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Much changed QPR look to avoid slip against Adams’ Port Vale – full match preview
Tuesday, 10th Aug 2010 11:46 by Clive Whittingham
Following Saturday’s thumping win against Barnsley Neil Warnock will be forced to ring the changes on Tuesday night for the visit of Port Vale in the League Cup.
Queens Park Rangers v Port Vale
Carling Cup 1st Round
Tuesday August 10, Kick Off 7.45pm
Loftus Road, London, W12
When asked to outline our respective hopes and dreams for the coming season in The Green prior to Saturday’s opener against Barnsley it was Young North who ventured to suggest that a cup run might be nice. He was, of course, immediately laughed at and sent to the bar to buy a round.
Although in recent times we have stirred slightly in this competition, beating Aston Villa on the way to Old Trafford the season before last and sliding through two rounds before giving Chelsea a run for their money last year. But no team in the country has gone as long (ten seasons) as QPR without a win in the FA Cup and however much we look forward to another crack at knock out competitions every season we never seem to have quite the right mentality to overcome a Nottingham Forest, Swansea City, Vauxhall Motors or Yeovil Town.
Leyton Orient were the last side to knock us out of this competition at this stage when John Gregory was the manager and since then we have comfortably disposed of Swindon and Exeter away from home. This time last year we even managed to win 5-0 at the real St James’ Park so maybe we’re getting better at this cup malarkey. Not good enough to win an FA Cup tie, Sheff Utd beat us in a Loftus Road replay you may recall although we were unfortunate that the tie fell during Paul Hart’s miserable spell in charge.
Tonight we have League Two opponents and are now under the guidance of a manager with good pedigree in cup competitions. As Sheffield United manager he took them to the semi finals of both major cup competitions and the play off final in the same year and that would be like watching football porn for the success starved QPR supporters. He did, however, have some notable upsets, not least our own win at Bramall Lane in 2003 when Martin Rowlands scored twice for us as a Second Division side knocking out a Blades side from the league above. United had a host of first teamers out or rested that night and QPR are likely to be missing a chunk of players from Saturday’s big win for one reason or another.
Against a side with an experienced manager, tipped for success in League Two this season, and winners at Bury on Saturday backed by large travelling support this could be a rather slippery banana skin if we’re not careful.
Five minutes on Port Vale
Recent History: As the Championship, and to some extent League One, has become some sort of elephants’ graveyard for those who have fallen on hard times after relegation from the Premiership so teams like Port Vale who used to bob around the second and third tiers have been forced further down the ladder. Rotherham, Gillingham, Southend, Stockport, Crewe and Bradford have all played QPR in the First Division/Championship over the last 12 years or so and all now find themselves in the basement league. As more and more sides get a shot at the Premiership, Burnley were new last year and Blackpool will surely only stay for this season, only to come straight back with parachute payments so the little guys who used to be able to come and mix it in our league are further marginalised. You wouldn’t have said Blackpool were a great deal bigger or better than Port Vale over the last twenty years looking at their attendances, stadiums and league placings and yet Pool will pocket £90 million if they lose every match this season. Vale will not pocket £90 in my lifetime.
Vale Park sands like a monument to the hard times football fell upon when they were competing higher up the ladder. When QPR fought out a famous 4-4 draw in Staffordshire back in 1997 the side stand was little more than a set of concrete steps backed by portakabins and such like. Vale, keen to keep up with those around them and maintain their status, flattened it and set sail on a new stand that would include the club offices, hospitality and changing facilities. That it still stands, more than ten years after it was started, half finished is testament to just how quickly football outside the Premiership went down the pan after the ITV Digital breakdown, and just how far Vale have fallen in the aftermath. Even if they could finish it what would be the point? They bring in 5000 people for a matchday in a ground built for four times that amount.
Since emerging from administration in time for the start off the 2003/04 season, led by a fan backed board, Vale have tried numerous techniques to arrest their decline and indeed even start the climb back up the leagues. After the takeover Brian Horton, who had won the LDV Vans Trophy with Vale in 2001, left the club after the new board implemented cost cutting measures on his wage and transfer budget and he was replaced by youth tam coach Martin Foyle. With no money to spend, a dire style of football and a lack of managerial experience Vale moved steadily backwards during Foyle’s four years on charge. In November 2007 Foyle was sacked and the board took a different tact – still appointing a former player, but this time choosing one with experience of lower league management on a budget, Lee Sinnott from Farsely Celtic.
QPR last met Vale in September 2006 in the second round of this competition at Vale Park. That night a front two of Leon Constantine and Akpo Sodje gave Rangers all they wanted and more, helping the Valiants win 3-2 and earning Gary Waddock the sack in the process. In fairness to Foyle, Sinnott and everybody else that’s had a go at managing Vale in the last ten years they have been hamstrung by a financial position that necessitates players like Constantine and Sodje being sold almost as soon as they’re discovered. It makes team building rather difficult.
Sinnott couldn’t save his new team from relegation to the bottom league in 2008, and even presided over their Vauxhall Motors moment when they crashed out of the FA Cup at Chasetown. Sinnott was sacked after a lousy start to their first season in the bottom division for 20 years and, against the wishes of the supporters it must be said, Dean Glover was promoted from within to replace him. Vale are a team that can easily pass you by in the long, ambling highlights package of the Football League show. Just another bottom division team playing in front of an empty stadium and not doing very well. But they were worth looking out for during Glover’s reign because the fans hated him, and he hated the fans, which made for poor results and fiery post match interviews. At the end of 2008/09 Glover was removed, mumbling something about never being given a chance like some lower league Gary Megson.
Last season they turned to experience. Mickey Adams, a veteran of some nine different Football League clubs as a manager, was appointed. Here’s warning to us tonight, Adams immediately oversaw a 2-0 win at Sheffield United in this round of the cup, then a 2-0 home win against Sheffield Wednesday, who were both in the Championship at the time. They eventually lost to Scunthorpe after extra time. Despite that, and a good start to the league campaign last year that had Vale in the thick of the play off picture, Adams los the plot after a 3-1 defeat at Notts County in September and transfer listed his entire team.
Adams said at the time: “'I’ve just told the players, and I'm not keeping anything from anybody, that the whole squad will be transfer-listed on Monday morning. Then we’ll see how good they are. They are lucky to have a fantastic profession and I don’t think they gave it their all. It's not a personal thing and I could sit back and accept what’s gone on. When I first came to the club I said the majority of the budget had been spent, you could say there’s not a lot I can do, but I can do something and I’m going to do it. It’s not personal and we will see how good they are. If we get offers and it allows me to bring in a type of player that I want to bring in then let’s do it. It might be dramatic and some of them might spit their dummies out and might not want to play again.”
As it turned out, not a single player left Vale either permanently or on loan and they went on to have a reasonable season. After their lowest ever league placing in 2008/09 a final position of tenth in Adams’ first season in charge was creditable and the task now is to push for the play offs.
The Manager: I always find Mickey Adams a hard man to like. He’s a blood and thunder manager, his teams don’t play particularly good football, and he’s a manager who will look to blame referees and perceived injustices rather than his own shortcomings as a boss when things go wrong. For someone who idolised our own great Tony Currie as a youngster it seems strange that he is now happy to order his sides to pump balls into the channels to turn full backs around as a main method of attack. Adams has some notable achievements to his name as a manager – promotions with Fulham, Brighton and Leicester – but the last of those was seven years ago and it could be reasonably assumed that his outdated methods are starting to catch up with him.
As a player he had a nomadic career. He played just short of 100 games for Gillingham, Coventry and Leeds between 979 and 1989 before a 150 game spell at Southampton in the fledgling Premier League. A spell with Stoke followed in the mid 1990s before he joined Fulham in 1994 and became their player manager in 1996. Fulham were a different prospect then to the club that reached the UEFA Cup final last season. On March 16, 1996, they lost 2-0 at home to Cambridge United in front of 3872 supporters, a result that left them second bottom of the Football League and manager Ian Brantfoot out of a job. Four wins and two draws from the final ten matches saved them from relegation, and a year later they were promoted in second place behind Wigan – now a fellow over achieving Premiership team.
Fulham got where they are today because of a takeover by Mohammed Al Fayed and Adams was the first casualty of that. Despite the promotion Al Fayed sacked him five weeks after he signed a new four year contract to make way for Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins. It appeared harsh at the time, but even Adams has since admitted that Fulham’s meteoric rise since means it was the right decision. He lasted just 13 days at Swansea in his next job, saying funds promised for transfers had been withdrawn following his appointment. Adams was relegated with Brentford and had a brief spell as caretaker at Nottm Forest following Dave Bassett’s removal before pitching up at Brighton in 1999.
Adams unearthed a young Bobby Zamora in Bristol Rovers’ reserve side and in his second season led them to the Division Three title. In true bullih style he complained that West Ham and Southampton had not offered him their jobs when available but he did jump ship in 2001 to join Leicester as assistant to Bassett once more. Leicester were bottom of the Premiership and ultimately relegated but Adams wanted the main job and although he had a little hissy fit in March 2002 about not being promoted ahead of Bassett he did bide his time eventually and was made manager the following season. What happened next changed the face of football in this country. Leicester went into administration with colossal debts. The administration protected Leicester from their creditors, enabling Adams to get on with the job of winning promotion, and they escaped from it at the end of the campaign by paying a fraction of the true debt. Clubs are now docked points and banned from transfer activity while in administration.
Leicester came straight back down and since then Adams has endured a tough time. He walked into the dire situation at Coventry that I have written about many times on LFW and predictably failed miserably, lasted less than a year after returning to Brighton and has since rocked up at Port Vale. His ‘channel ball’ style of play may be ideally suited to the bottom division which he has won promotion from twice before and after previously appointing three managers with limited experience Vale seem to be reaping some benefits of turning to an old hand.
Three to Watch: Vale are now a real mixed bag of unknowns from the lower reaches of the professional game and the upper end of the non-league pyramid. If that sounds like getting an excuse for sketchy knowledge in early, then that’s exactly what it is.
QPR fans may be familiar with the name of Marc Richards from his time with Barnsley. He scored against the R’s in January 2007 as we lost 2-0 at Barnsley with John Gregory in charge. To be honest the former Blackburn trainee looked quite useful against us in two matches that season and it was a surprise first of all to see him released by the Tykes at the end of the season, and secondly to drop down a division to sign for Vale. He almost ended up making the move earlier in the season, having been offered as a part exchange to make up for Barnsley’s lack of finance when they wanted to sign Leon Constantine but the deal fell through and Constantine went to Leeds instead. Richards averages roughly a goal every three games for Vale, with 38 in 121 appearances, and was the subject of a £100,000 offer from Cheltenham Town when they were in the division above Vale the season before last. He has been Vale’s top scorer for the last two seasons, finishing last season with 23 goals to his name.
Marc is joined in the Vale attack by his namesake Justin Richards, a 29 year old who has enjoyed a 12 club career spread from League One down into non league. He started life as trainee at West Brom but did little to impress there, or in subsequent spells at Bristol Rovers, Colchester and Stevenage. He was second top scorer in the Conference in 2005/06 bagging 22 goals for Woking and subsequently earned a move to Peterborough United but found first team chances limited and spent time on loan with Grays as part of the Aaron McLean transfer and Boston United who were a league club at the time. A run of 19 goals in the Conference for Kidderminster earned a move to Cheltenham and then onto Port Vale and after scoring 15 goals in League Two last season Vale moved swiftly to secure his signature this summer. He has one cap, and one goal, for the England semi professional team.
Stuart Tomlinson is likely to start in goal tonight after his summer arrival from Barrow. He came through the ranks at Crewe, so will be well schooled, and spent nine years as a back up to various keepers at Gresty Road. He could have joined Port Vale last summer but would have been second choice to Joe Anyon and on non contract terms so moved to Barrow in the Conference instead. This summer, with Anyon now at Lincoln, Micky Adams got his man. Adams said: “He is a keeper with tremendous agility, who is renowned for his shot-stopping, and we have the benefit of knowing all about him after working with him for a short spell last season. Stuart is aware that he will have tough competition for the number one spot in Chris Martin, but he is ready for the challenge and looking forward to being back in the Football League."
Gary Waddock’s short tenure as QPR manager came to an end in September 200 after a 3-2 defeat at Vale Park against a Port Vale side from the division below. Rangers had fought off Northampton at Loftus Road in the first round and took the lead here when a goalkeeping error from Mark Goodlad enabled Marc Nygaard to lob the ball into an unguarded net from 20 yards out. After that though it was all Vale as first Jeff Smith, then Danny Whitaker and finally after half time Richard Walker capitalised on crass centre half play by a combination of Damion Stewart and Pat Kanyuka. Stewart made something of amends by pulling a goal back with ten minutes left and Baidoo, Ray Jones and Adam Czerkas all had presentable opportunities to force extra time late on but failed to do so.
Port Vale: Goodlad, McGregor, Pilkington, Walker, Talbot, Whitaker, Sonner (Husbands, 83 ) , Harsley, Jeff Smith, Sodje, Leon Constantine
Subs not used: Anyon, Lowndes, Cardle, Abbey
Goals: Smith 19, Whitaker 28, Walker 61
QPR: Cole, Bignot, Stewart, Kanyuka, Milanese ( Rose, 46 ) , Cook, Ward ( Baidoo, 72 ) , Bircham, Bailey, Nygaard ( Jones, 45 ) , Czerkas
Subs not used: Rehman, Donnelly
Bookings: Bailey , Nygaard
Goals: Nygaard 9, Stewart 78
The last meeting between these two at Loftus Road was a real thriller. QPR were embroiled in a fierce promotion chase with Bristol City and Plymouth where the form of all three sides made any slip ups absolutely crucial. Port Vale came to town on a Tuesday night and immediately set the QPR nerves on edge with a goal in the very first minute of the match from Steve Brooker. It took until the hour for Rangers to draw level when Marc Bircham barely bundled the ball over the line from close range after a goal mouth scramble. Ian Holloway then sent on new signing Jamie Cureton to bag a winner with a quarter of an hour left and he duly obliged within a minute by forcing the ball home at the Loft End. That looked like being that until an absolute sickener in stoppage time when Adrian Littlejohn equalised with what seemed certain to be the last kick of the game. Not so, Rangers were allowed time by referee Grant Hegley to kick off. Martin Rowlands, an absolute pest to Vale all evening down the right, reached the byline straight from the restart, cut in field and drove for goal, eventually crossing for Cureton to finish from close range and bring the house down.
QPR: Culkin, Forbes, Carlisle, Gnohere, Padula, Rowlands, Bircham, Johnson, McLeod (Cureton, 75 ) , Thorpe (Furlong, 67 ) , Gallen
Subs not used: Palmer, Rose, Sabin
Goals: Bircham 64, Cureton 76, 90
Port Vale: Brain, Rowland, Pilkington, Collins, Brown ( Burns, 39 ) , Paynter ( Littlejohn, 81 ) , Brisco, Cummins, Bridge-Wilkinson, Brooker, McPhee
Subs not used: Delaney, Reid, Armstrong
Goals: Brooker 1, Littlejohn 90
Head to Head:
QPR wins 17, draws 10, Port Vale wins 13
2006/07 Port Vale 3 QPR 2 (Nygaard, Stewart)
2003/04 QPR 3 Port Vale 2 (Cureton 2, Bircham)
2003/04 Port Vale 2 QPR 0
2002/03 QPR 4 Port Vale 0 (Shittu, Furlong, Padula, Gallen)
2002/03 Port Vale 0 QPR 0
2001/02 Port Vale 1 QPR 0
2001/02 QPR 4 Port Vale 1 (Thomson 3, Palmer)
1999/00 Port Vale 1 QPR 1 (Wardley)
1999/00 QPR 3 Port Vale 2 (Wardley 2, Kiwomya)
1998/99 Port Vale 2 QPR 0
1998/99 QPR 3 Port Vale 2 (Maddix, Sheron, Talbot og)
1997/98 QPR 0 Port Vale 1
1997/98 Port Vale 2 QPR 0
1996/97 Port Vale 4 QPR 4 (Holwyn og, Impey, Murray, Spencer)
1996/97 QPR 1 Port Vale 2 (Barker)
The latest round of crucially important international friendly games means QPR are going to be forced into a raft of changes. Martin Rowlands and Lee Cook (both knee) are the long term absentees while Akos Buzsaky has a thigh strain, and wouldn’t have been able to play anyway after being called up by Hungary. Kaspars Gorkss is away with Latvia and Heidar Helguson with Iceland and Peter Ramage is suspended. That almost certainly means Matt Connolly and Fitz Hall will be the centre halves as the only two senior players left standing in that position but elsewhere who knows? Patrick Agyemang may get a start up front with Leon Clarke continuing to struggle with a knock.
Vale are without Lewis Haldane with an ankle injury and Ritchie Sutton is suspended. They won 1-0 at Bury at the weekend, a team that has been in the promotion shake up for the past few seasons in the bottom division, but are nevertheless expected to make changes this Tuesday. Assistant manager Geoff Horsfield said: “We're not scared of anybody. We played the Sheffield clubs last season and beat them convincingly. We're underdogs because QPR are one of the favourites to get promoted into the Premier League, plus they have money to spend. But we go there with no fear and hopefully we'll get through to the next round.”
Elsewhere: A long list of 31 fixtures tonight following Portsmouth’s win at Stevenage on Monday. Chesterfield welcome Championship favourites Middlesbrough to their new stadium in the live Sky offering but there are plenty of potential upsets elsewhere. How about Watford, one of the favourites to be relegated from the Championship this season, travelling to last season’s League Two play off semi finalists Aldershot? Derby and Preston won’t exactly be relishing trips to Crewe and Stockport either. Crystal Palace travel down to Yeovil while Ipswich repeat our trip to Exeter from this time last season in two other eye catching fixtures.
Referee: Lincolnshire official Garry Sutton takes charge of his first ever QPR game on Tuesday evening. Click here for more details.
QPR: There are always plenty of goals when these sides meet. The last two meetings have finished 3-2 either way and the sides have shared 50 goals in 15 meetings since 1996. QPR have scored four times on three separate occasions in that run, and have scored 12 times against Vale in the last three meetings between the sides at Loftus Road. They also scored four on Saturday and have shrugged off poor form in cup competitions recently to beat Exeter and Accrington in this competition last season, and Swindon, Carlisle and Aston Villa the year before.
Port Vale: The Valiants are not renowned as cup giant killers, although they did beat Championship sides Sheff Utd and Sheff Wednesday in this competition last season and take Scunthorpe to extra time. That win against the Blades was only the third time in the club’s history that they had won away from home against a side two divisions above them following a 2-0 win against Blackpool in 1954 and a 2-1 success against Birmingham ten years later. Vale started the season with a 1-0 win at Gigg Lane against Bury on Saturday. They finished tenth in the league last season, with an impressive nine away wins to their name (second placed Bournemouth managed six).
Prediction: I am notoriously pessimistic but I do think this one could be tough. Vale will be physical and well motivated, keen to cause an upset. QPR will be much changed from Saturday. In our favour is the presence of people like Jamie Mackie, Shaun Derry and Clint Hill who will provide heart, effort and commitment in a fixture when many of their predecessors would have simply tossed it off for the night. I think we’ll prevail, but possibly only after a long night at the office. `
7/2 the draw after 90 minutes
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