hall the time to put in an excellent last ditch tackle.
That effort seemed to inspire the players if not the crowd, as Ipswich had another effort courtesy of the bandaged Jonathan Walters. The winger was sent wide by Damion Stewart and his weak shot fell comfortably for Radek Cerny. Rangers began to pray for the break as Ipswich were beginning to assert some impetus on the break.
Mr Kettle drew the first half to a close, in which Rangers had largely dominated but couldn`t provide any real cutting edge. In a similar vein the tractor boys had some excellent chances, but in not converting them gave the visitors a life-line going into the second period.
Half Time: Ipswich Town 0-0 Queens Park Rangers
After the break the hosts came out like men possessed as Rangers were seemingly struggling to cope with a side that had been visibly motivated during the break.
Owen Garvan was looking impressive in the centre of the park, flanked well by John Walters and Alan Quinn. Damien Delaney was looking unimpressive on his return to the side, but did well to deny the midfielder as he threatened to hit the target from close range.
Garvan`s corner found the unmarked Walters in the six-yard box, but his tame header was saved on his line by Radek Cerny. In the first period Cerny had to punch under pressure from crosses, the second period saw Cerny stick to his line considerably, and this latest effort was a warning sign for the R`s defence.
It looked for all the money in the world that Richard Naylor had nodded the hosts in front, but his glanced header from Garvan`s cross flew narrowly wide of Cerny`s right hand upright, another real let off for the R`s who were failing to compete with the aerial challenge.
Ainsworth then made a change that saw the R`s ultimately change their passing style. Samuel Di Carmine picked up a booking for a nothing tackle, and within moments was hauled off in place of Dexter Blackstock. Caretaker boss Ainsworth refused the temptation to play two up front when the game really cried out for someone to support Samuel, not to replace him.
Following the change Rangers grew lacklustre and Blackstock grew isolated, with the passing game dispensed of, and the R`s purporting a long ball game, utilising Dexter Blackstock`s aerial ability. Kevin Lisbie had a glorious chance moments later to hand Ipswich the lead.
The former Charlton Athletic forward breezed clear after a mix-up between Delaney and Tommasi before firing a right footed effort straight down the throat of a grateful Radek Cerny, another big let off for Rangers who were growing complacent in defence.
Veliche Shumilikoski was the next to test the Czech stopper, as his dipping right footed volley was parried then held by the former Tottenham Hotspur stopper.
Emmanuel Ledesma then replaced Akos Buzsaky, who was failing to get a foothold on the game in the second period. Ledesma wasted no time in living up to the billing that Vital Ipswich gave him during the week.
The Argentinean rode a tackle before placing a quality through ball for Lee Cook, Cook took a touch but ultimately took too much time getting the ball out of his feet as his effort was blocked by Richard Naylor.
Parejo`s corner tested Richard Wright to his full extent, as the ball was fired under his nose and the stopper did well to tip the ball over the bar. From the subsequent set piece a similar cross was only half cleared and Lee Cook again steadied himself, this time firing a vicious left footed drive inches wide of Wright`s left hand upright.
Jon Stead took to the field to the biggest cheer the home support could muster as he replaced a forlorn Kevin Lisbie. Within moments the tractor boys had the lead in fortuitous circumstances.
A cross from the left flank found Jon Stead in the middle and his right footed drive was parried back out to him by Cerny, and ultimately bundled over the line to hand Ipswich the lead at Portman Road. A scrappy goal by nevertheless Rangers didn`t learn the earlier lessons that constant pressure had provided them.
Ipswich Town 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Rangers were visibly drained of confidence and bereft of ideas, in stark contrast to their first half performance. Every pass was seemingly going astray with certain players hiding away, with a visible lack of movement and confidence at the forefront of Rangers attacks.
Daniel Parejo`s lack of enthusiasm epitomised Rangers` performance in the second period. The Spaniard looked a shadow of his first half display as he sat deep and static looking to play the ball close, and frankly playing within himself.
Moments later Rangers were punished for more naïve defending, as Jon Stead pounced again to hand Ipswich Town the victory. A corner from the left found Radek Cerny on his line, and Stead beat his man in the six yard box to nod home.
Ipswich Town 2-0 Queens Park Rangers
A section of Ipswich support awoke from their slumber for a brief period, as their side had finally sewn up the points against a lacklustre Rangers.
Ipswich had their tails up and went close on a number of occasions in the latter stages, with Rangers seemingly incapable of holding onto the ball.
In the final ten minutes, Rangers had a couple of small chances which were easily dealt with by the Ipswich rearguard. Lee Cook`s chipped cross was behind everyone and cleared ably by Gareth McAuley. The distinct lack of intelligent by Rangers was displayed by Dexter Blackstock, who spent most of his time attempting to flick the ball onto the invisible man, as he looked up on the left flank, saw nobody in the box, but nevertheless crossed the ball.
With that Rangers succumbed to a disappointing defeat. In a game which showed much promise the R`s flattered to deceive in the second period, as Town took the points courtesy of super sub Jon Stead.
Ipswich Town: Richard Wright, David Wright, Gareth McAauley, Richard Naylor, Owen Garvan, David Norris, Kevin Lisbie (Jon Stead 68), Jonathan Walters, Moritz Volz, Alan Quinn (Pablo Counago 60), Veliche Shumilikoski.
QPR: Radek Cerny, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Fitz Hall, Daniel Parejo, Akos Buzsaky (Emmanuel Ledesma 68), Martin Rowlands, Matthew Connolly, Lee Cook, Damiano Tommasi, Samuel Di Carmine (Dexter Blackstock 58).
Radek Cerny - 5/10
Matthew Connolly - 6/10
Damien Delaney - 5/10
Fitz Hall - 7/10
Damion Stewart - 7/10
Akos Buzsaky - 6/10
Lee Cook - 6/10
Damiano Tommasi - 7/10
Daniel Parejo - 6/10
Martin Rowlands - 6/10
Samuel Di Carmine - 6/10
SUB: Dexter Blackstock - 6/10
He did all he could with the tools at his disposal, the long ball was utilised for the forward and he didn`t seem capable of retaining possession. His only chance was headed woefully wide as Rangers attacks became few and far between.
SUB: Emmanuel Ledesma - 6/10
He seemed to get something going upon his arrival for a brief period, finding Lee Cook with virtually his first touch of the ball, but as the going got tough he disappeared. Could be starting against Cardiff due to a lack of creativity in the Rangers side.