City Stage Smash And Grab
Saturday November 28, 2009 - 3.00pm
A LATE strike from defender Richard Wood secured a point for Coventry City at Loftus Road, despite a glut of chances for the hosts.
Former QPR loanee Leon Best opened the scoring with a well-timed looping header from a Patrick van Aanholt cross.
Rangers equalised when Alejandro Faurlín`s sublime chipped pass was stroked home by in-form striker Jay Simpson.
A second half barrage ensued with the hosts persistently knocking on the door, and the lead was taken when Ákos Buzsáky powered home a deflected effort.
Once again however it was defensive shortcomings that cost Rangers dear with Wood allowed to coast in unchallenged and nod home the late equaliser.
Rangers` second half performance displayed great character and determination, but a new-look defensive unit couldn`t stem the tide of recent disappointment.
Jim Magilton made three changes to the side that were soundly beaten against Doncaster Rovers last weekend, and a defensive reshuffle seemed to be a controversial decision among supporters.
Radek Cerny sat behind a back four of Mikele Leigertwood, Fitz Hall, Matthew Connolly and Gary Borrowdale, with Kaspars Gorkss and Tom Williams dropped to the bench.
Alejandro Faurlín and Ben Watson were the preferred midfield pairing, with Adel Taarabt replacing Steven Reid in a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
Alongside the Spurs loanee were the familiar faces of Ákos Buzsáky and Wayne Routledge with the trio sat behind striker Jay Simpson.
Coventry started with Kieren Westwood behind a back four of Stephen Wright, Leon Barnett, Richard Wood and Patrick van Aanholt.
In midfield Aron Gunnarsson partnered Jack Cork with Michael McIndoe and David Bell supporting the attack from the flanks. Clinton Morrison partnered former R Leon Best in attack.
Kick Off: Queens Park Rangers v Coventry City
The two sides were welcomed to the field by the Royal Fusiliers and they would hope to draw on some of bravery and fighting spirit that has been displayed by the troops.
Indeed they started brightly, looking to dispel what was an utterly forgettable display in Yorkshire last weekend, with Watson and Faurlín in particular looking more comfortable on the ball.
Coventry by comparison were looking an organised and battling outfit, content to let Rangers play but keen to not let them hurt the Sky Blues in key areas.
Watson was spraying the ball about nicely, and a pass of genuine quality picked out Adel Taarabt down the left, with the Moroccan international able to bear down on goal.
As the angle narrowed the Tottenham Hotspur loanee could merely drag his effort tamely wide of the right hand upright and out for a throw in. Nevertheless it was a glimpse of Rangers improvement and potential.
The visitors` style was relatively formulaic and simple, defend appropriately and hit Rangers on the break, and the plan was nearly executed to perfection when talisman Clinton Morrison was afforded space on the edge of the area.
The experienced forward seems to relish the prospect of playing Rangers, and his well placed lay off to Patrick van Aanholt nearly yielded an early goal, only for the full back to be denied by Radek Cerny.
The Czech stopper showed excellent reflexes to tip the goal-bound effort around his left-hand upright, as the player who could have been turning out for QPR was denied a first career goal.
Coventry were now in the ascendancy and their tempered attacking approach was causing the new-look Rangers back-line all manner of problems. Jack Cork displayed great strength in the middle of the park in the battle with fellow loanee Ben Watson.
Just when Rangers seemed dormant, they sprung into life with Taarabt and Routledge the heart-beat of the home side`s attack.
The Spurs man`s exquisite pass found Routledge in space, before he dummied three men out of the way in the area and saw his subsequent effort deflected wide of the right hand post.
QPR were now beginning to stamp their authority on proceedings with Watson and Faurlín`s passing irresistible in the Rangers engine room.
Indeed the Wigan Athletic loanee fired inches over when Buzsáky`s corner was only half cleared by the Coventry rearguard.
The pressure was mounting on the visitors and the crowd was responding in kind, and raising the volume levels at Loftus Road - Taarabt in particular was looking sprightly down the left.
Little could foresee Coventry taking the opening goal, and it owed much to the outstanding aerial ability of Leon Best and the lack of communication in the hosts back-line.
A sloppy free-kick was given away inside the Rangers half and van Aanholt wasted no time in delivering a pin-point cross.
Leon Best ghosted past Matthew Connolly, before rising majestically to loop a header over Radek Cerny with the goalkeeper caught in no-man`s land.
Taking little away from the wonderful header, but the defence will have soon realised that more should have been done to deny what was a soft goal from a defensive point of view.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Coventry City
If Coventry`s attempts to slow the game down was prominent before, Keiren Westwood continually proved that he was prepared steal away the seconds with every goal kick.
Undeterred QPR continued to attack with great vigour and had their best chance of the game to date after some excellent build up play from Taarabt and Routledge found Watson on the edge of the area.
The loanee strode up right-footed and with the goal at his mercy slashed the ball wide of the right hand upright. A defensive lapse from City, but Rangers recent profligacy was outlined in abundance in this encounter.
With Rangers throwing bodies forward, Coventry`s counter-attacking style was inevitably going to create opportunities, and this nearly produced a second goal for the Sky Blues and more specifically Best.
David Bell created some space down the right as the visitors broke away, his sublime cross was met by the head of Best, who inexplicably missed the target with his diving effort.
Rangers were committing men to attacking play and their passing style was proving very easy on the eye and Alejandro Faurlín in particular was in sparkling form.
The young Argentinean displayed his vast repertoire of passing throughout the first period, non more so than when Rangers looked to make City pay for their guilt-edge miss.
His clipped effort evaded Leon Barnett and found Jay Simpson sniffing in behind as he had been for the majority of the opening period.
The Arsenal loanee took the effort first time, rolling the ball beyond Westwood and watching the effort creep agonisingly over the line.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Coventry City
As Coventry looked to re-group defensively, QPR sensed their way back into the encounter, with the hosts on the attack in the final stages of the opening period.
Routledge had a great opportunity when he raced clear on the left hand side of the area, but opted to shoot instead of squaring to Simpson and was thwarted by Westwood.
Even defender Fitz Hall nearly got in on the act when a well-placed cross from former Coventry man Gary Borrowdale found the returning defensive player but his headed effort was inches over the bar.
As the half came to a close it was QPR looking the most likely to go on and assert their advantage. In a nutshell however their season had been described in 45 minutes.
Excellent attacking, flowing football going forward, but defensively unsure and a distinct lack of communication in the back-line made for a nervy second period despite their overall positive play.
Half Time: Queens Park Rangers 1-1 Coventry City
As the second half got underway it was once again the hosts that forced the early pressure with Taarabt at the centre of Rangers` attacking threat.
The loanee wasn`t looking to pick his passes a great deal, but his overall direct and attacking play spurred the R`s on during difficult periods.
His run and low shot in the early stages epitomised Rangers desire to get forward and create opportunities to win the encounter.
No-one could fault the inferior class, but battling spirit of the Sky Blues, who still looked dangerous while the scores remained level.
Jack Cork managed to break through a ponderous rearguard, with outstretched legs unable to take the ball from the defensive midfielder. Beating both Hall and Connolly, he was only stopped by an outstanding last ditch effort from Borrowdale.
Coventry`s threat was still wholly evident, and it was something that Rangers had to be aware of as they searched for the winning goal.
Mikele Leigertwood nearly got into the act moments later when he burst forward from full-back before taking a customary left-footed punt. These efforts have had varying degrees of success, but on this occasion it narrowly evaded the bottom left hand corner.
Rangers were now in full flow, with the ball rarely leaving the Coventry half - but they still searched for that elusive goal that would really test the visitors resolve.
Taarabt was certainly in the mood as he dummied two men on the edge of the area, before unleashing a stunning right-footed chipped effort. Time seemed to stand still for a moment as it sailed towards the target, only for supporters to be dismayed in seeing it cannon back off the cross bar.
Undeterred he returned moments later, running at the Coventry rearguard on the counter-attack. The Moroccan beat a couple of men before firing inches to Westwood`s right.
In stark contrast to their QPR counter-parts the Coventry defence were alert and acting as a unit, and despite a glut of individual efforts, Rangers could offer little in goal-mouth action.
Van Aanholt snuffed out another incisive pass from Faurlín as he looked to get Routledge away through the middle, to epitomise the alertness in the visitors defence.
Coventry were throwing their bodies on the line as they sensed a point at Loftus Road was a distinct possibility. Despite glimpses of individual and attacking talent from Coleman`s side, it seemed they were more content to defend the draw.
Rangers` persistence paid off as from the never-ending stream of corners the advantage was taken to the delight of the home crowd.
Taarabt`s corner was cleared to the edge of the area where Routeldge was lurking, his misguided effort was deflected into the path of Ákos Buzsáky, and the Magical Magyar rifled the ball home at the near post via a deflection.
It wasn`t a goal to best describe the way Rangers have played, a goal that hardly exhumed the class or skill their team had provided in the second period - but nevertheless it was a priceless goal and a lead to defend.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Coventry City
Keiren Westwood had been booked for his time-wasting exploits and now it appeared he had a skip in his step when retrieving the ball to restart play, as his side were on the back foot for the first time in the encounter.
Taarabt was beginning to limp and was withdrawn by Blackburn Rovers loan man Steven Reid, in a bid to bolster the R`s midfield and give them a steely edge.
Having a lead to defend seemed to bring out the bad side of QPR once more, as they decided to sit back, perhaps influenced by the change imposed by Magilton.
A needless foul from Buzsáky gave Coventry the opportunity to throw men forward, and against the run of play they didn`t disappoint their vocal support in the Lower School End.
The resultant free-kick was swung wickedly into the box by McIndoe and with marking at a minimum, Richard Wood was allowed to steal in and nod home an arguably undeserved equaliser.
The visiting support errupted, a noise only matched by the wind being knocked out the sails of the home support - visibly frustrated and disappointed that their dominance hadn`t resulted in an unassailable lead.
GOAL: Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Coventry City
Rangers once again looked forward in search of a winner and their cause was helped by the stupidity of full-back Stephen Wright.
The former Sunderland man was sent off at Loftus Road for the second year in succession after two quick-fire bookings, and could find himself in hot water with the FA after throwing the captain`s armband at referee Mike Jones.
As often happens the decision galvanised City with Cork slotting into right-back and helping to see the encounter through to its conclusion.
Chances for Simpson and more prominently Buzsáky went missing with Steven Reid also firing an effort inches past the post.
Westwood wasn`t truly tested in the latter stages with any efforts of real quality despite the pressure of the home players and support.
As Mr Jones blew the final whistle there were isolated boos of disappointment, but most applauded what was an entertaining encounter with an undesirable conclusion.
Final Whistle: Queens Park Rangers 2-2 Coventry City
Queens Park Rangers
Radek Cerny, Mikele Leigertwood, Fitz Hall, Matthew Connolly, Gary Borrowdale, Ben Watson, Alejandro Damián Faurlín, Adel Taarabt (Steven Reid 80) Ákos Buzsáky, Wayne Routledge, Jay Simpson.
Keiren Westwood, Stephen Wright (Sent Off 85), Richard Wood, Leon Barnett, Patrick van Aanholt (Jordan Clarke 72), David Bell (Freddie Eastwood 74), Jack Cork, Aron Gunnarsson, Michael McIndoe, Clinton Morrison, Leon Best.
He has bounced back after being taken off at half time against Doncaster with a display of real character and class alongside Ben Watson.
The midfielder proved effective both going forward and defending, and his composed nature was required at times as Coventry looked to stifle Rangers.