Maynard Stunner Sinks Rangers
Tuesday August 18, 2009 - 7:45pm
A STUNNING strike from Bristol City forward Nicky Maynard was enough to see off an inconsistent QPR side at Ashton Gate.
The former Crewe forward sent a thunderous drive beyond the reach of Radek Cerny to settle the game as a contest and hand a deserved win to the hosts.
Rangers struggled to cope with the Robins` direct style throughout the first half and despite a good showing for a stint in the second half it was City created the wealth of chances.
Mikele Leigertwood`s inexcusable miss in the final stages of injury time was all that Rangers could honestly offer in reposte with a buoyant home crowd cheering their side to victory.
Rangers are now without a win in their first three Championship games despite brief useful cameos in all three, this however is not enough as they sink further into the bottom half.
Magilton made three changes from the side that suffered late heartbreak at Home Park this weekend and all had their own element of surprise. Kaspars Gorkss was dropped in favour of Damion Stewart despite putting in a commanding display against the Pilgrims.
Alejandro Faurlín was drafted in for his QPR debut alongside Mikele Leigertwood in the middle, with Gavin Mahon the player to drop to the bench. Finally despite his cameo ultimately failing at the weekend, Patrick Agyemang started ahead of Heidar Helguson.
Peter Ramage, Gary Borrowdale and Fitz Hall retained their places at the back, with Akos Buzsaky and Wayne Routledge lining up on the flanks. An interesting take from Magilton was to see both Agyemang and Adel Taarabt play deep of a strikers role, with apparently no-one leading the line - a interesting gambit with the R`s struggling for goals in recent times.
City decided to keep Glasgow Rangers loanee Andrius Velicka on the bench with Danny Haynes returning from suspension for the hosts. The Robins also started with the maligned back-line that didn`t hold their hands up at the weekend with midfield general Paul Harley the rock in the middle of the park.
Another summer signing David Clarkson continued wide left with Ivan Sproule the man to sit out from the weekend win over Crystal Palace.
Kick Off: Bristol City v Queens Park Rangers
Both sides started positively looking to assert the upper hand in what was undoubtedly going to be as tight an encounter seen at Ashton Gate between the two sides. From the very first whistle Johnson`s side set their intentions to play direct football and it nearly paid dividends early on.
Live-wire forward Danny Haynes, signed from Ipswich Town in the summer, was sprightly in attack and played on the shoulder of Fitz Hall in search of that telling pass. It came his way after five minutes when a pass drifted by the former Wigan Athletic man and saw Haynes through on goal.
The forward had an age to size up his options but fortunately for QPR and Hall fired well wide of the left-hand upright. A good early opening for the hosts who were in good spirits alongside the boisterous away support to their left.
Play switched to the other end and Patrick Agyemang managed to find some space among a stubborn home rearguard but his fierce right footed drive flew well over the bar and didn`t look like troubling stopper Dean Gerken.
QPR were beginning to find a foothold in the game with some neat interplay involving the debutante Faurlín and midfielder Buzsaky helped set up an opportunity for the Hungarian whose effort gave Gerken food for thought as it narrowly missed the target.
The Argentinean Faurlín wasn`t the archetypal midfielder one would expect to come from South America, as he sat a little deeper than the rest and used his strength and expert passing to his advantage, but rarely taking the opportunity to foray forward with the ball.
The more disappointing side of Haynes` game came to the fore moments later when he threw himself through a couple of defenders and earned himself a free-kick on the left hand edge of Rangers penalty area. While there were defenders in close attention Haynes leaped through the gap and into the box in search of a penalty.
The referee didn`t see fit to award the free kick from his position but his linesman advised him otherwise and it was awarded. Far be it from me to criticise a decision at Ashton Gate on the advice of an assistant referee however.
The testing cross eventually culminated with a stabbed effort in the heart of the six-yard box with Radek Cerny diving and holding it with great assurance despite the close attention of forward David Clarkson.
City were beginning to turn the screw on QPR with wave after wave of attack testing the Rangers backline, and had it not been for Akos Buzsaky the visitors would have been one behind with the Magical Magyar clearing a goal-bound effort.
A cross from the right found former Derby County man Lewin Nyatanga in the area. He rose highest in the six-yard box to nod goal-bound and beat Cerny in the top right hand corner, however Buzsaky`s athletic clearance with the side of his head saved the day for QPR.
Sensationally City spurned another opportunity once again courtesy of the man that Magilton nurtured at Ipswich, Danny Haynes. The striker received the ball after a slip from Stewart allowed Maynard to make the pass.
He raced clear of Hall once again before opting for power over placement as the ball fizzed wide of Cerny`s left hand upright. Once again City were ruing missed chances and Rangers could be thankful for the profligacy of the Robins front-line.
Faurlín was booked for a late tackle of Marvin Elliott as he tried to stamp his authority on the game, but no similar treatment was forthcoming to the City defender than hacked down Adel Taarabt on the edge of the area after the young Moroccan had broken free on the edge of the area.
From the resultant free-kick Buzsaky fired disappointingly into the wall when well placed. Akos was in the mood to shoot as he thrashed at another effort from distance but this time it flew high, wide and handsome of the City goal.
Rangers were looking useful in spell with their new look midfield, but the problem lie in the forward line with seemingly no-one to aim for upfront and Patrick Agyemang playing a feeble role on the left wing rather than leading the line.
With Adel Taarabt seeing relatively little of the ball and Faurlín content to sit deep for the majority of the half, Rangers had very little to aim for when they had possession of the ball, and as against Plymouth in the second half, it kept coming back to pressurise the defence.
One event of note before the break as Marvin Elliott came over to the Bristol City bench to gesticulate that there was a problem and a change would be required. Unfortunately it wasn`t the combative midfielder himself but his partner in the middle Cole Skuse who had seen little of the ball.
Liam Fontaine was his replacement and took his place in midfield infront of the giant central defenders Jamie McCombe and the aforementioned Nyatanga. It was the Robins who had the better of the opening period as the sides went off for half time.
The away side receiving tentative applause from their vocal travelling support who realised that the goal that lay infront of them had led a charmed life in the first half. All they could hope for was a display of the ilk of Exeter City to drag them out of the rut.
Half Time: Bristol City 0-0 Queens Park Rangers
It was clear that whatever Magilton had said at half time had the desired effect no matter what bill for China tea-cups that Rangers had rung up during the interval.
More good interplay between Buzsaky and Faurlín, the two impressive Rangers central midfielders made some space for Wayne Routledge down the right. The former Aston Villa and Tottenham winger fired first time towards Gerken`s near post, but the former Colchester keeper was more than equal to the effort taking it comfortably into his midriff.
QPR were asserting their advantage on the fixture now, looking to go one better than Bristol City and actually open the scoring at Ashton Gate. Some more neat passing play helped fashion openings on the edge of the area but that killer pass seemed to evade the R`s front-line.
All City could offer in reply were speculative drives from distance as full back Bradley Orr sent a dipping drive harmlessly wide of the right-hand upright. City for the first time in the fixture found themselves under pressure as QPR went on the offensive.
A truly sensational miss from Adel Taarabt had the away support holding their heads in their hands as they continued to cajole and encourage their side into breaking the deadlock. Wayne Routledge had come out of his shell following the break and carved out a cross from the right hand by-line.
The ball drifted to the far post where Taarabt was lurking, but all his could do was throw his leg at the powerful cross, as the ball took an eternity to float back across the goal before coming back off the woodwork and getting hacked away by a desperate defence.
At last the QPR forwards were finding their feet with driving possession from midfield, and the support responded in kind to leave the home crowd relatively quiet for an instance. Routledge in particular was enjoying the spell of possession as he tormented McAllister down the flank.
Adel Taarabt then had a go from distance which was sliced into the QPR fans behind the goal with his right foot. This was caught and delivered by yours truly and the game was allowed to continue.
Changes all around as Andrius Velicka was thrown on for the hosts in favour of McAllister who had received a booking for a rough tackle on Routledge, this prompted Fontaine to drop in alongside McCombe and Nyatanga move across to left-back.
Rangers made changes of their own in response to some wayward finishing with strike duo Alessandro Pellicori and Rowan Vine coming on for Agyemang and Taarabt. Immediately Rangers looked like a more potent threat in the area with the Italian knocking a deep cross back for his fellow substitute Vine, but only the smart defending of giant McCombe kept the scores level.
The hosts bad luck with injuries continued as they lost debutante Velicka to a nasty looking injury with little under 20 minutes remaining. A rather innocuous aerial challenge with Fitz Hall saw the striker rooted to the turf and the referee immediate signalled for help.
Five minutes later and the substitute left the field to the applause of both sets of support with what appeared a bad injury with a full compliment of medical staff on hand to assess his status. He was replaced by the manager`s son Lee Johnson.
The home support then grew in voice and the break in play did them the world of good, if not the circumstances by which they came. City had the lead and a goal fit to win any game courtesy of Nicky Maynard saw them take the advantage.
After a well worked spell of possession Maynard found the ball in the edge of the area positioned centrally. He shimmied to the right beyond the attention of Damion Stewart before firing a rasping drive into the roof of the net and beyond the despairing dive of Radek Cerny.
Nothing at all the Czech keeper could do to save this strike as the record purchase from Crewe set apart from all players on the field and pick a rabbit out of the hat for the under-fire hosts.
GOAL: Bristol City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
This sparked City into life and left Rangers shell-shocked, as the Robins went in searched of another goal moments later. It was almost a carbon copy as Maynard shaped right and sent a fizzing effort inches wide of Cerny`s right hand upright. Another let-off for QPR who couldn`t find their feet after the extended delay in play.
Danny Haynes nearly got the goal his performance deserved moments later only to be denied from close range by a useful stop from the QPR keeper Cerny, who dived at the striker`s feet and halt the hosts attack.
QPR threw caution to the wind by withdrawing the cautioned Faurlín and throwing on Icelandic striker Heidar Helguson who was surprisingly dropped despite his strike against Plymouth at the weekend. From then on the visitors stretched the Robins in search of that illusive equaliser.
Aggressive attacking play saw Helguson fire a tempting cross for Pellicori but some last ditch defending denied the Italian a goal on his league debut. Buzsaky was architect supreme on the edge of the area, but seemed less inclined to shoot than previously.
He played a couple of neat one-two`s with Pellicori but refused to pull the trigger when it mattered most as Rangers sensed they would have one more chance in the staggering seven minutes of added on time.
It did come as Mikele Leigertwood played a neat pass before charging through on goal, the away support rose expectant as the former Crystal Palace man bore down on goal. He skipped away from a challenge and all he had to do was roll the ball home.
Inexplicably he opted not to use his stronger right foot but prod at the ball with the outside of his left boot, and keeper Gerken swarmed on him from close range and sensationally denied to protect the points for the hosts.
QPR supporters were apoplectic with what they had seen unfold before their eyes as surely it was easier to score then miss, but once again the R`s would be left to rue their poor finishing and masterful goalkeeping as they remain without a win in the Championship thus far.
Dean Gerken, Bradley Orr, Jamie McAlliser (Andrius Velicka 65) (Lee Johnson 72), Jamie McCombe, Marvin Elliott, David Clarkson, Nicky Maynard, Paul Hartley, Cole Skuse (Liam Fontaine 37), Danny Haynes, Lewin Nyatanga.
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Peter Ramage, Fitz Hall, Damion Stewart, Gary Borrowdale, Wayne Routledge, Mikele Leigertwood, Alejandro Damián Faurlín (Heidar Helguson 85), Akos Buzsaky, Adel Taarabt (Rowan Vine 66), Patrick Agyemang (Alessandro Pellicori 67).
His passing and movement was up to the expected standard and he worked well with the debutante Faurlín. He was part of what was an outstanding exhibition of football for roughly 20 minutes of the second period but his colleagues couldn`t maintain the standard that the Hungarian had set.