Date:Tuesday November 25 2008
A BRACE from Rangers forward Dexter Blackstock helped save the R`s blushes as they nicked three points against hard-working Charlton Athletic.
Dexter struck either side of half time to hand the R`s a hard fought three points in Paulo Sousa`s first game in charge in W12.
His first a tap in following some excellent work down the left by Damiano Tommasi, but there was no mistaking his second, a classy glancing header following a cross from Hogan Ephraim.
Sandwiched in between those goals was Therry Rancon`s equaliser for the Addicks as he placed home from close range, capitalising on some naïve defending.
Charlton may feel aggrieved after dominating vast periods of the second half but nevertheless they couldn`t convert their possession into goals, as Rangers took advantage of some sloppy defending to take all three points in W12.
Paulo Sousa in charge of his first Rangers game made a couple of changed to the line-up that capitulated away at Watford. Kaspars Gorkss came in for the suspended Fitz Hall, with the influential Patrick Agyemang dropped in favour of Samuel Di Carmine.
Daniel Parejo came in for the dropped Emmanuel Ledesma, while Damiano Tommasi started in favour of Gavin Mahon. There was also a place for young Joe Oastler on the bench following some commanding performances in the reserves at a versatile defence grows ever thinner.
Managerless Charlton Athletic brought in loan signing Keith Gillespie as he started wide right, while former Rangers defender Martin Crainie starting just behind him at right full back. Therry Rancon came into the centre of midfield after recovering from a fractured metatarsal to link up with Jose Semedo.
Martyn Waghorn, a loan signing from Sunderland started up front alongside former Sheffield United and Burnley forward Andy Gray as the Addicks sought to dispel the 5-2 home drubbing against the Blades at the weekend.
Queens Park Rangers v Charlton Athletic
There was a tentative opening to this London derby with both sides evidently still reeling from the heavy blows taken this weekend. Rangers fans were struggling to work out what their new manager had done with the formation as the R`s were offering little in width, instead looking to strangle the game with three in the middle of the park.
In front of by far the lowest crowd of the season in W12, Rangers were once again making hard work of the opening stages. Mikele Leigertwood`s right footed pile-driver from outside the area was always drifting wide, but Dexter Blackstock was lurking on the left hand side of the area, and the shot narrowly evaded the former Southampton man. While Daniel Parejo thought himself David Beckham, trying a speculative long-range lob from just inside the Charlton half which drifted wide without much of a whimper.
With the sides still feeling each other out Rangers took advantage of some of Charlton`s evident defensive shortcomings to grab the first goal of the encounter. Nicky Weaver had released the ball long only for new loanee Keith Gillespie`s poor touch falling straight into the path of Damiano Tommasi.
The Italian international midfielder had Addicks fans up in arms as they thought the ball had left play on the left flank, but the age-old lesson of playing to the whistle evaded everyone but Dexter Blackstock. Rangers top goalscorer converted a neatly taken goal, which in effect was an unmarked tap in past a forlorn Nicky Weaver.
Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Charlton Athletic
You`d have thought that would have been another nail in the coffin of already fragile confidence of the Addicks players, however they persisted in their attacks with loan forward Martyn Waghorn going close.
The Sunderland forward fairly snatched at his chance on the right hand side of the goal, drilling well wide of the near post, a let off for Rangers who were beginning to grow complacent.
Former Manchester United winger Keith Gillespie was the first to test the new found confidence of the R`s Czech stopper Radek Cerny. His drive from just outside the right hand side of the area was well spotted by Radek and held as the ball angled in towards the corner.
Moments later some indecision in the Rangers rearguard handed Charlton an opening, one that Therry Racon was never going to miss. Some indecisiveness in the left back area saw Keith Gillespie canter in towards goal, his deflected cross evaded everyone apart from Hameur Bouazza. The Algerian international, outlined by Vital QPR as the one to watch, fired a left footed ball across the face of goal and Therry Racon pounced for his first goal in Charlton colours.
Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Charlton Athletic
In what has become typical fashion over the last few weeks, panic ensued in the Rangers side, as they were seemingly unable to retain the ball for longer than 30 seconds, inviting their opponents on to them. Bouazza was proving a menace down the left flank, and with no winger supporting Peter Ramage he was always going to be a dangerous outlet on the evening.
His trickery carved out a cross for Waghorn whose glancing header flew woefully wide of the far post. The forward held his head in his hands as a good chance for his first senior goal went begging. As the defence started to crumble, Radek brought out his party piece coming out and clobbering his defender when a distinct lack of communication between the two nearly cost the R`s another goal.
Rangers were on the back foot at home, which sadly is becoming a common occurrence after a good start to the season in W12. Damiano Tommasi nearly offered some respite after the ball dropped to him 30 yards out, the former Roma man hit a speculative dipping effort a few inches or so over the bar.
The Loftus Road crowd was beginning to grow restless at the sheer lack of opportunity and enterprise that their side was putting forward, and remained silent for vast period of the first half only bursting into song when goaded to by the away following. As the half drew to a close in W12, you could have heard a pin drop.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Charlton Athletic
On the backdrop of some emotive half-time footage in aid of the Kiyan Prince Foundation, former Rangers youth product Kiyan Prince had his life celebrated on what would have been his 18th birthday. His father Mark Prince, the founder of the foundation, took to the field during the interval and was given a heartfelt applause from all corners of the ground.
A touching moment when the father of the former player was presented with a piece of art depicting his son, and a statement read out on behalf of Charlton Athletic praising his work in the community. The statement itself was received with a magnificent reception, as an emotional half time drew to a close.
The second half began as the first had ended, with relentless Charlton Athletic pressure courtesy of Hameur Bouazza. The R`s made one change to their line-up during the break with hard-working forward Samuel Di Carmine making way for the effective Patrick Agyemang.
The aforementioned Bouazza used his purposeful running and lightening pace to ghost past Peter Ramage before pulling the ball back to Waghorn. The Sunderland man could sense his first goal but a match-saving tackle from Damien Delaney thwarted the forward as the ball rolled out for a corner.
Charlton were constantly pressing Rangers as Bouazza was again the catalyst for an opportunity. The former Watford player`s free-kick was only half cleared by Rangers as man mountain defender Linvoy Primus fired a rasping effort onto the roof of the net.
It was the R`s substitute that was proving to be the key man as his brand of pacy and purposeful running was causing the Addicks all manner of bother. He nearly latched onto a slick ball from Daniel Parejo only for Nicky Weaver to come out and fire the ball into the onrushing Mark Hudson for a corner. A shaky defence was beginning to show signs of cracking.
Moments later Agyemang tried his luck from distance only to send the ball over the bar from distance, after sending Primus one way then the next shortly before the hour mark. Paulo Sousa shuffled his pack withdrawing a tiring Damiano Tommasi, with Gavin Mahon moving in to a more central role.
The Addicks also made a change taking off debutante Waghorn for former Crewe forward Luke Varney. As matters transpired it was the substitute who should have ultimately won the game for the visitors.
Shortly before this chance Hameur Bouazza was on the scene once again, he fairly robbed Hogan Ephraim of possession, before showing that his left foot is certainly his strongest, opening up his body from a tight angle to curl wide of Cerny`s right hand upright.
But the chance that was to follow proved to be Charlton`s best of the game. The influential Bouazza was winning many admirers around the ground, and his run and cross found Varney who chested down for Jose Semedo. The midfielder`s drilled effort was deflected perfectly into the path of Varney, but the former Crewe former conspired to miss from a matter of yards out, firing well over Radek Cerny`s cross bar with the goal gaping.
It truly was a poor miss directly in front of goal, but credit must go to the goalkeeper who came to narrow the angle and ultimately succeeded.
Damien Delaney received a yellow card for a tough tackle on the forward, while Daniel Parejo was withdrawn after a laboured display for Genoa loanee Emmanuel Ledesma.
Rangers fans were growing nervous, and this was epitomised by the sheer lack of noise around Loftus Road. They had seen this script before, Rangers continually back-peddling their way into their own net, with central midfielders standing on the toes of defenders, and an ultimate inability to keep hold of the football.
Corner after corner ensued for the Addicks, culminating in Mark Hudson`s header drifting narrowly wide of Cerny`s goal. Make no mistake about it Rangers were hanging on for a point as Charlton sensed an opening in a nervy rearguard.
And then in typical fashion the R`s took the lead out of nowhere, proving when you`re at the bottom your luck is truly out. However there was nothing lucky about the goal itself, crafted beautifully and dispatched excellently.
Agyemang was once against instrumental in the build up as he found Mikele Leigertwood, who in turn fed Hogan Ephraim down the left flank. The former West Ham United winger carved out a cross into the area for Dexter Blackstock to glance a delightful looping header over Weaver and into the far post, cue delight from the Rangers fans.
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Charlton Athletic
Rangers old frailties nearly came back to haunt them as Racon`s cross nearly gave Kelly Youga an all important equaliser, but crucially the full back missed his kick when well-placed.
The R`s nearly had the game sewn up a moment later as Ephraim the architect once again created a chance when his pin point cross found Blackstock, whose diving header drifted narrowly wide of the right hand upright when well placed. As Dexter`s opportunity for a hatrick went begging Charlton threw on winger Lloyd Sam at the expense of former R`s defender Martin Crainie.
Moments later the final whistle went, as the jubilant Rangers fans turned some disappointing half time boo`s, by a distinct minority, into jubilation and cheers. The boo boys had evidently left the ground early, as both sides will look to Varney`s missed chance as the turning point of the fixture.
A valuable three points for QPR when you consider their next two fixtures are against in form Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers who seem to be steamrollering everything in sight looking down on the league from the summit.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Charlton Athletic
QPR: Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Damien Delaney, Damion Stewart, Kaspars Gorkss, Hogan Ephraim, Mikele Leigertwood, Damiano Tommasi (Gavin Mahon 63), Daniel Parejo (Emmanuel Ledesma 74), Samuel Di Carmine (Patrick Agyemang 46), Dexter Blackstock.
Charlton Athletic: Nicky Weaver, Martin Cranie (Lloyd Sam 83), Kelly Youga, Mark Hudson, Linvoy Primus, Keith Gillespie, Jose Semedo, Therry Racon, Hameur Bouazza, Martyn Waghorn (Luke Varney 63), Andy Gray.
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Date:Tuesday November 25 2008
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